Sapphire HD 7970 6GB Vapor-X GHz Edition Reviewccokeman - September 27, 2012
Category: Video Cards
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Lately it has seemed that Sapphire has been cranking out the custom cards left and right to satisfy the needs of those who want something that is a bit better than the reference design in terms of cooling and reliability. As AMD's largest partner, Sapphire has the ability to deliver more than than just a reference solution with a sticker on it. In the Vapor-X line we have looked at the Vapor-X HD 7950, Vapor-X HD 7970 3GB and Toxic Edition HD 7970. After looking at what Sapphire brought to the table with the Toxic Edition HD 7970 6GB card, Sapphire reached a new pinnacle with its custom 12 layer PCB, voltage check points load monitoring LEDs, Black Diamond Chokes a massive Vapor-X cooling solution, 6GB of GDDR5 memory, highly binned silicon and the list goes on.
Surprisingly Sapphire went back to the well with this version of the Vapor-X-equipped HD 7970 GHz Edition 6GB card by incorporating just about all of the feature set of the Toxic Edition with a core that does not go through all of the time consuming binning process. Even without the top end binning on the GPU core, the GHz Edition base line feature set is enough to satisfy the needs of a great many with a "Boost" clock of 1100MHz at the touch of the EZ OC button. Sapphire's Vapor-X HD 7970 GHz Edition 6GB card is equipped with Sapphire's own "Dynamic Power suite" that includes a ten phase power design, double sided Black Diamond Chokes, and DirectFET technology mounted on a 12 layer PCB all topped off with a Vapor-X cooler capable of dissipating any thermal load the card can throw at it and keep the Tahiti XT core alive and cool to fight another day.
The 6GB frame buffer is going to up the price point to around $599 or about a $130 premium over the 3GB frame buffer version and $80 less than the limited "Toxic " Edition. Targeted at the multi screen gamer, the Vapor-X HD 7970 6GB card should offer up an increase in performance when the texture count starts to soar. Let's see where this Vapor-X rendition falls in terms of performance especially since we know the cooling is in good hands.
Sapphire's packaging takes its cues from the Vapor-X cooling used on the card. The arctic theme of "Ruby's" attire is changed for effect and lets you know up front the cooling on this card is one of the predominant features. With the Vapor-X moniker you know the cooling is going to be well under control. Along the bottom of the front panel is a list of the features that include dual fans, AMD Cool and Quiet, Eyefinity 2.0 support, AMD APP acceleration and that this card uses AMD's 28nm GCN core. Over to the right side is a more specific feature set listing a Dual BIOS feature activated with the EZ OC button, Vapor-X cooling, and Eyefinity support of up to four displays. The 6GB frame buffer is highlighted in the top right corner. On the back side of the package the AMD and Sapphire feature set is detailed in order on the right with a short description on what makes up the Sapphire Vapor-X HD 7970 6GB. At the bottom of the left side is a listing of the awards Sapphire has earned over the years due to its innovative solutions.
Inside the outer sleeve is a standard cardboard box that is without any of the artwork of the packaging sleeve. Sapphires environmental concerns with the inner and outer packaging state that 100% recyclable materials are used in the packaging. Inside the box are two level; the top level contains a formed cardboard shell that houses the Vapor-X HD 7970 6GB while the lower level has a box full of the accessory bundle.
Much like we have seen with the Vapor-X line up the bundle is substantial and includes just about everything you would need to get the Vapor-X 6GB edition up and running. Included in the bundle on the documentation side is the product manual, Sapphire registration guide, and the driver disk. The hardware portion of the bundle includes a six foot HDMI cable, a pair of dual 4-pin molex to 8-pin PCIe power adapters, a CrossfireX bridge connection, Mini DP to DVI adapter, Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter and a DVI to VGA adapter. Connectivity is covered for the vast majority of users.
Sapphire's Vapor-X cooling solution works using a simple concept in a high tech package. The basic premise is that a medium (pure water) is used to transfer the heat load away from the core through vaporization where it is cooled and condenses back to a liquid state. At this point the liquid returns to the heat source through capillary action in the wicking medium to follow the process again. What allows the water to vaporize at lower temperatures is that the vapor chamber works in a very low pressure state allowing the water to vaporize earlier. Below is a graphic that illustrates the process.
Sapphire's Vapor-X cooling is a known commodity but how about the rest of the card? Let's see what Sapphire has put together and how it looks with a detailed look at what makes up the rest of the Vapor-X edition 6GB card.