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Sapphire Vapor-X R9 280X TRI-X OC Review

ccokeman    -   March 20, 2014
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Sapphire Vapor-X R9 280X TRI-X OC Conclusion:

Sapphire was the first AIB partner to fully embrace the benefits of Vapor-X cooling back in 2008 when it introduced Vapor-X cooling to the masses on the limited edition HD 3870 Atomic. From that point on Sapphire has taken the technology to new heights and have even built a line of cards around Vapor Chamber technology, aptly named the Vapor-X lineup. This iteration comes equipped with the latest TRI-X cooling solution seen on the Toxic Edition I just looked at recently, but with a few twists to make it perform all that much better. Specifically it's the addition of a massive vapor chamber that is used to carry all the thermal load from not only the Tahiti core, but the memory and power circuit up through five direct contact heat pipes to the dual aluminum fin arrays. In my testing it performed better than the TRI-X cooled Toxic Edition and even better than ASUS' vaunted Direct CU II cooling solution running stock and then overclocked.

Pretty impressive when you look at just the cooling performance, but that is not the entire picture presented by the Vapor-X R9 280X TRI-X OC. By using three fans with the large cooling solution you end up spinning the fans slower, thus reducing the noise penalty to almost nothing. Even spun to 100% fan speed, the noise level on the card is far from objectionable; something that can't be said for the reference cooling.

By using the same PCB found on the Sapphire R9 280X Toxic that features solid capacitors, a six phase digital power circuit, and Sapphire's exclusive Black Diamond chokes, you get a card with a high end custom PCB and components that offer an improved lifespan with more efficient operation and higher potential overclocking. Another side effect is the lack of coil buzz or whine common on many builds. Basically what you get here, if you have not figured it out, is "Toxic Light" with the entire Toxic feature set, improved cooling, and different coloring to set the cards apart.

The one other true difference comes to light when overclocking. We all know one sample is not indicative of the entire line, but we see how aggressive the binning is between the Vapor-X line and the Toxic line. This sample clocked to 1160MHz on the core clock and screamed up to 1700MHz on the 3GB of Hynix memory for added bandwidth. This certainly helped performance in the 3DMark testing. Depending on the game test, Sapphire's Vapor-X R9 280X TRI-X OC matched up best with the GTX 770, usually delivering higher FPS at 5760x1080. In every game the Vapor-X R9 280X TRI-X OC delivers smooth gameplay with high settings for a truly enjoyable gaming experience at 1080p resolutions.

Sometimes raw gaming performance is the only purchase factor, but for the rest of the world you have looks and how the card integrates into the build. The blue theme on this card looks great and will integrate well in blue themed builds. Sapphire's Vapor-X logo lights up to show what card you are running through the side panel as an added bit of bling.

Priced at $379, the price point puts it right on par with many of the non-reference GTX 770s for sale and is priced a bit more realistically than these cards have been selling for, thanks to the mining community. Overall this Vapor-X version of the R9 280X is the best cooling high end card I have tested that comes with excellent looks and low noise characteristics that make it well worth the $379 price point.

 

Pros:

  • TRI-X cooling
  • Factory overclocked
  • Gaming performance
  • Black Diamond Chokes
  • Toxic Light
  • Overclocking
  • Low noise
  • Good looks
  • Exceptional cooling

 

Cons:

  • None


 

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