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Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X OC and R9 290 Vapor-X OC review

Rating: 9.5.

There is no doubt that AMD gamers have been spoilt for choice this year when shopping for a new graphics card. Sapphire have been at the forefront of the new GPU revolution, thanks in no small part to their remarkable, class leading Tri-X cooling system.
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Over the last week, I have been testing the new Sapphire Vapor-X R9 280X and Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290. Both of these cards ship with hefty metal coolers, triple fan coolers and a ton of tasty, under the surface tweaks. Both cards are clocked higher than the reference AMD designs.
cards on side
The Sapphire Vapor X R9 280X is a pure two slot solution and as shown in the image above the Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X is slightly fatter. It isn’t quite 2.5 slots thick, but it is close. Both cards ship with 4GB of fast GDDR5 memory and use the highest grade components throughout the design, especially in the power control circuitry.
The Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X ships with a core clock speed of 1,100mhz and the GDDR5 memory is clocked at 1,500 mhz (6Gbps effective), connected via a 384 bit memory interface. The R9 280X has 32 ROP’s, 128 Texture units and 2,048 unified shaders.

The Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X ships with a core clock speed of 1,030mhz and the GDDR5 memory is clocked at 1,400mhz (5.6Gbps effective), connected by a 512 bit memory interface. The R9 290 has 64 ROPS, 160 texture units and 2,560 unified shaders.

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  • Ian

    You say at the bottom of the introduction page: “The Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X ships with a core clock speed of 1,030mhz and the GDDR4 memory is clocked at 1,400mhz (5.6Gbps effective), connected by a 512 bit memory interface.”

    Is the “GDDR4” memory type a typo?

  • Yes, its GDDR5 – fixed. thanks!

  • JamesM

    for god sake, I just bought a triX yesterday – I have the worst timing ever. 🙁

  • Topperfalkon

    I like the blue appearance. the cooler is spectular – never seen a company expose copper like that to cool the PCB. very clever.

  • Andy

    the price seems quite good considering, I thought it would be around £400 inc vat.

  • Denna

    Preordered the 290 Vapor-X thanks !

  • Ralf

    The looks of the Vapor-X cooling is stunning! The 290 will definately be in my new build. Does anyone know the lenght of the 290 Vapor-X card?

  • Hi Ralf, I just measured it – the cooler overhangs the PCB a little, so its around 300mm – long card.

  • Madluri

    When is it coming out?

  • Christian

    Is that card faster than gtx 780?

  • toshev

    Zardon tell me pls how much additional voltage mV was added for the overclocking of r9 290 vapor-x to 1205 in this review?

  • Chuck

    How did you set up your fans in you cas so you could keep the card the coolest possible? I’m thinking of buying one but I’m not sure what’s the best way to set my fans for it.

  • CrisCros

    Could you give the full dimensions (lengthxwidthxheight)? Mini ITX builds can be a pain fitting everything!

  • Han

    Hey Zardon, I just got my R9 290 Vapor X and there’s this black goo between the backplate and the PCB, do you know what it is? Also can you make an overclocking guide for this GPU?

  • Catscratch

    If you’ll show SLI up in the list there, have the decency to show Crossfire results too. And where’s 770 in the lists ? 280x is not competing with the lot in the list there. Price or performance wise.

  • Its nothing to do with ‘decency’. Believe it or not sometimes we don’t get access to all the cards we want to test and include them all every time we post a graphics card review.

  • James Brand

    I’m actually surprised by the 1920×1080 results just ran my Powercolor PCS+OC R9 290 through the same test Ultra preset AA 4x and Tesselation off my results were as follows (were any of your settings different?):
    Min:33.5 FPS
    Avg:81.2 FPS
    Max:143.5 FPS
    Max Temp(Via GPU-Z) 71C

  • Jade Graham

    I am definitely
    enjoying your website. You definitely have some great insight and great