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Sapphire R9 280X Vapor X Review

Rating: 8.5.

Today AMD release the first of their new graphics series and Kitguru is on hand to cover the R7 260X, R9 270X and R9 280X. This review focuses on a partner board, the Sapphire R9 280X Vapor X which features enhanced clock speeds and a custom cooling solution. Is this the card you need to shortlist for a new upgrade?

Sapphire have earned a glowing reputation over the years by releasing some of the finest AMD graphics cards available. They are well known for taking an AMD reference design and improving upon it in every way possible.

While the rest of our launch articles today have been forced to focus on slightly disappointing reference designs AMD did authorise a review of the Sapphire R9 280X, featuring the highly regarded Vapor X cooler.

The reference AMD R9 280X will be sold with clock speeds up to 1ghz – all of which will have 2,048 Stream Processors. Memory speeds will be set up to 6.0 Gbps. The reference card will demand power from 1 x 6 pin and 1x 8 pin PCI E connectors and it complies with the PCI E 3.0 standard. Each card will ship with 3GB of GDDR5 clocked up to 6.0Gbps.

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Sapphire have taken this reference card and turned it completely on its head with the design of their R9 280X Vapor X card. The small, substandard single red fan has been replaced with two larger fans encased behind a black shroud with substantial heatpipes leading into multiple racks of aluminum fins.

They have overclocked the core to 1,070mhz as well (with a BIOS switch), offering a modest performance boost over the reference card. Now, let us take a closer look at the Sapphire R9 280X Vapor X card.

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  • Dear AMD,

    Thanks for wasting our time. Hope this Mantle crap pans out or you’ve got NOTHING.

    Most of your customers.

  • SlashWat

    well this is a good card, but its hardly anything new. even the new output display – Sapphire had FLEX for years. disappointing for AMD, but sapphire made the best of a bad idea.

    Nvidia must be loving this.

  • John

    Another good card from Sapphire, but its just a HD7970 with Flex as Slashwat says. nothing new, move along.

  • Tttt

    Wow, I think ill still get the GTX780, what a complete waste of time, I wanted something new and exciting not a card from 2011 🙁

  • Ben

    I feel sorry for AMD partners right now. So the only card with the new audio features is a budget model? what? The 270x is basically the same performance as a HD7870 Tahiti LE and 280X is a 7970ghz ed?

    Anyone else wondering if AMD have anything new at all to release? 290x? come on. its going to be £600, no one can afford that!

  • David

    I had to check my watch today I thought I woke up in December 2011…..

  • Anusha

    Its a nice card and I love AMD, but what is happening? I only use one monitor so I dont care about this AMD new output system and I loved the new audio features as I record music myself, but I have to get a 260X if I want the new features?

    This can’t be happening… I am just picking up a 7950 on offer now. so much for an exciting new range.

  • Street Fighter

    Quite funny AMD couldn’t even be bothered trying to hide the 2011 date and change the ID number.

    Sapphire always make great cards, but they dont exactly have much to work with here. 7970 is a great board as Kitguru say, but so what? we have had it for well over a year in various custom forms. Not sure why this is considered a launch.

    Audio features might be useful, but this card or 270x doesn’t even have Trueaudio, so why bother?

  • Stevie

    I have a custom 7970 and I love it, and wanted to get a new 280X at the same price with all the improvements.

    Where are they? My own card is the same and I already use three displayport monitors for work and dont see any benefit for me. Dont need trueaudio either, which is just as well as this doesnt have it.

    They are great cards, but I have no reason to update. interested to see the 290x as it looks to be a nice card. not a remake.

  • JamesM

    Great card for what it is, but didnt nvidia get slammed for rehashing old hardware a while ago?

    waiting on 290x. fingers crossed

  • Daemon

    What did you all expect? This was released as a REBRANDING from the start… only the 290X will be the new architecture… jeez cry more because AMD made the current offerings a bit better but used a new name.

    And as far as the OC goes, it feels like the reviewer put very little effort into this AT ALL. I have the single fan 7950 OC Boost from Sapphire and have easily achieved 1250 core 1800 mem clock using Trixx and been rock solid… I know that isn’t the XT version with 2048 shaders, but saying this is no headroom to drive this thing higher is just unacceptable and irresponsible… I’d bet there is more to squeeze from this 280X than this review shows.

  • Jake

    Oh look, people slamming AMD for rehashing old hardware… So where is all the hate for Nvidia for doing THE EXACT SAME THING? They rehashed the hardware and made the 760 and 770. Just as AMD does now, Nvidia only released two cards on the new architecture: Titan and 780. What is AMD doing? OH RIGHT, the 290 and 290X. So shut your mouths, Nvidia is no better in this domain… Oh how I wish for the days of $450 high end sexy beast cards… -sigh-

  • Santosh Mishra

    @ Dameon – a reader who thinks he is a reviewer – such bollocks. of course a 7950 will hit higher overclocks, but this is a completely differentr board and most 7970’s (including my own) is often limited to 1,150mhz. I actually think Zardon’s reviews are more accurate than many who claim ludicrous stability figures, when there is minor artifacting or glitching. unacceptable and responsible? wise up you retard, you passing out this information is pathetic. Heres a tip, buy a 280X, start your own site, review it. sned me a link and ill go over and see how you did with the rest of it.

  • jesus

    hello, please help very very urgent, I’ll buy a 280x r9 like the story and want to know if my power supply is powerful enough, my source is an imperator TEMPLARIUS aerocool 650w 80 + bronze .. my source can run this graph without any kind of problems?? thank you very much and hope to answer

  • Joe Dirt

    As a rehashed GHZ ED. I must confess I just bought this. I got it because it is is slightly more efficient than the previous 7970’s, the UEFI bios, and it is a single card solution that is on par with a GTX770 for my HTPC setup at a seriously discounted price! I’m dropping my power and heat hungry GTX 560Ti 1gb SLI setup for it. Jesus… The minum requirement power supply is 550 watt for the Vapor, 500 for stock speed cards with little to no OCing so you’re more than good.

  • Joe Dirt

    Jesus I lied you actually need a 750 watt PS… Sorry for my wrong answer!

  • Kino

    You guy are complaining for nothing. Think, this is a rebranded 7970Ghz, but let’s gonna take a look into the prices.. The 7970Ghz have a price launch of $ 549. R9 290x have a launch price of $ 299. Understand what i’m talking about? The money is most important here.
    We have a little more performance of a 7970Ghz for just $ 299, and beating an $ 400 GTX 770. I’m very satisfacted, not talking about performance, but talking about money.

  • Nom

    lmao these low life halfwits & their irrelevant complaints …not at all factoring what matters, THE PRICE TO PERFORMANCE RATIO, the R9 priced similarly as the 7000 series while the 7000 series gets ridiculous price cuts..Mantle?? If you have some cash to blow, sign up for a gym membership lardass

  • Dan

    To the person asking about the power supply.

    Companies list a higher rated power supply than necessary because almost no one understands PSUs and purchase the least expensive [cheap] PSU they can find.

    If you have a good 80+ certified PSU rated at 650 watts, it will be enough to run a single R9 280X. Just make sure you have enough GPU power connectors.

    Check this list to see if you PSU is on it:

  • Michael

    I got Min FPS of 35.2 and max of 158.5 and the average fps was 83.2 with my r9 280x vapor-x with a modest overclock (1130mhz). I think this totally crushes the 770, which is also a rebadge, so why the big deal anyway?