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Sapphire R9 280X Vapor X Review


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The Sapphire R9 280X Vapor X is a beefy dual slot solution, with two large nine blade fans covering most of the PCB. Nickel plated heatpipes are visible behind the fans, but we will take a closer look at the cooler shortly.

This card was supplied by AMD in a simple brown box, so we have no idea of what the retail box will contain. We would imagine it will include a Crossfire cable, some power and video converters and a software disc.
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The Sapphire R9 280X Vapor X ships with a backplate in place. This not only helps to cool the card but will offer protection.
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The R9 280X Vapor X is Crossfire capable in 2, 3 and 4 way configurations.
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Sapphire have overhauled the power configuration of this particular R9 280X. The reference design has 1 x 6 pin and 1 x 8 pin PCI E power connectors but the Sapphire R9 280X Vapor X  takes 2 x 8 pin PCI E power cables.
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The Sapphire R9 280X has a single DVI-I and DVI-D connector, and a full sized HDMI and DisplayPort connector.

R9 Series GPUs can now support up to three HDMI/DVI displays for use with AMD Eyefinity technology. A set of displays which support identical timings is required to enable this feature. The display clocks and timing for this feature are configured at boot time.

As such, display hot‐plugging is not supported for the third HDMI/DVI connection. A reboot is required to enable three HDMI/DVI displays.

DisplayPort outputs are supported in addition to the three HDMI/DVI displays (up to 6 in total).
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There is a little button on this card which enhances the core clock speeds by 20mhz (from 1,050mhz to 1070mhz) and memory speeds by 50mhz (from 1,500mhz to 1550mhz). The image above shows the switch ‘enabled’ – it glows blue.
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Sapphire are using 3GB of SK Hynix GDDR5 memory. The VRM’s are cooled by a dedicated heatsink. The memory is actively cooled by the main heatsink above.

The main cooler is certainly substantial, it has a copper core directly connected to four thick heatpipes which run into separate racks of aluminum fins – all actively cooled by the dual fan configuration above.
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The Sapphire R9 280X is built on the 28nm process. It has 2,048 Steam Processors, 32 ROP’s and 128 TMU’s. The 3GB of GDDR5 memory is connected via a wide 384 bit memory interface. The GDDR5 is clocked at 1,500mhz (6Gbps effective).

Hang on. Do these specifications look identical to something we have seen before?
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They should do, they are the same as the HD7970 GHZ Edition. The Device ID is the same, and the release date on both is ‘December 22nd, 2011’. The screen shot above was taken from our HD7970 GHZ Edition review back in July 2012. The technical specifications including shader layout, pixel and texture filtrate and bandwidth characteristics are identical.

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