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Sapphire R9 290X Vapor X 8GB Crossfire Review

Rating: 8.5.

Today we finally get the chance to look at Sapphire’s R9 290X Vapor X 8GB graphics card. Prices of Ultra HD 4k screens may have dropped in price recently – but sadly this is only part of the overall cost. Driving smooth frames at 3,840×2,160 places a very intense demand on the system – particularly the graphics card. Even current generation cards such as Nvidia’s GTX980 struggle in single formation. Today’s article focuses on Sapphire’s new 290X 8GB Vapor X cards in Crossfire against a selection of other high end hardware running in Crossfire and SLI.

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But wait, you have seen these Sapphire cards months ago, right?

Yes … this isn’t the first time that Sapphire have released 8GB R9 290X graphics cards. They produced a limited 8GB run that was bought exclusively by CaseKing, and sold by Overclockers in the UK. This time around – with AMD’s approval, Sapphire have relaunched the larger 8GB models. A handful of additional AMD partners will also be launching their own custom 8GB models.

With the GTX980 stealing all the headlines, OverclockersUK have dropped the R9 290x 8GB price to £379.99 inc vat – a massive £240 reduction on the original asking price of £599.99 (head to the end of this review to get a special OCUK CODE deal for KitGuru readers). If you bought one (or two) of these 8GB R9 290X cards at the previous price we can’t imagine you are jumping with joy today, but in the crazy world of technology price bombing to stay competitive is a fairly commonplace practice. Early adopters beware.
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For comparison today we raided our storage room to bring out some high end cards to compare in SLI and Crossfire. The Sapphire R9 290X Vapor X cards are custom, overclocked flagship solutions, so it seemed only fair to grab the best competing hardware we could find.

First up, the award winning MSI GTX980 Gaming 4G which we reviewed back in October – these are fantastic cards. Next, a couple of Nvidia’s GTX Titan Z cards – which we test today in both single and dual configurations. Tri SLI has always worked great for us, but Quad SLI can be prone to driver related performance issues so it will be interesting to see how two Titan Z’s perform with a selection of games.

We supplement the testing by slotting in the excellent watercooled Sapphire R9 295X2 – a card I rate very highly due to the combination of killer  performance and low noise levels. Lastly we add in a pair of overclocked 6GB Palit GTX780, which are priced very similarly against the Sapphire R9 290X Vapor X 8GB cards. Nvidia owners wanting more than 4GB of memory have to choose between these GTX780’s or the Titan series of cards … the choices are currently quite limited.

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  • James Stephen Edge

    Would have been interesting to to see if a Titan-Z plus a PhysX Titan-Z was able to beat Titan-Z SLI in Metro.

  • James Stephen Edge

    “Sapphire’s single slot R9 295X2 is available now for only £599.99 inc vat.”, you mean dual slot? 😛

  • Kristijan Vragović

    AMD really is beaten by Nvidia this time around. Don’t get me wrong, i own R9 270x in crossfire and i always buy AMD products, but when you look at 900 series grapvics card from Nvidia you realize that beside price war there’s no competition. 980 has more or less the same TDP as R9 270x yet it is far more powerful in performance. More than 100% at 1080p. Really hope that AMD can crush them for their sake with new R9 that will be launched next year.

  • 12John34

    @KitGuru
    Metro Last Light chart needs a little fixing.

    These cards might show much better numbers in future titles that recommend or ask as minimum 4GB RAM. It’s still early for an 8GB card in PC games.

  • Cusp

    The is the opposite of what I have seen everywhere else, the 290x CF and the 295×2 beat the GTX 980 at high res???

  • Cusp

    The is the opposite of what I have seen everywhere else, the 290x CF and the 295×2 beat the GTX 980 at high res???

  • Medallish

    You already see a little of that in Watch_Dogs so I hope we see some Shadow of Mordor numbers @ 4K

  • Medallish

    You already see a little of that in Watch_Dogs so I hope we see some Shadow of Mordor numbers @ 4K

  • Guest

    what a biased untruthful review, guys better off to read Hexus and other trusted sources reviews, this review is a joke, all benchmarks showed no difference between 4G and 8G since no game yet actually using that amount so there is no benefit, in this review 290X ALMIGHTY card is 20% behind TitanZ SLI and beat 980 SLI, what a joke review from a joker!!

  • Guest

    what a biased untruthful review, guys better off to read Hexus and other trusted sources reviews, this review is a joke, all benchmarks showed no difference between 4G and 8G since no game yet actually using that amount so there is no benefit, in this review 290X ALMIGHTY card is 20% behind TitanZ SLI and beat 980 SLI, what a joke review from a joker!!

  • Guest

    wtf

  • Guest

    wtf

  • Yaba

    its 290x CF not single!

  • Yaba

    its 290x CF not single!

  • ShaneMcGrath

    I do as well and I only use Nvidia cards, Competition keeps everyone in check and brings next gen tech out faster.

  • Kristijan Vragović

    That’s right. And prices as well. So it does not matter whos gpu you preffer, you buy what you want but there mudt be healthy competition

  • Dorian Weidler

    Yes, and the 970s for example (can only speak for them) have massive coil whine problems. I received the second one, that was louder than my GTX460 on full load with 100% fan speed. That can’t be the game, sorry. I’m not trading a smooth running card, that is actually relatively quiet for performance and energy consumption plus pseudo silentness cause it’s only silent when you grab a properly working one.
    I’m at the moment fed up with NVIDIAs politics to save money by using lower quality material that causes problems. Waiting until that problem has been solved or a new series of AMD/NVIDIA comes up. Maybe I’ll also have to go with a 280x in the meantime, cause my GTX460 has met performance limits.

  • Kristijan Vragović

    I thought to go with one of those but these coil whine issues are stopping me from getting one.

  • Jack Attack

    That’s hilarious. You know the R9 290X is a year old right? Having the 980 barely beat it is disgusting. Maxwell offers so little in raw power over even Nvidias older cards. Way to innovate Nvidia. Everyone give them props. After all that hype “wait for Maxwell”.. and it barely succeeded in the area that actually matters. Wattage differences make for $20 more a year, and thermals were brought down with non reference cards in the 290X, but it had 5% less performance than Nvidias NEW technology. Bravo. Bravo Nvidia. Lets give them the standing ovation they deserve. They truly are the greatest innovators of all time. I mean, look at their sales. Look at all the people buying them up. They truly are kings in the industry. No need for competition, they are gods. Let them charge $1000. Let them put wattage and thermals before raw power. Obviously thermals and wattage can’t be fixed like Sapphire and other companies have done for AMD. They still need the now archaic sli bridges but its working out for them. I’m not even joking either. They are literally winning cause of insignificant things like that. We should all get Macs next, they advertise in other areas than raw power too. It’s brilliant. We are moving the industry forward! Put down every company just because of minimal gains and worthless filler. We need more companies like Apple. Nvidia, you go green. You’re next.

    On a side note: I’m not a fan of either company in particular. Just those that innovate in the area of raw power and tangible gains. If one is winning because of something silly, I’ll put them down. Like AMD and their cpu chips, they are nothing in comparison to Intel, and Intel runs the market like mad because of it. Gpu’s though.. Nvidia hasn’t been holding their own.. but they don’t need to.. cause everyone just buys their products without thinking twice.. At least AMD is much better and consistent than any other silicon company in their pricing though..

  • Kristijan Vragović

    That is true. In the last sentence. But you gotta figure that gtx 980 has more than 100% performance than my R9 270x with same or even lower consumption. And when you look at 1080p and 1440p there is no competition for nvidia, atleast nor now. As i sad on other article, AMD needs to pull a bunny from the hat and lower the consumption and increase IPC of GCN cores. I really hope that will happen because i would like to buy R9 card again. Until now i had two

  • Ryuhoshi

    If you take price difference into consideration, the difference in power consumption becomes negligible.

  • Kristijan Vragović

    Ok. Let’s take it that way. How much performance would nvidia pull if they hadn’t put so much effort to make consumption so low? I know what you want to say but you have to admit that fact. Nvidia did a splendid job

  • Ryuhoshi

    I agree, they did.

  • fuckofffanboy

    Looking at your 290x only review and seeing how you show ONE 290x getting 40 fps for this game.
    YET in this review you show TWO 290x 8g only getting 60. Sounds like some BS to me.

  • fuckofffanboy

    You can overclock the 970 and 980 by 40% and it sucks more power than any 290x and only gains MARGINAL fps.

  • Kristijan Vragović

    True. But same is valid for any gpu. So… I’m waiting for r9 300 series, to see what AMD did with their cards this time

  • fuckofffanboy

    Same here, iv had 290’s on water for ever. 1350 core.

  • Kristijan Vragović

    Wanted to buy gtx 970 instead of my 270x crossfire. But after selling one of my cards i had to keep other one because something else poped up. But looking at how my card performs i might keep it to the end of this year also.

  • Kristijan Vragović

    Currently have my eye on nzxt h440

  • fuckofffanboy

    Well right now you can get 290X crossfire for the price of ONE 980 and get allmost double the fps. No idea why kids rush out to buy 970/980s when 2 year old gpus get +/- 2-5 FPS of them. Must be rich spoiled idiot kids wasting all their parents money.

  • fuckofffanboy

    Not really when gpus have an OC limit thus producing an max amount of power draw. So like he said when you OC the over priced 970/980s there power to performance starts to explode. And the fps does not increase and is not scaleable with them. All benchmarks prove this.

  • Kristijan Vragović

    Well, not here were i live. I know that the prices almost everywhere are like you said but in Croatia for the price of 980 i can get one 290x and 270x, for example

  • jaapie jo

    nvidia is sitting on there ass just waiting on amd to compete. The whole Titan concept is proof of that. there x80 cards are actually just mid range cards these days with titans being there new x80 cards. It’s such a shame tho that company instantly abuse there position whenever they possible can.

    I think that the 290x should have come with a 8gb version faster to be honest. If i would buy into a 290x version it would surely be 8gb as the v-ram is going to spike heavily in the upcoming year / years. It’s a good future proof card specially if you decide to crossfire them. while 8gb can be seen as overkill now, there are already tests done where even on 1080p games rush towards 6gb of v-ram and in 4k 8gb is close to be hit. You have enough room with the 290x to not be limited then.

    I made this mistake with my 580 1,5gb. I should have gone with 3gb version and still have no issue’s to play watch dogs / unity without much issue’s. but because my card gets heavily hampered by the 1,5gb of v-ram even the lowest of the lowest setting makes teh games jam to unplayable framerates. The card is now what 4 years old? but if i would sli them today, it would stil perform equal towards a 780 / 290 with 3gb that would be far enough. The upgrade price would only be ~around 70 bucks / euro’s second handed. Which would be insane value for it’s money.

    For people that buy into the cards at this day of age, i would heavily advice into getting a 8gb even while the extra 4gb do not seem to make much sense now, it can be extremely handy when you hit my spot in a few years from now. Unless you obviously upgrade every year etc.

  • Munchymonk

    Two video cards usually bottlenecks one of them, so you will not get 200% power. Usually just around 150-175% power.

  • ScubaDynamo

    Looks like you will be able to buy an R9 card again! Chances are it will probably actually be the same one! AMD loves rebranding hot inefficient obsoleted tech and selling it to chumps.

  • Kristijan Vragović

    Nvidia to rebrand their cards. Only i 900 series there isn’t any. Price/Performance ratio with AMD cards is great and that could only get better. And that is only thing that matters to me, even if that means jump ship from AMD to Nvidia. My money, my choice

  • ScubaDynamo

    Nvidia have not rebranded any cards, I dont know what you are talking about. They promised Maxwell cards and we have the 750, 750 ti, 960, 970, 980, 980 ti and titan X. Thats 7 new cards. AMD have released one new card, the entire of the rest of the lineup is just rebrands.

    Bad time to be investing in AMD, the company seems more desperate to please its shareholders than its customers. I guess it needs to be, AMD stockholders must be sweating after seeing the dreadful launch of the fury X.

    I do agree with you though, I would buy the better brand but its been years since AMD were actually competing with Nvidia.

  • Kristijan Vragović

    If you had read my post like you should you’d see that I write that I 900 series there isn’t any rebrands. But for example in 700 series there were

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  • Angel “Ocelot” Eduardo

    hello can to do one review with alone one r9 290x vapor-x tri-x gddr5 plz

  • AquaVixen

    I know this is an old article but it’s very difficult to discern exactly what CPU and speed that was used for this test. AMD CPU? Intel CPU? Which one? You point to the test rig linked to another article but that one doesn’t even list the current CPU in use for this test either.

    Why even bother wasting your time on this if we can’t tell what you used for it? *sigh*