Graphics Card Reviews

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290x 8GB Tri-X Video Card Review

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Under The Hood

DSC_4886One of the many things that sets video cards apart is their cooling ability. Typically, noise does not really factor in when doing a modern day GPU review because when the card is idle the fans spin down to a low RPM or stop completely. When gaming, most of the people that I know use a headset so the card can ramp up the fans to a higher RPM and a little more noise is generated. The Sapphire Vapor-X system uses three 10cm fans along with a special shroud to blow air across the heatsink to remove heat from the card.

DSC_4887Underneath, a solid copper block mounts to the top of the GPU and is held in place in combination with the backplate and an aluminum retention mechanism. The copper heat pipes run through the aluminum fins of the heatsink. Thermal pads are used to transfer heat from the memory chips to the heatsink. The VRAM is cooled by a “pad” of thermal paste type material. When the cooler is removed from the card, residue is left behind on the VRM.

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The VRMs for the GPU is cooled by a separate headsink located at the rear of the card. While there isn’t a fan directly blowing on the heatsink, the airflow that it receives is enough to keep the VRM cool enough to do their job.

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The Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290x is a non-reference design. The card claims a 10-phase voltage regulation for the GPU.

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The VRM consists of an International Rectifier IR3567B 6+2 phase controller configured in a 5-phase design with an IR3537 gate driver and five IR3598s acting as interleaved doublers (10-phase total compared to 5-phase from the reference) for the pairs of IRF6894 and IRF6811 DirectFETs. Output filtering consists of 10x 0.15uH chokes and a mixture of 10x solid 820uF 2.5v capacitors with 8x 470uF tantalum surface mounted capacitors in the front and back of the PCB.
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The memory VRM has two-phases on the other side but has a pair of IRF6725 and IRF6721 DirectFETs instead with a pair of 0.19uH inductors and 8x 470uF tantalum capacitors.
DSC_4810Dual BIOS functionality is handled by a pair of ChingisTek PFlash Pm25LD010 1Mbit flash memory modules. These modules are rated for 100 MHz operating speed and a maximum temperature of 105°C.
DSC_4788Sixteen memory modules are placed around the GPU on the front of the board for a total of 8 gigabytes of RAM. The SK Hynix H5GQ4H24MFR memory modules are rated at 5500 MHz.
DSC_4914Dual 8-pin PCIE power cables are needed in order to run this card.

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