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Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X OC Edition Graphics Card Review

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View performance figures here

User Experience and Conclusion

Sapphire R9 290 installedSapphire R9 290 lighting

The first thing which struck us when unboxing the 290 Vapor-X OC Edition is that this is one hefty card. Yes the cooler shroud is partially plastic but the rest of the construction is metal and big chunks of it at that. Both the front and back of the PCB are plated in key areas and the heatpipes/fins are both significant in size too. Underneath it all Sapphire bump up the quality over the reference design with enhanced chokes and capacitors and our memory is quality branded parts from Hynix.

Elsewhere on the design we get a decent output configuration, the use of dual 8-pin connectors is pretty standard for this class of card and the use of an extra bit of width, taking us over dual slots isn’t too much of an issue. We just need to take a little care when choosing our motherboard/card combination. Sapphires Dual BIOS implementation adds some future proofing but the main benefit of that button, for most users, is an extra LED which combines well with the thermally controlled branding on the back of the card.

The other extra feature, Sapphires fan controller, is a nice addition however we can’t see many people taking advantage of the ability to disable it. Maybe in very compact systems with thermals which are not ideal, but for most users leaving the card to run on one fan at low use, automatically switching to three under load is ideal. With that configuration we idled at 40°C (approx.) and never went above 73°C while gaming, all with near silent operation.

In terms of the comparison with the GTX 780 OC, which starts around the same price as the Vapor-X OC, we found the Sapphire card to offer a better balance of temperatures and noise than any of the custom GTX models we have seen to date. For framerates the two offered a very similar experience which can be summed up as the 290 offering a flawless experience at 1080 with the ability to dabble in 4K gaming too. For example, as the next page in this article shows, we had no issues playing Wolfenstein: The New Order at 1920×1080 with maximum detail then with just a minor tweak from Ultra to High Battlefield 4 is capable of running at 4K on the 290 Vapor-X OC.

So that brings us to pricing where this model retails at £380/$469, that’s with some nice additional software to overclock with (Sapphire Trixx) and a bundle of free games courtesy of AMD. Those aspects mixed with some decent manual overclocking headroom, the enhanced build quality and excellent performance win the Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Vapor-X OC Edition our Gold Award.

Gold Award
Where to buy…
UK Store – £379.99
USA Store – $469.99
View performance figures here

About Author

Stuart Davidson

Stuart Davidson is Senior Editor at HardwareHeaven having joined the site in 2002.