Sapphire's Vapor-X R9 290X 8GB: The More, The Merrier?

Battlefield 4, Shadow Of Mordor, Alien: Isolation, Arma 3

Battlefield 4

First up, Battlefield 4. At the standard 1080p HD resolution with the ultra detail preset enabled, let's see how these cards compare. Note that we've tested the Radeon cards with the Mantle API enabled, as its a viable option in this game.

Its a close race, but with all three cards pulling over 60 FPS minimum, the difference is academic. Now let's bump the resolution to 4K, which requires us to drop details to the high preset in order to keep things playable.

At 4K the GeForce GTX 970 falls behind, and both of the Radeon cards take the lead in a virtual tie. The extra graphics memory on the Sapphire card doesn't appear to help here.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Now let's try a new game, Middle earth: Shadow of Mordor. This open-world sandbox has gotten a lot of press for its large texture set option, let's see how it affects these graphics cards:

At ultra details at 1080p, there's little difference to talk about and all three cards barely drop below 60 FPS. Now let's try 4K, which necessitates a drop to the high detail preset. But let's increase the texture detail to high, too.

The extra graphics RAM appears to help Sapphire's card here, and it never drops below 33 FPS, unlike the 4GB cards. The average frame rate also stays just shy of a comfortable 40 FPS.

Alien: Isolation

Now we'll try another new game in our bench suite, Alien: Isolation. This well-reviewed title features a lot of impressive visual spaceship interior detail.

Even with the highest details possible with SSAO and 2x SMAA enabled, this game never drops below 100 FPS. Let's see what happens at 4K with the same ultra-high settings.

Its a close race here, but the Sapphire Vapor-X grabs a meaningless win. All three cards have a minimum frame rate above 30 FPS and an average rate above 40 FPS.

Arma 3

Arma 3 is a great-looking military simulation that keeps getting better and better with frequent patches. Let's see how these cards fare at 1080p with the ultra detail preset enabled, including 8x MSAA.

All three cards produce a very smooth result, barely dropping below 60 FPS, but the GeForce takes a lead here.

Increase the resolution to 3840x2160, though, and we have to lower the details to the high preset, with 4x MSAA. At this setting, the Sapphire Vapor-X scores a significant win with an average frame rate approaching 40 FPS while the competitors float closer to 30.

  • sigmar666
    what about 2560x1440? is there any difference?
  • Janithdalw
    Very narrow difference in FPS between the R9 290X 8GB and R9 290X 4GB. The R9 290X 4GB is more than enough. More VRAM doesn't make much difference. I think Nvidia also released an 8GB version of the GTX 980. I would like to see how much FPS can the GTX 980 renders on 4K resolution. I guess even the GTX 980 8GB won't reach 60 FPS on 4k resolution.
  • bryanlarsen
    All the games you're testing are FPS games or have FPS style graphics. Why not also test other style of games, games that people are more likely to play at 4K? Civilization: Beyond Earth, for example.
  • JeanLuc
    I'm not sure if I agree entirely with the conclusion. For me this is a win for the Saphire Vapour X 290x over a reference 290x (that's been overclocked to match the card it's going up against) rather then then a victory for 8gb over 4gb. The reason I say this is although the 290x is sound piece of tech reference coolers AMD choose to stick on the 290x are really poor and cause cards to throttle underload.

    If 4Gb's wasn't enough then I would have expected to have seen the minimum fps nose dive, falling behind by 10% to 15% suggests the card wasn't boosting or was holding the clocks back to keep it from overheating. The only other explanation might be the choice of VRAM providers i.e some use Hynix others use Elpida and sometimes Samsung.
  • firefoxx04
    stopped reading at "Sapphire is not considered a high end brand".

    What are they supposed to do? They sell the best AMD has to offer with some of the best coolers on the market.
  • Wisecracker
    Not sure what difference it would ultimately make, but I suspect the sweet spot is 5760x1080 until 4K enters the mainstream (if ever). Good to know 4K will play, but Eyefinity is the logical path forward despite the push from 'early adopters' wanting 4k

    Impressive Noise and Temps -- even if compared to the craptastic reference design. At first look though, does not look to be much of a change from OEM 'aftermarket' coolers on the 290X.

  • firefoxx04
    No crossfire test? Umm.. the card by its self can barely manage 4k and thats when you beat the settings down far enough to where 8GB is no longer needed.

    VRAM in crossfire is not 'doubled' when two cards are used so to compensate you need to have cards with more vram in the first place. Big oversight imo. Mine as well not even test the card by its self when we know 9 times out of 10 4GB is more than enough.
  • jdon
    Psst.... The paragraph describing the outputs says 280 instead of 290X...

    Thanks, fixed!
  • airborn824
    Were is SoM with ultra textures in 1440p? that is the whole point of this card. compare 4gb models at 1080p the 8GB is for higher rez and eyefinity set ups. sometimes my bias is just is so obvious. I like both companies i just dont like how much digging i have to do to find truth.
  • Thaisnang
    4K revolution in PCMasterRace is rising.