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

Thief, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Watch Dogs


Thief can demonstrate an impressive frame rate improvement for Radeon cards when the Mantle is used, but we have no way to capture detailed data with that API so we ran all of the cards with DirectX.

The GeForce GTX 970 takes a strong lead at 1080p. All of the cards manage smooth frame rates but the EVGA card's minimum frame rate never drops below 60.

The 4K resolution necessitates a drop to the normal detail preset, but the Sapphire card catches up to the GeForce here, presumably thanks to its extra memory buffer. The 4GB Radeon card is almost 10 FPS slower.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

For Assassin's Creed IV at 1080p, we used the highest settings except for shadows, which we set at high. We also enabled 4x MSAA.

At this resolution the result is a virtual tie between the Sapphire and EVGA cards, while the 4GB Radeon R9 290X is left behind.

The leap to 4K means reducing details to high, replacing MSAA with FXAA, setting god rays to low, and choosing SSAO instead of HBAO+. Sapphire's Vapor-X 8GB card pulls slightly ahead of the GeForce here, but only the 4Gb Radeon R9 290X falls behind in a meaningful way.

Watch Dogs

Finally, let's give the sandbox game Watch Dogs a try. First we''ll use the ultra detail preset, with the ultra texture setting and FXAA enabled.

It's pretty clear that this game favors the GeForce GTX 970, and there's practically no difference between the 4GB and 8GB Radeons.

At 4K, we dialed down the details to medium and turned off ambient occlusion. The 8GB Sapphire card fared a bit better than its 4GB counterpart, but the GeForce retains its commanding lead.

  • 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.