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

Temperature, Noise And Power

Load Temperature

Let's begin with a look at how Sapphire's Vapor-X cooler compares with the 290X reference model and EVGA'a Superclocked GeForce GTX 970:

Sapphire wins the day here, shaming the Radeon R9 290X reference cooler and even besting the overclocked GeForce GTX 970. This is no small feat considering that the Vapor-X draws the most power of all three options, as we'll see in the charts below.


But before we go to power, let's examine the noise generated by these products. Note that we start the chart at 30 dB, which corresponds to practical silence.

Sapphire takes the lead here again with the quietest result both at idle and under load. You can see why we aren't proponents for the reference Radeon R9 290X cooler. EVGA's superclocked GeForce GTX 970 does fairly well here.


Now it's time to check the final attribute in the Temperature, Noise, and power triangle. Note that we begin the chart at 85 Watts, approximately what the system pulls without the graphics card. How much more juice does the Vapor-X's 8GB of RAM require?

Under load, Sapphire's Vapor-X 8GB card pulls 33 Watts more than the reference card. That's not terrible when you consider that we ran these three tests at the factory settings, so the reference Radeon R9 290X wasn't overclocked. Still, that extra RAM clearly requires a little more electricity from the wall. Of course, this makes the Vapor-X's cooler all the more impressive for being the quietest and coolest in the bunch.

On the other hand, Nvidia's Maxwell chip has an undeniable advantage here, requiring 67 Watts less under load. If power efficiency is important to you, it's hard to ignore the GeForce option.

  • 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.