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Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X

Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X

Manufacturer: Sapphire
UK Price (as reviewed): £221.59 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $259.99 (ex. Tax)

Core Clock: 750MHz
Memory Clock: 3,600MHz (effective)
Memory: 2GB GDDR5
Warranty: Two years (parts and labour)

This is not the first card we've seen from Sapphire's new Vapor-X range. Well, that's not quite true as we've also got the 512MB HD 4850 Vapor-X in the labs, but it's the 2GB HD 4870 flavour that we've figured most interesting to be put through the paces.

Despite the Vapor-X cooler and the Sapphire-designed board layout, those clock speeds above are correct - the Vapor-X range ships with stock clocks. Sapphire is letting you have all the fun of overclocking the GPU and memory. This makes sense, as creating a range of pre-overclocked cards takes R&D time and money to speed-bin GPUs. Without this process, the Vapor-X range can be cheaper than Sapphire's Toxic or Atomic ranges while still offering the benefits of a Vapor-X cooler and improved (or simply alternative) VRM design.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X
We're not sure where the fixation with penguins has come from - possibly the Linux driver is especially good?

The other Sapphire-specific addition to this card is, as the name suggests, an extra 1GB of GDDR5 memory over the standard Radeon HD 4870 1GB card. The extra memory is stuck to the rear of the card and has a right-angled heatsink bolted to it by three push-pins. Curiously, the memory of the GPU-side of the card is left bare, no doubt because the fan blows down onto it - Sapphire clearly believes this cooling to be adequate.

Opinion in the office is divided as to whether the Vapor-X looks good or not - some say it's funky while others thought it looked the wrong side of retro. Either way, here's a shot of the card for you to have a look at. Note the large Sapphire-branded heatsink at the end of the card that cools the MOSFETs of the VRM circuitry.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X
Click to enlarge

There's no arguing with the quality of the bundle though, with copies of CyberLink PowerDVD and DVD Suite, plus 3DMark Vantage. Interestingly, Sapphire feels the two 6-pin PCI-E power converters need to be powered from only one Molex plug each, which will make those with a dated power supply fairly happy: however we have to question this logic.

Some PSUs have plenty of Molex plugs but are simply not made to handle the power demands of a HD 4870, but Sapphire does recommend you have at least a 500W PSU for this card. What isn't taken into consideration is that PSUs often use lower gauge wiring for Molex than are found on PCI-Express cables (20 AWG instead of 16-18), creating higher resistance and more heat than it was possibly designed for.

Unlike other Radeon cards, there's no need for an HDMI dongle, as the card has one natively, but there's no adapter back to DVI for a second display. Sapphire hasn't included a video output cable either, which is fine as it's a throw-away item for most; anyone who does need one will probably have one already. VGA is included for a bit of backward computability, although the card will only support two of the outputs at anyone time.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 2GB Vapor-X
Click to enlarge

Warranty

The Sapphire Vapor-X HD 4870 2GB GDDR5 PCI-E comes complete with a two-year warranty that includes cover for parts and labour. During the first year of the product’s life, your point of contact should be the retailer. However, if you’re having problems getting hold of the retailer (or the retailer goes out of business), you should contact Sapphire’s support team directly. During the second year of the warranty period, you should talk directly with Sapphire.