Sapphire 4890 Vapor-X PCIe Graphics Card

Since ATI rejoined the fight to become champs of the graphics card market with the 4870 in June 2008 and the formidable 4870×2, time has pretty much stood still for the graphics card giant with a slowdown in releases. Unlike Nvidia with their re branding shenanigans, ATI only appear to release a GPU when they have something new to show off, not to shift stocks of GPU cores. The HD4890 is one such card, which while not being radically new, is certainly a cut above the already powerful HD4870 with some significant changes. We recently reviewed the stock Asus 4890 and an overclocked version from XFX, now it’s Sapphire turn with the HD4890 Vapor-X.
Being a Tier 1 partner of ATI, Sapphire are no strangers to GPU production and are among the top producers of overclocked editions as well as stock clocked reference cards. Sapphire are also certified to ISO9001 and ISO14001 standards and as such each product is manufactured to the very highest standard and quality. Also, since 2001 Sapphire have been in partnership with ATI so it goes without saying what they don’t know about ATI simply is not worth knowing. Drawing on the technical expertise offered by Sapphires own engineers have enabled Sapphire to produce the card we have today.
The Vapor-X line of GPU’s is Sapphire’s overclocked range which while not as speedy as the ‘Toxic’ versions is still faster than stock. The Vapor-X cooler is also radically different from the stock ATI heatsink in that a larger than standard fan is used and it’s positioned centrally rather than at the furthest reaches of the PCB but that’s just the beginning. I’ll be examining the cooler in greater detail overleaf but rest assured, this card runs cool and quiet. The PCB is also a fetching blue rather than the stock red familiar with all reference ATI cards.
Here’s what Sapphire had to say about their product:
The SAPPHIRE HD 4890 Vapor-X model is a new SAPPHIRE original design. It has SAPPHIRE’s Vapor-X cooling module on the GPU together with a heatsink and profiled fan venting heat out of the case. It is quieter and significantly faster than the standard reference model, with core clock speed of 870MHz and 1GB of DDR5 memory clocked at 1050MHz. Any two of the four output options can be used simultaneously, giving maximum flexibility for connection to different display types. An HDMI to DVI adaptor is also included for those who wish to use a pair of DVI monitors.
The following specification was taken directly from Sapphires product page:
I/O Output: Display Port+HDMI+DL-DVI+VGA
Core Clock: 870 MHz
Memory Clock: 1050 MHz, 4.2 Gbps
Interface: PCI Express 2.0 x16 bus interface
Memory Interface: 1024MB /256bit GDDR5
Cooling: Dual Slot Vapor-X Cooler
HD: HDMI compliant via dongle
Audio: 7.1 Audio Channel Support
DX Version: Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1 support
Shader model: Shader Model 4.1 support

So then, while the clockspeed is not overly extended (20MHz past stock), Sapphire have taken advantage of the revised memory architecture by pre-overclocking it 300MHz(effective) faster than stock from 3.9GHz to a stunningly fast 4.2GHz. But before we get to see the effects of these overclocks, let’s take a look at the package itself…