It's been almost three months since the first of ATI's new Evergreen graphics card hit the market and they have been favorably received thus far. The new Radeon HD 5970, HD 5870 and HD 5850 brought about unprecedented levels of graphics performance, and left all of NVIDIA's high-end GTX 200 offerings trailing in the dust.
The Radeon HD 5870, powered by the awesome Cypress XT chip, is presently the fastest single GPU card in the world. Boasting over two billion transistors and 1600 stream processing units, the chip is capable of 2.72 teraFLOPs of pure computing power. The only minor niggle we have with the Radeon HD 5870, however, is that all vendors are offering only reference-designed versions of the card. But that's understandable given that the card is still relatively new. It is also such a high-end card that it's expensive to figure out a custom cooling solution. Nevertheless, we yearn for that little bit of fresh air, and fortunately, Sapphire has a solution.
The Sapphire HD 5870 Vapor-X comes in an Arctic white box, and is plastered with stickers proudly proclaiming the new features of the card.
The card we have in our labs is the Sapphire HD 5870 Vapor-X. For readers familiar to the brand Sapphire, you'll know that the "Vapor-X" moniker means that the card comes with a customized vapor chamber technology cooler. For the unacquainted, vapor chamber technology is a method of cooling that promises faster heat transfer by the means of liquid vaporization and condensation. It's similar to the familiar heat pipe technology, but the difference being it has a large surface area to directly interact with the heat source (the GPU), and thus large radiators and fans can be implemented directly above it while heat pipes can further augment the vapor chamber technology if required.
Again, if you've been faithfully following our articles, you'll also know that we haven't had the best of experiences with Sapphire's Vapor-X technology. Previous experiences with Sapphire Vapor-X HD 4890 and Sapphire HD 4870 1GB Toxic Edition , both of which feature vapor chamber technology, were disappointing. So will this time be any different? Read on to find out.