Another retail card reveals the results
Since the release of the new AMD Radeon R9 290X and R9 290 graphics cards, we have been very curious about the latest implementation of AMD's PowerTune technology and its scaling of clock frequency as a result of the thermal levels of each graphics card. In the first article covering this topic, I addressed the questions from AMD's point of view - is this really a "configurable" GPU as AMD claims or are there issues that need to be addressed by the company?
The biggest problems I found were in the highly variable clock speeds from game to game and from a "cold" GPU to a "hot" GPU. This affects the way many people in the industry test and benchmark graphics cards as running a game for just a couple of minutes could result in average and reported frame rates that are much higher than what you see 10-20 minutes into gameplay. This was rarely something that had to be dealt with before (especially on AMD graphics cards) so to many it caught them off-guard.
Because of the new PowerTune technology, as I have discussed several times before, clock speeds are starting off quite high on the R9 290X (at or near the 1000 MHz quoted speed) and then slowly drifting down over time.
Another wrinkle occurred when Tom's Hardware reported that retail graphics cards they had seen were showing markedly lower performance than the reference samples sent to reviewers. As a result, AMD quickly released a new driver that attempted to address the problem by normalizing to fan speeds (RPM) rather than fan voltage (percentage). The result was consistent fan speeds on different cards and thus much closer performance.
However, with all that being said, I was still testing retail AMD Radeon R9 290X and R9 290 cards that were PURCHASED rather than sampled, to keep tabs on the situation.
ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP
Earlier this month AMD took the wraps off of a revamped and restyled family of GPUs under the Radeon R9 and R7 brands. When I reviewed the R9 280X, essentially a lower cost version of the Radoen HD 7970 GHz Edition, I came away impressed with the package AMD was able to put together. Though there was no new hardware to really discuss with the R9 280X, the price drop placed the cards in a very aggressive position adjacent the NVIDIA GeForce line-up (including the GeForce GTX 770 and the GTX 760).
As a result, I fully expect the R9 280X to be a great selling GPU for those gamers with a mid-range budget of $300.
But another of the benefits of using an existing GPU architecture is the ability for board partners to very quickly release custom built versions of the R9 280X. Companies like ASUS, MSI, and Sapphire are able to have overclocked and custom-cooled alternatives to the 3GB $300 card, almost immediately, by simply adapting the HD 7970 PCB.
Today we are going to be reviewing a set of three different R9 280X cards: the ASUS DirectCU II, MSI Twin Frozr Gaming, and the Sapphire TOXIC.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 10, 2013 - 03:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: radeon, r9 270x, GCN, sapphire, toxic edition, factory overclocked
We saw the release of the reference R9s yesterday and today we get to see the custom models such as the Sapphire TOXIC R9 270X which Legit Reviews just finished benchmarking. The TOXIC sports a 100MHz overclock on both GPU and RAM as well as a custom cooler with three fans. While it remains a two slot GPU it is longer than the reference model and requires a full foot of clearance inside the case. Read on to see what kind of performance boost you can expect and how much further you can push this card.
"When it comes to discrete graphics, the $199 price point is known as the gamer’s sweet spot by both AMD and NVIDIA. This is arguably the front line in the battle for your money when it coming to gaming graphics cards. The AMD Radeon R9 270X is AMD’s offering to gamers at this competitive price point. Read on to see how it performs!"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Gigabyte Radeon R9 270X WindForce OC 2GB @ eTeknix
- ASUS Radeon R9 270X Direct CU II TOP 2GB @ eTeknix
- MSI Radeon R9 270X Hawk Edition Video Card Review @HiTech Legion
- Gigabyte R9 270X Windforce @ LanOC Reviews
- Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Edition OC 3GB @ Kitguru
- MSI Radeon R9 270X GAMING 2GB @ Benchmark Reviews
- AMD Radeon R9 280X / R9 270X from ASUS and MSI @ Hardware.info
- ASUS R9 270X Direct CU II TOP @ Kitguru
- Gigabyte Radeon R9 270X OC 2GB Video Card Review @ HiTech Legion
- ASUS R9 280X Matrix Platinum @ Kitguru
- Will it Crossfire? R9 280X & HD 7970 Scaling Tested @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD Radeon R9 280X Graphics Card Review @ Techgage
- AMD Radeon R7 260X Versus NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost @ Legit Reviews
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 19, 2013 - 02:13 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Tahiti XT, sapphire, radeon hd 7990, hd 7990 atomic, hd 7990, dual gpu, 7990
Sapphire appears to be preparing to unleash a factory overclocked dual GPU card called the Radeon HD 7990 Atomic. EXPReview managed to uncover several photos and specification details of the upcoming graphics card. It is quite an impressive card, that features a custom PCB, beefy power delivery electronics, 6GB of total GDDR5, and (best of all) two AMD Radeon HD 7970 GPUs cooled by a full cover closed loop water cooler!
The Sapphire HD 7990 Atomic is based around a custom 12-layer PCB. The card also features an 18-phase VRM, 50A chokes, LFPAK MOSFETS, and Tantalum capacitors. Sapphire has divided the total 18-phase VRM up such that each GPU and 3GB of memory gets 6+2+1 power phases. Of course, the HD 7990 Atomic uses two AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition GPUs for a total of 4,096 stream processors.
Sapphire has not released clockspeed information, but it should be overclocked significantly beyond the company’s existing dual gpu 7990 card’s base and boost clockspeeds of 950 MHz and 1000 MHz.
Other features include a PLX PEX8747 PCI-E 3.0 bridge chip that connects the two 7970 GPUs together, a dual BIOS switch that will allow users to run the 7990 at stock or at overclocked speeds, and a single crossfire connector to enable quad-Crossfire multi-GPU setups. The graphics card is powered by three 8-pin PCI-E power connectors. Finally, it provides six mini-DisplayPort video outputs.
In order to effectively cool the factory overclocked card, Sapphire is bundling a pre-installed self-contained liquid cooler. The closed loop cooler consists of a full cover water block on the HD 7990 Atomic, a 240mm radiator with two 120mm fans, and a combination pump and reservoir that fits within a 5.25” optical drive bay.
Naturally, how much this card will cost and where it will be available is still unknown. With that said, ChipLoco indicates that the card is coming sometime within the “next few weeks.” The extent of the factory overclock is also unknown. It is definitely a high end card worthy of enthusiasts and overclockers. Unfortunately, it utilizes a custom PCB, so it may be difficult to find alternative blocks should users wish to integrate it into their existing custom water loops.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 14, 2013 - 06:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sapphire, hd 7730, GCN, cape verde le, cape verde, 7730
Sapphire has launched its own budget card based on AMD’s Cape Verde LE GPU called the HD 7730. In fact, Sapphire is launching two 7730 SKUs with differing amounts (and types) of on board memory. Specifically, Sapphire is launching a Radeon HD 7730 with 1GB of GDDR5 and a HD 7730 with 2GB of GDDR3 (yes, you read that correctly, the second SKU comes with 2GB of GDDR3 memory).
The HD 7730 is based on the Cape Verde LE GPU, which is similar to the Cape Verde chip used in the 7750 and 7770 graphics cards minus a set of stream processors. The Graphics Core Next-based HD 7730 comes with 384 stream processors clocked at 800 MHz and 128-bit memory bus. From here, the two SKUs differ. One Sapphire card comes with 1GB of GDDR5 clocked at 4500 MHz while the other version comes equipped with 2GB of GDDR3 clocked at 1800 MHz.
For comparison, the HD 7750 comes with 512 stream processors clocked at 800 MHz.
Both Sapphire 7730 graphics cards come with the same dual slot, single fan cooler. Also, both cards support one HDMI, one DVI, and one VGA video output. The cards measure 168 x 104 x 33mm and have a 47W TDP.
Sapphire has not yet announced US pricing or availability, but various sites around the web report that the cards will each cost approximately 70 Euros. That works out to about $91 USD. Unfortunately, that price will likely be hard to justify considering users can pick up a noticeably faster HD 7750 for around that same price. Users building a new system looking for similar GPU specs to the HD 7730 may also wish to look into building a system around AMD’s APUs and skip needing a dedicated card altogether.
You can find more specifications and photos on the Sapphire website. Both cards are listed on the site and can be selected via the filtering options.
Subject: Systems | April 24, 2013 - 06:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sapphire, htpc, edge VS8
Sapphire continues to improve their Edge mini-PCs, the VS8 sports an quad core A8-4555M @ 1.6GHz with HD 7600G, 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 500GB 2.5-inch SATA hard drive, not the most powerful GPU on the planet but more than enough for an HTPC. The entire system is 19.7x18.2x3.1cm, about the size of a 5.25" drive and has both WiFi and BlueTooth connectivity. For outputs you can choose between Mini Display Port and HDMI for video and optical and line out for audio as well as a line in if you need that connectivity. TechSpot really liked this machine but they would like to see a more expensive model with an SSD inside to really make the system snappy.
"While full-sized desktop computers are still around, tablets and smartphones have proven that technology has come far enough to essentially cram a fully capable computer into a space that is suitable for your pants pocket, a purse, or a small backpack. This idea of shrinking hardware hasn’t been overlooked by manufacturers as several now feature space-saving designs based on mobile hardware.
Such is the case with Sapphire’s new Edge VS8 mini-PC powered by AMD’s A8 APU. The system is hardly any larger than an external optical drive, while still packing 4GB of DDR3 memory, Radeon HD 7600G graphics, a 500GB SATA HDD, built-in support for Bluetooth 3.0 as well as 802.11 b/g/n wireless and a bevy of rear I/O connections."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- ASRock VisionX HTOC 321B Ivy Bridge mini-PC @ techPowerUp
- CompuLab Intense PC System Review: Fanless Ivy Bridge @ AnandTech
- Pivos XIOS DS Media Player @ Bjorn3D
- Pivos Xios DS Media Player Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Pivos XIOS DS Media Box @ Funky Kit
- Roku 3 Review @ TechReviewSource
- WD TV Play Review @ TechReviewSource
- Belkin @TV Plus review: TV always, everywhere @ Hardware.info
- Pivos Technology XIOS DS Media Play Smart TV Companion Review @ Madshrimps
Subject: Shows and Expos | January 9, 2013 - 09:11 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Vapor X, sapphire, PCs, graphics, APU, amd
Sapphire was a quick trip with a few interesting things to show off. At the moment we are in a quiet period with AMD and NVIDIA graphics releases. While AMD has released a few of their mobile based 8000 series parts, we are still not expecting a major desktop refresh anytime soon. This is somewhat bittersweet for the graphics partners. On one hand they have more time to differentiate their products and create more value for their consumers. On the other hand there is no major push with new technology that will help the bottom line.
The company is not only involved with graphics, but has a long history of producing motherboards. They offer products for both AMD and Intel, but their primary focus is to address the APU market. FM2 is well fleshed out with Sapphire with A85X, A75, and A55 products. Sapphire does find it slightly easier to compete in the AMD market than going against the biggies in the larger and potentially more lucrative Intel market.
The area where they are hoping to experience the most growth in is the micro PC market. These are very small “desktop” style products based on mobile parts. These are robust little units which do not ship with an OS or the ability to build in an optical device. Due to Sapphire being such a strong AMD partner, they are primarily focusing on APUs in this market as well.
The Edge VS8 is the top product for Sapphire in this market. It is based on a mobile Trinity APU that is quad core enabled running at 1.6 GHz. The graphics portion is the 7600G, which looks to feature the entire complement of GCN units but obviously clocked down to save on power. The VS4 features Trinity but with a dual core processor running at 1.9 GHz.
The lower end Edge HD series is a slightly older unit, and the HD3 runs the last generation Llano processor. They also feature an Intel based HD4 that runs the Celeron 897 processor.
These PCs are shipped without operating systems and can also be bought in a barebones state. For example the VS8 comes standard with 4GB of memory and a 320 GB HD (spindle based). By buying a barebones version a user can easily stack as much memory as possible in the machine as well as use a SSD to give that much more performance.
Sapphire continues to offer their entire line of AMD based graphics cards and are really pushing their Vapor X technology. Which leads us to our next product. Sapphire will start introducing their CPU cooling designs to the market and will be using the Vapor-X technology. Vapor chamber cooling will be coming to the CPU market very soon and at competitive prices.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | December 19, 2012 - 06:56 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, sweepstakes, sapphire, never settle, giveaway, contest, amd
Remember those really cool game streams we hosted with AMD on Medal of Honor Warfighter, Hitman: Absolution and Far Cry 3? Well can you believe that one of the winners from our Far Cry 3 event hasn't replied to our request for a shipping address which means only one thing:
We have an extra Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition FleX graphics card to hand out!
Lucky you! Since it is the holiday season, we wanted to make this EASY for you. Here is how you enter:
- First entry: Leave a comment in this very news post!
- Second entry: Subscribe to our YouTube channel (http://youtube.com/pcper) and leave a comment on this video on YouTube!
- Wait patiently.
We'll randomly pick a winner from anywhere in the world to get this kick ass prize on December 26th, so you'll have something to look forward to on the day after Christmas.
Good luck to all of you and our most heartfelt thanks to AMD, Sapphire and of course the fans of PC Perspective for a great 2012!!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 7, 2012 - 04:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sapphire, vapor-x
Vapor-X graphics cards are certainly recognizable as Sapphire has been creating them for a while now, but a CPU cooler is a completely new thing for them. With the two fans installed this beast can weigh up to 1.5kg and is 135 x 110.4 x 163.5mm (5.3 x 4.3 x 6.4 in), so make sure that your case is big enough to contain a cooler of this size. It also sits very close to the board which can be a problem for motherboards who have DIMM slots very close to the CPU socket. If you can install this cooler you will be impressed by the performance as it beat out the other coolers that Overclockers Club compared it to. The MSRP is $65, quite affordable for overclockers that need a heatsink of this magnitude.
"I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how the Vapor-X Universal CPU Cooler handled the thermal load of the Core i7 2600K and especially how it outperformed what has been my go to heat sink for family builds: the Noctua NH-U12P. Sapphire's Vapor-X Universal CPU cooler performed two degrees Celsius better than the Noctua at both stock and overclocked speeds. The Phantek's cooler shows more cooling is available with a massive air cooling solution that provides an 8 °C improvement over the Vapor-X when the CPU is overclocked. The Vapor-X is not meant to compete at that level yet still delivers acceptable temperatures when overclocked."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- SilverStone Heligon SST-HE02 Passive CPU Cooler @ Tweaktown
- Silverstone Heligon HE01 CPU Cooler Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Sapphire Vapor-X CPU Cooler Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Reeven Arcziel 12 (RC-1203) CPU Cooler @ eTeknix
- Silverstone Heligon HE02 Fanless Passive Heatsink Review @ Frostytech
- Corsair H60 CPU Cooler Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Sapphire Vapor-X CPU Cooler @ Kitguru
- Zalman CNPS9900DF Heatsink Review @ Frostytech
- Arctic F12 Pro PWM 120mm Fan @ Kitguru
- Corsair Hydro Series H80i and H100i Liquid CPU Coolers Review @ Madshrimps
- The NEW Corsair H60 and H55 CPU Liquid Coolers @ [H]ard|OCP
- Corsair Hydro Series H60 & H55 Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Corsair H60 LCS 2013 edition @ Guru of 3D
- Corsair H100i Liquid CPU Cooler @ eTeknix
- Case Smithing: The Stealth Optical Bay Drive @ Tweaktown
- BitFenix Hydra Pro Fan/LED Controller @ Neoseeker
- Corsair H60 Compact Watercooler Review @ Ninjalane
- hermaltake Armor Revo Gene Review @ Neoseeker
- Enermax Hoplite ST Mid-Tower PC Chassis @ eTeknix
- Antec P280 Case @ Rbmods
- NZXT Phantom 820 @ Guru of 3D
- Thermaltake Level 10 GT Battle Edition Case Review @ TechwareLabs
- Thermaltake New Soprano Case Review @ Legit Reviews
- In Win GRone Full Tower Chassis @ eTeknix
- BitFenix Ghost Mid-Tower @ Tweaktown
- SilverStone Sugo SG09 Case Review @ Hardware Secrets
- BitFenix Ghost Chassis @ Kitguru
- Four Versions of Compact: Mini-ITX System Cases Roundup @ X-bit Labs
- SilverStone SUGO SST-SG09 MicroATX Chassis @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 1, 2012 - 10:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vapor-x, sapphire, hsf, cpu cooler, cooling
Sapphire, a popular graphics card add-in-board partner in the US recently announced a new product that strays from the norm. Called the Vapor-X, it is a new tower-style CPU cooler aimed at enthusiasts.
The new cooler has the Vapor-X designation because it uses the company’s vapor chamber heatsink technology to take heat away from the processor into an aluminum fin array. The vapor chamber makes contact with the CPU, and from there four 7mm heatpipes transfer heat to the aluminum fins where two 120mm fans and a black plastic shroud channel cool air through. The fans are rated at 77 CFM and a maximum of 40 dBA. Both fans have variable (PWM) speeds from 495 to 2200 RPM.
The Vapor-X heatsink has a gross weight of 1524.8 grams (approximately 3.4 pounds) including the fans. Dimensions are 135 x 110.4 x 163.5mm, and it is designed to work within the constraints of the LGA 2011 socket without limiting you to low profile memory modules.
Unfortunately, Sapphire does not list a TDP rating for this heatsink, but it is aimed at high end processors with support for the following processor sockets:
- AMD: FM1, FM2, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+
- Intel: LGA 1366, LGA 1155, LGA 1156, LGA 775
While it has yet to show up at Newegg, it is reportedly on its way with a MSRP of $69.99. You can find more photos and specifications on Sapphire's product page.
My first major gaming graphics card was from Sapphire, so it is neat to see the company taking its graphics card cooling expertise and applying it to CPUs. The reviews should be interesting – particularly whether the shroud really helps to lower temps.