Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X Review
Ready to pull the trigger on a Radeon 5870 card purchase? Good luck. If you've been shopping for a Radeon 5870 board lately, you know by now how impossible these boards are to find at retailers. No one can keep boards in stock. As soon as a shipment arrives, itís sold out within hours. The situation reminds us of the GeForce 8800 GT shortage from two years ago.
Part of the problem is that ATIís the only game in town right now if you want to upgrade to next-generation DirectX 11 graphics and performance. The 5870 runs about 1.5 times faster than ATIís previous high-end offering, the Radeon 4890, and while NVIDIAís GeForce GTX 295 card is the faster overall graphics card, no single GPU comes close to offering the 5870ís unique combination of features, technology, performance, and surprisingly sublime power consumption.
Without a natural competitor, the 5870 enjoys all the high-end GPU sales. And the 55-nm GPU shortage exacerbates the situation. Finding a GeForce GTX 285 or 295 in stock at a reasonable price is becoming tougher by the day. As a result, demand for the 5850 and 5870 is even greater.
Making matters worse is the lack of supply. TSMC is continuing to run into snags with their 40-nm manufacturing process, even though theyíve had most of this year to resolve their issues.
With 5870 supply unable to keep up with demand, thereís a shortage, and itís not likely to be resolved anytime soon. Rumor has it that ATI recently bumped the price up to $399.99, and a quick check of Newegg confirms it, as all the 5870 cards are out of stock and priced at $400. This is a $20 increase from the end of September.
Fortunately, if thereís one bright side to the 5870 shortage, itís the fact that ATIís board partners have been plugging away at their 2nd-generation 5870 boards despite the shortages. These newer 5870 boards are outfitted with custom cooling and/or factory overclocking.
Sapphire is first out of the gates with a Radeon 5870 board that doesnít rely on the stock ATI 5870 design and cooling. Their 5870 Vapor-X is OCíed out-of-the-box, sports their custom vapor chamber cooling technology, and ships with two games. The best part is, it sells for only $10 more than the bone stock Radeon 5870.
Weíve had a few weeks to put the Sapphire 5870 Vapor-X through its paces and have come away impressed. Read on to see how it compares to the stock Radeon 5870 board.