Sapphire – Radeon HD5770 Vapour-X review

fast, quiet card for the mid range
Photo of Sapphire – Radeon HD5770 Vapour-X
£142

Sapphire is always at the forefront of bringing something new to the table when AMD launches a new range of GPUs, and it hasn’t taken the company long to bring out its Vapour-X version of the Radeon HD5770, featuring a non-standard cooler which is not only quieter than the reference design, Sapphire also claims it keeps the GPU up to 9 degrees cooler as well.

For those people who’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard of the HD5770, a quick re-cap might be in order. The HD 5770 is a close cousin of AMD’s mighty Radeon HD 5870 high-end card, the first ever to support DirectX 11, aimed at the mid range market and built on the 40nm Juniper core. The core is a cut-down version of the Cypress core used in the HD5870 with around half the number of transistors: 1.04 billion. Yes, that’s right, 1.04 billion packed in a die that is just 185mm² in size.

There are 800 stream processors clocked at the engine’s core speed of 850MHz and 1GB of GDDR5 running through a 128-bit memory bus at 1,200MHz which, because of the way GDDR5 works, comes out as an effective speed of 4,800MHz.

Since the Vapour-X is marketed as a quieter cooling solution, Sapphire has left the core and memory clocks pretty much as per the reference design, with just a 10MHz tweak on the core engine taking it to 860MHz, while the memory stays at the standard 1,200MHz (4,800MHz effective) clock. But with the more efficient cooling that the Vapour-X technology brings, the card should overclock higher and easier than the standard design.

Sapphire’s tidily designed cooler is shorter than the reference design but the card remains a two-slot solution. The Vapour Chamber design of the cooler works in very much the same way as a normal heatpipe cooler but instead of separate heat pipes, there is a single, sealed, large copper plate which sits directly on the GPU, drawing the heat away from the processor and into the array of aluminium fins, which are cooled by the air drawn across them by the large cooling fan.

The end plate holds a pair of Dual Link DVI ports and these are joined by single HDMI and DisplayPort ports. All of which can be used in combinations to support ATI’s Eyefinity multi-display technology. The Vapour-X can support up to three 30-inch monitors at resolutions up to 7,680 by 1,600 pixels using Eyefinity.

Performance-wise, the HD5770 Vapour-X shows just how much grunt the new AMD technology offers to the mid range market. When tested with FarCry 2 with all the in-game details set to their highest levels, it produced an average frame rate score of an impressive 58fps at a resolution of 1,680 by 1,024 pixels, although it did struggle with Crysis Warhead at the same resolution (27fps). But then it’s not the only card that struggles with this game and it’s certainly not the most expensive to find it difficult either.

The in-box bundle is light but nevertheless useful. You get; DVI-VGA adapter, Crossfire bridge, 4-pin Molex to 6-pin PCI power cable adapter, driver CD, ArcSoft’s SimHD (a programme for up-scaling media files) and a voucher for DiRT 2, the DX11 game which was launched in December last year.

Company: Sapphire


Verdict
Sapphire's Vapour-X version of the HD5770 is an ideal solution for those people putting together a quiet system but who don't want to compromise on gaming performance, solutions that seem completely opposed to each other. The Vapour-X offers games performance in spades at barely audible levels of noise and with its DX11 support there's a good degree of future proofing as well. And it won't break the bank either.