Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 2GB Vapor-X Video Card

We look at our first official 2GB HD 5870. What can we expect from the one that comes under the Vapor-X series from Sapphire?

Manufacturer: Sapphire
13 minutes & 22 seconds read time


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I know that so many people don't even have to read what I write today, nor look at the graphs that I make for the simple reason they've already made up their mind on the HD 5870 2GB. So many people out there want a 2GB version of the HD 5870 because it's perceived as having more performance for the simple fact that it's got double the memory.

At the end of the day, it's not my job to tell you what you can and can't buy, but more to guide you in a direction to help make sure that you spend your hard earned dollars on products that are going to offer the best value to you.

Still, throw in a heap of memory and for some people it doesn't matter; the decision is made that they want and need this. Before we get looking at the performance and the exact specifications of the Vapor-X version of the HD 5870 we have with us today, let's first take a look at the package Sapphire has put together and a closer look at the card itself.

The Package

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Looking through the package, we're not seeing anything out of the usual. There's a bunch of cables, some paperwork and the normal array of discs that we commonly see from Sapphire. What we don't see, however, is unfortunately any full version game; not even in the shape of a Modern Warfare 2 or Dirt 2 Steam voucher.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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The card itself uses the Vapor-X cooling. Not only does it look nice, but in the past it's proved itself as a strong cooler. Today it'll be interesting to see how it fairs with our ever growing list of cards that you'll see in the latter pages. As for any surprises, you're really not going to find anything; we've got a 6-Pin and 8-Pin PCI-E power connector, our CrossFire bridges and all the standard connections needed for Eyefinity.


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On the specifications front the Vapor-X sees a really nice overclock with the core going from 850MHz to 925MHz. As for the 2GB of GDDR5 memory, that's also had a slight speed bump when compared to the reference 1GB model with it now coming in at 4900MHz QDR instead of 4800MHz QDR.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Western Digital, Noctua and Thermaltake.

Today we'll be looking at the Sapphire model against a number of other cards including the reference designed HD 5870 1GB from HIS, the HD 5970 2GB from Sapphire and the GTX 470 and GTX 480 from NVIDIA and GIGABYTE, respectively.

In saying that, Sapphire was smart; because to be honest, you're going to see very little difference between a 1GB and 2GB model. But today you're going to see a difference thanks to the overclock on offer, especially from that extra 75MHz on the core.

Let's get started!

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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Straight away we see the overclock gives the model a nice little boost in both the P and X preset under Vantage.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 1 and 2
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out, if it does it will be included along with the DirectX10 results.

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Unigine sees a nice little bump in the V2 release, but the V1 release not so much.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH


Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10 and Release 11.5
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).

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Thanks to the new 4.5 driver the performance is right up under CINEBENCH R11.5.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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Across the board we see a nice little bump at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - BattleForge


Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.

But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.

Note: Supporting DirectX 11 we have seperated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.

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We again see a nice little bump in all resolutions from the Vapor-X 2GB HD 5870 when compared to the standard 1GB HD 5870.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.

The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.

Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.

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H.A.W.X. follows the trend as we continue to see a nice little boost in performance at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - Darkest of Days

Darkest of Days

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.

The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.

Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High Darkest of Days take advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, NVIDIA based cards though will be tested at Low and High.

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DOD sees a little movement, but nothing to get excited about.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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FC 2 performance is a little wobbly; at the highest resolution the minimum has slightly fallen back. For the most part, though, we see a boost in performance at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.

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We see across all resolutions a bump in both the minimum and average numbers.

Benchmarks - Dark Void

Dark Void

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

The game's story takes place during World War II and centers around a cargo pilot named William Augustus Grey (voiced by Nolan North) who is teleported to another world while flying through the Bermuda Triangle. In this world, known as the 'Void', Will encounters an alien race as well as other humans, which are known as the Watchers and the Survivors respectively.

Will reluctantly joins the Survivors who are engaged in a feud with the alien race to satisfy his desire to return to Earth. While aiding the Survivors, Will discovers that the Void is a middle ground that connects both the Watchers homeworld and Earth. It also becomes apparent that the Watchers are supplying the Axis powers with various supplies for reasons unknown. With the help of Nikola Tesla, Will utilizes retrofited Watcher technology to combat the Watchers and eventually find a way to escape the Void.

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Finally we leave with Dark Void and we again see that same bump across all resolutions.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

Far Cry 2

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With AA and AF turned on we see a small jump in performance, but nothing that is going to make the game playable under these settings.

Resident Evil 5

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Since we're quite close to that 60 FPS average we want to see, the extra few FPS on offer from the Vapor-X is much welcomed.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

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Under H.A.W.X. we can see we're right on top of that 60 FPS average we want to see.

Benchmarks - Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor

Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.51
Timedemo or Level Used: Sample File
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

ElcomSoft has pioneered many software innovations that have made it easier to recover passwords protecting various types of resources. For the first time in the industry, the company's patent-pending GPU acceleration makes its way into Wi-Fi password recovery, reducing the time required to recover Wi-Fi passwords up to a hundred times.

Supporting up to four NVIDIA boards such as GeForce 8, 9, and 200, as well as ATI video cards such as RADEON HD 4000 Series and up, Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor allows building servers with supercomputer performance at a fraction of the price.

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WSA performance is just as you would expect with its overclock placing it ahead of most of the other HD 5870s we've tested.

Sound Tests

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Noise levels on the card are fantastic. Looking closely, you can see it's the quietest idle card we've tested to date. The Vapor-X has always done a good job and on the 2GB HD 5870 there's no difference.

Power Consumption Tests

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power draw doesn't hold any surprises with it sitting where you would expect.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)

Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and ATI are on an even playing field. This includes benchmarks where PhysX can be forced off like Dark Void and Batman: Arkham Asylum, but not Darkest of Days.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, CINEBENCH R11.5, Resident Evil 5, BattleForge, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off), Dark Void (PhysX Off) and our three High Quality tests which include Far Cry 2, Resident Evil 5 and Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.

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A good overclock combined with the added CINEBENCH R11.5 performance from the latest driver and the HD 5870 2GB Vapor-X fares very well against the competition. If you take 4000 points off for the extra performance from CINEBENCH R11.5, you can still see it manages to beat out the HD 5870 and the Eyefinity6 version of the card thanks to the OC.

Total Value Rating (TVR)

Total Value Rating

The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.

In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.

In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.

TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.

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The $529.99 price tag doesn't do the card any favors. In saying that, it's exceptionally better value than buying an Eyefinity6 version which carries with it the same amount of memory, but the default clocks.

Final Thoughts

As always, you pay a premium for the extra memory. The problem is at this level since we're using such high-end GDDR5 modules that price premium is quite major. $529.99 for what is essentially an overclocked HD 5870 is a lot of money and really, you're in the realm of GTX 480 money.

Having said that, the HD 5870 continues to be a more attractive option than the GTX 480 for many people due to quieter noise levels and less heat. At the same time, regular driver updates and the maturity has really established the HD 5870 as a fantastic card.

Really, though, I don't see a reason to buy a 2GB HD 5870 over a standard 1GB one. For many that's not going to matter, however. Really, if you want the extra memory you're better off buying a model like this which carries with it a really nice overclock, but more importantly, a really nice cooler.

The best thing Sapphire did was send us the Vapor-X version of the 2GB card for the simple reason that it's able to stand out against the competition thanks to the cooler and the overclock.

If you're after the extra memory and happy to spend the extra money that is associated with it, have a good look at the Sapphire Vapor-X model. While it does lack a little in the bundle department with no real extras being present, the hero of the whole setup is the card and it does a fantastic job of being a knight in shining armor.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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