Card Layout and Photos
At first glance the Vapor-X 290 looks a lot like the other Sapphire 290’s. This is because they all share the same Tri-X cooling. The first thing that sets the Vapor-X apart is the blue color that they went with where the other models are all in orange. There are other important differences, but you have to look a lot closer to find them. That is where this section comes in handy. Not only do we show off the card here, but also I take a closer look to see what sets the Vapor-X 290 apart.
The top edge of the Vapor-X actually has a lot going on. Starting over on the left side, the small button with the Sapphire logo on it actually switches the card to run on a UEFI BIOS. This is really only important when running Windows 8 and you hope to turn on some of the fast booting options. In the middle of the top, we can see the vapor chamber that makes this the Vapor-X card. If you look close you can also see that this is a custom PCB design, the PCB sticks out from the top a half inch along with the vapor chamber. Most of the heatsink attaches directly to the vapor chamber, helping pull the heat away from the GPU as quickly as possible. Along the top of the fan shroud Sapphire cut out their logo and backlit it, so when the Vapor-X is running the Sapphire glows. Depending on how hot the card is running it will glow blue, yellow, and red. Lastly, over on the right side the Vapor-X 290 actually requires two 8-pin power connections where a standard 290 takes an 8-pin and a 6-pin. Sapphire is obviously expecting overclockers to pull a little more power through the Vapor-X.
For video connections, Sapphire went with the standard four. You get two DVI, one HMDI, and one full sized DisplayPort. That still leaves room for a fairly large vent to help with ventilation, assuming the design blows air that direction.
As with Sapphires previous designs, they focused on packing as much cooling in as possible rather than focusing on pushing air out the back of the case like a reference card will do. This means that the top bottom and end of the Vapor-X 290 is open and blows air into your case. This isn’t a problem as long as you have a case with good airflow, like most gaming cases.
On the backside of the Vapor-X I love the decked out backplate that Sapphire went with. I would have been happy with just a blank backplate but they added a little style with blue and grey stripes. The Vapor-X logo looks upside down in some of my photos but that is because it is designed to be read when the card is installed in your case. This is a small but important touch. Down at the end you can see a small on and off switch. This is for Sapphires Intelligent Fan Control, this actually will let the Vapor-X turn off two of its fans when you aren’t gaming (anytime its temperature is under 60 degrees), this will help drop its noise level down even farther.