Vapor chamber strapped to hot-clocked Radeon R9 290

Sapphire has added another hot-clocked Radeon to its stable. The R9 290 Vapor-X OC features the same, 2560-shader version of AMD's Hawaii GPU as other R9 290 cards. However, instead of clocking the chip at the default 947MHz, the Vapor-X cranks it to 1050MHz. The 4GB of onboard memory is faster than stock, too: 5.6Gbps versus 5.0Gbps in the reference card.

How does Sapphire keep temperatures in check at such high speeds? With a big honkin' cooler, of course.

The cooler is a 2.5-slot design, according to Sapphire, but it will basically take up three slots. The extra half slot's worth of space should at least provide additional airflow to the trio of 90-mm fans mounted on the front face. These spinners change speed in response to graphics temperatures, and all but one of them shuts down when the card is engaged in relatively easy tasks, like rendering 2D desktop applications.

An intricate combination of cooling elements sits under the fans. There's a vapor chamber squeezed between the GPU and heatsink, a separate heatsink connected directly to one of the circuit board's copper layers, and five heatpipes snaking through the whole operation. Interestingly, the heatpipes are different sizes. One is 10 mm in diameter, while the rest are split between pairs of 8-mm and 6-mm pipes.

One of the neatest things about the cooler is the integrated LEDs. The lighting might seem superfluous, but the color changes based on the temperature of the card, which is actually pretty cool.

Sapphire outfits the Vapor-X OC with a handful of other goodies, including legacy and UEFI-optimized BIOSes that can be toggled with the touch of a button. The card has six-phase digital power circuitry, too, complete with fancy chokes and capacitors. At the back, the outputs include HDMI, DisplayPort, and dual DVI ports.

The R9 290 Vapor-X OC is shipping now, Sapphire says, but we're still waiting on the price tag. Most stock-clocked R9 290 cards are still selling for well over list, so I'm not sure an official asking price would be terribly helpful, anyway. For what it's worth, Sapphire's R9 290 Tri-X OC is selling for $480 with coupon code EMCPFPG28 right now. That card also has a triple-fan cooler, but it lacks a vapor chamber and is clocked 50MHz slower.

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