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Tuesday, 26 January 2010 13:50

Sapphire HD 5770 1GB Vapor-X tested

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: Have Vapor-X - Will run great


Today we’ll talk about one of the quietest HD 5770 offerings - Sapphire’s Vapor-X HD5770. You’re probably already familiar with Vapor-X technology, but if you’re not we’ll brief you real quick – Vapor-X runs similarly to heatpipe technology, although many claim it’s much more advanced, and uses only clean water and vaporization process. Unlike the long heatpipes which transfer heat from the copper base to aluminum fins in charge of dissipation, Vapor-X chamber is a component that brings both copper-base and heatpipe functions together. The advantage is in direct contact with the GPU and a large surface of only a few millimeters thick Vapor-X chamber, which comes in place of a copper base. It then directly receives and transfers heat to the aluminum fins, so except for improved performance, you won’t notice much visual difference between Vapor-X chamber cooling and standard cooling solutions with a copper base. Sapphire has been using this technology for a while now and Vapor-X based cards almost became synonymous with quiet graphics cards.

Thanks to Sapphire, today we’ll show you the HD 5770, which is not only quiet but is ready to provide some pretty high-standard gaming potential. The following picture shows the card, and we must admit it’s a looker.

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Going in the footsteps of Vapor-X family, Sapphire aimed the HD 5770 Vapor-X at those who crave powerful and stable card that won’t stress your ear-drums. The card is only slightly overclocked – 10MHz GPU overclock with memory left at reference clocks. This means that the GPU is up from 850MHz to 860MHz whereas the memory runs at reference 1200MHz (4800MHz effectively).It’s well worth noting that  although the card isn’t overclocked, with cooling such as this, squeezing out more muscle from this card will be a breeze.

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The HD 5770’s ticker, Juniper, features 800 stream processors and 16 ROPs. This is basically a half of what the HD 5870’s ticker, Cypress, packs. The card comes with a 128-bit memory interface, but you shouldn’t worry about bandwidth to much as the card’s GDDR5 memory makes up for 128-bit shortcomings and makes it an equivalent of GDDR3 on 256-bit interface. Of course, Sapphire strapped the card with 1GB of memory, which should come in handy in plenty of scenarios.

Radeon HD 5770 is a DirectX 11 card and one of Evergreen series cards that keeps on making Nvidia’s life increasingly difficult. Performance-wise, the HD5770 is in range with the HD4870, one of the last year’s favorite gaming cards, but the HD5770 brings many improvements over it, such as lower power consumption, Eyefinity technology, improved HDMI and, of course, DirectX 11.

Sapphire never overlooks its trusted customers and has prepared a nice and certainly convenient gift – Dirt 2, which is one of the first and up to date the best DirectX 11 game.













The front of the box shows an icy desert which certainly does well to hint at Vapor-X technology. Of course, a little bit of marketing never hurt anyone so the box highlights the fact that it comes with a free Dirt 2 game.

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Of course, the box also lists other specs such as 1GB of GDDR5, HDMI and DisplayPort outs, ATI Eyefinity multi-monitor support, DirectX 11, ATI Stream technology, PCI Express 2.0, CrossfireX support, etc.

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Vapor-X HD 5770 1GB GDDR5 PCI-E DUAL DVI-I/HDMI/DP, which is the card’s full name, comes in sturdy packaging made of recycled paper. The package holds the card, Dirt 2 coupon, driver CD, installation guide, DVI-to-VGA adapter, Molex-to-6 pin cable adapter and a CrossFire connector.


Specs:
• SKU Number: 11163-00
• I/O Output: Dual DL-DVI-I+DP+HDMI, Triple Display Support
• Core Clock: 860 MHz
• Memory Clock: Effective 4800 MHz
• PCI Express 2.1 x16 bus interface PCI-E x16
• 1024MB /128bit GDDR5 memory interface
• Dual Slot Cooler with Auto Fan Control
• On-board HDMI, supports HDMI 1.3 with High Bitrate Audio
• On-board DisplayPort
• Maximum Board Power: 108 Watt; Idle Board Power: 18 Watt

Features:
• Vapor-X Cooling Technology
• Microsoft Windows 7® Support
• Microsoft DirectX® 11 Support
• Shader Model 5.0 Support
• DirectCompute 11
• Programmable hardware tessellation unit
• Accelerated multi-threading
• HDR texture compression
• Order-independent transparency
• ATI Eyefinity Technology
• Display Flexibility, Supports DL-DVI, DP, HDMI and D-Sub
• HDMI 1.3 support with Deep Color and 7.1 High Bitrate Audio
• AC-3, AAC3, Dolby® TrueHD and DTSHD Master Audio TM Support
• ATI Avivo™ Technology Enhanced Unified Video Decoder 2 (UVD 2)
• ATI Unified Video Decoder 2 (UVD) for Blu-ray™ and HD Video
• On chip HDCP Support
• Accelerated Video Transcoding (AVT)
• 40 nm Process Technology
• 800 Stream Processing Units
• Advanced 1GB/128-bit GDDR5 Memory Technology
• 2nd Generation TeraScale Engine
• ATI CrossFireX™ Technology
• Dynamic power management with ATI PowerPlay™ technology including memory clocks













Sapphire HD5770 Vapor-X comes with dual-slot cooling which is efficient and quiet at the same time. The cooler isn’t large mostly because the small Juniper chip doesn’t get very hot, especially at reference speeds. GPU runs at 860MHz, only 10MHz faster than reference, whereas the memory was left at reference clocks.

As you can see from the picture below, the plastic hood makes the Vapor-X cooler look bigger than it is, although the block that leans on the core isn’t large at all. Of course, this is more than enough to cool this card as we’re talking about Vapor-X here.

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Vapor-X technology uses a vacuum chamber containing water, and you can see the chamber if you look under the fins.

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The plastic hood might serve to lend futuristic looks to the card, but the primary use is directing air towards the cooling block and power components. Although the card doesn’t expel air out of the case via I/O panels, it won’t matter much for the HD 5770 as, unlike it’s HD 58xx big brothers, it doesn’t get hot enough to meaningfully affect other components within the case.

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The following photo shows a chamber that does the vaporizing, and you’ll notice that the chamber is sealed shut in a similar manner as classic heatpipes. If you want a simplified explanation, you can just call it a flatter heatpipe that transfers GPU heat to the fins in a much more sophisticated way than traditional heatpipe solutions are capable of.

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The cooler’s aluminum body is round and the entire surface is covered by the fan. The vapor chamber also features hefty surface are because, in the absence of heatpipes, it has to maintain maximum contact with the aluminum fins that take care of heat dissipation. Note that the chamber doesn’t cool the memory, only the GPU.

The following photo shows the card’s black PCB and four of eight memory modules. Sapphire opted on using 1GB of GDDR5 memory, which is already a prerequisite for many gaming titles, most notably when higher resolutions and antialiasing are used.

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The rest of the memory is located on the back of the card. The memory in question is Hynix GDDR5 H5GQ1H24AFR T2C, rated at 2.5GHz.

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Sapphire kept all the reference connectors – HDMI, DisplayPort and two dual-link DVI outs. This is more than enough for most users but in case you need a VGA out, Sapphire thought of that and included a DVI-to-VGA adapter just in case.

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In case one HD5770 isn’t enough to satisfy your gaming hunger, you can easily add another one as Sapphire HD 5770 is CrossFire ready. The car card requires a 6-pin power cable. The plastic hood features Sapphire’s logo, with a LED glowing behind it when the card is running.

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We used Windows Vista and Windows 7 to see how the card handles different environments. 
 
Testbed 1

Motherboard: Elitegroup X58B-A (provided by Elitegroup);
Processor: Intel Core i7 Extreme 965 (provided by Intel);
Memory: 6GB Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 (provided by Corsair);
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM (provided by SmoothCreation);
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Ultimete 1100W (provided by Cooler Master);
Computer Case: Obsidian 800D (provided by Corsair);
Operating System: Win7 64-bit;
Driver: Catalyst 9.12

Testbed 2

Motherboard: MSI P45D3 Platinum ( Ustupio: MSI );
Processor: Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme edition at 3.6GHz ( Ustupio: Intel );
Memory: Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 ( Ustupio: Corsair);
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM ( Ustupio: SmoothCreation );
Operating System: Vista 32 32-bit SP1
Driver: ForceWare 195.62, Catalyst CCC 9.12

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Sapphire HD5770 Vapor-X holds its own nicely versus the HD 4870 1GB, and it outruns it by 5%. Furthermore, it outmuscled the HD 4850 512MB as well by more than 30%.

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HD 5770 Vapor-X 1GB runs on par with the HD 4870 1GB at 1680x1050 with AA, but it beats the HD 4850 512MB at the same resolution by more than 70%. The good news is that Sapphire’s HD 5770 Vapor-X 1GB card allows for gaming at 1920x1200.

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HAWX didn’t like the HD 5770 Vapor-X much as it lost to HD 4780 by about 10%. It did however outmuscle the HD 4850 by about 20%.

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In Left 4 Dead, Sapphire HD 5770 Vapor-X 1GB allows for gaming at very high resolutions, maximum detail settings and 4x AA. We see that the card scores over 100fps at 1920x1200 without AA and over 70fps with 4xAA.

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Dirt 2 is the game we’ve installed Win7 for, so that we can reap the full benefits of DX11. Although DX11 is still not a standard feature in games, Dirt 2 does utilize some of its functions. The effects are slightly better than when using DirectX 9, but the game is pretty fast-paced, so you won’t exactly notice whether there’s more pebbles and other objects on the track. Our HD 5770 Vapor-X handled the game admirably though and we managed to play Dirt 2 at 1920x1200.


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Sapphire might not significantly overclock its Vapor-X cards, but they do a great job in preparing them for such tasks. Quality power components are important prerequisites for stable overclocking and on the HD5770 Vapor-X, Sapphire used Black Diamond chokes, which are cooler and more efficient than standard ones. Thanks to reliable power combined with Vapor-X’s low temperatures, the card didn’t flinch when we moved the slider to push the card to the max in Catalyst Overdrive. The memory ran stable at 1440MHz, and this overclock brought about 7% improvement in FarCry 2.

The fan on Sapphire HD 5770 Vapor-X card is almost inaudible in 2D and while it gets louder in 3D mode, it’s only slightly louder than in 2D. RPM is automatically regulated and the maximum temperature we recorded was 78°C. Idle temperatures hang around 36°C. Of course, if you’re willing to sacrifice some silence, you can increase the fan RPM and further drop the GPU temperature by more than 10°C.
Compared to the HD 4870 in this respect, Sapphire HD 5770 Vapor-X clearly takes the cake, as the former card easily hits up to 95°C and the fan is too loud.

The HD 4870 1GB card, which overall did score slightly better, caused our system to draw up to 310W, whereas the same rig with Sapphire HD 5770 Vapor-X 1GB drew up to 254W. Idle operation with HD 5770 Vapor-X resulted in consumption at about 156W, whereas the HD 4870 with its lack of efficient power management resulted in system consumption of 192W.
















As soon as we noticed the Vapor-X sign on Sapphire’s HD 5770 Vapor-X 1GB card, we instantly new that this card will be a fierce competitor. We’ve seen Vapor-X technology quite a few times, and it enables for cooler and more stable GPU operations with minimum added costs. This graphics card is strong enough to provide decent gaming at 1920x1200, so if you’re looking for an affordable DirectX 11 gaming card, you’ll definitely want to include Sapphire’s HD 5770 1GB Vapor-X card in your list of candidates.

Apart from silent and efficient cooling, we managed to overclock the GPU and memory and score up to 7% better performance in gaming. Although HD 5770 cards are currently perhaps a tad pricier than they should be, Sapphire HD 5770 Vapor-X 1GB will set you back about €155 and you can find it here, This might seem a bit too pricey, but the free Dirt 2 game makes the deal much lighter.

We were pretty happy with this card which managed to outmuscle reference cards out of the box, mostly thanks to a slight factory overclock. The card ran stable both overclocked and not, it kept “its cool” throughout our testing and was running very quiet – something we really like in graphics cards. All in all, if you’re looking for a fast, reliable, cool and quiet DirectX 11-capable card to play the latest titles, then look no further than Sapphire’s HD 5770 Vapor-X 1GB card.


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Last modified on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 05:03
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