Sapphire Radeon R9 270X Vapor-X Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, be advised that every author perceives these factors differently. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer revisions that occur after publication which could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on this conclusion, as it represents our rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
My ratings begin with performance, where (according to AMD) the $219 Sapphire R9 270X Vapor-X 2G graphics card competes against NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 660 series that costs around $179. Although the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and GTX 660 TI Boost share a similar series name, each have twice as many CUDA cores as the standard GTX 660, and start around $249. This ultimately places the Radeon R9 270X in-between GTX 660 and GTX 660 Ti, at least in terms of price.
In DirectX 11 tests the Sapphire R9 270X Vapor-X typically outperformed the more-expensive GeForce GTX 660 Ti, while easily surpassing the GeForce GTX 580 and AMD Radeon HD 6970 in our benchmark tests. Ultra-demanding DX11 games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum produced 80-FPS from this factory-overclocked R9 270X, which outperformed the GTX 660 Ti’s 60 FPS while closing in on the Radeon HD 7950’s generated 87 FPS. Battlefield 3 actually gave the Sapphire R9 270X Vapor-X a 13-FPS lead over the GTX 660 Ti when Ultra quality settings were used, and got within 6-FPS of high-end GTX 760. Lost Planet 2 played well on all graphics cards when set to high quality with 4x AA, but was a test anomaly that forced the Sapphire R9 270X Vapor-X to trail behind the GTX 660 Ti by 15-FPS. In Aliens vs Predator the performance was more competitive, with R9 270X Vapor-X ahead by 12-FPS over GTX 660 Ti while trailing Radeon HD 7950 by about 6-FPS. Metro 2033 is another demanding game that requires high-end graphics to enjoy high quality visual settings, and the Sapphire R9 270X Vapor-X used its factory GPU and memory overclock to outpace GeForce GTX 660 Ti by 7-FPS while trailing the 7950 by only 2-FPS.
Synthetic benchmark tools offer an unbiased read on graphics products, allowing video card manufacturers to display their performance without special game optimizations or driver influence. Futuremark’s 3DMark11 benchmark suite strained our high-end graphics cards with only mid-level settings displayed at 720p, allowing the Sapphire R9 270X Vapor-X to build a slight lead over the GeForce GTX 660 Ti, and usually enough power to outperform the upper-class Radeon HD 7950. Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark tests used maximum settings that tend to crush most products, yet the Sapphire R9 270X Vapor-X still beat the GeForce GTX 660 Ti by nearly 5-FPS while matching the Radeon HD 7950.
Appearance is a much more subjective matter, especially since this particular rating doesn’t have any quantitative benchmark scores to fall back on. AMD’s Radeon HD series has traditionally used the same recognizable ‘black and red brick’ design over the past few years, which tends to dull consumer appeal. Sapphire breathes new life into this aging look with their Vapor-X twin-fan cooler and rocketship-like thrusters at the end of the fan shroud. Unfortunately this modified design exhausts much of the heated air back inside the computer case, which might possibly increase operating temperatures on less-ventilated enclosures. Fashionably good looks could earn points with some consumers, but it’s the card’s low heat output and quiet operation that should leave the biggest impression.
Construction is an area where Sapphire graphics cards continually shine, and the Radeon R9 270X Vapor-X continues this tradition with a two-year product warranty. Thanks to extremely cool operation paired with highly efficient GPU cores, the Sapphire Radeon R9 270X Vapor-X 2G consumes less energy while emitting less heat. The card requires two 6-pin PCI-E power connections, which are available on practically every mainstream power supply unit. This series offers support for DirectX 11.2, and comes ready for Ultra-HD 4K screen resolutions. Additionally, consumers can have a high-performance single-GPU solution capable of driving three monitors with AMD HD3D support using the two DL-DVI ports with supplementary DisplayPort outputs.
As of October 2013, the Sapphire Radeon R9 270X Vapor-X 2GD5 graphics card (model 11217-00-40G) is available online for $219 (NewEgg / Amazon). This is $29 less than the GeForce GTX 660 Ti that is outperformed on almost every benchmark, proving itself worthy of value-seeking mainstream gamers. A three-year product warranty ensures that their money doesn’t go to waste if something breaks.
Summary: the Sapphire Radeon R9 270X Vapor-X 2G graphics card runs very cool under full load, and seems ideal for standalone desktop installation for mainstream gaming. Multi-card CrossFire sets are also entirely possible, so long as the enclosure is large enough to fit two dual-slot cards and offers above-average case ventilation. For $219.99 you’re getting plenty of bang for the buck from a video card that competes with much more expensive products, and still has room for additional overclocking performance.
+ Outperforms GeForce GTX 660 Ti
+ DirectX 11.2 ready
+ Supports CrossFireX and DisplayPort output
+ Triple-display and AMD HD3D support
+ Sapphire Vapor-X system keeps GPU very cool
+ Relatively low power consumption under full load
+ 2GB GDDR5 video RAM
+ UltraHD 4K display support
– Some heated exhaust is circulated back into enclosure
– Shorter warranty period than others offer
Final Score: 8.9 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: How much are you willing to spend on a graphics card?