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Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X
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by Rob Williams on November 9, 2009 in AMD-Based GPU

It’s no secret that the Radeon HD 5870 is the fastest GPU on the planet, but what do you get when you take it, toss in a more robust cooler, quieter operation, higher clock speeds and not one, but two free games? You get the Vapor-X, from Sapphire. Despite all that it packs in above the reference version, it modestly carries just a $20 premium.

Crysis Warhead

Like Call of Duty, Crysis is another series that doesn’t need much of an introduction. Thanks to the fact that almost any comments section for a PC performance-related article asks, “Can it run Crysis?”, even those who don’t play computer games no doubt know what Crysis is. When Crytek first released Far Cry, it delivered an incredible game engine with huge capabilities, and Crysis simply took things to the next level.

Although the sequel, Warhead, has been available for just about a year, it still manages to push the highest-end systems to their breaking-point. It wasn’t until this past January that we finally found a graphics solution to handle the game at 2560×1600 at its Enthusiast level, but even that was without AA! Something tells me Crysis will be de facto for GPU benchmarking for the next while.

Manual Run-through: Whenever we have a new game in-hand for benchmarking, we make every attempt to explore each level of the game to find out which is the most brutal towards our hardware. Ironically, after spending hours exploring this game’s levels, we found the first level in the game, “Ambush”, to be the hardest on the GPU, so we stuck with it for our testing. Our run starts from the beginning of the level and stops shortly after we reach the first bridge.

If there’s doubt that the HD 5870 is the best single-GPU card currently on the market, the charts above can pretty much clear it up. The HD 5870 becomes the first card to surpass 30 FPS in this particular title at 2560×1600, with the only other card to ever manage that being the GTX 295.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 295 1792MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Gamer, 0xAA
19
40.381
ATI HD 5870 1GB (Sapphire Vapor-X)
2560×1600 – Gamer, 0xAA
19
33.983
ATI HD 5870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Gamer, 0xAA
20
32.955
NVIDIA GTX 285 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
27
50.073
NVIDIA GTX 275 896MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
24
47.758
NVIDIA GTX 260 896MB (XFX)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
21
40.501
ATI HD 4890 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
19
39.096
ATI HD 4870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
20
35.257
ATI HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
20
35.256
NVIDIA GTX 250 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Mainstream, 0xAA
18
34.475
ATI HD 4770 512MB (Gigabyte)
1920×1080 – Mainstream, 0xAA
19
46.856

The problem with Crysis, is that despite what kind of computer you own, it never seems to run “perfect”. But as I’ve tested the game (and its original) over the past few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that 30 FPS is a good “minimum” average FPS, as at that point, the game is actually rather smooth, and any dips below it aren’t all too noticeable. So in this instance, the HD 5870 becomes the second GPU, aside from the dual-GPU GTX 295, that earns its best playable setting with the Gamer profile.


  • john

    The overclocking section is ridiculous, why do you use third party software for overclocking nvidia cards, and stock software for ati. The bias is so blatant.

    • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

      NVIDIA doesn’t have overclocking capabilities inside of its driver, hence the reason of using a third-party solution. We stuck to what was simplest. Today (this review is three years old), we’d opt to use third-party solutions for AMD as well, such as Sapphire’s TriXX. Overclocking isn’t a major focus of our reviews, however.