Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition Review


Sapphire have a well earned reputation for creating some of the highest quality AMD graphics cards. In February we reviewed their single fan HD7770 1GHZ Overclock Edition and today we are looking at their latest overclocked HD7770 with Vapor-X cooling solution.
The new Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition is their first card in this generation to use the Sapphire Vapor Chamber cooling technology. This core on this card is overclocked to 1,100mhz and the memory runs at 1,300mhz (5.2GB/s effective).
Sapphire were the first company to introduce Vapor Chamber Technology on graphics cards. It was first launched in 2007 with the HD3870 ATOMIC Edition graphics card and was then farmed across into the HD3870 and HD4870 TOXIC Editions and the Vapor X series. If you are as old as me then you will remember this with particular fondness.
ProductSapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock EditionAMD HD7770 1GHZ
Process28nm28nm
Transistors
1.5 billion
1.5 billion
Engine Clock
1,100 mhz
1000mhz
Stream Processors
640
640
Compute Performance1.28 TFLOPS1.28 TFLOPS
Texture Units4040
Texture Filrate40.0 GT/s40.0 GT/s
ROPs1616
Pixel Filrate16.0 GP/s16.0 GP/s
Z/Stencil6464
Memory Type1GB GDDR51GB GDDR5
Memory Clock1,300mhz1,125mhz
Memory Data Rate5.2 Gbps4.5 Gbps
Memory Bandwidth72 GB/s72 GB/s
Sapphire have pushed the GHZ edition core by 100mhz to 1,100mhz, and the memory has also been boosted from 1,125mhz to 1,300mhz, a substantial increase.
As we would expect, Sapphire don’t feature the card on the front of the box, but instead have a very tasty 3D rendered lady in the center. She is either hunting polar bears or is out to kick some ass, James Bond style.
The bundle includes a power adapter, a video adapter and an HDMI cable.
The last overclocked Sapphire HD7770 we reviewed featured a large, single, centrally placed fan. The Vapor X Edition has two slightly smaller fans placed across the full length of the aqua blue PCB.
The card demands a single 6 pin PCI e power connector for operation. It is Crossfire capable in a 2 way configuration only. If you want three way or four way Crossfire you need to aim higher up AMD’s product range. A little disappointing as three or four of these cards might make for an interesting, lower cost Crossfire configuration.
The Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition features dual DVI ports, an HDMI port and a DisplayPort. It is Eyefinity capable.
The cooler is a substantial design, based around two thick copper heatpipes, which connect to a copper core. The more observant among you will notice that this card doesn’t use Hynix memory. Sapphire are using Elpida GDDR5 – marked W2032BBBG.
An overview of the Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition in GPUz. This 28nm Cape Verde core runs 100mhz faster than the reference card @ 1,100mhz. The card features 16 ROPS, 640 Unified shaders and 1GB of GDDR5 memory running at 1300mhz via a 128 bit interface.
On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source. You can right click and ‘save as’ to your computer to view later.
To test today we are using our long standing Core i7 970 system, which is overclocked. We have a variety of hardware benchmarked on this system this year which will make for an interesting market comparison.
Main Test System:
Processor
: Core i7 970 @ 4.6ghz
Graphics: Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition
Cooling: Coolit Vantage
Motherboard: MSI X58A-GD65
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10 GT
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Memory: 6GB ADATA @ 2133mhz 9-10-9-32
Storage: Kingston SSDNow V+ 512GB Gen 2 SSD (Storage) / Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (OS boot)
Comparison Cards:
KFA2 Geforce GTX680 EX OC
GTX680
MSI R7970 Lightning Edition
HD7970
MSI R7950 Twin Frozr III 3GD5/OC
HD7950
Sapphire HD7870 Overclock Edition
HD7870
HD7850
HD6990 (880 core)
HD6970
HD6950
HD6870
XFX HD7770 Black Edition S CFx
HD7770 CFx
HD7770
Sapphire HD7750 Ultimate Edition
HD6790
HD6770
HD6670
GTX590 SLi
GTX590
GTX580 SLi
GTX580
GTX570
Monitors: Dell U3011
Software:
Windows 7 Enterprise 64 bit
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
3DMark Vantage
3DMark 11
Fraps Professional
Steam Client
FurMark
Games:
Alien V Predator
Dead Island
Tom Clancy HAWX 2
Resident Evil 5
Far Cry 2
F1 2011
Total War: Shogun 2
Battlefield 3
Elder Scrolls V: SkyRim
All the latest BIOS updates and drivers are used during testing. We perform generally under real world conditions, meaning KitGuru tests games across five closely matched runs and then average out the results to get an accurate median figure. If we use scripted benchmarks, they are mentioned on the relevant page.
Some game descriptions are edited from Wikipedia.
Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.
Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.
Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:
  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures
We use the following settings: 1920×1080 resolution. Anti Aliasing off. Anisotrophy 4, Tessellation normal. Shaders High. Stereo 3D disabled. API: Direct X 11.
AMD have significantly improved their tessellation performance in this latest range of hardware, as the results show. The Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X manages to outperform the HD6950 from the last generation.
Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7. This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.
The overclocked Sapphire HD7770 scores around 800 points more than the reference clocked card.
3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.
After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.
If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.
The overclocked Sapphire card scores around 300 points more than the reference clocked card in this Direct X 11 benchmark.
HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.
There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.
This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.
Read our initial analysis over here
Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition
Dial
4
Dial with static pattern5
Gray Bars5
Violin5
Stadium 2:25
Stadium 3:25
Horizontal Text Scroll5
Vertical Text Scroll5
Transition to 3:2 Lock5
Transition to 2:2 Lock0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
5
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
5
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5
5:5 FPS Animation
5
6:4 12 FPS Animation
5
8:7 8 FPS Animation
5
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
5
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
5
Random Noise: Sailboat
5
Random Noise: Flower
5
Random Noise: Sunrise
5
Random Noise: Harbour Night
5
Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Luminance Frequency Bands
5
Chrominance Frequency Bands
5
Vanishing Text5
Resolution Enhancement
15
Theme Park
5
Driftwood5
Ferris Wheel
5
Skin Tones
7
Total196
A score of 196 points is class leading right now, and this low power drain card is ideal for a high definition focused media center.
F1 2011 is the newest Direct X 11 racing game from industry pioneers CodeMasters. The 2011 Formula One season is the 62nd FIA Formula One season. The original calendar consisted of twenty rounds, including the inaugural running of the Indian Grand Prix before the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pirelli returns to the sport as tyre supplier for all teams, taking over from Bridgestone. Red Bull Racing are the reigning Constructor’s Champions. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is the defending Drivers’ Champion, one of five World Champions appearing on the grid.
The Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition may be close to the bottom of this chart, but it remains perfectly playable at all times, averaging 42 frames per second at native 1080p resolution.
Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.
To test the cards we used a 1080p resolution with DX11, Texture Quality Very High, MSAA Samples 1, 16 af, ambient occulsion on, shadow complexity high, motion blur on. We use this with most of our graphics card testing so cards are comparable throughout reviews.
At these demanding settings, the Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X averages around 39 frames per second. There are a few times in the test environment that the frame rates drop below the sweet spot @ 25 frames per second. This is noticeable as slight ‘juddering’.
Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. After the events of the first game, the H.A.W.X squadron is sent to Middle East, where a high level of violence is being registered, and the appearance of various insurgents leaders in various hotspots. The team also has to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Russian nuclear weapons. The player will be controlling three groups: one American (Hunter), one British (Munro) and one Russian (Sokov), each with its own pilots and supporting characters. There will also be references to other characters in the Tom Clancy universe.
We are testing in full DX11 mode with all settings to maximum.
Due to the overclocked settings, the Sapphire card averages around 3 frames per second more than the reference card.
Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as Biohazard 5, is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Windows version of the game was released on September 15, 2009 in North America, September 17 in Japan and September 18 in Europe. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
Within its first three weeks of release, the game sold over 2 million units worldwide and became the best-selling game of the franchise in the United Kingdom. As of December, 2009, Resident Evil 5 has sold 5.3 million copies worldwide since launch, becoming the best selling Resident Evil game ever made.
Again, no performance concerns at these settings, averaging 86 frames per second, around 7 frames per second higher than the reference card.
Far Cry 2 (commonly abbreviated as “FC2 or “fc2″) is an open-ended first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 21, 2008 in North America and on October 23, 2008 in Europe and Australia. It was made available on Steam on October 22, 2008. Crytek, the developers of the original game, were not involved in the development of Far Cry 2.
Ubisoft has marketed Far Cry 2 as the true sequel to Far Cry, though the sequel has very few noticeable similarities to the original game. Instead, it features completely new characters and setting, as well as a new style of gameplay that allows the player greater freedom to explore different African landscapes such as deserts, jungles, and savannas. The game takes place in a modern-day East African nation in a state of anarchy and civil war. The player takes control of a mercenary on a lengthy journey to locate and assassinate “The Jackal,” a notorious arms dealer.
Far Cry 2 is still a popular game and the open world environment can be taxing on even the latest hardware available today.
Settings: 1920×1200, D3D10, Disable Artificial Intelligence(No), Full Screen, Anti-Aliasing(8x), VSync(No), Overall Quality(Ultra High), Vegetation(Very High), Shading(Ultra High), Terrain(Ultra High), Geometry(Ultra High), Post FX(High), Texture(Ultra High), Shadow(Ultra High), Ambient(High), Hdr(Yes), Bloom(Yes), Fire(Very High), Physics(Very High), RealTrees(Very High).
A demanding game at 1080p, although the Sapphire HD7770 VaporX manages to average 48 frames per second. More importantly, performance never drops below 30 frames per second, so it is always perfectly smooth.
Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Ōnin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan. The standard edition of the game will feature a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.
We are using the built in benchmark which is available via the STEAM client for this game. You can test your own system against these results.
At 1080p, the result is borderline, as the frame rate does dip a few times into the mid 20′s, averaging 33. At 720p the results are more positive, averaging 86 frames per second and dropping to around 68 in the more intensive battles.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Skyrim‘s main story revolves around the player character’s efforts to defeat Alduin, a Dragon god who is prophesized to destroy the world. Set two hundred years after Oblivion, the game takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim, upon the continent of Tamriel, and the planet of Nirn. The open world gameplay of the Elder Scrolls series returns in Skyrim; the player can explore the land at will and ignore or postpone the main quest indefinitely. Skyrim has received universal acclaim from critics, selling more than 3.5 million copies within the first 48 hours of release.
We tested first with our high resolution 2560×1600 settings.
The Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition averaged 33 frames per second, but it was a tough call, considering the resolution.
We lowered the resolution to 1080p and reduced a couple of the image quality settings to help boost the frame rate.
At these settings, the game was much smoother and less juddery. A good result for the Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition.
According to EA, Battlefield 3 garnered 3 million pre-orders by the day of its release. It is unknown at present whether these figures are worldwide or just for the US. The pre-order total makes it “the biggest first-person shooter launch in EA history”, according to the publisher. The engine is beautiful on the PC and very demanding of the partnering hardware.
It is important to note that the HD7770 Vapor-X Overclock Edition manages to maintain playable frame rates at these settings, even though it is lagging behind some of the higher end cards we have tested recently. Another good result for Sapphire.
The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 24c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.
Idle temperatures were measured after sitting at the desktop for 30 minutes. Load measurements were acquired by playing Crysis Warhead for 30 minutes and measuring the peak temperature. We also have included Furmark results, recording maximum temperatures throughout a 30 minute stress test. All fan settings were left on automatic.
The Sapphire VaporX cooler manages to maintain a 8c variable improvement over the reference card, when idle. Under gaming load the fans spin up to 1,500 rpm, which translates to a 57c load temperature.
When stress tested with Furmark, the temperature rises to 66c, although we noticed that the fan never increased in speed.
When idle, the fans spins at 1,100rpm, so there is only a 400 rpm increase between idle and gaming. A very interesting, non aggressive fan profile for Sapphire.
We have changed our method of measuring noise levels. We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. We are using a heatpipe based passive power supply and an Intel SSD to keep noise levels to a minimum. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests.
Ambient noise in the room is around 20-25dBa. We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the closed chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation.
Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA - Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA - High Quality Computer fan
40dBA - A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA - Normal Conversation
60dBA - Laughter
70dBA - Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA - City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA - Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA - MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA - Orchestra
120dBA - Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA - Threshold of Pain
140dBA - Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA - Instant Perforation of eardrum
As mentioned on the previous page, the fans idle at 1,100 rpm and spin up to around 1,500 rpm, which produces very little noise, even under heavy sustained load. These are exceptional results and this is one of the quietest mid range video cards we have tested.
To test power consumption today we are using a Keithley Integra unit and we measure power consumption from the VGA card inputs, not the system wide drain. We measure results while gaming in Crysis Warhead and record the results.
In such an energy aware climate, AMD are making a big deal out of their new ‘ZeroCore Power’ technology. Many solutions today use power gating, clock gating and memory compression to reduce idle power requirements, but ZeroCore power technology can completely power down the core GPU while the rest of the system remains active.
Power consumption is only 65 watts under gaming load. These cards have always been efficient when we tested them in the past.
To overclock we used Catalyst Control Center today.
We managed to push the Sapphire HD7770 core from 1,100mhz to 1,230mhz. The GDDR5 memory could be increased from 1,300mhz to 1,445mhz (5,780mhz effective).
The additional overclock increased the 3DMark 11 score from 3,732 points to 4,131 points. Not a huge increase, but the hardware is predominately bandwidth limited.
It has been a while since we revisited the AMD HD7770 and I honestly still feel unimpressed with this specific range of cards. While the hardware is well suited for a performance oriented media center the enthusiast gaming audience will undoubtedly be yearning for something with a little more grunt.
To be fair, Sapphire has taken the HD7770 pretty much as far as we would expect with the Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition.
The generous 100mhz overclock to 1,100mhz delivers noticeable gains, although the hardware is always going to be performance restricted due to the 128bit memory interface and limited shader count. We still can’t comprehend why AMD felt it was a good idea to reduce the shader count from 800 on the HD6770 to 640 on the HD7770. The enhanced clock speeds will only deliver a specific level of improvement as the HD7770 is launching from a lower starting point.
Focusing specifically on the Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition shows a significant improvement with noise levels … this card is actually one of the quietest actively cooled cards we have tested. This is due to the very clever fan profile, which has a tight 400 rpm modulation between 1,100 rpm and 1,500 rpm.
In the real world this means that the noise emissions only increase slightly between idle and load. It will be totally drowned out by a couple of case fans. The card responds well to overclocking, and we squeezed 1,230mhz from the core before instability would occur. Sadly this didn’t translate into a huge real world performance boost due to the limited bandwidth of the hardware.
The Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition doesn’t appear to be on sale just yet, although the similarly specified single fan Sapphire OC Edition is currently being sold for £119.99 inc vat. We would assume the VaporX dual fan version to be closely priced.
The biggest competition today still comes from a last generation card which is sold by Amazon in the United Kingdom. The Sapphire HD6850 is available for £102.89 inc vat via Amazon and this would be our first choice at this price point.
Pros:
  • Fantastic cooling performance.
  • Almost silent.
  • decent ‘out of the box’ overclocks.
  • More headroom available.
Cons:
  • HD7770 isn’t a significant improvement on the last generation HD6770.
  • Sapphire HD6850 is a better deal.
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