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Sapphire reveals 8GB Tri-X R9 290X graphics card

by Ryan Martin on 29 January 2015, 11:00

Tags: Sapphire

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As PC gaming tends towards higher resolutions, such as WQHD (2,560 x 1,440) and UHD (3,840 x 2,160), there is increasing demand for graphics cards with large framebuffers. For FHD (1,920 x 1,080) gaming the general rule of thumb was that 2GB of VRAM would support the vast majority of games without framebuffer limitation.

UHD commands 4x the resolution of FHD so, by logic, a larger framebuffer is the new standard for futureproof 4K gaming. Sapphire has been one of the first graphics card vendors to address this current niche by using AMD's current flagship R9 290X GPU to release an 8GB-equipped consumer graphics card.

The current selection of 8GB graphics cards is fairly limited but Sapphire has recently added another, cheaper offering. The Sapphire Radeon R9 290X Tri-X 8GB graphics card builds on the successes of the Vapor-X model released in November. The hallmark features of the new Sapphire graphics card include:

  • 8GB of GDDR5 video memory at 5,500MHz effective across a 512-bit bus
  • Sapphire's Tri-X triple-fan cooling solution
  • A core clock speed of 1,020MHz
  • Scaling up to four-way GPU configurations
  • A dual-BIOS mode for UEFI and legacy systems

The Tri-X cooling solution makes use of a large central 10mm heatpipe combined with four subsidiary heatpipes to distribute heat throughout the large cooling assembly. Three fans, with improved dust-resistant double ball-bearings, ventilate the 2-slot cooler.

Sapphire has also kitted the card out with a fully-custom PCB that offers a 6-phase power design fed by dual 8-pin PCIe connections. Pricing remains unconfirmed but will likely be 10 per cent lower than the Sapphire R9 290X Vapor-X 8GB which currently fetches £420 here in the UK.

A few months back we examined the 8GB Sapphire R9 290X Vapor-X graphics card to assess how much difference the extra VRAM actually makes. We concluded that only a few games can currently take advantage of 8GB of framebuffer unless being played at UHD 4K. Even at UHD most games are bottlenecked by raw GPU horsepower, rather than a lack of video memory, but there are exceptions to that rule.

The first exception is Shadow of Mordor, a game where framerate scales well with additional VRAM at UHD. Another popular title, Skyrim, also scales well with additional VRAM particularly when the game is kitted out with texture-heavy mod packs. Furthermore, UHD users can get around the performance bottleneck by scaling multiple 8GB cards in a CrossFire configuration, allowing them to properly take advantage of the additional VRAM at higher resolutions.

The latter is an important point since many people fail to consider that dual-GPU cards may have double the VRAM of their single GPU counterparts, but that memory is configured in replication. The end result is you are still limited to the total VRAM of a single GPU. The Radeon R9 295X2 and GTX Titan Z are both 4GB- and 6GB-effective graphics cards in gaming scenarios.

Sapphire also sees this card as a halfway house between high-end graphics and professional workstation cards such as the FirePro range. Users who need large pools of graphics memory but don't necessarily want to pay for the certification and extra expense inherent on FirePro may find an optimum solution here.

HEXUS Forums :: 11 Comments

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Bit late in the game for new 290X's…
Bit late in the game for new 290X's…

Yeah thats what I was thinking
Bit late in the game for new 290X's…

Yeah thats what I was thinking

But the 8GB of VRAM complete changes the the 290x into a beast! …Wait… what do you mean it really doesn't make much difference?
what do you mean bit late?? There have been 8gb 290x available for ages.
what do you mean bit late?? There have been 8gb 290x available for ages.

Which is why its a bit late for new models