Back at CeBit 2014 we ran a news item regarding a couple of Sapphire branded AMD GPUs that used double the video memory of the standard R9 290X. It was going to be an interesting exercise to see if Sapphire were merely showing units and gauging interest, or if they were actually going to come to market with these 8GB behemoths. It would seem the Vapor-X model is at least hitting the shelves, although with only one retailer for a worldwide exclusive.

For normal 1080p gaming, most graphics cards come with 1GB or 2GB of video memory alongside the GPU. This for all intents and purposes covers most games at this resolution. When the resolution starts increasing, to 1440p, 1600p, 4K UHD or even multi-monitor, then numbers such as 3GB and 4GB become more relevant, especially when running the high resolution texture packs on games such as Skyrim. In these situations, the more video card memory you have, the less likely it is to be a bottleneck in performance. Up until this point, the biggest single graphics processor cards on the market had 6GB (GTX Titans and a Sapphire HD7970), and to get higher required the professional level workstation cards. However Sapphire has once again released a double memory GPU, giving their R9 290X Vapor-X 8GB model.

Specifications give us a 2816 SP Hawaii XT GPU overclocked to a core speed of 1060 MHz in turbo mode. The memory is set at 5.6 GHz, with two dual-link DVI ports, a HDMI port and a DisplayPort. It requires two 8-pin connections for power, and the use of a 600W PSU is a recommended minimum. The Vapor-X cooler is there to reduce temperatures, and Sapphire is also promoting a patent-pending choke design to offer 25% more power efficiency than the standard. A new addition to the Vapor-X line is Sapphire’s Intelligent Fan Control, which means that only one fan will spin while under simple 2D workloads.

The price for this card is £600 inc. VAT (or £500/$848 ex. VAT), compared to the 4GB model which retails for £492 or the R9 290X Matrix for £540. Part of this price will be the memory, and another part of it might be the exclusivity.  I'm currently asking how long the exclusive is for. It comes with a two year warranty and six free games.

The retailer is OverclockersUK, who just happen to employ the world’s number one overclocker Ian ‘8Pack’ Parry. We interviewed him last year at the launch of his personalised 8Pack range of ‘world’s fastest systems’. Part of me wonders if some of the OcUK stock is going to be funnelled into a new project for high performance combined with resolution gaming. In the meantime, OcUK seem to have plenty of stock for users willing to pay the premium.

Source: OverclockersUK

Additional 5/8: I have been told that the entire stock of 8GB Sapphire models are solely for OcUK (and possible partners outside the UK), meaning that if there is interest outside the UK, Sapphire will have to make some more.  Unfortunately what I am hearing suggests that no more will be made.

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  • 3DVagabond - Thursday, May 8, 2014 - link

    Also looks like the 290X uses 2x 8pin
  • DIYEyal - Thursday, May 8, 2014 - link

    There might be workstation/server uses for that card too.. I know it's not a firepro card, but not everyone needs all the pro features.. Too bad it's exclusive..
  • Lonyo - Thursday, May 8, 2014 - link

    Somehow OCUK seems to be getting a number of exclusive things. They have time limited exclusivity on the new Samsung 4k monitor as well. Even other companies, such as Amazon, didn't seem to realise they had exclusivity.

    Not sure how they are pulling it off, and it's also somewhat annoying when other people have cheaper prices. Plus OCUK like to take money up front for pre-orders, which also sucks.
    It's fine being exclusive or first, unless you have some significant deficiencies compared to other retailers, in which case it can be a PITA. A £500 monitor where you take money up front and then maybe ship eventually a month or more later, no thanks.
  • ShainaKNolan - Thursday, May 8, 2014 - link

    This card is phenomenal in every way. I am a gamer and a miner and it chews up and spits out anything I throw at it. Anyone who complains about the "heat this card throws out" obviously doesn't have sufficient cooling. I have run this thing full boar and it doesn't go above 75c.
  • Frenetic Pony - Thursday, May 8, 2014 - link

    Errr, ram total has little to do with resolution, and much to do with the actual game. Just wanted to point that out.
  • PrinceGaz - Thursday, May 8, 2014 - link

    Exactly. The days when the frame-buffers took up a significant amount of VRAM are long gone. A 3840x2160 frame is just under 8MP, so even four frame buffers at that resolution and 64-bit colour would fit into under 256MB.
  • ShieTar - Friday, May 9, 2014 - link

    Technically correct, but some post-processing methods, like certain anti-aliasing modes, can generate a few ten samples per real world pixel. I have seen a few real-world tests where the VRAM fill rate depended almost linear on the number of screen pixels.
  • Folterknecht - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    test in german

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