Sapphire Radeon HD 6770 Vapor-X Video Card Review



Product: Sapphire Radeon HD 6770 Vapor-X
Company: Sapphire
Author: James Prior
Editor: Pete Vagiakos
Date: June 7th, 2011

Packaging

The Sapphire Radeon HD 6770 Vapor-X comes in a small and compact box, proudly proclaiming its capabilities and feature support. Inside the box you receive the usual accessories, such as case badge, driver CD, DVI-VGA adapter and 4-pin molex power to 6-pin PCI-E power connector adapter. You also get information about the free Sapphire Select Club, with instructions on how to upgrade your membership from Silver to Gold using the serial number of your card. The card itself is wrapped in a nice bubble-wrap ESD safe bag. Overall, we felt that the packaging of the product needs some work, especially if you consider how badly computer components are usually treated when they are shipped to you from your favourite e-tailer.

Sapphire HD 6770 Vapor-X

As we already mentioned, the card is a non-reference design (which is always a refreshing change) - a full height PCB with dual crossfire connectors, rear facing power connector and double slot form factor. Sapphire has selected solid capacitors for use on this board and also utilize their Black Diamond chokes, which claim to improve power efficiency by 25% vs. a normal choke. There are three power phases for the GPU, and one for the memory controller and memory itself.

The cooler is mounted by four spring load screws, attaching it to the GPU core. The cooler is a vapor chamber design, a large copper base mounted directly to the GPU with a vapor filled chamber to wick heat away from the GPU core.

Vapor Chamber

Aluminum fins radiate from the vapor chamber and are cooled by a large (60cm) centrally mounted axial fan. A stylish shroud covers part of the PCB, but does little to guide airflow, mostly shielding the fan from accidental wire/finger insertion. Like the Sapphire HD 5750 Vapor-X, the shroud features an LED-illuminated Sapphire logo.

Hynix GDDR5

The eight memory chips are distributed on both sides of the board, four per side in an L shape. The memory used are Hynix H5GQ1H24AFR T2C chips and rated for 1.25GHz/5Gbps at 1.5v. The cooler does not touch the frontside chips, although they are directly under the fins and airflow from the fan. There is no rear side backplate or heatspreader; all components are exposed.

Vapor-X heatsink & fan

Like the rest of the HD 5000 and HD 6000 series, the HD 6770 features PCI-Express 2.1 support. Current mainboards support PCI-E 2.0, but upcoming AMD 9-series chipsets feature PCI-E 3.0 support. PCI-E 3.0 increases per lane bandwidth, doubling from 500MB/s of PCI-E 2.0 to 1GB/s. More importantly, PCI-E 3.0 supports new encoding methods for lower overhead of clock tracking information, reducing EMI, and CRC checks, increasing available bandwidth. Some of these functions are supported under PCI-E 2.1.

Sapphire HD 6770 Vapor-X

The big changes from the HD 5770 Juniper to the HD 6770 are not in the GPU core, or clocking, but in the display outputs. The display outputs are the standard configuration you'll see on reference ATI Radeon HD 5700s, with two DVI, one HDMI and one DisplayPort. Both DVI outputs are Dual-Link, unlike on other HD 6000 series cards which feature one DL-DVI and one SL-DVI. The DisplayPort remains v1.1 instead of updating to v1.2 like the native HD 6000 series, and the HDMI port increments to 1.4a to support 3D, along with updated UVD 2.2 firmware. The new firmware adds support for BluRay multi-view codec decoding, required for hardware BluRay 3D support and not present in any other UVD 2.2 cards. HDMI 1.4a allows the output to be sent to 3D-ready HDTVs and displays. This means that, unlike APUs featuring UVD 3, you have no DiVX/XVID hardware codec support.

Sapphire HD 6770 CD

The included CD houses a driver install package and some HD 4000 and HD 5000 series PDFs. There's no custom version of Sapphire TRIXX, or wallpaper, or links to Sapphire Select Club, which is a bit disappointing. Of course, you can always download TRIXX directly from Sapphire's website, but at the time of writing this review the card wasn't properly supported - not even clock speed control, let alone voltage adjustment. Sapphire are pretty good at regularly updating TRIXX to include new models, so we're confident that you'll soon find a new version out with support for the new 6700 PCBs.