Sapphire Vapor-X CPU Cooler

Posted by on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 3:16pm

Sapphire have been implementing vapor chamber technology into many of their graphic cards for awhile at this point, ranging from the now-ancient Radeon HD 3870 to the current HD 7970, but now they have crafted it into a CPU cooler. That's right, Sapphire are making an aftermarket heatsink for your CPU, too! The cooler is simply called the Vapor-X and shows promise of being a contender in the high-end air-cooling market. Read on to find out how well it stacks up.

Sapphire Vapor-X CPU Cooler Review


Introduction

By now we are all familiar with Sapphire and their Vapor-X technology based heatsinks as an upgrade feature on many of their graphic cards. Yet if for some reason you have been out of the loop for a while, then here is a recap on how the vapor chamber works.

A vapor chamber is very similar in theory to heat-pipes and how they work. A chemical coolant is turned into a vapor at the point where heat is made (ie: a graphics chip or processor) and that heat is then adsorbed by the vaporized coolant. When this happens the vapor travels to another point, which is cooler than it's point of origin, and the absorbed heat is dissipated when the vapor is condensed back to a liquid. Think of it like a hot and humid day where you open the refrigerator to grab a cold drink in a bottle or can, where almost as soon as the drink container exits the fridge it has beaded up with moisture droplets. In this instance the moisture-rich ambient air has cooled when it came in contact with the cold bottle or can, condensing into water to the point of eventually making drops on the surface. This process then happens over and over again in it's sealed vapor chamber; thus, cooling the source of heat it's attached to. 

Sapphire have been implementing vapor chamber technology into many of their graphic cards for awhile at this point, ranging from the now-ancient Radeon HD 3870 to the current HD 7970, but now they have crafted it into a CPU cooler. That's right, Sapphire are making an aftermarket heatsink for your CPU, too! The cooler is simply called the Vapor-X and shows promise of being a contender in the high-end air-cooling market. Read on to find out how well it stacks up.

Sapphire’s take on the Vapor-X

SAPPHIRE Technology is now shipping the very first CPU cooler. Designed for the enthusiast and based on the company’s award winning Vapor-X technology, the extremely efficient low-noise cooler features dual fans, a rating of 200 watts and a universal mounting for AMD or Intel CPU types.

In a similar configuration to its graphics cards, the vapor chamber is in direct contact with the CPU surface to accelerate the flow of heat away. The heat is then carried away by a multi-heatpipe array and cooling fins.

Final heat dispersion is achieved by two fans, each with aerofoil section blades designed for efficient airflow with low noise, similar to those used on the highly acclaimed SAPPHIRE Dual-X series of graphics cards. The Vapor-X solution results in a high cooling efficiency designed to cater for 200Watts, more than enough even for enthusiasts overclocking the latest CPU types. When operating with lower power requirements, fan speeds can be very low, keeping noise levels to a minimum.


Specifications

Dimension

135 x 110.4 x 163.5mm (5.3 x 4.3 x 6.4 in)

Heat Sink Material

Vapor Chamber / 4x 7mm Heatpipes / Aluminum Fins

Weight

924.85g(net weight); 1524.8g(gross weight)

Heat Pipes Dimensions

ø7mm, 362mmx4

Fan Dimension

120 x 120 x 25mm (4.7 x 4.7 x 1 in)

Number of Fans

2 per unit

Fan Speed

495- 2200 RPM (PWM)

Fan Noise Level (dB-A)

40 dBA Maximum

Maximum Air Flow

2 x 77 CFM

Maximum Air Pressure

2.6 mm H2O ± 10%

Bearing Type

Sleeve Bearing

Connector

4-Pin

Fan Rated Voltage

12 VDC

Fan Rated Current

0.37A

Power Consumption

2 x 4.44 W

Features

Vapor-X cooling Technology
SAPPHIRE’s innovative Vapor-X cooling technology allows greater performance for CPU cooler. A Vapor-X product means a virtually silent functioning experience and more headroom to explore performance tweaking! The vapour chamber is in direct contact with the CPU surface to accelerate the flow of heat away, the heat would then carried away by a multi-heatpipe array and cooling fins.

 

Dual- X Technology
A highly efficient multi-heatpipe cooler with dual fans that provides quiet and very cool operation during normal operating conditions. With SAPPHIRE Dual-X Technology, final heat dispersion is achieved by two fans, each with aerofoil section blades designed for efficient airflow with low noise. 


 

Universal Mount including the Support to LGA 2011, supports the latest Intel Core i7 CPU


 

Designed to handle 200 Watt CPU as the baseline, expanded headroom for overclockers.


 

Fit in standard ATX chassis


 

Enhanced mechanical compatibility with RAM modules.


 

Measurement of diagram


 

Air Flow Chart


 

CPU Socket


Closer look

The Vapor-X may be far from being small, but is nowhere near the size of some of the larger coolers on the market like the Noctua D-14. It is more along the size of coolers like the Thermaltake Frio series, Cooler Master TPC-812 and many of the Zalman units.

The dimensions run 5.3” Wide x 4.3” Deep x 6.4” High (with fans) making it not really a candidate for smaller cases, but should not be much of an issue for your standard sized towers. The cooler feels heavy, and it is as it weighs in at a solid two pounds. Not to fear though, as the mounting mechanism is more than up to the task of handling the weighty Vapor-X.

The cooler is made mostly of metal (naturally), but you might not suspect it to be the case judging from the image below due to the plastic shroud and dual fan configuration. The heavy use of black plastic actually makes the cooler visually pleasing when mounted to the motherboard on account of many also being black. Helps to keep that matching color-scheme going.

The two fan's specifications are what I would call standard and are as follows: each fan is 120 x 120 x 25mm, sporting rotation speeds between a turtle-paced 495 RPM all the way up the more rabbit-like 2200 RPM. This range is enough to let the user know it is PWM enabled. Maximum airflow is at a rather respectable 77 CFM, but doing so at 40 dBA when running at full tilt. So, suffice to say, we won’t be surprised if you can hear the sucker in the next room.

After removing the fans and shroud we see what is a typical tower designed cooler. Made up of your typical aluminum fins and copper heat-pipes (plated in what appears to be nickel).

The fins of the cooler are pretty densely packed, so this is the reason behind the high performance fans as air has to be force through the array of fins. This could not be accomplished with the run-of-the-mill low speed fans we have come to love because of their low noise levels.

The fan mounting is one of the better features of the Vapor-X. They screw into a plastic frame that simply snaps on and off from the main shroud; no springy wire clips or frustrating rubber pins to deal with here. The fans then have a small piece of rubber between it and the heatsink which helps dampen any vibrational noise generated during operation. Removing the rubber piece reveals the fan-to-frame mounting screws, making it easy to replace the fans with others if desired.

The four heat pipes measure 7mm in diameter for each. Each leads into the vapor chamber that makes up the base of the cooler. We also see a couple of screws already secured to the cooler via an E-Clip, and is used for affixing the heatsink to the motherboard bracket.

The base of the Vapor-X is far from the shiniest we have ever seen but we can guarantee its flatness.

Pictured below is the Vapor-X's mountain hardware, which is all you'll need for the present or past Intel and AMD offerings, along with a few applications of thermal paste in a syringe dispenser.


Mounting Images


Testing Methodology
For our testing we will be using the following procedures and parameters to acquire the necessary data:

  1. Thermal compound used is Arctic Silver 5
  2. Idle temperatures are recorded after the system has been allowed to idle for thirty minutes from the point Windows has finished loading.
  3. Load temperatures are recorded by running OCCT for twenty minutes on all available threads.
  4. Real Temp is used for the recording of all temperature sensor reading.
  5. PWM function is disabled via BIOS to allow the fans to run at full speed.
  6. CPU model and overclock speed used for testing are outlined below in "Test Hardware".
  7. Each cooler is first tested with fan(s) supplied from the manufacturer.

Test Hardware:

1. ASUS X79 Deluxe Motherboard
2. Intel Core i7 3930K Processor Overclocked to 4.5GHz at 1.35V
3. Kingston HyperX 1866 DDR3 16GB
4. Kingston V+ 200 120GB Solid State Drive
5. ASUS BC12B1LT BD-Rom Drive
6. Sapphire Vapor-X CPU Cooler
7. Microcool Banchetto 101 Open Air Test Bench
8. Silverstone Strider Gold Evolution 850W Power Supply
9. ASUS Nvidia GTX 560Ti 448 Graphic Card

Results

 


Conclusion

In Sapphire’s first attempt at CPU air-cooling, we found they did an admirable job. The Vapor-X and its vapor chamber technology did just as well on our test bench today as they've been doing on Sapphire's own graphic cards these past few years.

You can look at the $69.99 asking price and say that it is a bit high, but we beg to differ. The value lays in the advance technology which we saw first-hand works, and works well at lowering temps, even on an overclocked and over-volted processor. The value continues on with the inclusion of two very nice 120mm PWM cooling fans, that albeit can get noisy, do at least emit a nice "cold" blue glow when the system is powered on.

Speaking of performance, we saw the Vapor-X challenge the only other vapor chamber cooler we have ever tested in the form of Cooler Master's TPC-812,  and the Sapphire offering easily held its own. We tested the coolers using standard non-PWM (3-pin) fan headers, which left both coolers a little on the loud side but not unreasonably so, with the Sapphire unit pulling out a win by being the quieter of the two. Playing with the coolers using the PWM function and the Vapor-X was very quiet. Overall we were very pleased with Sapphire's first foray into the CPU cooling world.

The mounting of the cooler is simple and straight forward; even a noob can do it. Another good thing about the mounting is the cooler comes with all the accessories necessary to mount it to any current socket motherboard. No need to have to wait for, or order extra parts to install it on your system.

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