According to Steam, over 94% of the computer users using Steam are running Windows 7 with DirectX 11 video cards. In fact as of the January Steam Hardware and Software Survey the most popular video card is still the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 which is a DirectX 8 part with a 5.77% market share and the 9800 with a 5.55% market share. NVIDIA and AMD both say that most people upgrade their video cards in a 3 year upgrade cycle.
There’s a sweet spot in the 200-300 price range for new video cards, and both manufacturers fight for every sale at this price point. In point of fact, NVIDIA and AMD either lower prices or release new cards at this price point within a short time of each other. NVIDIA launched the GeForce GTX 560 Ti card recently and AMD countered with a price drop to the HD 6870 and the launch of a new card, the HD 6970 1GB the lineup of video cards it is a very crowded space at these price points.
Sapphire is a manufacturer of video cards based upon AMD chips like the Barts and the Cayman. They were one of the first to launch a HD 6870 in October of 2010 and have released a second series of cards this month. This series is a custom set of PCBs using things like Sapphire’s Vapor-X cooling and different configurations of display options (Flex). Today’s review is on the Sapphire RADEON HD 6870 Vapor-X edition card. It is a reference card in terms of clock speed but the cooler keeps the card running cooler.