Sapphire Radeon HD5850 Toxic reviewed

Product: Sapphire Radeon HD5850 Toxic
Price: £269.99 (inc VAT)

Sapphire has recently added to its popular Toxic range of factory-overclocked graphics cards with the launch of the HD5850 Toxic, which not only has tweaked core and memory clocks also has a non-standard cooler which more efficient and quieter than the standard design.

For its overclocked version of the HD5850, Sapphire has tweaked the core clock up to 765MHz, 40MHz more than the reference design, while the 1GB of GDDR5 memory has had a healthy tweak up from the 1,000MHz (4,000MHz effective) of AMD’s reference design to 1,125MHz (4,500MHz). And should you want to tinker further then the Hynix H5GQ1H24AFR T2C memory chips are rated to 1,250MHz or some 5GHz effective. Also different from the reference design is the size of the Toxic’s PCB which at 256mm is 12mm longer than the normal card, which together with the end-on dual six-pin PCI power connectors is something to think about if you are tight for case space.

To help with the card's efficiency and also keep the operating temperatures down, Sapphire has fitted the Toxic with its own Black Diamond chokes which have built-in heatsinks and there is a separate heatsink for the voltage regulators.

Covering the PCB is Sapphire’s custom vapour-chamber cooler which looks the part in black and blue, but much more important than looks is the way it quietly cools the card. The central two ball bearing fan sits in the middle of a dual-heat-fin arrangement. This in turn is connected to a large aluminium plate which also covers the memory chips. Heat is transferred from the plate to the fins by three copper heatpipes.

The whole thing works so well that even when the card is really pushed (e.g. at very high resolutions in Crysis Warhead) the 88mm fan is hardly noticeable. The back plate holds two dual-link DVI ports, a HDMI port and a DisplayPort, these sit to the side and below an air vent for the cooler.

Unlike many overclocked cards around these days, you might consider the box bundle a bit on the light side, but then again you’ve probably got your suite of favourite games if you are buying one of these cards, so Sapphire just offer the basics but all of which are useful; driver CD, copy of ArcSoft SimHD, two four-pin to six-pin PCI-E power cables, a VGA/DVI adaptor and finally a Crossfire bridge.

See page 2 for test rsults and our verdict

Performance Testing (all in game details set to max)

FarCry 2 1,680 x 1,050 4x AA 4x AscF (fps)
Sapphire Radeon HD5850 Toxic83.61
ATI Radeon HD5850 (reference)79.53

FarCry 2 1,920 x 1,200 4x AA 4x AscF (fps)
Sapphire Radeon HD5850 Toxic75.67
ATI Radeon HD5850 (reference)69.74

Crysis Warhead (enthusiast setting) 1,680 x 1,050 4x AA 4x AscF (fps)
Sapphire Radeon HD5850 Toxic33.90
ATI Radeon HD5850 (reference)29.67

Crysis Warhead (enthusiast setting) 1,920 x 1,200 4x AA 4x AscF (fps)
Sapphire Radeon HD5850 Toxic27.41
ATI Radeon HD5850 (reference)20.64

H.A.W.X (10.1) 1,680 x 1,050 4x AA 4x AscF (fps)
Sapphire Radeon HD5850 Toxic73.10
ATI Radeon HD5850 (reference)69.40

H.A.W.X (10.1) 1,920 x 1,200 4x AA 4x AscF (fps)
Sapphire Radeon HD5850 Toxic69.50
ATI Radeon HD5850 (reference)62.70

THINQ Verdict
Sapphire’s Toxic version of the HD5850 offers better performance than AMD’s reference design as you might expect with out of the box factory overclocking, but perhaps more importantly, it does it a hell of a lot quieter too.

All this at a price that isn’t so far removed from the standard 5850s, making it an attractive proposition.