Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Toxic 2GB Review

ccokeman - 2010-03-30 17:29:04 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: April 7, 2010
Price: $449

Introduction:

Video cards have come a long way over the past couple years. Their ever increasing performance has to meet the needs of the everyone from the work station user to the high end gamer. This card from Sapphire is aimed squarely at the latter segment of the market. As games become more graphically demanding and with people moving to ever larger resolutions, you need to have the hardware that can handle the load. The HD 5870 is a proven performer in its own right as shown in countless reviews and feedback in forums across the web. With this kind of buzz the only thing left to do is improve upon a proven commodity. This is something Sapphire does and does quite well as seen in the past with their Atomic, Vapor-X and Toxic versions of some of ATIs best products.

For the Sapphire Toxic HD 5870 2GB card, Sapphire has bumped up the clock speeds on the Cypress core and increased the amount of frame buffer memory to 2GB (from the standard 1GB), in addition to a slight bump in clock speed to 1225Mhz. Instead of using the reference cooling solution, Sapphire has equipped this Toxic Edition overclocked card with its proprietary Vapor-X cooling to keep the thermals in check. All this combines to give the consumer another option for increased performance. Lets face it, not everyone likes to tinker with the workings of a video card for more performance, these people just to want to pop in the video card and start fraggin'. Lets see how the Toxic Edition HD 5870 2GB card performs. From the specs alone it looks as though it may jump up a little closer to Nvidias latest, the GTX 480.

Closer Look:

The Toxic HD 5870 2GB card from Sapphire comes in retail packaging that steps away from the use of "Ruby" (ATI's heroine) with the use of a sinister figure under a shroud. The front panel of the packaging shows that this card is equipped with 2GB of GDDR5 memory and is a factory overclocked video card. Some of the Toxic HD 5870 2GB's features are listed on the front panel and include the comparable compute power, Eyefinity and CrossfireX support, the fact that the card features native HDMI and DisplayPort connectivity and the inclusion of software from Arcsoft. The rear panel goes into more detail on more features of the card including the Vapor-X cooling, Black Diamond chokes, Advanced GDDR5 memory and ATI stream technology. On the bottom left you have a long list of awards Sapphires products have earned over the years showing that their products are well received and present a value to the consumer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slipping off the outer sleeve, you are left with a cardboard box that houses the Toxic Edition HD 5870. The paper goods that Sapphire uses for packaging are 100% recyclable, this is something that helps the environment as well as its CRS (Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability) goals. The card is housed in a formed cardboard housing, with a bit of closed cell foam to keep the card in place in its bubble wrapped bag. Under the card is a box that contains the accessory bundle.

 

 

Sapphires video cards always come with everything you need to use the full capabilities of the card. This bundle includes the instruction manual, driver disk, Arcsoft software disk, DVI to D-sub connection, CrossfireX bridge connector and a pair of power adapters to hook up to the 6 and 8 pin PCIe power connections. Pretty much everything you need to get started.

 

With the packaging out of the way, lets dig a little deeper into the card itself to see what makes it tick.

Closer Look:

If the box didn't say so, I would say that Sapphire's Toxic HD 5870 2GB card was the HD 5870 Vapor-X edition. The cards look identical in just about every way. The key words being just about! Under the hood you have the same 40nm Cypress core with 2.15 Billion transistors,1600 stream processors and 80 texture and 32 ROPs units cooled with Sapphires own Vapor-X cooling solution. Where you really see a difference, is when compared to the Vapor-X edition, the back side of the Toxic is covered with an embossed aluminum cooling plate that works to keep the additional 1GB of GDDR5 memory cool. This card supports PCIe 2.0, Win 7, Eyefinity,Stream Technology, DirectX 11 and is built using an in house designed and built PCB that uses proprietary components such as Sapphires "Black Diamond" chokes to allow the Toxic to run cooler and allow performance tuning. Coming in at 10.5 inches in total length from stem to stern, the actual length inside the chassis is 10 inches from the mounting bracket to the rear of the card, making this card easier to fit into a chassis than the 11 inch length of the reference version. Clock speeds on the Toxic have taken a significant swing upwards on the core to 925Mhz, from the factory default 850Mhz, while the 2GB of memory takes a small jump upwards to 1225Mhz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connectivity options on this card are standard fare for the HD 58XX series and include a single DisplayPort connection, 2 Dual Link DVI and a single HDMI connection that supports HDMI 1.3 and up to 7.1 high definition audio. This display configuration will allow you to run an Eyefinity multiple monitor setup with resolutions of up to 7680x1600. The back end of the Toxic is wide open to allow the Vapor-X cooling to breath cooling off the separate heatsink for the power regulation circuit. Another difference in this card when compared to the Vapor-X model is the use of a 6 pin + 8 pin PCIe power connection configuration, instead of the more common 6x6 pin design on the reference cards. This means that ATI recommends a power supply of at least 500 watts for single operation and 600 watts for a CrossfireX configuration with two cards. Of course that number will scale upwards if you add more HD 5870 cards to the mix. This card supports CrossfireX with up to a total of four cards but requires a motherboard equipped with four PCIe 16x slots.

 

 

The cooling system employed by Sapphire to cool down the Toxic 2GB card is their well known Vapor-X cooling solution. It employs their vapor plate technology along with heat pipes to transfer the thermal load from the core and memory, through the vapor plate to a series of heatpipes, to an aluminum fin array. To cool the mosfets in the voltage regulation circuit, you have an aluminum heatsink that bolts on and uses airflow generated by the fan to cool down this high temperature location on the card. The fan used in this cooling solution is manufactured by ADDA and is model number AD0912UB-U7BGL. This translates into is a seven blade, 92mm, DC brushless fan that operates on 12 volts DC, with ball bearings instead of a sleeve bearing. The closest comparison fan that I could find at ADDA's website lists fans that operate at around 3300 RPM and 60CFM at around 39dBA. When you spool up the fan speed to 100%, the rated noise specification sounds about in line with fans I have running at this noise level. When you adjust the fan speed downwards, the noise penalty diminishes quickly.

 

 

 

Once you strip the covering away and get to the bare PCB, you can see the memory arrangement on both the front and back sides of the PCB. The 40nm Cypress core runs at 925Mhz, a substantial increase over the factory clock speeds while the GDDR5 memory gets a smaller bump in clock speed to 1225Mhz, with a boost in capacity to 2GB. The GDDR5 memory used in this application is made by Samsung.

 

 

 

Sapphire uses proprietary components when they build their cards. One of the items that stands out is their "Black Diamond" chokes that run up to 10% cooler and 25% more efficiently than standard components. The power circuitry is located at the back of the card and is covered with a heatsink when in operation.

 

 

Besides the basics, the one thing the cards have in common is the method of cooling the onboard components. While the implementation may be slightly different, the effect is the same. Both start out with a flat vapor chamber that the memory and GPU core directly contact. From there, the solutions differ drastically. I will touch on that later, after seeing how the process works. The vapor plate is used to wick away heat, much the same way a heatpipe does. According to Sapphire's white paper on the vapor plate technology, the liquid inside the vapor plate is something we use each and every day - water, plain and simple. But, water boils at 212° F, right? Not when the pressure is reduced by pulling a vacuum. You can see the port where the vacuum was pulled, and the opening has been soldered shut to prevent vacuum loss. Rather than describe how the process works, I will let the blown-up images show just how simple the process really is. The technology works and has been effective at controlling the thermal load on everything from the HD 3XXX series, right on up to the current top of the line ATI based card the HD 5970 that comes with a vapor chamber cooling solution capable of dissipating 400 watts.

Closer Look:

Before you can start fragging, you have to install the drivers so that you don't sit there utterly disappointed by the graphics performance of this shiny new card. Thankfully, Sapphire has included a disc to get you started although the manufacturer website is a great alternative. I will browse through the disc to see what is included.

After you insert the disc and allow the autorun to start the process, you end up with the Sapphire GUI on the desktop. There are three options to choose from, ATI Easy install, Online Manual, and Adobe Reader. Of course, the ATI Easy install is for installing the drivers and proprietary software to gain the most functionality from your new purchase. You have a choice of operating systems to choose from so just choose the appropriate OS and you get to start the ATI driver install wizard. The Online Manual is a link to download the manual while Adobe Reader links to Adobe's website to so you can download the latest version of Adobe Reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you choose to install the drivers from the disc, just move forward through the process and check the options best suited for your needs. You have two options; you can choose either the express install that manages the whole process for you or the custom install that allows you to choose what software you will install from a list. Agree to the EULA, let the wizard finish, and do the customary reboot to finish the installation.

 

 

 

 

Its been over six months since the HD 5XXX series cards came to market and the availability of DirectX 11 games continues to increase with titles such as Metro 2033, Dirt 2, Battleforge, Aliens Vs Predator, Battlefield Bad Company 2, STALKER Call of Pripyat as well as Unigines Heaven benchmark that has just been updated with an extreme tessellation mode as version 2.0. As time goes by there are more games and game engines coming online as developers make the switch to the DX 11 API.

 

 



 

Closer Look:

The ATI Catalyst Control Center got a new look with the introduction of the 9.7 drivers so it's about time to take an in-depth look at the options and the interface to see how well the GUI is set up and how easy it is to navigate through. Since the basic view is well, basic, I will look through the Advanced panel. The first page to open with ATI Catalyst Control Center is the Welcome page, which has quick hyperlinks to check for driver updates, get in contact with customer care, to give feedback, visit the AMD website, or to join the Folding@Home cause. The next page is the Information Center, which is split into two tabs, one for Graphics Software information and the other for Graphics Hardware information. These two tabs can be very handy for troubleshooting any problems that crop up while using the Sapphire HD 5-series video cards. This series of pictures is a representation of what you will find in the control panel not the current driver selection used and is only for reference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Graphics Hardware tab of the Information Center contains information about the Sapphire HD 5850 Toxic, including BIOS version and date, chipset, memory, vendor code, and so on. Most people shouldn’t need the Graphics Hardware and Software information, but it's definitely handy when a problem may occur. The next page is the Desktops & Displays page – this page is for the basic settings of the monitor(s) and desktop. Users can figure out which monitor is which and rotate the outputted image. Clicking the properties or moving along brings us to the Desktop Properties page.

 

 

The Desktop Properties page has much more control over the desktop with settings such as desktop area, color quality, refresh rate, and again, rotation. The next tab in the Desktop Properties page adjusts the color, contrast, brightness, and gamma output. This can be handy on monitors that need some help putting out the appropriate colors – back when I used a CRT a long time ago it helped keep the colors closer to true when the monitor would get aged and get a gray or yellowish tint.

 

 

The Display Options page is very short and is used just for one option – Display Detection Option. The options are automatic or manual detection of displays. The 3D page has several tabs that allow users the ability to define a custom scheme for their games. There are previews for the effects or users can power through all of the settings on the 'All' tab at the end.

 

 

The Avivo Video page has five tabs dedicated to performance and quality adjustments for video output. A preview is included of a woman with flowers and fruit. Again, just as with the 3D page, there is an 'All' tab that can adjust all of the settings for the Avivo Video at once.

 

 

The last page on the graphics menu is the ATI Overdrive. To use this feature users must first click the "lock" to unlock the program after then agreeing to some terms. The software is capable of automatically overclocking the video card through Auto-Tune, but I prefer using the manual settings. Users can test their settings using the Test Custom Clocks button. Fan speed control is relatively new to ATI Overdrive and allows users to define what speed the fan or blower runs at. Underneath and to the right of this are gauges and readouts of some of the more important data for this card – temperature, usage activity, fan speed, GPU clock speed, and memory clock speed. The test feature brings up a full screen image that is pretty basic – greenish reddish with an AMD logo in the bottom left.

 

 

The latest additional menu is the HydraVision menu. The first page is the HydraGrid page, which allows users to define a grid-like component to lock applications to a certain chunk of desktop real estate. Options such as showing the grids when moving a window and showing an icon in the tray are settable at the bottom while adjusting the grid is near the top. The grid can be previewed as the default layout is seen with white bars representing the grids. Users can customize the grid layout to whatever they desire and the keyboard shortcuts are listed out in the image while the red bar means it is the selected grid component to be adjusted.

 

 

The next page is the Desktop Manager, which does exactly what the name implies – it manages the desktop. The desktop manager can keep track of application position and size, and allow spanning across multiple displays. The last page is the Multi Desktop. This name is also suggestive to its use – this program allows users to have multiple desktops ranging from two up to nine. Users can rotate between desktops with the scroll wheel, preserve display settings, and enable another tray icon. This can be useful for those who have a ton of desktop icons as a means to separate them out – one could for instance even make a desktop for each category of their own choosing even – gaming, work, school, and whatever else.

 

 

I've got to think the additional memory may not offer a huge increase in performance, but the additional clock speed increase of 55Mhz over the Vapor-X model this card resembles, should offer a noticible increase in performance.


 

Specifications:

Sapphire HD 5870 Toxic 2GB

SKU
11161-10-40R
AISC
Radeon HD 5870
Bus Interface
PCI-E x16 (PCI-E 2.0)
Memory
2048MB / 256-bit GDDR5
Clock Speed
925MHz Eclk / Effective 5000 MHz
Mclk
Cooling System
Dual slot Fan with auto fan control
Bracket
Full Height
Display Support
Dual DL-DVI-I
Display Port
HDMI
VGA(Via adaptor)
HDCP
Yes
Crossfire Support
Native Hardware Crossfire
External Power
PCIe Graphic External 2 x 6 pin
Board Power
188Watt(Maximum)
27Watt(Idle)
Accessories
Crossfire Interconnect Cable x 1
DVI to VGA Adaptor x 1
6 PIN to 4 PIN Power Cable x 2
Game Bundle in
11161-10-40R
N/A

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of Sapphire Technology @ http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/product/?cid=&psn=0001&gid=3&sgid=591

Testing:

Testing of the Sapphire HD 5870 2GB Toxic Edition will consist of running the card through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks, to test the performance against many popular competitors to gauge its performance. Comparisons to a 1GB overclocked model will be shown just to see if the additional 1GB of GDDR5 memory has an impact on performance. The games used are some of today's popular titles to give you an idea on how the cards perform relative to each other. The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel. I will test the card at stock speeds and then overclocked to see how much additional performance is available and determine if it can run with or faster than the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. Of course, all settings are left at defaults in the control panels of each respective manufacturer except where noted.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

In the past I have had to make use of a combination of utilities to get the most from the ATI based cards I have looked at. I would use AMD GPU clock tool to raise the core and memory clock speeds above what was possible in the Catalyst control panel. However, when applying the clock speed change, any fan speed adjustments would revert back to the driver controlled auto profile. MSI's Afterburner tool comes in handy to reset the fan speeds without impacting the clock speeds set in the overclocking tool. Why not just use MSI's Afterburner for all of the adjustments? At this time it is bound by the limits set in the CCC (Catalyst Control Center) so the two tool approach is needed most of the time. Not this time though, since the limits set in the CCC were actually set higher than this card is capable of reaching (YMMV) at 1000Mhz on the core and 1500Mhz for the memory. This card already has a big overclock from the factory at 925/1225Mhz thanks to Sapphire installing the core on a heavily massaged, self designed PCB with proprietary components. Starting off I went big with the core at the 1000Mhz limit on the core to see if it would fly and was met with what could be affectionately called the gray screen of death followed by a black screen that I was unable to recover from, barring a reboot. No problem just drop the clocks and try again. 990Mhz was stable for the most part but would fail intermittently, while 985Mhz was good for the whole shooting match. This wasn't the 1000Mhz I was hoping for but close enough. The memory seemed to be good for a 1300Mhz+ clock speed during initial testing, but just would not give it up, and after enough trial and error, 1295Mhz was the limit. Combined together you get a pretty stout combination of clock speeds that combine to provide an increased level of performance above that already delivered by the already higher factory clock speeds. The Vapor-X Cooling is good at the factory clock speeds, but as always cooler silicon equals higher clock speeds. To keep the card cooler while overclocking, I bumped the fan speed to 100%. This kept the card at 53° C under load allowing the Toxic HD 5870 2GB to reach the higher clock speeds. Running the fan at 100% is fine for running the maximum clock speeds, but when you run the card at stock speeds with the driver controlling the action, the maximum temperature I recorded was 69° C. The clock speed increases above the already overclocked speeds amount to about 7% on the core and about 6% on the memory at 60Mhz and 70Mhz respectively. This is not a huge amount of overhead, but when compared to the stock HD 5870 clocks, the increase is pretty substantial. Even so, any increase amounts to free horsepower! The only thing that could have been better was having the ability to tweak the voltage on this card.

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. Darkest of Days
  4. Call of Duty: World at War
  5. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
  6. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  7. Resident Evil 5
  8. Left 4 Dead
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no doubt that the higher clock speeds and additional memory help the Sapphire Toxic HD 5870 2GB card outperform the Powercolor HD 5870 PCS+ and Sapphire reference design. The GTX 480 still delivers a higher FPS in this game.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Crysis Warhead, the Sapphire Toxic HD 5870 2GB is easily faster than the PowerColor PCS+ in all four resolutions. When it comes to a comparison with Nvidia's latest behemoth the GTX 480, the performance of the Toxic equals that of the 480 in the higher resolutions.

Testing:

What would testing be if you did not show both sides of the fence? In this test, PhysX was set to low, while leaving the remaining settings intact. You have seen time and again where the ATI cards suffer when PhysX is enabled. Mirror's Edge and Cryostasis are two prime examples. Darkest of Days is no different. What happens in this test shows that, although the game can be played by cards from the red team, the video effects and quality are diminished.

Game Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

In the 2560x1600 results the Toxic's higher clock speeds and additional memory allow it to equal the performance of the GTX 480, easily outpacing the Powercolor HD 5870 PCS+.

Testing:

Activision's Call of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The game play in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online game play. If you thought CoD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a high resolution. I will use Fraps to measure a section of game play in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare the performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

The results show the GTX 480 is the winner in all four resolutions. However in the 2560 resolution, the difference in performance between the Toxic and the GTX 480 shrinks to 1 FPS.

Testing:

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II is a Real Time Strategy game that is significantly different than its predecessor, with improved AI and an improved physics engine. You can play either as a single player in campaign mode, or in a multiplayer game where Microsoft's Live ranking system can be used.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping up with or beating the GTX 480, the Toxic HD 5870 2GB higher clocks and additional memory seem to have a benefit in this game.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter foes, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to reign the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of Physx technology to create a rich environment for you to play your trade.

Game Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the lower resolutions, the higher clock speeds deliver a performance advantage. However, at the larger resolutions, this margin is reduced when compared to the Powercolor HD 5870 PCS+. Overclocking the Toxic even further does offer an increase in performance.

Testing:

Resident Evil 5 is the sequel to one of the best selling video games of all time. You play the game as Chris Redfield, a survivor of the events at Raccoon City who now works for the BSAA. Sent to Africa to find the genesis of the latest Bio Organic agents, you meet up with another BSAA operative and work together to solve the problem. The game offers incredible 3D effects and a Co-Op gaming style.

Game Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The PowerColor card is covered, but the GTX 480 is still to much of a match for the Toxic 5870. Overclocking helps to narrow the performance gap.

Testing:

Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival!

Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

The Toxic shows that higher clock speeds do indeed help deliver a higher FPS, besting the Powercolor HD 5870 in all four resolutions and beating the GTX 480 in three of the same four tests.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest has begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

  

 

 

 

 

The Sapphire Toxic HD 5870 2GB stays close to the performance of the GTX 480, actually beating it by a slim margin in the 2560x1600 testing. The margin is slim enough at 95 points but still the win goes to the Sapphire at the top end, while the GTX 480 takes the low end.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a factory overclocked card, the Toxic HD 5870 2GB is the top performer in this benchmark, besting the GTX 480 when it is at stock speeds.

Conclusion:

The Sapphire Toxic HD 5870 2GB takes off where the Vapor-X HD 5870 left off. Sapphire upped the ante by increasing the core clock to 925Mhz and adding another 1GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1225Mhz. This offers up a significant performance boost over the reference cards, for not much of an increase in price. With many HD 5870 cards selling in the $419 to $499 range on Newegg, the $449 suggested price point is more than fair for the benefits of enhanced cooling, custom construction and a nice factory overclock... with a warranty! As expected, the Toxic HD 5870 2GB out-classed the reference card pretty much across the board and for the most part, topped the performance of the factory overclocked model. When compared to the GTX 480, the results were much closer at the higher resolutions than at the lower end of the scale. The gap is narrowed a bit with this card, but it does not close it completely. Overclocking certainly is a tool that can almost erase that gap and actually did in some of the game tests. As an overclocked card, the amount of performance tuning that can be done is going to be limited just by the nature of the clock speeds on the card. At an as delivered 925Mhz core clock you are already at 75Mhz above the factory default clocks for the Cypress core. Even so I was able to pull out another 60Mhz to 65Mhz worth of overclocking on the core and another 70Mhz on the memory, for final clock speeds of 985 (990Mhz for some games) on the GPU core and 1295MHz on the memory, all without any voltage control capabilities. Something I see as an oversight. You have the best cooling Sapphire offers, without voltage control while the reference card has voltage control and well... the reference cooling solution. The overclocking performance did allow the card to deliver an even higher level of performance, so the exercise is worth the time commitment if you choose to push the card even harder.

The Vapor-X cooling solution is a proven technology that Sapphire has used as a point of difference for their Vapor-X and factory overclocked models. This cooling solution works. When leaving the fan speed on auto with the card at stock settings, the fan profile kept the card at a cool 69° C under load with the fan speed at only 47%. When you push the fan speed slider up to 100% while overclocking, you get a 16° drop from the stock 69° C down to 53° C. The only problem with the 100% fan speed setting is that the fan does get a bit loud at this level. Around the 75% range you get a great mix of cooling and low noise. The power consumption numbers show that there is not a lot of difference between running the stock clocks verses the extra overclocked speeds with a maximum system total of 364 watts when overclocked and 362 watts when at stock (Although factory overclocked) speeds. Idle usage was just as close at 180 and 181 watts respectively. When you look at the idle to load delta you are pretty close to the 188 watt board maximum power at 184 watts when overclocked. With the Toxic HD 5870 2GB, its tough to say whether the increased performance is a function of the additional memory, or the increase in clock speeds. Whichever it is, you get a card that you can plug right in and have a cool running GPU that is going to fit in most chassis with its 10 inch in total length. This card offers a substantial increase in performance and cooling capabilities over the reference cards, with support for all the ATI technologies including Eyefinity and CrossfireX for a price point that really makes this card a solid choice over a reference card. You really cant go wrong with the Sapphire Toxic HD 5870 2GB!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: