Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 Toxic OC Edition Reviewccokeman -
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Based on the Cypress core, the HD 5850 Toxic OC Edition is a product of Sapphire's quest to put out a card that offers real enhancements and that brings real value to the equation. The Cypress core on the Sapphire Toxic HD 5850 OC Edition is equipped with 2.15 Billion transistors, 1440 shader or 160 less than the top dog HD 5870, 72 texture units and 32 ROPs. When it comes to the final clock speeds, the stock HD 5850 comes in at 725Mhz on the core and 1000Mhz on the GDDR5 memory. However this is no stock card from Sapphire. Clock speeds get a nice bump up to 765Mhz and the memory gets a boost up to 1050Mhz. Both are increases that should allow this card to outperform the reference versions. Now where this card really differs from the reference cards is not only on the outside with the blue and black striped design, but it's what's under the hood that is a bit different as well. Under the skin, you have a heatsink based on Sapphire's award winning Vapor-X technology that looks much like what was used under the cover on the Sapphire HD 5870 Vapor-X card I looked at back in November, as well as some quality components that we will look at a little further down the page.
The connectivity options are pretty much standard fare for the 58XX series cards from ATI and its partners. You have a single DisplayPort, HDMI that supports HDMI 1.3 with Deep Color and 7.1 High Bitrate Audio, and two Dual Link DVI ports that combined with the DisplayPort connection you can enable an Eyefinity setup with resolutions up to 7680 x 1600 @ 60Hz - with one monitor supporting DisplayPort. The back end of the card is open, much like the Vapor-X 5870, to allow airflow over the VRM circuits. Power in addition to the 75 watts through the PCIe bus is supplied via the two 6-pin power connections coming out the back end of the card rather than on the top spine. Just like its predecessors, this card can be run in a CrossFireX setup with up to four separate video cards. Of course, a supporting motherboard is required to make it happen. Cooling for the voltage regulation circuits is by way of a separate heatsink under the fins of the fin array of the GPU cooling solution.
The cover on the Toxic Edition HD 5850 comes off by removing the four screws that surround the GPU core. A little heat to break the bond and it pulls right apart. This gives you the first full look of the components on board the PCB, which is, of course, Sapphire's blue self-designed unit. Above that, you have the proprietary Vapor-X cooling solution that is used to keep the GPU temperatures in check on the HD 5850 Toxic. The cooling solution uses a vapor chamber that then has three heatpipes taking the thermal load up to the two fin arrays. Cooling for the memory is accomplished by the large aluminum plate. The fan used has a total of eleven fan blades instead of the seven seen on the HD 58570 Vapor-X. This fan is a uses two ball bearings instead of a sleeve bearing for decreased noise and increased life span. Cooling for the Voltage regulation circuits is handled by a single bolt-on aluminum heatsink.
The Cypress core is built upon TSMC's 40nm process and contains 2.15 Billion transistors that deliver over 2 Teraflops of computing power. The clock speeds employed by Sapphire to deliver the performance goods are 765Mhz on the core and 1050Mhz on the 1GB of GDDR5 Hynix memory. These modules carry the same markings as those used on the Sapphire HD 5770 and provided some stellar overclocking results. Component selection on a video card helps in many ways from increased longevity to lower operating temperatures. One shining example of this is the use of Sapphire's Black Diamond chokes that have built in heatsinks to lower the operating temperatures by 10% and increase the operating efficiency of these components by 25%.
Let's see whether the Toxic Edition does indeed deliver a knockout blow to the reference cards.