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Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 Toxic 2GB Review

ccokeman    -   March 30, 2010
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Conclusion:

When it comes down to it, a reference designed video card is just that. One with a sticker slapped on it and and plopped into the AIB's (Add in Board) partners packaging. There really is not anything to differentiate the card from manufacturer X & Y but the sticker, warranty and bundle. Don't get me wrong the warranty, bundle and looks of the graphic on the card are selling points, but really underneath you have the same thing. Where am I going with this you ask? Well here it is Sapphire has long had a history of building their own high performance models that offer a non reference design with improved electrical components and cooling. Most of these boards rely on Sapphires Vapor-X cooling to keep the thermal loads under control while running quieter than the reference solution. These cooling solutions are well designed and do the job they were intended for with Sapphire specifying a 15° C drop in temperatures and 10dB drop in noise levels. Even the HD 5970 uses vapor chamber cooling and is a testament to the viability of the technology. In addition to the self designed PCB and power circuits, Sapphire uses proprietary Black Diamond chokes that run 10% cooler and 25% more efficiently to give you a better product and differentiate their brand from the rest.

So hows it perform? It does well in the benchmarking, most of the times delivering comparable performance with the 1GB model of this card but in other games such as Left 4 Dead and Batman, it shows a decided advantage. As a factory overclocked card it is easily faster than the reference card by way of comparison. Cooling performance is another aspect that was measured since this card does use a non-stock cooling solution. Running with the factory clock speeds and letting the driver control the fan speed, the maximum temperature I recorded was 66° C under load with a 39° C idle temperature. The fan reached 43% utilization at this load temperature so you have both cool and quiet. At 100% fan speed you will have some noise but nothing like the reference solution. However, the temperatures are kept in line with a load temperature of 56° C and a 44° C idle temperature. Not bad for the Vapor-X cooling solution. Overclocking on this card was a mixed bag. Leaning on the core yielded an almost 20% increase in clock speed up to 906Mhz, A 25Mhz increase over the 1GB version I looked at last month. That's the good part of the overclocking, now the bad. The memory speed just would not offer any stability past 1160Mhz offering up a paltry 35Mhz in overclocking headroom. Nothing is guaranteed but I had expected a little more from the memory. Still there is headroom offering an improvement in performance. This card requires both a 6 pin and 8 pin PCIe power connection and may be the reason for the higher core clocks by comparison. It does not seem to have impacted overall power consumption though as this card consumed 310 watts vs the 309 watts on the 1GB model. Idle consumption was at 180 watts when the card dropped into 2D mode. The one thing to really set off this card would be an LED or two under the hood to light up the blue highlights on the heatsink cover to give the card a little more flash appeal for those that have a side panel window. Not a crucial item but really would go a long way towards giving it that real bling factor that the design hints at.

With the Sapphire HD 5850 Toxic 2GB OC Edition you have a card that comes equipped for the latest DirectX 11 games, supports Eyefinity technology and has a host of Hi-Def capabilities that makes it a sound overall choice for both gaming and entertainment purposes. Excellent cooling and great looks aside this card offers both increased gaming and cooling performance for a slight up charge. Hey you have to pay to play!

 

Pros:

  • Core Overclocking
  • Vapor-X cooling
  • Proprietary construction
  • Performance
  • Good Looks
  • DirectX 11
  • Eyefinity
  • Lower Power consumption

 

Cons:

  • Poor memory overclock
  • No bling


 

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