Sapphire HD 6850 Toxic Reviewccokeman - November 15, 2010
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The Toxic Edition cards from Sapphire always deliver on the promise of performance and more importantly, offer up some distinct cooling and overclocking additions that separate it from the rest of the crowd. This card measures 9.5 inches in length so fitting this card into a smaller chassis should present no problems. This card is designed to be used in a PCI-E 2.1 x16 slot, but is of course backwards compatible. From the front view, the card features the unique Toxic Edition artwork on the shroud. This card uses a blower reference style fan in lieu of a more elaborate design, which is a surprise for this series. The back of the PCB is covered with surface mount components and the bracket to hold the cooling solution against the core.
Connectivity on the Toxic HD 6850 mirrors the reference version with the use of two DVI ports (one of which is Dual Link capable) an HDMI port that supports HDMI 1.4a and a pair of Display Port 1.2 ports that will allow support of up to four monitors or daisy chaining even more once the drivers are out. The exhaust for the card exits the card through the I/O panel instead of being blown back into the chassis. The back end of the card contains just the power connector for the fan.
On the top of the Toxic Edition 6850 you have a couple of items of note. The first is the Crossfire bridge connection that lets you hook up one other card in a two card Crossfire setup. Why only a two card setup? Much like the other cards in the 6800 lineup, this series is for the mid-range and not the enthusiast, so only a two card configuration is supported. The power connections for this card are a step away from the reference design with the inclusion of a second 6-pin power supply port to provide the card with up to 225 watts. A 400 watt or greater power supply is recommended.
To get at the cooler, memory and core you have to take the shroud off and remove the cooler from the card.This is done by releasing a few tabs around the perimeter of the card and lifting the shroud away. Underneath is a full cover aluminum block that handles moving the heat from the components on the PCB, including the MOSFETs and memory. Over the power circuit there is a finned section of this block that uses the airflow from the fan to provide additional cooling to the board components. The heat sink for the core is a three heat pipe based solution that uses a copper base and heat pipes that run into the fin array.
The heat sink is smaller than I would have imagined for this card, but despite its diminutive size, it does keep the core temperatures in check when using the voltage tweaking tool in Sapphire's TRIXX utility. The base is copper with three copper heat pipes carrying the thermal load from the base to the fin array to be carried by the airflow out the back of the card and out of the chassis.
Once you are down to the PCB level, the major components left to discuss include the Barts core and GDDR5 memory. The Barts core on the Toxic HD 6850 is built using a 40nm build process and houses 1.7 billion transistors. Inside you have 960 streaming (APP) processors, 48 texture units, 32 ROP units and a single tessellation unit. For memory, you get 1GB of Hynix GDDR5 memory running through a 256-bit memory interface. Clock speeds on this card get a boost on both the memory and core to the tune of 820MHz on the core and 1100MHz (4400MHz effective) for an out-of-the-box performance increase.
All initial impressions lead to the Sapphire Toxic Edition HD 6850 being a performer.