Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Reviewccokeman -
Category: Video Cards
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Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Introduction:
As AMD's largest partner, Sapphire has had the leeway to put together some truly inspiring products in the past leading up to the launch of the R9 series Hawaiian Islands based video cards. Previous year's HD 7970 6GB Toxic Edition, the HD 5970 Toxic Edition, and the HD 4870X2 Atomic Edition are prime examples of taking the best that AMD has to offer and making it better. You ask, "aren't the reference versions good enough for gaming?" Sure they are, for the average gamer who is satisfied with the mean average. If you want more, that's when you start looking at the non-reference designs to see what each partner has to offer. In Sapphire's case, it has been at the forefront starting with the HD 3870 Atomic Edition back in January 2008. A card that was equipped with one of if not the first cooling systems with an integrated Vapor-X based contact surface to transfer the thermal load to the fin array. More recently Sapphire has taken steps to further refine the brand with Black Diamond single and double sided chokes coupled with a solid capacitor design to reduce the component operating temperatures upwards of 20 °C.
Last year's HD 7970 6GB Toxic Edition used a massive cooling solution to maintain temperatures well below those of the reference card. To do this Sapphire used a pair of fans pushing though a truly large fin array to keep temperature in check. On the R9 280X Toxic Edition we see the introduction of Sapphire's Tri-X three fan cooling solution that takes up less space vertically and uses a massive 10mm heat pipe to transfer the thermal load away from the core. Another improvement is the addition of dual firmware support for both UEFI-enabled and standard BIOS configurations. Ready to take advantage of the latest AMD and Windows technologies, the Sapphire R9 280X Toxic is, like its predecessors, a factory overclocked video card ready for the demanding enthusiast. Priced at roughly $349, it enjoys a price premium seen on many non-reference designs, especially those that use non-stock components.
If the past performance of Sapphire is any indication of how well this card is built and runs, than the rest of the R9 280X world may be put on notice.
Sapphire R9 280X Toxic Closer Look:
Sapphire packaging takes a step in a bold new direction with gold accents against a black background that no longer prominently features "Ruby", a fixture on the front of Sapphire's packaging for many years. Usually the Toxic and Atomic Editions feature some form of her, but this one features a mechanized soldier ready to go to battle. Both Sapphire specific and AMD standard feature sets are highlighted on the front panel and include the Toxic feature set, HDMI cable, the fact this card is a factory overclocked edition, and that Sapphire's own TriXX overclocking and tuning utility is included. AMD specifics include a 3GB frame buffer, Eyefinity support, and that the R9 280X uses AMD's Graphics Core Next architecture. The back panel looks more closely at what the Toxic Edition offers the end user with an image of the card that matches the color scheme on the package. Opening up the sleeve gets you to the standard no frils inner box that holds the R9 280X Toxic and the accessory bundle.
Inside the package we see that the card is protected from ESD damage as well as transit damage by shipping the card in a foam enclosure that surrounds the card on all four sides. Inside a separate box under the card is the accessory bundle that holds both the documentation and hardware. All told you get the quick installation guide, registration information, driver/software disc, a six-foot HDMI cable, Crossfire Bridge connection, dual 4-pin molex to 6-pin PEG power connections, and a single mini DisplayPort to full size DisplayPort adapter.
As enticing as the specifications sound, the proof is in the pudding as they say. Let's dig a bit deeper into the Sapphire R9 280X Toxic to see how it implemented the solution.