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Sapphire Toxic HD 5970 4GB Review

ccokeman    -   April 27, 2010
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Conclusion:

With the Toxic HD 5970 4GB card, I think Sapphire has hit the pinnacle for this generation of GPUs. A card that comes from the factory with a core clock speed of 900MHz and 1200MHz on the GDDR5 memory, the 5970 4GB is incredible. In case your memory is not as fresh as it should be, that equates to a 175MHz bump in clock speed on the two Cypress cores and a 190 MHz bump on the 4GB of GDDR5 memory. The reference cards come with a much lower 725/1010MHz set of clocks. That makes the clock speed increase on this card all the more impressive. Heck, the Sapphire 2GB reference model I have won't even hit 900MHz on the cores, but can nudge a bit past the 1200MHz stock memory clocks on the Toxic 4GB.

At this point, the Toxic does stick it to the reference card in terms of performance with the Toxic finishing ahead of, or equal to the performance of the overclocked 2GB model in pretty much every benchmark, while just blowing away the base Sapphire HD 5970 2GB card when it is run at the default clocks. To put it bluntly, this is the fastest, out of the box video card I have tested. The fact that you can run these clock speeds on a card of this stature with 4GB of memory is pretty amazing. With a small bump in voltage to the cores, I was able to reach 1000MHz without a sweat. I just wish I could have pushed further. Even AMD GPU OC Tool did not give me any love, so 100MHz worth of improvement on the cores is the highest benchmark stable clock speed I could pull from the cores. For full load, long term game stability, I had to back it down a bit to 966MHz. Not bad at all! The 4GB of memory didn't give up as much headroom, but still gave up some additional clock speed to the tune of 48MHz for a final set of clock speeds of 966/1248MHz.

The performance speaks for itself and is impressive in its own right, but whats even more impressive are the temperatures that the Arctic Cooling Xtreme delivered. This cooler is rated for 300 watts of capacity, but easily out cools the reference solution even when its running at 100% fan speed. The idle temperatures were 14°C cooler than the 2GB HD 5970 at idle using the stock clocks and automatic fan control and still even better, the Toxic was 3°C cooler when you ramp up the fan to 100% when the 2GB card was overclocked. The temperatures of 30°C and 67°C under load are excellent by comparison to the stock cooling offered on the Sapphire HD 5970 OC. Not quite water cooled numbers, but very impressive indeed. While the heatsink does its job very well, it is also very large. This is both a benefit and a liability as the card is actually shorter than the reference model which opens up some doors in case choice, but it will take up a full three slots in the case and on the motherboard. As large as the cooling is, the card is stable and is in no way flexible, thanks to the back plate that adds some rigidity to the PCB. Power consumption is going to be a bit higher on this card just due to the additional memory that has to be powered. At the delivered clock speeds, the power usage at idle was about 15 watts higher than the 2GB HD 5970 when overclocked, but the Toxic delivered lower power consumption at the same clock speeds under load, so you have a bit of good and bad. But realistically, if you get a card this strong, I don't think power consumption is at the top of your list of concerns.

Sapphire always crams value into their kits, be it software or hardware, they add it in. The Toxic HD 5970 4GB is no different in this respect with the inclusion of two very popular games. These being Activision's Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 and the DirectX 11 title Dirt 2. If that's not enough, they have included all of the adapters you need to connect to any popular display port form. The Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapter and better yet an Active DisplayPort to DVI adapter are both included, so you can use this card in an Eyefinity setup right out of the box if you have the monitors. If not get them, as this card has Eyefinity written all over it.

I know you have to be thinking this is going to cost an arm and a leg for the bundle and a factory massaged card with a warranty right!? Well you would be right. Its not cheap by any means, but if you are looking for an HD 5970, the going rate is right around $699 for a stock clocked card. I have been told this card will retail for about $1099. Let's see, big time clocks and cooling, 4GB of memory, an excellent bundle with $100 in games and a $100+ dollar Active DisplayPort adapter... Which would you buy, stock or Toxic? The choice is obvious!

 

Pros:

  • Great cooling
  • Overclocking Headroom
  • Great Stock performance
  • Impressive Bundle (Included Active adapter)
  • Size (Shorter than the Reference card)
  • 4GB of Memory
  • Eyefinity support
  • CrossfireX

 

Cons:

  • Size (3 slot cooling)
  • 4GB shows little improvement on non Eyefinity setups
  • Price


 

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