Sapphire Toxic HD 5970 4GB Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: April 27, 2010
Back when the HD 5970 launched in November of 2009, it was the fastest video card on the planet. Fast forward almost 6 months and well, the HD 5970 is still the top dog when it comes to video cards. So what do you do to follow up the fastest video card on the planet? Well if you're Sapphire, you take the best and make it better. As ATI's largest partner, Sapphire has long been known as a source of high end graphics solutions that easily move to the top of the class when they receive the Toxic, Vapor-X or Atomic treatment. While I have not seen an Atomic video card since the HD 4890, the Toxic and Vapor-X cards have been making the rounds. The latest before this behemoth being the Toxic HD 5870 2GB that offered third party cooling and improved performance via higher clock speeds and additional frame buffer memory. Kind of the same story here, with the improvements made to the Toxic HD 5970 4GB. The HD 5970 is a stout card and Sapphire has made the Toxic even more robust with the addition of aftermarket cooling in the Arctic Cooling Xtreme HD 5970 as well as higher clock speeds. Lets see if the new kid has what it takes to move to the front of the line.
The packaging for the Sapphire Toxic HD5970 4GB shows a dark figure on the metallic front panel. The front panel is chock full of information on the cards capabilities that include DirectX 11 and Windows 7 support, Full HD support via HDMI that includes 1080p and 7.1 sound, PCIe 2.1 compliance, Eyefinity readiness and the 4GB of GDDR5 memory on board that can only help with the large resolutions that an Eyefinity setup will run. An added bonus is the inclusion of two popular game titles: Dirt 2 and Modern Warfare 2. Strangely missing is the CrossfireX Logo, but you can be assured the card is capable. The rear panel defines the capabilities of the Toxic as well as a short synopsis of the cards abilities. On the bottom of the rear panel you can see Sapphire's commitment to the environment with the use of recyclable materials in the packaging as well as the long list of awards their products have earned.
The inner packaging is without information and is a plain cardboard box that houses the Toxic and its accessory bundle. The documentation and game keys are on top of the foam that protects the card from harm. The Toxic is housed in between two foam shells as well as being inside a buble wrap anti-static bag for added protection. The rest of the bundle is housed in a smaller box inside the package and is quite the bundle. Once you pull the card out, its size is evident by comparison to my old school cell phone.
The bundle that comes with the Toxic HD 5970 is pretty impressive. Not only do you get the standard stuff such as the manual, Crossfire bridge connection, driver disk and D-sub to DVI and HDMI to DVI adapters, but you get a couple other things that you do not normally see bundled with other GPUs. You get not one, but two very popular games (Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 and Dirt 2), a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort connection, and the one thing that says use this card in an Eyefinity setup all over the place and active displayport to DVI adapter. The games and the active adapter alone are worth a nice amount of cash by themselves, but for roughly $1100, you should expect to get a few extras.
Seeing how the bundle shapes up I am sure the card will not disappoint.
When you pop the Toxic out of the wrapper you can see right off the bat that the card and its cooling are huge. Huge in one respect, but when you get down to it, the Toxic HD 5970 is actually about half an inch shorter than the reference card, making fitment into a more modest chassis a possibility. The Toxic is built from a foundation of two Cypress Xt cores and a massive amount of memory to the tune of 4GB of GDDR5. The 40nm cores each are equipped with 4.3 billion transistors, 3200 Stream processors, 160 Texture units, 64ROP's and that 4GB of GDDR5 running through a 512bit (2x256) bus. The standard and even OC editions are often running the clock speeds of an HD 5850 at 725Mhz/1000Mhz or even just a little bump above the weak HD 5850 clocks to 735Mhz on the GPU cores and 1010Mhz on the memory. Not so with the Toxic. Sapphire must have spent some time binning chips to get the Toxic to run at 900Mhz on the two cores and 1200Mhz on the GDDR5 memory, as those are clock speeds that just blow away the stock 5970 frequencies. This of course comes with an expectation of performance, but the key is how well it delivers. To keep the thermals in check, Sapphire has gone out of house with the use of Arctic Cooling's HD5970 Xtreme cooling solution that takes the place of the reference cooling and takes it from a two slot to a true three slot cooling solution. Not as aggresive as the water cooling setup used on the HD 4870x2 Atomic card, but close.
The Toxic HD 5970 4GB video card says Eyefinity all over it but the connectivity does not include enough connections for six monitors, but definitely comes with enough for a nice three monitor setup with the 2 Dual Link DVI ports and Mini DisplayPort connections. The included mini to standard Displayport adapter and and active adapter make Eyefinity a reality with this card. All you have to supply is the monitors. The rear end of this card is does not have much to show other than a fan connection and the rubber isolation blocks for the Arctic Cooling heat sink. From a side view, you can see just how the heat sink does its job by following the heatpipes over the cores and into the fin array.
The Toxic is Crossfire capable and can be connected to either another HD 5970 Toxic, for a Quad cor Crossfire setup or you can run it with an HD 5870 for a tri core CrossfireX setup. You can only hook up to one other card based on the single bridge connection. The power source to this card is two 8pin PCIe connections, showing that Sapphire is playing to win and offering the highest clocks you can get.
The Arctic Cooling Xtreme HD 5970 is a massive cooling solution that hard mounts to the card with a series of screws. The backplate used on the board gives it not only structural rigidity, but a heat sink for the 2GB of memory modules riding on the back side of the Toxic. The cooling solution uses three 92mm fans to push a large amount of air through the fin array. The Xtreme HD 5970 cooler uses a series of heatpipes connected to a copper contact plate and aluminum fin array. Attached over the rear of the card is a fairly stout heat sink over the VRM circuit. This heatsink is designed to handle only 300 watts of thermal load while the stock solution was designed to handle a more robust 400 watts.
The Toxic uses two Cypress Xt cores to reach a pretty stout set of clocks of 900Mhz on the two cores and 1200Mhz on the GDDR5 memory. In between the cores, you have a bridge chip that has an AMD stamped heat spreader on what has been in the past a PLX technologies chip. Each of the two cores carries a total of 1600 streaming processors, 32 ROPs and 80 texture units with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. T\he memory on this card is supplied by Hynix and is able to be pushed to higher than stock clock frequencies.
Time to cut to the chase and take a look at just what this card can do in our updated OCC testing.
- Full Microsoft DirectX® 11 Support
- ATI Eyefinity Technology, support up to 3 displays.
- ATI Stream technology
- Microsoft Windows 7 Support
- 40nm Process Technology
- Dual 2nd Generation TeraScale Engines
- Enhanced Anisotropic Filtering
- Accelerated Video Transcoding
- Display Flexibility
- PCI Express® 2.1 support
- Advanced GDDR5 Memory Technology
- HDMI 1.3 support
- ATI CrossFireX™ multi-GPU support for highly scalable performance.
- ATI Avivo HD Support
- ATI Unified Video Decoder 2 (UVD) for Blu-ray™ and HD Video, Accelerated Video Transcoding (AVT)m DVD Upscaling, Dynamic Contrast, Built-in HDMI with 7.1 surround sound support
- Dynamic power management with ATI PowerPlay™ technology including memory clocks
- Dolby® TrueHD and DTSHD Master AudioTM Support: Requires application support for ATI Stream technology
- System Requirements: Sapphire HD 5970 System Requirements, PCI Express® based PC is required with one X16 lane graphics slot available on the motherboard, 650 Watt or greater power supply one 75W 6-pin and one 150W 8-pin PCI Express® power connectors recommended (850 Watt with two 75W 6-pin and two 150W 8-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX™ technology in dual mode) ,Certified power supplies are recommended. Refer to http://ati.amd.com/certifiedPSU for a list of certified products, Minimum 1GB of system memory, Installation software requires CD-ROM drive, DVD playback requires DVD drive, Blu-ray™ playback requires Blu-ray drive For an ATI CrossFireX™ system, a second ATI Radeon™ HD 5970 graphics card, an, ATI CrossFireX Ready motherboard and one ATI.
- Operation System Support: Windows XP(32Bit/64Bit); Windows Vista(32Bit/64Bit); Windows Media Center Edition 2005, Windows 7
All information courtesy of Sapphire @ http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/product/?psn=0001&pid=295
Testing of the Sapphire HD 5970 4GB Toxic Edition will consist of running the card through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors in order to gauge its performance. Comparisons to Sapphire's own 2GB overclocked model will be shown just to see if the additional 2GB of GDDR5 memory has any impact on performance. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles to give you an idea on how the cards perform relative to each other. The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel. I will test the card at stock speeds and then overclocked to see how much additional performance is available and to determine if it can run with or faster than the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. Of course, all settings are left at defaults in the control panels of each respective manufacturer except where noted. The drivers used in this test will be the 10.3 Catalyst drivers for ATI and 197.45 Forceware drivers from Nvidia.
- Processor: Intel Core I7 920 200x18 3.6Ghz
- Motherboard: MSI X58 Eclipse SLI
- Memory: Mushkin HP3 12800 7-7-7-20
- Video Card(s):Sapphire Toxic HD 5970 4GB 900/1200Mhz
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800 watt Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: NEC DV5700
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Case: Thermaltake Armor +
Comparison Video Cards:
- Sapphire Toxic HD 5970 4GB 966/1254Mhz
Right out of the box this card has higher clocks on the core than what I was able to reach when I overclocked the Sapphire HD 5970 OC Edition back in November and even during the retesting of the card for this review. With those kinds of clocks right from the start, I had to wonder how high this card was going to go without throttling. The Powercolor LCS equipped card showed that keeping the card cool pays big dividends by getting over the 1000Mhz barrier. As robust as the cooling is, I will give it a shot. The Catalyst Control Panel and MSI's Afterburner utility will be used to reach the highest clocks I can by using a combination of voltage, clock and memory speed increases to gain additional performance while still maintaining stability. To start with the GPU cores I went big first to see what they would do and they easily hit 950Mhz with a small bump in voltage to 1.23V from the 1.19V default. Going further required another boost in voltage to get higher. Moving up to 966Mhz on the cores required 1.274 volts. Any higher than that was not stable with even 1.30 volts to the Cypress cores. While the card would have no problems with running most games it was just not 100% stable which is part of the testing requirement. Overclocking to the edge when running sub zero temps and short runs will get you higher clock speeds but reliable 24/7 clock speeds at normal temperatures, for long hours of fraggin, will be much lower. That being said, the clock speeds reached on this card reached 241Mhz higher than the default clock speeds on the reference cards and 231Mhz over the Sapphire OC edition, but only a 66Mhz bump over the default Toxic clocks. Cooling the GPU's is the way to better clocks and the Toxic flaunts this with the higher clock speeds at lower temperatures. Even though I did not hit my 1000Mhz goal on the core, a 66Mhz core bump adds additional performance, so the effort is indeed worth it. On the other hand Futuremark benches will run at 1000Mhz barrier....Hmm gaming or benchmarking. I guess you can have the best of both worlds.
Maximum Clock Speeds:
Each card has been tested for its maximum stable clock speeds using MSI's Kombuster utility. So far my testing has shown that higher clock speeds may be stable in games where GPU usage does not reach 100%, but will crash within a few minutes using this utility. The reported clock speeds are those that proved stable over a 15 minute test at 1920x1200 8x AA.
- Gaming Tests:
- Far Cry 2
- Metro 2033
- Crysis Warhead
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
- Darkest of Days
- Bioshock 2
- Just Cause 2
- Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
- Resident Evil 5
- 3DMark 06 Professional
- 3DMark Vantage
- Power Consumption
Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.
- 4x AA
- Ranch Small
- Global Setting = High
Higher = Better
To start off the performance comparison, the HD 5970 4GB Toxic just out performs the HD 5970 2GB OC Edition in all four benchmarks, and it should just based on the increased clock speeds alone. The real comparison is the overclocked HD 5970 2GB card with an overclock that is almost comparable to the 4GB Toxic models base clocks.
Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA Physx and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied - in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots, and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses - chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows, just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.
- DX 11
- Global settings = High
- Physx = off
Higher = Better
This DX11 title puts a load on even the best video cards. The performance of the Toxic HD 5970 4GB is similar to that of the 2GB OC edition, with its maximum overclock in the first three resolutions, but pulls ahead by by another three FPS at 2560x1600. That is about a 15% improvement over the overclocked 5970 2GB. When you overclock the Toxic, the margin grows to a 26.5% increase.
Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.
- Frost Map
- 16X AF
- DX 10
Higher = Better
The Toxic HD 5970 4GB outperforms the 2GB OC edition in all four resolutions. When compared to the overclocked 2GB HD 5970, the FPS delivered is within 1 FPS. The cure for that is to push the clock speeds on the Toxic 4GB HD 5970. When you do that, the Toxic delivers an even higher level of performance.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration of the venerable first-person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.
- In Game settings to Maximum
- Fraps measured Gameplay
Higher = Better
There is no doubt that the HD 5970 is the top performing card in this game. It just so happens the Toxic is the fastest head to head at both stock and overclocked settings. The higher stock clocks of 900/1200Mhz ensure this level of performance. When compared to the overclocked 2GB HD 5970, the Toxic still beats it while running at its default clocks in three out of four tests.
What would testing be if you did not show both sides of the fence? In this test, PhysX was set to low, while leaving the remaining settings intact. You have seen time and again where the ATI cards suffer when PhysX is enabled. Mirror's Edge and Cryostasis are two prime examples. Darkest of Days is no different. What happens in this test shows that, although the game can be played by cards from the red team, the video effects and quality are diminished.
- Global Settings = High
- Physx Low
- Ambient Occlusion On
Higher = Better
It's clearly evident that even with the latest Crossfire profiles from ATI, that this game is not well supported. The frame rates delivered by the Toxic are close to what the HD 5870 delivers, showing that just one core is working.
BioShock 2 is the sequel to a game that won more than 50 game of the year awards and sold more than 2.5 million units worldwide. Though a first-person shooter at its core, BioShock 2 blends that with RPG elements and drops you into an environment like no other - the underwater dystopian city of Rapture. Set approximately ten years after the events of the original, BioShock 2 allows the player to be one of the most iconic video game characters of recent years, a Big Daddy. Powered by the Unreal Engine 2.5 and featuring Havok Physics, BioShock 2 also adds multiplayer to the mix, filling in the one hole prevalent in the first game. There are seven different multiplayer game modes that take place in 1959, before the events of the original BioShock.
- Game settings = Maximum
- 4X AA in CP
- 16XAF in CP
- Fraps measured Game play
Higher = Better
There is no doubt that the HD 5970's are the fastest cards in this game. At 2560x1600 the Toxic at stock clocks is 6 FPS faster than the 2GB card when overclocked. It seems the GTX 480 does not do as well in this game with the chosen settings.
Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main storyline, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to; crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.
- Gloabal Settings = High
- Water Detail = Medium
- Dark Tower Time Demo
Higher = Better
The 2GB HD 5970 OC stays within 10 FPS of the Toxic Edition across all four resolutions. When overclocked, the gap shrinks to within 4 FPS at 2560x1600.
Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes; Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and OpenGL. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.
- Shaders = High
- Tesselation = Normal
- Measurement = FPS
Higher = Better
Th higher clock speeds really help the Toxic in this benchmark. Against the stock clocked 2GB HD 5970, the Toxic just outperforms it at every resolution. When you compare the stock Toxic against the overclocked 2GB card the scores are closer but the nod goes to the Toxic in three out of four tests with one tied. Against the best single GPU cards from both ATI and Nvidia, the Toxic is easily faster than both with the GTX 480 faster than the HD 5870.
Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter foes, The Joker and Batman. The Joker Has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to ply your trade.
- 4xAA in CP
- 16xAF in CP
- Global settings = High
- Ambient Occlusion = On
Higher = Better
The trend so far has been that the Toxic 4GB card has delivered performance either on par with, or slightly better than the overclocked 2GB version of the HD 5970 from Sapphire. That, for the most part, holds true in Batman as well. The upside is that the Toxic has more head room for increased clock speeds.The single GPU cards just cannot keep pace with the dual GPU cards.
Resident Evil 5 is the sequel to one of the best selling video games of all time. You play the game as Chris Redfield a survivor of the events at Raccoon City who now works for the BSAA. Sent to Africa to find the gen6sis of the latest Bio Organic agents you meet up with another BSAA operative and work together to solve the problem. The game offers incredible 3D effects and a co-op gaming style.
- 16xAF in CP
- Global settings = high
Higher = Better
When you push the clock speeds higher than the default 900/1200Mhz clocks, the Toxic just blows away the HD 5970 OC edition in both stock and overclocked trim. The GTX 480 makes a good effort but is not quite there. It does handily beat the HD 5870 though.
3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest has begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.
- Default test settings
- Resolutiions 1280-1024-2560x1600
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: CPU1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
Higher = Better
At all four resolutions, the 4GB Toxic HD 5970 out-performs the overclocked HD 5970 OC Edition, while delivering a much higer level of performance when compared head to head at the default settings for both cards.
Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.
- Settings (each preset): Default Testing
- Entry: 1024x768
- Performance: 1280x1024
- High: 1680x1050
- Extreme: 1920x1200
Higher = Better
The Toxic 4GB card handily crushes the competition at its default and overclocked core and memory clock speeds. When comparing across testing regimens, the Toxic at default clocks is faster the the 2GB card when overclocked at the larger resolutions.
Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using the MSI Kombuster utility that is paired with MSI's afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using the stability test set to a resolution of 1920x1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 15 minute time frame to run the test ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video cards BIOS for the first test with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario. The idle test will be a 20 minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic.
- Monitoring with MSI Afterburner
- GPU Stability test in MSI Kombuster
- 15 minute load duration
- 15 minute idle duration
- Temperature Measured in degrees Celsius
Lower = Better
When it comes to cooling a dual GPU card, you are going to see higher temperatures from the hardware based on how the fan and heatsink are arranged. The 2GB model from Sapphire, as well as the rest of the reference designs, use a Vapor chamber equipped heatsink that can dissipate up to 400 watts of GPU load. Sapphire has gone outside the box with the use of Arctic Cooling's Accelero Xtreme 5970 cooling. The Toxic delivers great temps with the idle temperature at 30°C and the load at 67°C which is a full 19° cooler than the 2GB card when the fan speed is at 100%. Impressive! Even when you bump up the voltage, the cooler still delivers better thermals than the reference cooling solution by 8°C without the noise generated by the reference solution.
Power Consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and load stated and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a 15 minute test an use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The Idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system.
- MSI Kombuster Stability test
- 1920x1200 Resolution
- 15 minute load test
- 15 minute idle test
- Measurement is in Watts
Lower = Better
When you look at the power consumption numbers for the Toxic 5970 4GB, the idle power usage and load usage are significantly higher than the 2GB model. But to put it into perspective, you really need to look at the overclocked HD 5970 2GB usage numbers for a fair comparison as the Toxic runs clock speeds similar to the overclock reached on the 2GB model. Under load, the Toxic is more efficient than the manually overclocked HD 5970 2GB from Sapphire. At idle, the Toxic uses 15 watts more than the 2GB model. So at idle, the 2GB card at both stock and overclocked speeds is more efficient in an idle state.
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 14Â°C cooler than the 2GB HD 5970 at idle using the stock clocks and automatic fan control and still even better, the Toxic was 3Â°C cooler when you ramp up the fan to 100% when the 2GB card was overclocked. The temperatures of 30Â°C and 67Â°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!
- Great cooling
- Overclocking Headroom
- Great Stock performance
- Impressive Bundle (Included Active adapter)
- Size (Shorter than the Reference card)
- 4GB of Memory
- Eyefinity support
- Size (3 slot cooling)
- 4GB shows little improvement on non Eyefinity setups