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Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB Toxic Edition Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Heat & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Heat & Acoustics


For all temperature testing, the cards were placed on an open test bench with a single 120mm 1200RPM fan placed ~8” away from the heatsink. The ambient temperature was kept at a constant 22°C (+/- 0.5°C). If the ambient temperatures rose above 23°C at any time throughout the test, all benchmarking was stopped. For this test we use the 3DMark Batch Size test at it highest triangle count with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled and looped it for one hour to determine the peak load temperature as measured by GPU-Z.

For Idle tests, we let the system idle at the Vista desktop for 15 minutes and recorded the peak temperature.


HD5850-TOXIC-81.jpg

The results of this test were nothing short of stunning with the Sapphire HD 5850 Toxic returning some amazing results. The Vapor-X cooler knocked off nearly 30C from the reference design’s maximum temperatures while being near-silent in its operation. We couldn’t have asked for a better result than this when it comes to air cooling.


Power Consumption


For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption. We have also included several other tests as well. Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.

HD5850-TOXIC-80.jpg

As expected, higher clock speeds do tend to translate into increased power consumption. However, we aren’t looking at anything extreme here with a mere 18W separating the reference clocked card and the overclocked Sapphire Toxic model. Even with this card’s performance it still doesn’t consume as much power as a GTX 260 216 which should be proof enough of ATI’s success with the 40nm manufacturing process.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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12,841
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Montreal
Overclocking Results; Pushing the Limits

Overclocking Results; Pushing the Limits


Before you read on, please remember that final overclocks can vary from sample to sample and you may achieve higher or lower results than the ones we have shown below.

It seems to us like Sapphire have some added some serious mojo to their HD 5850 Toxic because since it was able to show stability at clock speeds that far exceeded our expectations. The final speeds came to an increase of 152Mhz over the reference design’s core speed and a bump of nearly 1Ghz in the case of the memory. These speeds were stable through FurMark, 3DMark06 and 3DMark vantage. Really, what more is there to say other than “WOW!”


Final Overclocks:

Core: 877Mhz
Memory: 4988Mhz (QDR)


HD5850-TOXIC-18.jpg
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


Reviewing a pre-overclocked card is never easy due to the simple fact that most of them don’t offer enough noticeable performance differences over stock products to justify their premium price. On the flip side of this coin, there are some graphics cards that are overclocked to impressive levels and actually do offer numerous benefits. Unfortunately, they are also so prohibitively expensive or have availability which is so limited that only a lucky few will ever get their hands on one and as such you may as well buy a higher end product from the get go . In a market where it’s immeasurably hard to differentiate your products from those of the competition, many board partners on both NVIDIA’s and ATI’s side of the fence have run face first into these issues.

Luckily, the Sapphire HD 5850 Toxic doesn’t suffer from any of the points we described above and that in itself is impressive. Will this card make a real difference over a stock-clocked version in terms of game playability? Probably not for most gamers but it does provide enough of a performance boost that you will probably notice increases in minimum framerates over a standard HD 5850.

While the Toxic definitely doesn’t encroach into the performance envelope of the high-end HD 5870, it isn’t priced like an ultra high end card either. For a mere $30 premium over a reference-based product, this card retains all the best features of a reference HD 5850 like high efficiency and Eyefinity support while adding things that are sure to appeal to a wide variety of buyers. Basically, if the performance of a HD 5870 is appealing but the card itself is out of your price league, the HD 5850 Toxic is a perfect alternative.

Yet there is so much more to the HD 5850 than performance; great temperatures and very quiet operation also make an appearance. It seems like in every Sapphire review of late we rave about their Vapor-X cooling technology and this one is no different. Basically, it allows heat to be quickly whisked away from the core towards the fins of the heatsink assembly. This in turn allows the large fan to spin at a leisurely pace and makes the Toxic as quiet as the reference HD 5850 while offering vastly superior cooling performance.

Even though 2010 is still young, we can honestly say that the Sapphire HD 5850 Toxic is the best card we have reviewed so far this year. If you are looking for excellent performance and a quiet cooler that performs miracles while not putting a serious dent in your bank account, you don’t have to look any further than this card. As such, the Toxic does something no other product has ever done before : it wins our Dam Good, Dam Good Value and Dam Good Innovation awards. It really is that impressive.


Pros:

- Great performance
- Vapor-X cooler results in extremely good temperatures
- Only $30 more expensive than the reference cards
- Quiet
- Extra long Crossfire bridge included


Cons:

- Slightly longer than reference version



 
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