by Rob Williams on February 19, 2010 in Graphics & Displays
AMD’s Radeon HD 5850 may not be the company’s highest-end card, but it still packs a wicked punch. Plus, when overclocked, and overclocked well, it can come close to the peformance of the top-end HD 5870. With the design of Sapphire’s Toxic graphics card, hitting heights like this seem to be made all too simple.
When the term “Radeon” is uttered, “Sapphire” is another that seems to follow. While there are a great number of vendors who produce ATI-based graphics cards, such as PowerColor, XFX, Gigabyte, ASUS and so forth, its Sapphire who holds the dominant lead in the marketplace. In some cases, and markets, this could be considered a bad thing, but Sapphire is doing some great things, so it’s hard to not feel like it’s the competition that’s not trying hard enough to wow us (a lot of this also has to do with market penetration).
We’ve taken a look at numerous Sapphire cards in the past, and there have been none to come off as being non-impressive. Sure, some might just be based off of a reference design (at launch, at least), and others might just have a slight overclock, but when you look at the company’s Toxic and Vapor-X series, it’s hard to not like what they’re doing. Personally, I love the Vapor-X series, because the coolers manage to look good, cool well, and retain pleasant noise levels.
Along with this Toxic model, Sapphire also released a Vapor-X offering at the same time, although it wasn’t interested in having reviews done for it. Even stranger, there’s been no photos of it made available (even after I asked specifically for them), so I’m not sure of the story there. I’m guessing that over the next week, we’ll learn more about that offering, and I can pretty much already say that if you like the performance of the HD 5850, but want improved temperatures over what we saw with the Toxic, the Vapor-X variant is worth looking out for.
The current average retail price for reference-clocked (or at least close) cards is around ~$300 – $310, while Sapphire’s Toxic is currently selling for $340 at e-tailers I checked. Given the lack of a truly impressive GPU cooler being equipped here, $30+ is a bit high of a premium to ask for, but to be fair to Sapphire, other current pre-overclocked HD 5850’s retail for the exact same price, and have identical overclocks.
From that perspective, the Toxic is priced-right, and given that price, it performs well… noticeably better than a reference-clocked HD 5850. But, it’s the overclocking that really helps make this card shine, because we managed to achieve such a high stable overclock, that the performance we saw nearly matched (and in the case of 3DMark, surpassed) the performance of the HD 5870, which retails for $400. That’s great to see.
Given it’s interesting design, and superb overclocking-ability, I feel compelled to award Sapphire’s Toxic an Editor’s Choice award. I personally recommend waiting to see if a mail-in rebate ever becomes available, just to bring the price a tad lower, but as it stands, it’s a superb offering, and if overclocking is in the “cards”, then you’re going to have a fun OC’ing session with this one.
Sapphire’s Radeon HD 5850 Toxic
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