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Exclusive - Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 TOXIC 2,048MB graphics card review

by Tarinder Sandhu on 24 March 2010, 11:31

Tags: Sapphire

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qawrh

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The card

Hold on for a second. Is someone trying to pull a fast one and pass off the reviewed Vapor-X card?  Take it at literally face value and it does appear so, as the two cards share the same excellent heatsink, whose fan is very quiet when idling and barely perceptible when under regular gaming load.

Look a little closer and the 2GB model ships with a blue PCB rather than an AMD original, indicating that this is an all-Sapphire design.

We've tested a number of aftermarket Radeon HD 5870s and found the Vapor-X cooler to offer the best compromise between cooling ability and noise. The Sapphire TOXIC and Vapor-X cards share the same cooler but are rated at differing frequencies, and you'll see a TOXIC sticker on the final-production card.

With GeForce GTX 470/480 firmly in mind, Sapphire receives the best GPUs and runs this TOXIC model at a core speed of 925MHz and 2GBs of GDDR5 memory at 5,000MHz, compared with the regular Vapor-X's 870MHz/5,200MHz and reference's 850MHz/4,800MHz.

Slapping an extra 1GB of GDDR5 memory and guaranteeing a higher-performing core will do nothing for the value metric. We don't suppose Sapphire will sell many, or that they will come in at much under £400, yet the point here is to make the right kind of noises.

The Radeon HD 5970 GPU is already outfitted with a 2GB buffer, of course, but the difference here is that the GPU has exclusive access to the entire amount at all times.

Feeling rich? Inherited a pile of cash? Further cards can be hooked up for many-GPU action.

Here's another departure from the 1GB card. Much like the HD 5970, the card is equipped with a GPU-wide rear heatsink. The reason for this lies with the extra GDDR5 memory chips on the back, bringing up the complement to 2,048MB.

The extra power of the card requires more juice. Sapphire plays it safe by including a HD 5970- and GTX 480-matching six-and-eight-pin power arrangement.

The card isn't the behemoth that's Radeon HD 5970, yet we'd still prefer the power connectors to be situated on the side rather than the front, especially as this is a custom-board design.

Measuring in at 256mm in length and 98mm in height, the TOXIC is smaller than AMD's reference design, and it should fit into larger gaming-orientated chassis without too many problems.

Sapphire doesn't provide any voltage-regulating ability with this GPU, unlike reference HD 5870s, so overclocking may well be compromised.

The rear is wholly standard, conforming to Radeon HD 5870 spec. in every way. One can run a three-screen Eyefinity setup from one card, and the provision of 2GB of frame-buffer will help smooth out performance at ultra-high resolutions and image-quality settings. That's the theory, anyway, and why AMD is outfitting the Eyefinity6 GPU with the same memory footprint.


Equipped with the Vapor-X (VCT) heatsink found on the production HD 5870 1GB card and improved by a double-sized frame-bufer and higher shipping clocks, Sapphire's Radeon HD 5870 TOXIC 2GB card should arrive with an etail price of £375 or so.

Higher clocks will make it the fastest single-GPU cards around...for now, and the 2GB frame-buffer should help when the going gets really tough.

We received a pre-production sample, and reckon that full-retail models will ship with a package similar to the 1GB Vapor-X's.