Sapphire Toxic 4850 HD
Sapphire’s Toxic cards are targeted towards gamers and hardware enthusiasts who are looking for a graphics card that delivers a little more sizzle than ATI’s reference board design provides. For added performance, Toxic cards are usually overclocked, and they also emphasize cooling with better coolers than the stock reference boards.
Over the years we’ve heaped nothing but praise for Sapphire’s Toxic line of graphics cards. Their X1900 XTX Toxic took home our Bull’s Eye Award in 2006, while their Toxic X800 Pro earned our Editor’s Choice Award back in 2004.
For their latest Toxic card, the Toxic X4850, Sapphire continues this tradition. The board’s most distinctive feature is easily its Zalman VF900-Cu cooler. The VF900 is a dual-slot heatsink/fan unit built entirely from copper. It’s no longer Zalman’s flagship GPU cooler, but it’s still a highly popular solution with two copper heatpipes responsible for drawing heat off the graphics processor. The twin heatpipes are then surrounded by a circular copper heatsink with 0.2mm fins. According to Zalman, the thin fins are used in order to maximize the surface area of the heatsink while minimizing airflow resistance. Basically they’ve decided to cram as many fins as possible onto the VF900-Cu in order to spread the heat from the heatpipes as evenly as possible while still providing enough room for air from the card’s fan to keep the entire apparatus cool.
In previous tests with the VF900-Cu we’ve found it’s one of the best aftermarket VGA coolers on the market, although it’s a bit on the pricey side selling for $40 even to this day.
The only difference between the retail VF900-Cu cooler and Sapphire’s heatsink/fan is that Sapphire doesn’t bundle the Fan Mate 2 fan controller with their card. Instead Sapphire runs the fan in Zalman’s silent mode 100% of the time (with Fan Mate 2 you can manually control the exact RPMs of the fan). The fan itself is one of the largest in the industry (96(L) x 96(W) x 30(H)mm), yet it operates whisper quiet.
Besides the GPU cooling, Sapphire also includes Zalman RAMsinks on the GDDR3 memory modules. The RAMsinks are made from aluminum, helping to keep the graphics memory cool and look quite good on the Toxic card, matching its blue PCB.
Speaking of the PCB, besides its blue shade, the board design of the Toxic card itself is 100% identical to ATI’s reference board design. Sapphire makes no changes to any of the board level components, although Sapphire does include a beefier blue heatsink for cooling the board’s VRM circuitry.
The performance crowd will be glad to hear that Sapphire does overclock the Toxic 4850. The GPU is clocked at 675MHz, 50MHz higher than ATI’s reference speed, while the memory is OC’ed 107MHz to 1100MHz.
We’ll take a look at how these tweaked speeds improve performance over the stock 4850 in our performance benchmarks.
Hardware accessories bundled with the Toxic 4850 include one DVI adapter, an HDMI adapter, 6-pin PCIe power adapter, CrossFire bridge connector, and component video cable. Sapphire also includes a very nice software bundle that includes the full version of 3DMark Vantage, the game Ruby Rom, and CyberLink PowerDVD, and a CyberLink DVD Suite than includes copies of PowerProducer 4, PowerDirector 5 Express, Power2GO 5.5, and Medi@show 3.