Sapphire Radeon HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB Video Card Overclocked

Shane takes the world's fastest video card and; well...makes it even faster! - How TOXIC is the HD 5970 from Sapphire?

Manufacturer: Sapphire
14 minutes & 50 seconds read time


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The HD 5970 TOXIC from Sapphire has got a bit more coverage than usual when it comes to looking at a video card; the main reason for this is that not only are there limited amounts of the model around the world, but also it's the world's fastest video card thanks to some insane stock clocks on the model.

Today we're back with the model and what we want to find out from the model is if we can overclock past what it's already very high default clocks are set at. The fact that I'm writing this article means we could get a bit of extra power from the model, otherwise I wouldn't be wasting yours and my time here.

The question is, how far did we get? - The main thing I wanted to see was a 1GHz core clock on the card. We figured we needed to play around with the voltage a little to get that. At the same time we wanted to see if we could get anything more out of the mammoth 4GB of GDDR5.

Since we already looked at the Sapphire HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB in its entirety here, if you haven't had a look at it yet I recommend you check it out. If not, it's worth clicking on the link just to see the card itself and the bundle.

Since we've looked at the card as well, we'll just be looking at the overclocking we did quickly before getting stuck into the performance improvements we got in doing so.


When it comes to overclocking, much to most manufacturers horror there's only one option; MSI Afterburner. The fact that MSI let you use the program on both NVIDIA and ATI cards from all companies means that anyone overclocking is probably using it.

When it came to voltage we thought since the cooler did such a good job on the card with it running cooler than previous stock cooled HD 5970s, we would just crank it up to 1.3v. Once you hit Apply it drops back to 1.299v, so that's what we got set on.

Out of the box the HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB from Sapphire is giving us a core clock of 900MHz. With the above voltage we had no issues running at 1000MHz. Unfortunately we couldn't go any higher; when we did it just bounced back to 1000MHz in Afterburner.

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The memory clock was also able to get in increase of 59MHz to 1259MHz; any higher and we started to get freezes in our benchmarks. 1259MHz results in a clock of 5036MHz QDR thanks to the GDDR5 memory. You have to also remember we're talking about 4GB of memory here as well, instead of the standard 2GB we see on other HD 5970s.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Western Digital, Noctua and Thermaltake.

When it came to benchmarking the card the main thing we wanted to do was compare it against the HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB at its standard clocks to see what kind of performance increase we get from the speed bump.

Just because we can, we've also included the GTX 400 series video cards to give you an idea of just how this card sits up against the others.

Let's get started!

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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In the performance preset you can see a clear increase in performance, but not a huge one. In saying that, we did break P30k which is very impressive.

Looking at the X one, however, the gain is much larger. I think it's safe to say that we'll really see the model shine at the higher resolution.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 1 and 2
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

Note: If a card doesn't support DirectX 11 the benchmark will be left out, if it does it will be included along with the DirectX10 results.

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In both versions of Heaven we see quite a nice boost in performance. Compared to the GTX 480 which is supposed to shine with tessellation, the card really has nothing on the HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB when overclocked.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH


Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10 and Release 11.5
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).

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R10 sees no difference in performance. R11.5 performance is a little down, but it's nothing to be worried about. Here we do see that NVIDIA performs strong under the latest version of CINEBENCH.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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Across the board we see a good boost in performance. Like our Vantage runs, we see the best gains under the most intensive settings; in this case 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - BattleForge


Version and / or Patch Used: Auto Patched at Load
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

The Gods have disappeared and the old sun has died, letting a vile twilight engulf the world of Nyn. In exchange for all treasures the mortals possessed, the evil giants agreed to forge a new sun and hurl it into the sky.

But the deal was betrayed, the treasure stolen and now the mortals flee the wrath of the giants. Under the light of a new sun the mortals stumble into a world changed and twisted by an age of twilight. The long journey home has become a conquest of survival.

Note: Supporting DirectX 11 we have seperated the graphs for NVIDIA and ATI cards. While the numbers between the two brands can be compared you have to make note that ATI based HD 5000 series cards are running DirectX 11.

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BattleForge is a very intensive game and you can again see at 2560 x 1600 there's a nice boost. Compared to the GTX 480 the Sapphire HD 5970 TOXIC when overclocked was able to almost double the performance at the highest resolution. This is fantastic news for people who are looking at 120Hz monitors.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.

The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.

Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.

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Across the board we again see gains. While not as impressive in some areas, the card is giving us some good numbers with a average of over 200 FPS at 1680 x 1050 which is just crazy.

Benchmarks - Darkest of Days

Darkest of Days

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Darkest of Days takes the player through time into historic battles in an effort to save key individuals from certain death. The battles range from Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 to fighting in Pompeii as ash and fire rain down from an erupting Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Other locations include the battles of Antietam and Tannenberg, and a German World War II P.O.W. camp. There are different missions in every time period and the game takes about 4 hours to complete.

The game features over twenty weapons, both from the original time period as well as those brought back from the future. In addition, there are artillery weapons from different time periods to assist in battle.

Note: With the PhysX set to Medium or High Darkest of Days take advantage of the NVIDIA PhysX abilities. For that reason we will test ATI cards at the Low preset, NVIDIA based cards though will be tested at Low and High.

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Darkest of Days tends to act stupid when it comes to overclocked cards. More often than not we see the performance drop back. In this case, though, that wasn't the case and while the gains aren't huge, at least we saw gains under the game.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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It looks like we're hitting a bit of a CPU limitation here under FC2 at 1920 x 1200 and below when it comes to the minimum with both scoring 129 FPS. Looking at the averages, though, we're seeing a performance increase and we've also got a performance bump in the minimum at the high 2560 x 1600 resolution.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

Note: With support for PhysX NVIDIA based cards will be tested with the technology on and off, ATI cards will be tested with the technology off due to it not being supported on their cards.

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Performance is a little all over the place. For the most part we see a gain in all our tests, but nothing huge which isn't a surprise as we're already seeing massive numbers under Batman AA.

Benchmarks - Dark Void

Dark Void

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

The game's story takes place during World War II and centers around a cargo pilot named William Augustus Grey (voiced by Nolan North) who is teleported to another world while flying through the Bermuda Triangle. In this world, known as the 'Void', Will encounters an alien race as well as other humans, which are known as the Watchers and the Survivors respectively.

Will reluctantly joins the Survivors who are engaged in a feud with the alien race to satisfy his desire to return to Earth. While aiding the Survivors, Will discovers that the Void is a middle ground that connects both the Watchers homeworld and Earth. It also becomes apparent that the Watchers are supplying the Axis powers with various supplies for reasons unknown. With the help of Nikola Tesla, Will utilizes retrofited Watcher technology to combat the Watchers and eventually find a way to escape the Void.

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Even though we see massive numbers from Dark Void already, you can see that we've clearly got even bigger numbers with the HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB when overclocked.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

Far Cry 2

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That extra power on offers does wonders for the minimum. We can see a massive gain over the stock clocked version of the HD 5970 TOXIC which is extremely impressive.

Resident Evil 5

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Again under the intensive settings we see some very strong performance. The extra 10 FPS equates to a gain of 10% when compared to the stock clocked HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

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H.A.W.X. follows the trends with again another nice performance increase. You can see compared to the GTX 480 there's some serious power being offered from the HD 5970 TOXIC; even when you just look at the stock clocked version.

Benchmarks - Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor

Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.51
Timedemo or Level Used: Sample File
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

ElcomSoft has pioneered many software innovations that have made it easier to recover passwords protecting various types of resources. For the first time in the industry, the company's patent-pending GPU acceleration makes its way into Wi-Fi password recovery, reducing the time required to recover Wi-Fi passwords up to a hundred times.

Supporting up to four NVIDIA boards such as GeForce 8, 9, and 200, as well as ATI video cards such as RADEON HD 4000 Series and up, Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor allows building servers with supercomputer performance at a fraction of the price.

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We've said before WSA is great because it's able to make use of the overclock on cards. Here you can see just what kind of use it can make with a massive boost in performance.

Temperature and Sound Tests

Temperature Tests

With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).

There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.

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Due to the boost in voltage it doesn't come as a surprise that the card runs warmer than the HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB when running at its stock speeds. Even with the extra voltage, though, the card still runs cooler than the HD 5970 with a reference cooler.

Sound Tests

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Noise levels on the card at load are almost identical which means the fan didn't decide to speed up anymore.

Power Consumption Tests

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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While the idle is only slightly up, the load is massively up. This shouldn't be too much of an issue, though, as anyone who is going to fork out the money for this card should already have an excellent quality power supply.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)

Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and ATI are on an even playing field. This includes benchmarks where PhysX can be forced off like Dark Void and Batman: Arkham Asylum, but not Darkest of Days.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, CINEBENCH R11.5, Resident Evil 5, BattleForge, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off), Dark Void (PhysX Off) and our three High Quality tests which include Far Cry 2, Resident Evil 5 and Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.

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I've become a huge fan of the TPR graphs; they do a fantastic job of putting everything into perspective. It also gives you an idea of how a model compares to ones that aren't included in the review. For example, above is a prime example on a whole of how the HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB @ 1000MHz Core and 5036MHz QDR on the memory goes against the standard HD 5970 2GB and also the GTX 480 when overclocked using voltage adjustment.

If anyone wanted to complain that it's unfair that the GTX 480 OC wasn't included in the review, or is disappointed that the standard HD 5970 wasn't included, you can look at the above graph and get an idea of how the model we're reviewing performs against those other said models.

And Oh how it performs!

Final Thoughts

The HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB is just a sick card as it is. You can see that the performance on offer from it at the stock speed is already disturbing. You don't even have to get us started on the potential when overclocked.

To be honest, looking at the core clock it's clear we've got more room; we just need to get around the 1000MHz limitation that is on offer. Some say that it can be done via the BIOS, but we don't have loads of information. We're talking to Sapphire and hopefully we'll be able to get around it soon enough. But even at 1000MHz on the two cores, the performance is just insane.

Looking at our TPR graph, you can see the massive boost this model offers compared to other ones on the market in stock and overclock form. The HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB is a very special card; there's no doubt it's going to be out of reach for most people as we're sure it's going to carry a high price. It's not going to change the fact that you'll love to own one, though.

We're sure Sapphire would love to know that their fastest video card in the world was made faster with Sapphire software and not MSI. We personally don't care, though; we use what's best and what's going to give us the biggest performance gains.

There's really no reason to overclock the HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB; it doesn't need it. For the most part the standard HD 5970 doesn't even need it, but we overclock because we can. You can see today there's some massive performance to be had from the HD 5970 TOXIC 4GB; there's no denying that NVIDIA have a very tough battle to take on ATI.

The competition is going to make for some of the best video cards to date, I feel over the next few years.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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