Sapphire HD 4850 TOXIC in Crossfire

Shane Crossfires a pair of cooler running TOXIC Edition HD 4850s from Sapphire and puts 'em through their paces.
| Aug 6, 2008 at 11:00 pm CDT
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: Sapphire

Introduction

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
IntroductionWe've literally loved everything about the HD 4850 since its release. The only thing that worried me was the high temperatures coming out from behind the card. While the stock single slot cooler is an excellent choice, it simply isn't going to do as good a job as dual slot coolers with bigger fans.While we've never run into a single issue with a HD 4850 running stock cooling, it doesn't mean that we wouldn't prefer to be running the cards cooler. And really, with the amount of onboard devices on a motherboard these days and their quality, the need to use every expansion slot in your motherboard is becoming lower and lower.Sapphire has not only chosen to include aftermarket cooling on the card, but also to take it a step further by overclocking the bad boy. With two in hand today, we will be looking at both single and Crossfire performance. Before we get into that, though, let's have a quick look at the package and the actual cards.

The Package

The PackageWhile the boxes share the same square design as the standard HD 4850, we have a much darker image going on here. Across the top of the box we have the Sapphire logo. In the middle we have the model and below that, the TOXIC logo. In the back ground we have a bold headed figure hidden away.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Across the bottom of the box we have some ATI logos along with a HDMI one. We also see some of the key features like 512MB of GDDR3 memory, Overclocked, Zalman cooling along with some of the included goodies such as Cyberlink programs and a full version copy of 3DMark Vantage.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Turning the box over, we have the Sapphire logos across the top and the model along with some of the main features across the bottom. Above that we have just a few of the hundreds of awards Sapphire have won. We also have a bit of a blurb on the card to the right and some more details on the features that are included.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Inside the box we're greeted with CDs galore; apart from the user manual and driver CD we also have Ruby ROM Volume 1.1, Cyberlink DVD Suite and PowerDVD along with a full version copy of 3DMark Vantage.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Other goodies included are a DVI to VGA connector, Crossfire bridge, component out dongle, S-Video to RCA connector, molex to 6-pin PCI Express power connector and a DVI to HDMI connector.

The Card

The CardWith the package out of the way it's time to move onto the card. Of course, the first thing that stands out is the large copper cooler sitting on top of the core. Towards the back of the card we can also see another heatsink to cool some of the other warmer components that are present on the card.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
It's also nice to see that Sapphire have taken the effort to include RAM sinks on the memory. While we're not sure how necessary they are, the inclusion of them makes the card look a bit more professional in the cooling department and it's certainly not going to affect the card in a negative way.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Looking around the card, we don't see anything else that really stands out. Towards the back of the card we have a single PCI Express power connector while across the top of the card we have our Crossfire connector. Fortunately this is one connector that we will be making use of today.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
The I/O side of things also paints a pretty standard picture with our two Dual-Link DVI connectors present along with a single TV-Out port sitting between the two. While the card does take up two slots, you only use one bracket in the case.SpecificationsAs we mentioned, the TOXIC version of the HD 4850 is of course overclocked out of the box. Sapphire have taken the core from the stock 625MHz to 675MHz and the 512MB of GDDR3 memory also gets a bump from 1986MHz DDR to quite a healthy 2200MHz DDR.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06

Test System SetupProcessor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)Cooling: Corsair Nautilus500 (Supplied by Corsair) with Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (Supplied by Arctic Cooling)Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE X48-DQ6 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)Memory: 2 X 1GB Kingston PC6400 DDR-2 3-3-3-10 (KHX6400D2ULK2/2G) (Supplied by Kingston)Hard Disk(s): Seagate 250GB 7200RPM SATA-2 7200.10 (Supplied by Seagate)Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1Drivers: Catalyst 8.7Along with comparing the performance of both one and two HD 4850s against each other, we've also included the stock HD 4850 from GIGABYTE to see what kind of performance increase the overclock gives us.3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/Buy It Here
3DMark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Straight away we can see a nice little boost from the overclocked Sapphire card. We also see nice gains with Crossfire; the best gains are of course seen at the highest resolution.

Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage

3DMark VantageVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/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.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Like 3DMark06, we again see good gains with the overclocked card. Here we also see that Crossfire offers us some pretty significant increases.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

PT Boats: Knights of the SeaVersion and / or Patch Used: Benchmark DemoDeveloper Homepage: http://en.akella.com/Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
We continue to see a nice boost over the stock clocked card here. Unfortunately Crossfire results don't yield the same performance increase as you would have hoped under PT Boats.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
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).
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Both the single cards score quite close together with Crossfire having a bit of a negative effect under CINEBENCH. This isn't the first time we've seen this happen with dual card setups using this benchmark.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.massive.se Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
In our first real world test we can see a nice little bump in performance for the overclocked TOXIC HD 4850. Crossfire gives us another small bump at the highest resolution; the bigger gains are seen in the averages, though.

Benchmarks - Crysis

CrysisVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.2.1Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.crytek.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.ea.com/crysis/Buy It Here
From the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving gameplay, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G.Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE™ 2 offers. The CryENGINE™ 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE™ 2 Sandbox world editing system.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
At the higher resolution we see the TOXIC version of the HD 4850 just edge out over the stock clocked model. We can see that Crossfire gives us a further increase in performance at the higher resolutions.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3

Unreal Tournament 3Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/Buy It Here
Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Under UT3 we can see that Crossfire doesn't really give us much of a performance increase. Fortunately the single TOXIC card against the stock offerings does offer us a nice little bump across the board.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AFOur 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.3DMark06
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
We again see under a synthetic test Crossfire doing extremely well. The single TOXIC card also shows us some nice gains over the stock clocked HD 4850.World In Conflict
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
The overclock on the TOXIC again gives us an extra few FPS while in Crossfire we only see an extra few FPS in the averages department.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP

3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/Buy It Here
3DMark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Back to our synthetic tests and under XP we see the Crossfire setup again get big performance gains compared to the single card. We continue to see the single TOXIC also offer some nice little gains over the stock clocked offering.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
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).
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Under CINEBENCH in XP we can see that all three setups sit extremely close to each other.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper Homepage: http://www.massive.se Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com
World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
With Crossfire enabled we can see at the highest resolution the setup is able to stay ahead of that all important 30FPS minimum while the other two setups fall just under it. We continue to see the HD 4850 TOXIC get an extra few FPS here and there compared to the single card.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP

Unreal Tournament 3Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/ Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/Buy It Here
Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
Unlike Vista we see some good gains here for the Crossfire setup. We again see gains with the TOXIC card by itself against the single stock clocked offering from GIGABYTE.

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.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
We can see that the new cooler design has helped dropped temps a huge amount which is exactly what we wanted to see.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).
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
The new cooler adds an extra dB or two over the stock one, but nothing to be worried about, fortunately.

Power Consumption Tests

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.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 TOXIC Edition
The TOXIC at load seemed to take up a bit more power than the stock model; we can see that adding a second card into the mix really does boost power usage, though it remains at a reasonable level.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsThe decision to go down the Zalman cooling path was a good idea; it's helped drop the temperatures to a level we're a lot more comfortable with and makes us feel more confident about having the card overclocked.As we previously mentioned, while the stock cooler on the HD 4850 never caused us any issues, we would have preferred the temps to be lower than what they were. This becomes an even bigger deal when you throw overclocking into the mix or the fact that you may have a small case with limited airflow.Sapphire have really done a lot right with this card. Apart from the cooling solution, the overclock gives us a nice out of the box performance increase compared to the stock model and we're fully loaded up with a number of applications including a full version copy of 3DMark Vantage.While Crossfire continues to be hit and miss in a lot of games, at least with two cards we don't see a drop in performance like we do when we add three or four cards into the mix. Crossfire still isn't a bad option, though, as in some applications we do see increases and it's a technology that AMD and the ATI driver team continue to work on.If you find yourself wanting a HD 4850 that packs a bit more punch and cools significantly better than the stock solution, don't be afraid of spending the extra few dollars to go down the TOXIC route.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

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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