Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 TOXIC Video Card

Sapphire brings us the newly launched HD 6850 TOXIC. We see if the winning formula continues to work for Sapphire with the new 6000 series.

Manufacturer: Sapphire
15 minutes & 19 seconds read time

Introduction and Package


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We've already seen HIS bring us the HD 6870 Turbo which was quite fast, so it comes as no surprise that Sapphire has come out with a TOXIC version of the HD 6850. Considering AMD left it up to the AIB to handle the HD 6850, it really doesn't come as a surprise since they've probably been working on the model for a while.

So what's the TOXIC have in store for us? Well, usually it's an upgraded cooler along with a bump in clocks. The questions we have to ask ourselves is how the new cooler goes and whether or not the clocks are something that we should be getting a little excited about.

The HD 6800 series is looking the goods at the moment and it seems with the slight delay in the HD 6900 series till December, companies are going to have a little more time than they actually thought with the HD 6800 series for the aforementioned reason.

We all know about the HD 6800 series at this stage, so there's not point getting into it much more; instead let's see the package that Sapphire is giving us with its new TOXIC variant of the HD 6850.

The Package

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Sapphire got us this product nice and early and after they had the boxes done they decided to change the packing and bring the model into the TOXIC series. While the box and the card artwork might change a little, the box content won't. Speaking of which, we've got a few things with the more stand out options being a mini DP to DP convertor along with a HDMI cable.

Card and Specifications

The Card

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Looking at the card, it's easy to think that you're looking at a HD 6870 with that more typical cylinder cooler being used here. Sapphire obviously feels it'll be better than the other cooler they used and it will be interesting to see how it goes.

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First you've got this HD 6870-like cooler and now you've got two 6-Pin PCI-E power connectors. I really did think for a second that Sapphire sent me the wrong card and that this was a HD 6870. Because the cards are designed by the AIBs themselves and not AMD, they're able to do what they want and Sapphire seem to want to give us a bit more options when it comes to power. It'll be interesting to see how this affects the power draw numbers.

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Across the top we've got a single CrossFire connector and the front again looks like a HD 6870 with the Dual Link and Single Link DVI, HDMI port and two Mini DisplayPort connectors.

Just before the review went live Sapphire sent us updated images of the TOXIC card. Youll find them below.

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Being part of the TOXIC series, the card of course comes overclocked. Being part of the TOXIC series means it's not normally just a little 10MHz bump as well, and once we fired up GPU-Z we were pretty happy with the numbers that Sapphire offered us.

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The core comes in at 820MHz which is a nice bump from the stock 775MHz clock. As for the 1GB of GDDR5, that's gone from 4000MHz QDR to 4400MHz QDR. We should see some nice performance from the card here, so it'll be interesting to see how it compares against a stock HD 6850 as well as a stock HD 6870.

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, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

We've got a bunch of cards in our graphs today, including the stock HD 6850 from Sapphire we've already looked at along with the reference HD 6870 from AMD. We've also got the HD 5870 which hasn't had its replacement yet, along with the ECS Black GTX 460 which is of course an out of the box overclocked GTX 460.

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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Out of the gate we can see a nice little performance jump from the TOXIC version of the HD 6850 TOXIC. It'll be interesting to see how this translates into the gaming world.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 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.

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Checking out Heaven performance we again also see a nice bump in performance. The higher resolution sits between the stock numbers and of course the lower resolution number is increased even higher.

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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We've already got good numbers out of RE5 with the stock HD 6850, but you can see it's nice to move even further away form that 60 FPS average at the highest resolution which the TOXIC version does a good job of.

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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This is a good example of how the OC really helps. While we want an average of 60 FPS at the resolution we want to play at, the HD 6850 manages to get that at all resolutions and the TOXIC version just helps move us a bit further away from it which is great.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:
Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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We see again here that the extra OC helps push performance away from that 60 FPS average at 1920 x 1200 which is good news. It's just going to help make sure you stay above that 30 FPS minimum which will make sure your gaming is as smooth as possible.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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While our numbers across the board are quite low still, we continue to see a nice little boost in performance at the higher resolutions.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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We're below that 60 FPS we want, but we do continue to see a nice performance bump across the board.

Benchmarks - Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Elezen (Male)
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

Final Fantasy XIV, also known as Final Fantasy XIV Online, is the fourteenth installment in the Final Fantasy series. The game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and is developed and published by Square Enix. The game takes place in a land called Hydaelyn, mainly in a region named Eorzea, which will have a contemporaneously aesthetic blend of science fiction and classic fantasy elements.

The battle and job systems will be different from the one previously used in Final Fantasy XI, which utilized experience points and level-based progression. Final Fantasy XIV is being designed to utilize a skill-based progression[15] system similar to that of Final Fantasy II. Character races will resemble and allow players to create avatars similar to ones in Final Fantasy XI. Group play has been de-emphasized, and now solo and group play have been balanced. Weapon use will alter "character development".

Note: Final Fantasy XIV gives us a score and not a normal FPS rating, our understanding is that anything around 2000 points or above is considered playable.

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Final Fantasy XIV sees a nice performance boost in both resolution presets.

Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage:
Product Homepage:

While Street Fighter IV features models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. Producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that he wanted to keep the game closer to Street Fighter II. A new system called "Focus Attacks" ("Saving Attack" for the Japanese version) has been introduced, as well as Ultra moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and special moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations.

All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, opted for non-photorealistic rendering to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

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We're already seeing massive numbers from SF IV and here's no different. Those numbers are just a little bigger now when compared to the stock HD 6850.

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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Across the board Far Cry 2 sees a performance bump and while the stock card offers us good numbers, the TOXIC help make those numbers a little better.

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.

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Batman AA paints the same picture as Far Cry 2; we've already got good numbers, but those numbers are now a little better.

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.

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Across the board we see some good gains; unfortunately performance is a little low still on most games. Far Cry 2 performance is looking good, though, with a 28 FPS minimum. We're almost at 30 FPS.

Temperature Test

Temperature Tests

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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The TOXIC actually runs a little warmer than I would've expected. No doubt the extra clocks are generating some heat and the extra power connector could also contribute as well. But either way, we're not that worried by the numbers.

Sound Test

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 are good and while it's a little louder at load when compared to some of the other ones we've looked at from HIS and Sapphire, its idle is lower. Not a bad trade off considering we're dealing with more performance.

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 SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal 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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Power draw is a little higher which doesn't come as much of a surprise since we're dealing with an extra power connector. On a whole, though, it's still very low compared to a lot of the competition.

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.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Mafia 2 (PhysX Off), Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Final Fantasy XIV (No CF Support), Street Fighter IV, Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off) and our four High Quality tests which include Mafia 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV and Far Cry 2.

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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Performance from the TOXIC is strong and you can see how it compares to the stock model. On a whole it's pretty much in line with the original 1120 Shader versions of the card we got, so if you were a bit bummed about the performance drop from the 1120 version to the 960 one, then the TOXIC could be the card for you.

Total Value Rating (TVR)

Total Value Rating

The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.

In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.

In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.

TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.

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When you start looking at overclocked parts the overall value is never as strong, but the HD 6850 in itself is a good valued product and the TOXIC version still continues to offer good value overall.

Final Thoughts

The TOXIC version of the HD 6850 was never going to be far away since AMD let partners really attack the model from day one. The card we're looking at today is impressive and for people who don't want to overclock or just want to be part of the TOXIC series from Sapphire, this is a good option.

The best thing about the TOXIC series and this card in general is the fact that Sapphire doesn't turn around and slap the TOXIC label on the card without making sure that it's going to stand out from the pack. The out of the box increase in clocks offers us a nice performance boost.

Sapphire isn't going to have any trouble selling the TOXIC series for the simple fact that the series carry with it a strong following like the Vapor-X series from Sapphire. People know that if you're buying a TOXIC card from Sapphire you're getting more than just a little speed bump, which is something we see from other companies.

The cooling isn't bad, it's probably not as good as it could've been and I think the reason for that is because we've seen so many different coolers since launch. At the same time, they had to offer something different to what they currently had on the stock HD 6850. What people will really love about the cooler is the fact that the heat is extracted straight out the case instead of just being blown around.

If you're a fan of the TOXIC series and you're looking for something to replace your HD 5830 or lower, this is going to be a great card. If you're not interested in doing the overclocking yourself this is also another great card as Sapphire has given us a nice bump in clock speeds.

We look forward to not only seeing what Sapphire does with the HD 6870, but also the HD 6900 series when it comes to market. Hopefully we see the ATOMIC name show up in the HD 6900 series early next year!

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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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