|Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Toxic Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 29 September 2008|
Page 13 of 13
Sapphire 4870 Toxic Conclusion
Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusions with a summary rating of different product categories. The first is product presentation, which includes the level or information offered and the interest generated by the product packaging. In regards to Sapphire, which has historically used the 'sex sells' tactic to interest consumers with a sexy looking character (usually ATI's Ruby), the Toxic Edition adorns a different personality. There's plenty of information on the package, which should help educate the inexperienced enthusiast, while at the same time remaining interesting enough to be plucked from store shelves for a closer look.
Moving on to product appearance, there is a little less excitement stirred up by the lack of color or decals. The Radeon HD 4870 Toxic Edition has been encased in a black plastic housings with a contoured finish, and only two small labels complete the look. Three heat-pipe rods compliment the black finish, but the carbon fiber appearance and red coloring of past Sapphire products remains absent.
Construction is solid, but not without some concerns. I absolutely appreciate ATI for not placing memory module IC's on the back side of the PCB, but at the same time I hold Sapphire accountable for the cooling unit. If you've read any or my video card reviews, you'll know how much I dislike VGA coolers that exhaust back into the computer case... no matter how well they cool. The irony here is that the Toxic features a Vapor-X cooling unit that exhausts outside of the case as well as inside. While I must admit that the cooling unit works phenomenally well (38°C better than stock cooling at idle, and 25°C under load), I still think that dual-slot video cards should exhaust outside of the computer case. Aside from this, the construction is solid and all electronics are well protected.
In terms of performance, the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Toxic Edition usually performed around 30% better than the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce 9800 GTX+. During Crysis testing with 4x AA added, this Radeon HD 4870 video card was unable to outperform the overclocked GeForce GTX 260 or 280 we used, but it matched the performance of our CrossFireX set of 4850's. Alternatively, the less NVIDIA-biased Call of Duty 4 placed the 4870 Toxic right between the factory-overclocked GTX 260 and trailing behind the GTX 280 AMP! Edition. As a graphics processor, the RV770 performed incredibly well; but I didn't see much evidence of this overclocked 4870 beating its GTX 280 counterpart.
Value is always relative to supply and demand, along with whatever retailers think they can get from the consumer audience at any particular time. As of December 2008, the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Toxic Edition SKU: 100243TXSR was listed at NewEgg for $229.99 with a $20 rebate available for a limited time. Since AMD/ATI designed the Radeon HD 4870 to compete directly with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 260, the pricing seems very competitive.
In conclusion, my final recommendation on the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Toxic graphics card is very good but at the moment it's nearly impossible to procure. On its own accord the 4870 Toxic would occasionally reach the level of performance seen from the GeForce GTX 260, but never completely dominate over it. Taking the expected price into consideration, you have to look at other comparable offerings. It's no surprise that CrossFire and CrossFireX are available on just about every single motherboard that fits an Intel or AMD processor; the same is hardly true for the SLI. So then it's down to price. Since NVIDIA submitted to ATI's price point, both the GTX 260 and Radeon 4870 are now offered around the same cost. At the end of this point there's really no decisive victory to be handed out. In summary, the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Toxic Edition is an outstanding product with unbelievable cooling improvements over the stock version, but the decision is going to come down to pricing and availablity.
+ Outstanding Vapor-X cooling performance
- Consumes more power than most other single-GPU products tested
Final Score: 8.75 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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