The Zalman cooler uses a copper heatsink against the GPU with two heatpipes to feed the heat to the cooler and its 75mm fan. Although it doesn’t look especially chunky, the Zalman is fairly tall and makes the Toxic a dual-slot design, but on the plus side the cooler is very effective. It drops the operating temperature from 80-odd Celsius to 40°C. but the downside is that the fan runs at a fixed speed and is relatively noisy. That makes the Toxic cooler something of a mixed blessing as it is noisier than the standard HD 4850 during normal Windows duties but quieter when you’re playing a game.
Sapphire's 4850 Toxic (top) and its regular 4850
The problem is that you appreciate peace and quiet when you’re answering emails, shopping at Amazon or writing a review, but it becomes much less of an issue when you’re playing Crysis or Oblivion.
There’s some good news in store as the enhanced cooling offered by the Zalman package has allowed Sapphire to raise the clock speeds from 625MHz/2000MHz to 675MHz/2200MHz. This equates to an extra 11 per cent performance compared to a regular HD 4850, which halves the performance differential between the 4850 and 4870. That gives a pleasing symmetry as the price of the Toxic falls plumb between a basic HD 4850 and an HD 4870 but it also presents Sapphire, which sells all three types of board, with something of a problem.
Anyone looking for maximum value for money should buy an HD 4850, while avid gamers will go for the faster HD 4870 and that means the market for the Toxic is punters whose prime concern is the temperature of their graphics chip. And we’re not sure if that's a significant market.
Incidentally, our testing coincided with the release of Catalyst 8.8 and you’ll see from our figures that this gives a significant advantage in 3DMark Vantage and Crysis compared to the Catalyst 8.7 drivers.
The Zalman GPU cooler on the HD 4850 Toxic keeps the graphics chip icy cool but it raises the noise levels noticeably and also lifts the price uncomfortably close to the HD 4870.
Sapphire 4850 Toxic
I don't understand the Crysis figures and it's bloomin' annoying.
I started using a Crysis run-through with FRAPS out of idle curiosity some time ago when it became apparent that the built in benchmarks are hopelessly inadequate.
My methodology is this: I choose the game settings, load a Crysis saved game and play through a short section part of the game.
At first the test results were fairly predictable as more powerful graphics cards gave better results in terms of frame rates and Nvidia had an advantage over ATi, doubtless thanks to the Way It's Meant To Be Played.
The fly in the ointment is that dual graphics chip cards and SLI/CrossFire perform far worse than a decent single graphics card which goes against logic. It's not just a low FRAPS score - the game plays like you're running through treacle.
Here's the thing; a number of readers have picked up on this apparent contradiction in the test results of some of my reviews - high 3D Mark scores and low Crysis scores - but no-one has said that they run HD 4850 CrossFire or a GeForce 9800 X2 and have a great time in Crysis.
re: crysis and crossfire
crossfire still causes dodgy results with some games. mostly due to ati's crap drivers (linux user here, so I especially feel the pain...)
Erm, do I really want to buy a product that describes itself as toxic? No.