The Sapphire HD 5850 TOXIC Edition is factory overclocked to 765MHz core and 1125MHz (4500MHz effective) memory speeds. The performance numbers show that the games and benchmarks love this extra clock frequency boost. Our ears also like the Vapor-X cooling technology as this card is quieter than a reference designed Radeon HD 5850. It’s not every day that you get better performance and less heat or noise, but with the SAPPHIRE HD 5850 TOXIC Edition you get the best of all worlds! The only downside to this card is the fact that it is a little longer than the reference design, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker unless you are trying to stuff a Radeon HD 5850 TOXIC edition GPU into a small form factor (SFF) case. Even when it comes to appearances, the Sapphire HD 5850 TOXIC Edition delivers as the larger fan and interesting fan shroud design makes it stand out from the reference card as you can see from the image above.
Overclocking performance on the Sapphire HD 5850 TOXIC Edition video card was amazing. We were able to take the card from 765MHz core clock and 1125MHz memory clock all the way up to 901MHz core clock and 1200MHz memory clock. This is a 24% increase on the core clock and a 20% increase on the memory clock from a reference design Radeon HD 5850 as a normal ATI Radeon HD 5850 runs at just 700MHz on the core and 1000MHz on the memory. By overclocking the Sapphire HD 5850 TOXIC Edition graphics card it was nearly able to perform on the same level as the Radeon HD 5870!
All these great features and killer performance numbers do come at a cost, though. The price on the Sapphire HD 5850 TOXIC Edition video card is $379.99 plus shipping at Newegg.com. The least expensive reference designed ATI Radeon HD 5850 on Newegg.com right now is the Sapphire Radeon HD5850 at $299.99 plus shipping. This means you are paying $80 extra for the TOXIC Edition graphics card. This is a significant price premium considering the Radeon HD 5870 can be found for $409.99. For an extra $30 you can get a card with more stream processors, texture units and is faster from the start without overclocking. If you want the best gaming performance then the Radeon HD 5870 is the better buy, but if you like overclocking and want a custom graphics card then the Sapphire HD 5850 TOXIC Edition video card is right up your alley. We just wish it carried a ~$40 price premium, rather than the $80 one it currently has.
Pricing aside, the Sapphire HD 5850 TOXIC Edition is hands down the fastest and greatest looking Radeon HD 5850 graphics card that we have ever laid our hands on and for that we give it the Editor’s Choice Award. It’s not cost effective, but this is a luxury video card and you get what you pay for. Who knows? Maybe the price will drop once the GeForce GTX 470 and GeForce GTX 480 video cards come out tomorrow.
Legit Bottom Line: The Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 Toxic Edition video card is the real McCoy and should be high on the list of cards when looking for a Radeon HD 5850.