Sapphire HD3870 512MB TOXIC Edition Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     May 18, 2008

Sapphire HD3870 512MB TOXIC Edition Review

Manufacturer Product Page: SAPPHIRE TOXIC HD 3870 512MB GDDR4 PCI-E
Product Number: 100225TXSR
Availability: Now
Warranty: 2 Years
Price: Click Here to Compare Prices

Well ladies and gents, welcome to another Hardware Canucks graphics card review and today we have something for you which may appeal to a great many consumers: a card which offers a truly complete multimedia experience while having the capabilities to play all the latest games on the market. While by now you are surely familiar with ATIís vaunted HD3870 cards, a little primer is needed since a lot has changed in the GPU industry since its release all those months ago. Its primary competitor Ėthe Nvidia 8800GT- has seen its price plunge in recent weeks to the point where it is now retailing for the same price as most HD3870 cards on the market. As we have seen in review after review, the HD3870 512MB cards just donít have the stones to compete mono-a-mono with Nvidiaís best selling G92-equipped card when it comes to gaming. Thus, ATIís board partners have had to come up with unique ways of marketing their cards so consumers will look beyond what is presented at face value and decide to purchase this card based on features rather than pure performance potential.

Sapphire, being one of the (if not THE) largest of ATIís board partners has been in the market now for countless years and their name is well recognized here in North America. So, if there is one ATI AIB out there who is in the position to push an innovative take on the standard HD3870 design to a market which is hungry for something different, it is Sapphire. They have taken on this challenge like a duck to water and in the past have produced some extremely unique designs which have mostly been released under the ďToxicĒ name. The card we are reviewing here today represents the next logical step in the Toxic series as it makes its jump to the HD3870 series with the Sapphire HD3870 512MB Toxic. This card was first conceived as the special-edition HD3870 Atomic which came in a metal carrying case that would make any CSI wannabe proud. This one of a kind card has now evolved into something a bit more mundane with the Toxic version but at least this version is widely available.

This cardís main claim to fame is its uniquely-designed single slot cooling solution that Sapphire dubs the Vapor-X. While we will discuss this in detail a bit later, in a nutshell this pint-sixed cooler does a better job at cooling the Toxicís overclocked RV670 core than the relatively huge dual-slot reference cooler. Have we got your attention yet? Well, if your ears havenít perked up yet then consider this: this is one of most fully-featured cards on the market with full HDMI compatibility HD decoding among a myriad of other features. It is these features which ATI and Sapphire want consumers to focus on in order to show that their cards are able to compete quite well with Nvidia offerings.

However, when it all boils down to it, it is the consumers who decide whether a product will be a raging success or an abysmal failure. To this end a good shopper will always keep their eyes open for the graphics card that offers them not only the best value for their money but also piece of mind for whatever the future might hold. Unfortunately in this respect, ATIís board partners have not stayed ahead of the curve since many of them are sorely lagging behind their Nvidia counterparts when it comes to warranty length. So, while the Sapphire HD3870 Toxic comes with a 2-year warranty (which is longer than most people will keep their graphics cards) we still find it is a bit on the short side when compared to the green-totting competition.

Priced at around $210, this card is poised to compete directly with the 8800GT in terms of the price you pay for performance but how will it stack up to the competition? Will its factory overclock boost performance enough to make the Toxic a viable option against the 8800GT? Letís find out.


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