AMD’s graphics department ATI had put its bet on relatively inexpensive but high-performance medium-price graphics processors and won. The ATI Radeon HD 4800 series proved to be well-balanced and welcome on the market that had longed for a worthy alternative to Nvidia’s solutions. Most of such Radeons available now are still copies of ATI’s reference samples, differing only in packaging, accessories and the sticker on the card’s cooler. The Radeon HD 4800 doesn’t have a sophisticated PCB design, though. As opposed to Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 200, unique models of Radeons were sure to come to the market sooner or later.
Sapphire Technology was among the first companies to offer such products. We could expect it to be because it had long had the status of the largest and closest partner of ATI Technologies and AMD. Most of graphics cards developed by ATI are manufactured at Sapphire’s facilities. Besides reference cards, Sapphire’s product line-up has always included unusual versions such as the Sapphire Radeon 9800 XT Ultimate Edition that was equipped with a silent passive cooler from Zalman or the Sapphire Toxic Radeon X1900 XTX that employed a liquid cooling system.
The company had intended to use the Blizzard brand for unique products but had to replace it with Toxic due to disagreements with Blizzard Entertainment. So, Sapphire’s graphics cards with unique features are introduced under the Toxic brand now. The company is constantly experimenting with various cooling systems, collaborating with such renowned cooler makers as Zalman and Thermaltake as well as inventing something completely new. For example, we can recall its experiments with fusible metals as a heat carrier and the evaporating chamber technology that allowed to create a cooler capable of handling a Radeon HD 3870 but measuring no bigger than the single-slot cooler of the Radeon HD 3850.
The use of a metallic heat carrier in cooling systems of modern graphics cards that have a heat dissipation of 200W and more is a promising method, but this technology is yet to overcome a number of technical obstacles before it becomes really popular, if it ever does. However, one of the most popular graphics cards of our time, the Radeon HD 4850, does not really need a sophisticated and advanced cooling system. ATI’s reference cooler is questionable because the developer chose single-slot form-factor for it. Considering that the GPU has a heat dissipation of 110W, the Radeon HD 4850 is prone to overheat, especially in hot weather.
Sapphire took these things into consideration when developing the new model of the Toxic series. So, this review is about the Sapphire Toxic HD 4850 512MB GDDR3 graphics card which claims to be the best Radeon HD 4850 available. Let’s take a look at its package and accessories first.