Sapphire launched two Barts Pro GPU based graphics cards – Radeon HD 6850 and Radeon HD 6850 Toxic. We’re talking about cards from AMD’s second DX11 generation dubbed Northern Islands. Sapphire HD 6850 Radeon Toxic currently goes for €160, here.
Sapphire HD 6850 Toxic is pretty different from the reference HD 6850. First of all, the card comes factory overclocked – its GPU runs at 820MHz whereas the memory runs at 1100MHz (4400MHz effectively). Just to remind you, reference clocks are 775MHz for the GPU and 1000MHz for memory (4000MHz effectively).
Another important difference is the non-reference cooling. Furthermore, Toxic uses HD 6870’s PCB and is thus HD 6850 Toxic is 2.5cm longer than the reference HD 6850.
Toxic’s cooling is efficient when it comes to cooling the GPU, but it isn’t quieter than Sapphire HD 6850 solution. While both cards remain relatively quiet during operation, they’re not inaudible.
Large cooling, HD 6870’s PCB and two power connectors promised maximum overclocking but we didn’t manage to score 1GHz for the GPU. However, 987MHz was quite fine and it allowed for 22% better gaming results.
Price difference between Sapphire HD 6850 Toxic and Sapphire HD 6850 is less than €10, which buys you higher clocks and better performance. However, if you like to overclock yourself then Sapphire’s reference HD 6850 will do just fine.
As far as performance goes, AMD’s architectural improvements resulted in pretty good DirectX 11 gaming, catching up with the likes of HD 5850 and GTX 460 1GB in some benchmarks. Compared to the previous, HD 5800 generation, HD 6850’s improved tessellation performance will allow for pleasant gaming at 1920x1080.
If you’ve stuck to DirectX9 or DirectX10 hardware so far and you’re looking for a nicely priced graphics card that will allow for playing all the latest titles, then Sapphire HD 6850 and Sapphire HD 6870 are definitely cards you might want to look at.