Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 512MB Toxic

The Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 Toxic 512MB Up Close

The Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 Toxic 512MB graphics card came with a retail package virtually identical to that of the more affordable Sapphire Radeon HD 3650 512MB that we recently evaluated.  Both models came with an installation manual, drivers/installation CD as well as bonus software including PowerDVD 7 6-Channel and a PowerDVD Suite which includes PowerProducer 4, PowerDirector 5 Express and Power2GO 5.5.  Sapphire also included a copy of FutureMark 3DMark06 for those looking to benchmark their new graphics card.

Each package also came with a DVI-to-HDMI adapter and DVI-to-VGA adapter for those running analog displays.  Sapphire provided a TV-Out S-Video adapter, HD Component display adapter and a CrossFire link for teaming the Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 Toxic 512MB with a second card.  Where the two packages differ is that with this model, Sapphire added an HDMI cable, Molex-to-6-Pin PCI-Express power cable along with a free voucher for "The Black Box" which includes Valve's Half Life 2:  Episode Two, Team Fortress 2 and the addictive Portal delivered through Steam.

The Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 Toxic 512MB itself is a svelt single slot card designed around ATI's RV670 GPU.  The Toxic Vapor-X cooler offers cooling comparable to dual-slot solutions through vapor chamber technology, which gives Sapphire the flexibility to tinker with the card's clock speeds, running them a bit higher than the reference specification.  The GPU, for example, comes clocked at 800MHz, compared to the stock 777MHz.  The 512MB of GDDR4 came set to run at 1152MHz (2304MHz DDR) which equates to roughly a 75MHz DDR increase over reference specifications.  The Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 Toxic 512MB also benefits from the RV670's 55nm design, reducing the external power to a single 6-Pin PCI Express power input compared to the more power hungry R600 it succeeds. 

Before we move on to testing the card in our benchmarking segment, we'd like to briefly explain the Vapor-X's vapor chamber technology.  In a nutshell, the Vapor-X's vapor chamber technology is based around a solid copper sink that is backed by a chamber of liquid refrigerant.  As the copper sink heats, that heat causes the refrigerant to boil, and in turn it vaporizes, pulling the heat away from the sink.  The heat is then transferred to the fins to be wisked away by the the fan, which continually adjusts its speed based on the temperature of the GPU.  As the vapor cools, it changes back to a liquid, repeating the cycle.  This solution delivers a quieter option compared to the stock Radeon dual-slot cooler designs while maintaining proper airflow at all times.

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