Overclocking and Final Thoughts
To round out the benchmarking phase of this review, we loaded Sapphire's own Redline Tweak Utility to manually overclock the X850 Pro.
We tried the Find Max Mem and Core clock speeds with the Redline Tweak Utility, but found it took too long without giving some sign of progress. Instead, we did things manually and ended up with a peak core speed of 585MHz, 79MHz over stock speeds, a boost of 15.61%. The GDDR3 memory had a fair amount of headroom left as well, pushing from 520MHz (1040MHz DDR) to 600MHz (1200MHz DDR), exactly what the memory was rated for. This resulted in an increase of 15.38% overall. When we revisited our Half-Life 2 4X AA/ 8X Aniso test at 1600x1200, the added horsepower resulted in an increase in performance of roughly 6% in the end.
As we bring this review to a close, we need to look at the Sapphire Radeon X850 Pro from a couple of different angles. First, we have the overall package and performance of the Sapphire Radeon X850 Pro 256MB to consider, which was impressive on both fronts. The retail package was complete, with a solid complement of documentation and software backed by an equally complete collection of cables to take full advantage of the card's VIVO capabilities. Performance was equally good, with solid numbers posted in all of our tests. Overclocking the X850 Pro was also excellent, where we managed to achieve an impressive 79MHz increase in VPU speed, with the memory peaking at its rated speed of 1200MHz DDR.
The other things to consider are the clock speeds at which the X850 Pro comes clocked at from the factory. ATI rates the X850 Pro at 520MHz core and 1080MHz memory, while the Sapphire card came in at 506MHz and 1040MHz, respectively. Furthermore, Sapphire makes no mention of the card's clock speeds on their website. However, most retailers we've seen that carry this card are claiming it's clocked at ATI's reference clock speeds. To make sure our experience wasn't an anomaly, we searched the web for more information regarding the Sapphire Radeon X850 Pro and found some other publications listing the same range of clock speeds for this card.
Let's be clear, we are not saying Sapphire is doing anything deceptive with their Radeon X850 Pro 256MB card. In fact, we saw the same clock speed discrepancy with the ASUS equivalent to this card, although ASUS clearly states actual clock speeds on their website. What we're seeing is that most online retailers are making gross assumptions on the clock speeds of this particular card, listing ATI reference speeds rather than what the manufacturer has actually clocked the card at.
Fortunately, Sapphire's included Red Line Utility does make it easy to run the card at ATI's reference specifications - and then some. Overall, we liked the Sapphire Radeon X850 Pro and find it to be a capable mid-to-high end graphics card. However, with a current street price hovering around $350, there are better buys out there. The 16-pipeline Radeon X800XL would be an excellent alternative, with its lower price and less demanding power requirements. And if you have the funds, you may even want to invest a few more dollars and pick up a more powerful 16-pipe graphics card like a GeForce 6800GT or X850XT.
We give the Sapphire Radeon X850 Pro 256MB a Hot Hardware Heat Meter rating of 7.