The Card & Cooler
The Sapphire Toxic Radeon X1900 XTX is very similar to an ATI-built Radeon X1900 XTX on some levels. Both cards share the same PCB, GPU, memory and components. But because this card is equipped with a custom liquid-cooling apparatus, that cools only the GPU, the card's RAM chips are adorned with individual heatsinks to help keep temperatures in check.
Other than the differences in the cooling hardware, the Sapphire Toxic Radeon X1900 XTX differs from an ATI-built card only in its core and memory clock speeds. Sapphire plans to ships the Toxic at the end of this month with its Radeon X1900 XTX core clocked to 675MHz and its 512MB of memory clocked at 1.6GHz, increases of 25MHz and 50MHz (DDR) over stock reference specs. Should this change sometime between now and when the card ships, however, we'll update this review and let you know.
The real story in regard to the Sapphire Toxic Radeon X1900 XTX is the card's self-contained liquid cooling apparatus. The unit is built for Sapphire by Thermaltake. It is reminiscent of Thermaltake's Tide Water all-in-one VGA liquid-cooler, but Sapphires solution actually differs from the Tide Water in a couple of ways. Sapphire's cooler is thinner and has a larger, lighted fan, and it generates a bit more noise than the Tide Water as well.
The cooler's water block and radiator are made from pure Copper for increased heat conductivity and dissipation, and the cooling fan can be run at one of two speeds thanks to a simple switch on the top of the cooler. At the lower setting, the fan spins at 2000RPM and generates 18db of noise. At the higher setting the fan spins at 2500RPM and generates 26dB. We found both modes to be very quiet during testing, and think the cooler will not be audible in a typical system with a closed case. The cooler requires almost no maintenance because it is closed loop, but should you have to clean the unit or ad water at some point in the future there is a cap on the reservoir and a fill port right on the side of the unit.
On top of its performance and quiet operation, we like the fact that there is enough slack in the tubing to install the cooler in a slot that's not adjacent to the graphics card itself.