The Sapphire Toxic Radeon X700 Pro 128
The Sapphire Toxic Radeon X700 Pro 128 is essentially a standard X700 Pro, sporting eight pixel pipelines and six vertex shaders. The card comes clocked like most X700 Pro's in its class, with a GPU speed of 425MHz and GDDR3 memory clocked at 860MHz. It also comes with the most common outputs, including one VGA DB15 connector, one DVI output, and a TV-Out port.
The most notable difference with the Sapphire Toxic Radeon X700 Pro 128 from its brethren is its oversized cooler assembly. Building the card with overclocking in mind, Sapphire outfitted the Toxic Radeon X700 Pro with a large, yet quiet fan assembly encased in a bright orange shroud, dubbed "Lethal Cooling". To keep noise levels at a minimum, the fan blades are much wider than a typical fan assembly, and the fan is designed to exhaust air rather than simply move it across the GPU. While this design does occupy a second slot, the upside is you end up with an additional exhaust fan in the your system, helping to keep overall case temperatures lower.
We first got a taste of this type of design with several HIS X700 Pro cards, most recently their X700 Pro PCI-Express model. When we compare the two side-by-side, the general concept was very much the same, but we'd have to give an edge to HIS in the quality department. First, the overall weight of the Toxic card was significantly lighter, with a smaller, lighter aluminum heat sink design manufactured by Artic Cooling. While HIS has used Artic Cooling kits on some of their models, it's unclear who makes the latest IceQ cooler, but it comes with a heavier heatsink that is almost double the size of the Sapphire model. Additionally, while the HIS line comes with a blue LED fan, Sapphire provided a complete black light kit that, when positioned close to the Toxic Radeon X700 Pro, causes the fan to glow blue and the shroud to glow bright orange. Personally, we like the integrated approach over the secondary kit, which required more installation time, a power supply connection and additional cable management.
The three prong pig-tail hanging off the card is part of Sapphire's Temperature Monitoring Ready Technology. T.M.R is designed to connect to an external display (not included), supplying data about the card's status at any given time. While the idea is interesting, in use it isn't very practical or user friendly. For starters, aside from a brief mention on the box cover, documentation on T.M.R is non-existent. Because of this, there is potential that some users may think that it's to power the black light assembly, whose connector looks very similar at first glance. The black light is a four pinned connection, so there is little chance of doing any harm, but users may be left scratching their head as to what the pigtail is for. Once they figure out that they need an additional display, we suspect this option will probably go unused.
Before we get started with the benchmarking segment of this article, we thought we would present a few screenshots to demonstrate image quality. For this, we used the latest game to find its way into the HH labs, a surprisingly good game called The Chronicles of Riddick – Escape from Butcher Bay.
Not only were we surprised with Riddick's game play, we were equally surprised by its gorgeous, detailed scenery and playability. While we didn't use it for benchmarking in this article, we did spend a few days playing the game with 4X Anti-aliasing and 8X Anisotropic filtering enabled. Overall, the Sapphire Toxic Radeon X700 Pro performed well, only stuttering slightly in extremely chaotic scenes.