A Quick Note on AMD & Factory Clocks

While we were talking to Sapphire about the Toxic 5850, we asked them whether we would be seeing a Toxic 5870 to complement the 5850. We got a surprising answer and an even more surprising reason behind it that we’d like to share with you.

Sapphire will not be producing a 5870 Toxic, and the reason for that is that AMD won’t let them (or anyone else) offer a factory-overclocked card that runs significantly faster than their existing Vapor-X card (875MHz). This apparently isn’t a huge secret, but this is the first time we’ve heard this.

When we asked AMD about this, they told us that this all boils down to what AMD believes is safe operation for their chips. AMD allows vendors to factory overclock their chips to whatever point AMD feels is as high as they can safely go, and no higher. If any significant number of them could go higher, then AMD would have released them as a higher-end bin.

This put’s AMD’s limits at around 875MHz for the 5870, and 765MHz for the 5850. Note that AMD’s Overdrive limits are still higher than this, particularly on the 5870 where Overdrive goes to 900MHz. In practice we were able to get our 5850 Toxic to 895MHz without any kind of voltage adjustment, so even with some breathing room we believe that Cypress chips assigned 5850 status for defective unit reasons (that is, it’s not a 5870 because it has a defective SIMD) are plenty capable of going higher. Particularly with Sapphire’s Vapor-X cooler, the heat isn’t an issue.

Index The Test & Results


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  • soccerplayer88 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    I'll give you all a hint for overclocking it further. Flash the bios.

    Hell I just told you what to do, now you just have to google it.

    Anyways, I've pushed my card to 880/1220. And by the way, what's up with your temps?! My card overclocked to hell is about 10C cooler than your setup. Sounds like poor airflow to me.
  • dvdreplication - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    Well it looks like a giant. Is it fixed or not? I hope that it 'll prove to be a great product. Thanks for sharing such an informative article.

  • darthbinky - Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - link

    For what it's worth, I thought I'd mention that I saw this card for sale on SuperBiiz.com for $310 with a promo code. Everywhere else seems to be selling them for upwards of $350, with stock running out.


    I haven't ordered from this site before (I usually go Newegg), so don't consider this a recommendation.

  • v12v12 - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    Goooood LORD look at the power requirements at load!? The noise and heat?! The GPU industry is LAUGHABLE Vs CPU Vs common-sense engineering. Still more brute-force crapware being metered out to the public. While CPUs are completely in another universe regarding TDP.

    SINGLE-core? Why in the hell are there still these relics being mass produced? METERED-TECHNOLOGY folks... you're all getting hustled w/every release of the market spin-masters "toxic, lava, HAL9000, Halo3" edition releases. Stop buying this crap and they'll stop producing it!?

    Lastly: I've noticed that with many of these so-called "performance" stock HSFs= the engineering tolerances are WAAAAY off! There's all kinds of gaps between the HSF and the ram ICs! They use the cheapest POS, filler TIM (thermal-interface-material) they possibly can to omit real design tolerances! White zinc-gunk is what I call it... When are we going to start demanding some real innovations here with these fraudsters? 3-pipe, aluminum HSF? Ummm GARBAGE! I'll take Zalman's VF-900 and all the custom brackets and stuff that people have been making for YEARS—will still outperform this crap metal, shived lump of a HSF.
    __What a joke... soon as you buy one of these cards, you're dropping another $30-50 on real after-market HSF + TIM + time if you want anything livable and not an in-case heater unit. Come on folks... this is the best you can spend your dollars on? Over-priced, under-equipped, cheaply cooled junk... Kids these days are even more the suckers than they assume their parents are. You guys have no clue how to smart-shop if you're buying into all this gimmick-marketing.

    Give me a damn OEM card, no cooler, no cheap TIM; nothing but the PCB! No fancy ass colors and sh!t esp. WHO CARES what color it is, if it's adding another $10+ to the cost of the card. The whole point of the card is to go INTO a box and PERFORM. I don't want to hear, nor see the card glowing from LEDS or marvel at some "awesome" paint job. When are people going to get that, FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION! Oh wait not in marketing-sucker's-world-2.0....

  • ThermalVent - Friday, March 05, 2010 - link

    Erm why not take your ass out of your head.. I brought one of these at a cut price.
    I get 900Mhz + out of the core and 1300Mhz memory, completely stable and thoroughly tested.
    Not once does it go over 50 Degress celcius under full load for several hours, when idle at these clocks it sits at 23 degrees....................
  • ThermalVent - Monday, March 08, 2010 - link

    make that 1050 core and 1300 memory, completely stable and 28c idle 52 full load after several hours of playing games! Reply
  • austonia - Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - link

    lame attempt at trolling or just ignorant and off medication? hard to tell. Reply
  • v12v12 - Friday, February 26, 2010 - link

    Cut the ad hominem and refute my claims then if you've got something intelligent/on topic to say? If not, please stop wasting time with juvenile 1-upping; douche. Reply
  • austonia - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    for a custom card the OC capability is pretty weak, especially considering the additional expense. i have a stock Sapphire 5850 that runs at 900 core/1300 memory at stock voltage, and 1000/1300 at 1.25v using AMD GPU clock tool and MSI Afterburner utility. stable in Crysis benchmark looping and Furmark. this was from an early batch too, about a month after they came out. Reply
  • araczynski - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    after all these years i'm still seeing no reason to upgrade my 4850x2. Reply

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