The vanilla Radeon HD 6850 was the more relevant of the two latest AMD cards, but can Sapphire's HD 6850 Toxic edition make it exciting too?
There's one thing you can't criticise Sapphire's Toxic series of overclocked graphics cards for: they never look dull. Each new variant features a visually (and thermally) different heatsink. From the three fanned enormity of the HD 5970 Toxic to the matt black angular edges of this HD 6850 Toxic, they're rarely the same twice.
Not only does the HD 6850 Toxic look classier than most graphics cards, it sounds a lot better too, in that it's almost silent. The GPU is clocked at 820MHz, which represents a healthy 45MHz more than the reference design – and yet cooling is noiseless, and there's plenty of headroom to push the card harder if you wish.
It's not just a fancy heatsink which makes the package attractive either. There's an extra power connector on the HD 6850 Toxic for supporting higher overclocks than you'd get out of a reference card, and the downloadable Sapphire TriXX application gives you access to voltage settings for pouring more juice into the silicon too.
At only £20 more than the cheapest current stock HD 6850, the Toxic isn't extortionately priced either, but there are GeForce GTX 460s and even the odd HD 5850 available for less. Being able to clear those two performance peaks is going to be one hell of a challenge.