Sapphire’s theme for packaging with this generation of cards seems to be “young ladies in improbable outfits”, and this one follows the trend. Aside from that we get a raft of logos and feature blurbs, along with the name of the card itself. On the back, more feature text, mostly recapitulating what you’ve just read above. Curiously, the box claims you can only have six monitors total on the two DP 1.2 ports, which contradicts the claims on the website.
Opening things up, we see the card itself wrapped in an anti-static bubble-wrap bag, and nestled into a cardboard tray with a spacer to hold it still. Not the most secure of packing schemes, but sufficient to the task.
Underneath, in yet another cardboard box, all the other little doodads you would normally associate with a video card are present, wrapped in plastic wrappers or sleeves as appropriate. Present are a driver CD, warranty pamphlet, quick-install pamphlet, DVI->VGA passive dongle, Crossfire adapter, HDMI cable, miniDP->DisplayPort adapter dongle, and two MOLEX->PCIe power adapters. Any reliable power supply should have the power plugs already, but it’s nice to have the backups.
Note that there is no miniDP->DVI active adapter. If you want to hook up three or four monitors to this card via DVI, you will need active miniDP->DVI single-link or dual-link adapters for monitors 3 and 4. Those $10 passive dongles they sell at the Apple Store will not work for this. If you can’t find any locally, one of these will work for any resolution up to 1920×1200. Above that, you’ll need a miniDP->DVI dual-link active adapter, which will set you back at least $100. If you’re buying a third monitor to complete an Eyefinity setup, do yourself a favor and get one with a DisplayPort input; it will make your life much easier.
A Closer Look
One thing that jumps out at you immediately when unwrapping this card is the cooler. Rather than the brick-with-a-squirrel-cage-fan reference design, this cooler uses multiple heatpipes and two fans to spread the work of cooling out as evenly as possible. Not much to see on the back, other than the four spring-screws holding the cooler in place.
With those four screws removed, the heatsink comes off readily, with only a short power cable attached to the fan header near the back of the card. In an uncommon fit of good sense, Sapphire has chosen to make both the GPU block and the heatpipes out of copper. The fins of the heatsink proper appear to be made of aluminum, and in any event are tightly spaced and friction-fit to the five heatpipes.
On the card itself, the MOSFETS get a slim heatsink to help disperse their heat, while the RAM remains bare. The GPU, which lacks a heat spreader, has rather more thermal paste on it than is strictly necessary, though the layer is not so thick as to cause accidental insulation. The truly performance-minded may wish to wipe this stuff off and replace it with a small dab of whatever thermal grease suits you best.
The back panel is crammed full of ports: two DVI, one HDMI, and two mini Display Ports. The mini DP ports are positioned rather close to the bracket; having both in use at once may entail a bit of planning with regard to plug order. Note also the height of the cooler; that plus the needed space for airflow makes this a three-slot card at the minimum.