SAPPHIRE NITRO+ Radeon RX 5700 XT Review: Triple Threat
The SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 5700 XT
Bigger, Faster, More RGB
Our first look at a custom version of an AMD Radeon RX 5700 Series GPU was SAPPHIRE’s PULSE RX 5700 XT card, released last month with a much more effective cooler than AMD’s reference design. With the review we also had a look at an upcoming feature of SAPPHIRE’s software called TriXX Boost, which provides an easy way to set up resolution scaling for higher performance.
Today’s launch of the NITRO+ RX 5700 XT brings a more robust PCB, larger triple-fan cooler, bigger factory overclock, and a new version of TriXX Software which includes TriXX Boost technology as well as customization for the card’s RGB lighting.
Features from SAPPHIRE:
- AMD RDNA architecture with factory-overclocked performance and advanced Tri-X custom cooling solution
- TriXX Software with enhanced user experience and host of new features
- Up to 15% performance increase in popular games with TriXX Boost
- Improved personalization options with NITRO Glow ARGB System
- Superior PCB and Power designs ensure gamers have Fast and Stable clock speeds
- NITRO+ RX 5700 XT card delivers cool, quiet and affordable performance
- SAPPHIRE COOLTECH, DNA and PLUS Technologies
- Model: SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RadeonTM RX 5700 XT
- GPU: NITRO+ RX 5700 XT Graphics, 2nd Gen 7nm GPU, RDNA Architecture
- Stream Processors: 2560
- Boost Clock: Up to 2010 MHz
- Game Clock: Up to 1905 MHz
- Base Clock: 1770 MHz
- Memory Size/Bus: 8GB/256 bit GDDR6
- Memory Clock: 14 Gbps Effective
- Display Support
- Maximum 4 Displays
- Resolution: HDMI 4096×2160 @60Hz, DisplayPort 1.4 5120×2880 @60Hz
- Interface: PCI-Express 4.0
- Output: 2x HDMI, 2x DisplayPort
- BIOS Support: Dual UEFI
- Cooling: Tri-X Cooling Two-Ball Bearing
- Form Factor: 2.3 slot, ATX
- Dimension: 306 x 135 x 49(mm)
- Power Consumption: 265W
- System Requirements
- Minimum 650 Watt Power Supply (Recommended)
- 2x 8-pin Power Connectors
- Operating System: Windows 10, Windows 7 (64-Bit operating system required)
The SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 5700 XT Graphics Card
My first impression of this new NITRO+ card is its sheer size, which is quite a bit larger in every dimension compared to AMD’s reference design. To be precise, the reference card is (LxWxH) 272 x 111 x 36 mm, while this NITRO+ card measures 306 x 135 x 49 mm.
In addition to a large heatsink the Tri-X cooler features three dual ball-bearing fans, the center of which spins in the opposite direction of the other two:
With its state-of-the-art radiator design, the Tri-X cooling solution is designed to be one of SAPPHIRE’s most efficient coolers. Heat is dissipated by a trio of newly designed silent dual ball-bearing fans. Two, slightly larger on each side running anticlockwise, and a smaller middle fan running clockwise to ensure optimal airflow. The tunneled fins on the fans aid in increasing the convection of airflow enabling Tri-X to maintain temperatures under 75°C while gaming and run up to 13 dBA quieter. With an 8 + 1 + 2 Phase Digital Power Design, the NITRO+ RX 5700 XT successfully unleashes the full potential of AMD’s RDNA gaming architecture.
SAPPHIRE has implemented their Intelligent Fan Control feature with the NITRO+ RX 5700 XT to balance overall performance and fan noise, and these fans offer what SAPPHIRE says is an improved version of their Quick Connect Fan system to make them easy to remove for cleaning – or replacement. Why would one wish to replace these fans? Addressable RGB, of course!
For those looking for more RGB in their life SAPPHIRE has made sets of ARGB fans available as an optional upgrade for $29, and these have been designed especially for this NITRO+ RX 5700 XT card. While the card does integrate ARGB lighting already, with a light strip on the top as well as backlit logos on the top and backplate, addressable RGB fans would certainly make this a more colorful option if you are so inclined.
Along with this impressive cooler size advantage over AMD’s reference design, which should result in improved temps at lower fan speeds, the NITRO+ RX 5700 XT provides factory overclocked speeds of up to 1770 MHz Base / 1905 MHz Game / 2010 MHz Boost. This is a substantial increase from the reference speeds of up to 1605 MHz Game / 1755 MHz Game / 1905 MHz Boost.
As with all recent GPU reviews we present results run at 2560×1440 and ultra preset settings. While 1920×1080 is the predominant gaming resolution of choice, powerful graphics cards need more of a challenge to differentiate themselves, and here 1440p gaming at ultra settings is still quite taxing on all but the fastest GPUs, depending on the game.
All tests were conducted using the card’s default BIOS setting, which resulted in a max fan speed of 1650 RPM under gaming load. There are actually a total of three BIOS positions from the toggle on the edge of the card: position 1 offers the card’s default ‘Performance’ mode, position 2 is the ‘Silent’ mode, and position 3 is the ‘Software Switch Mode’ which allows the two modes to be toggled using the TriXX software.
|PC Perspective GPU Test Platform|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-9700K|
|Motherboard||GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO|
|Memory||Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4-3200 32GB (16GBx2)|
|Storage||CORSAIR Neutron Series XTi 480GB SSD|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit (1903)|
|Drivers||Radeon Software Adrenalin 19.7.5, 19.9.1 (THICC/Nitro+)
GeForce Game Ready Driver 431.36, 431.56 (RTX 2080 SUPER)
Far Cry 5
Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
World of Tanks enCore
It is interesting to observe the behavior of the three RX 5700 XT cards in the charts above, specifically the NITRO+ vs. the recently reviewed XFX THICC II card. While at times the XFX card keeps its lead, the NITRO+ comes out ahead in two of the tests – and while it is possible that this is due to slight variance in the benchmark runs or an unseen game update (as platforms and driver versions were identical with both cards tested), that is not certain.
What I can say with certainty is that this SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 5700 XT is a very good performer that produced far less noise than I was expecting. How quiet is this triple-fan GPU? We explore this in the next section.
Power, Temperatures, and Noise
Before getting into thermals and noise here’s a look at where the SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 5700 XT sits in this group of cards with regard to power draw under a controlled gaming load:
At 350W from the wall (total system draw, 80 Plus Gold PSU) the NITRO+ card is just behind the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition on the chart, and while this would otherwise have seemed like a high number – and indeed this card pulls quite a bit of power from its dual 8-pin PCIe connectors – the XFX THICC II card’s rather staggering 375W result makes this seem much lower.
We will have to revisit the XFX card and its alternative BIOS setting to see how it may affect power draw at some point, but for now the SAPPHIRE NITRO+ seems like the more efficient option for an overclocked RX 5700 XT.
Temperatures and Noise
Temps were excellent from this SAPPHIRE card with a load temp of just 66 C with a 87 C hot spot in a ~24 C room. As to noise levels, these fairly low-speed fans are definitely conducive to quiet performance, with just 38.2 dBA recorded under load. This is 5.6 dBA lower than the XFX THICC II as tested, and 10+ dBA lower than a reference Radeon RX 5700 XT. Outstanding!
SAPPHIRE TriXX Software
We were provided with the latest version of TriXX, the software utility from SAPPHIRE than can be used to monitor and adjust performance, lighting effects, and enable the TriXX Boost feature we quickly covered in our SAPPHIRE PULSE RX 5700 XT review.
TriXX Boost enables gamers to run games at a higher FPS by reducing the rendering resolution and up scaling the final output image by integrating Radeon Image Sharpening. This powerful tool besides being easy to use, sees up to a 19% performance improvement in 3D Mark Fire-Strike and 14% performance improvement in popular games the resolution is adjusted from 2560×1440 to 2304×1296; or up to 25% performance improvement in 3D Mark Fire-Strike up to a 14% improvement in games when adjusting the resolution from 3840×2160 to 3456×1944.
For the SAPPHIRE PULSE RX 5700 XT review I tested TriXX Boost in a couple of games, with a custom resolution of 2304×1296, this accounting for a 10% reduction from the 2560×1440 of my display using the “90%” setting from the slider.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider offered the biggest gains with TriXX Boost of the couple of titles I tested, offering a 15% performance increase (78 FPS vs. 67.7 FPS) using this slightly lower res; Radeon Image Sharpening providing the detail enhancement to make this virtually indistinguishable from native resolution to the naked eye.
Overall the TriXX software is easy to use and the Boost feature is one that I think gives SAPPHIRE an advantage in the custom Radeon GPU space right now.
Pricing for the NITRO+ RX 5700 XT is $439 USD, and for this $40 premium over reference models SAPPHIRE has produced a card that provides higher performance than a reference Radeon RX 5700 XT out of the box – and with significantly lower temperatures and noise.
Add to this the presence of addressable RGB lighting effects (and optional ARGB fans) and the well implemented TriXX Boost that is a feature of these SAPPHIRE cards, and this NITRO+ becomes an even more attractive option if you are looking for the best performance and value from a custom RX 5700 XT.
In short, the SAPPHIRE NITRO+ Radeon RX 5700 XT is the best Navi card we have tested to date, and an excellent product. An easy recommendation.