Sapphire NITRO+ Radeon RX 6700 XT Review: Bigger, Faster, Cooler
NITRO Cold Brew
Our launch coverage of the Radeon RX 6700 XT continues in the hours after the review embargo lift, as multiple vendors are launching their own versions of the new 40 CU RDNA 2 GPU from AMD. Sapphire is, naturally, one of these AIB partners, and they have another of their big, quiet, and factory overclocked NITRO+ cards for us today.
As we have discussed, the RX 6700 XT is based on new (much smaller) silicon, and is the first of AMD’s RDNA 2 GPUs with a 192-bit memory bus and 96 MB of Infinity Cache – down from 256-bit and 128 MB, respectively, with the RX 6800 cards. The 192-bit memory bus also means a reduction in total VRAM (yes, the two are related), but AMD chose to go with 12GB of GDDR6 rather than 6GB – the same decision NVIDIA made with their RTX 3060.
For a bit more about this new GPU check out our AMD reference card review. Now, let’s check out the NITRO+ card.
- GPU: AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT, 7nm, AMD RDNA 2 Architecture
- Engine Clock
- Boost Clock: Up to 2622 MHz
- Game Clock: Up to 2548 MHz
- Game Clock is the expected GPU clock when running typical gaming applications, set to typical TGP(Total Graphics Power). Actual individual game clock results may vary
- Stream Processors: 2560
- Infinity Cache: 96MB
- Ray Accelerators: 40
- Memory Size/Bus: 12GB GDDR6
- Memory Clock: 16 Gbps Effective
- Displays: Maximum 4 Displays
- Resolution: HDMI: 7680×4320
- DisplayPort 1.4: 7680×4320
- Interface: PCI-Express 4.0
- Output: 1x HDMI, 3x DisplayPort
- BIOS Support: Dual UEFI
- Cooling: 3 Fans
- Form Factor: 2.5 slot, ATX
- Dimension: 310.05(L)X 130.75(W)X 51.4 (H)mm
- Power Consumption: 260W (Board Power), 1 x 8-pin + 1 x 6-pin Power Connector.
- Sapphire Features:
- Dual BIOS
- TriXX Software BIOS Switch
- Premium Digital Power Design
- Fuse Protection
- Tri-X Cooling Technology
- Intelligent Fan Control
- Precision Fan Control
- Backplate with ARGB
- Two-Ball Bearing Fans
- Hybrid Fan Blade
- Wave Fin Design
- V Shape Fin Design for GPU Cooling
- Integrated Cooling Module
- TriXX Supported
- Fan Check
- Fan Quick Connect
- TriXX Boost
- NITRO Glow
- External RGB LED MB Synchronization
The Sapphire NITRO+ Card
This card is every bit as large as the NITRO+ RX 6800 we reviewed back in December, and you are certainly getting a more robust thermal solution with Sapphire’s NITRO+ compared to a reference design.
We detailed the features of this new Tri-X cooling solution in the NITRO+ 6800 review (exclusive to Sapphire’s RX 6000 cards), but here are some of the advantages (quoting Sapphire):
- New Hybrid Fan Blade – The new Hybrid Fan Blade improved the GPU temperature by 3.4 C and memory temperature by 3 C over the last gen NITRO+ RX 5700 XT fan blade design
- WAVE Fin – The new wave fin design reduces the friction when the wind goes intot he find module so as to reduce the wind cut noise
- V Shape Fin Design – The V shape find design on top of the GPU accelerates and centralizes the air flow around the GPU to dissipate the heat efficiently
- New Memory/VRM Cooling – New stand-alone memory/VRM cooling module does not just cool the memory and MOSFET, but also the chokes
The card measures 310.05 mm in length, 130.75 mm in height, and is 51.4 mm wide – occupying 2.5 slots. There are the standard 8-pin + 6-pin PCIe power connectors, and a dual-position BIOS switch for fan profile selection.
I didn’t get into RGB lighting with this one, but it’s the same addressable system as the NITRO+ RX 6800 we looked at previously, so if you like ARGB stuff you’ll like this.
It wouldn’t be a Sapphire review if we didn’t at least mention TriXX software, and in particular the utility’s easy to use resolution scaling feature. Simply choose a scaling percentage (it defaults to 85%), toggle some new in-game resolutions, and decide if you want to enable AMD’s Radeon Image Sharpening.
It’s as simple as applying the setting and then manually selecting your new resolution in any game. And the result is better performance, with virtually no downside at a high quality (85%) setting like this. It’s not DLSS, but it works perfectly and you’ll be hard pressed to notice that it’s on.
Revisiting some of the benchmarks from our reference card review (same test setup and driver version), you’ll notice that this factory overclocked card does in fact offer better performance with zero user intervention. I left the BIOS switch in its default position and here are the results:
Far Cry 5
Far Cry 5 at 3840×2160/Ultra/HD Textures produced the best showing for the RX 6700 XT in the reference review, and here the NITRO+ takes it up another FPS. Not a big difference, obviously, but better. The next game shows a bigger jump.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
This was such an impressive jump from my earlier benchmarks using the reference card that I started looking for an error – until I remembered that Division 2 is the worst-case benchmark for heat that I use. To clarify, the menu for the game runs the GPU at full speed, and the heat just builds and builds between benchmark runs. I suspect that the superior thermals from this NITRO+ aided in the higher average FPS result we see here
The next two games are backing to showing only single FPS improvements, leaving The Division 2 as the outlier in this review.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Power and Thermals
Higher clocks on the same process means more power consumption, but the difference here is only 24W so it shouldn’t affect your PSU selection.
A system that never even reached 400W during any of my testing is just fine with me. Sapphire recommends a 650W power supply with this card, but I think you could get away with a quality 550W unit (but don’t blame me if something goes horribly wrong).
Using GPUZ I monitored GPU thermals for a couple of benchmark runs, pitting our AMD reference sample against this Sapphire NITRO+ card. This software does not log memory temps with this GPU, so I had to content myself with the following chart:
This is a big improvement. The reference card hit approximately 78 C GPU / 94 C hot spot, while the NITRO+ brought this down to 59 C GPU / 83 C hot spot under identical conditions.
As to noise, in use I have found these NITRO+ cards to be very, very quiet under load – to the extent that they can’t be heard over the CPU cooler, and therefore can’t be tested for sound pressure level properly without a passive CPU cooling setup (which I don’t currently have). We are talking about noise levels under 35 dBA in my shorter benchmark runs, though of course fans can be ramped up manually into the more audible range.
Pricing and Conclusion
The expected pricing from Sapphire is $579 for this NITRO+ RX 6700 XT, but that price doesn’t indicate what the card will actually sell for any more than AMD’s $479 list price for the reference card. And if the price seems high, then you really don’t want to know what RX 6800 cards sell for right now.
My conclusion is simple: Sapphire’s NITRO+ RX 6700 XT is a cool running, quiet graphics card with better performance out of the box compared to AMD’s reference design. Sure, the performance gains are not massive, but we didn’t get into any additional overclocking, either (and this cooler certainly leaves some thermal headroom).
Value arguments are out the window in 2020-2021, so I’ll just say that if you can find this for an appropriate price for your needs, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a rock solid option from a reliable vendor.
This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.
How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from Sapphire for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product remains the property of Sapphire and is on short term loan to us, and will be returned soon.
Sapphire had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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