MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking

SAPPHIRE's new NITRO+ RX 6950 XT PURE beats out the MSI RX 6950 XT GAMING X TRIO when it comes to overclocking, SAPPHIRE wins.

@anthony256
Published Mon, Jun 6 2022 10:12 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jun 23 2022 2:46 AM CDT

Introduction

I spend the better part of a week getting the two Radeon RX 6950 XT graphics cards reviews out the door, but in the middle of it all -- and some after -- I've got a plethora of overclocked results to go through between the SAPPHIRE and MSI Radeon RX 6950 XT cards.

MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 503 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 47 IMAGES

SAPPHIRE's new flagship NITRO+ RX 6950 XT PURE goes head-to-head against MSI's new RX 6950 XT GAMING X TRIO, where we're going to find out which GPU is best. SAPPHIRE and MSI have both crafted something special in their own way, but I think from the outset SAPPHIRE has it with its unique style.

AMD used a highly-binned Navi 21 KXTX GPU for the Radeon RX 6950 XT, versus some of the custom AIB models packing the Navi 21 XTXH, and the Radeon RX 6900 XT using the Navi 21 XTX GPU. All three of these variants feature the same 5120 Stream Processors, 320 TMUs, 128 ROPs, with varying GPU clocks and TDPs.

The big difference here is that AMD is allowing more power to flow through the Navi 21 KXTX-powered Radeon RX 6950 XT, with a higher 335W TDP (up from 300W) while custom Radeon RX 6950 XT graphics cards go up a bit higher. I've got the SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 6950 XT PURE and MSI RX 6950 XT GAMING X TRIO here to compare... both with higher GPU clocks and TDPs than the RX 6950 XT in reference form (which I don't have).

MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 905 | TweakTown.com

I've got a handy comparison chart that shows you the differences between the Navi 21 GPUs, with the new Navi 21 KXTX-powered Radeon RX 6950 XT against the Navi 21 XTXH (ASRock RX 6900 XT OC Formula for example), and finally, the Navi 21 XTX for the Radeon RX 6900 XT.

Buy at Amazon

Sapphire Technology Sapphire Toxic Radeon AMD RX 6900 XT 16GB

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$1224.72$1224.72$1169.87
* Prices last scanned on 7/7/2022 at 2:58 am CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

SAPPHIRE vs MSI

MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 901 | TweakTown.comMSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 902 | TweakTown.com

Test System Specs

MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 205 | TweakTown.com

Anthony's GPU Test System Specifications

The biggest upgrade to the GPU testbed is the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X processor, offering 12 cores and 24 threads of Zen 3-powered CPU grunt at up to 4.8GHz.

MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 601 | TweakTown.com
MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 602 | TweakTown.com

That's plenty of CPU power and offers a great upgrade over the Ryzen 7 3800X that I was using previously.

I will be upgrading this system in a few months, and maybe running it side-by-side with the new Alder Lake-powered Intel Core i9-12900K processor. I'm using one inside of the Allied M.O.A.B.-I gaming PC that I reviewed a few months ago, and man the 12900K is like the Godzilla of CPUs.

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Sabrent is the most recent partner of mine to help build out my systems, sending me oodles of the fastest NVMe M.2 SSDs on the planet. I'm using Sabrent's flagship Rocket 4 Plus 4TB M.2 SSDs which offers 7GB/sec+ reads and writes with a huge 4TB of capacity.

MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 225 | TweakTown.com
MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 226 | TweakTown.com

ASUS has been a tight partner of mine for a few years now, providing their huge 43-inch 4K 120Hz gaming monitors for my benchmarking and gaming needs. I'm using two of them at the moment, the ROG Strix XG438Q and the ROG Swift PG43UQ gaming monitors.

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Benchmarks - Synthetic

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Benchmarks - 1080p

Note: All games run on Ultra/Maxed Out visual settings, motion blur disabled, V-Sync disabled.

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Performance Thoughts

SAPPHIRE's custom NITRO+ RX 6950 XT PURE topples the MSI RX 6950 XT GAMING X TRIO in virtually all of the testing by 1-2FPS across the board at 1080p. We have 150FPS average in Cyberpunk 2077 against 149FPS (SAPPHIRE vs MSI) while the same 1FPS difference is there between the cards in Forza Horizon 5 (132FPS vs 131FPS).

Benchmarks - 1440p

Note: All games run on Ultra/Maxed Out visual settings, motion blur disabled, V-Sync disabled.

MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 110 | TweakTown.comMSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 113 | TweakTown.com
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Performance Thoughts

Nothing really changes with 1440p where you wouldn't tell the difference between the cards... we're still talking 100FPS average at 1440p in Cyberpunk 2077 on either overclocked Radeon RX 6950 XT. Forza Horizon 5 spins off at 116FPS average on both cards, and 120FPS+ is achievable in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla at 1440p.

Benchmarks - 4K

Note: All games run on Ultra/Maxed Out visual settings, motion blur disabled, V-Sync disabled.

MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 111 | TweakTown.comMSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 114 | TweakTown.com
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Performance Thoughts

Oh, did you think something would change at 4K? Nope. We still have the same 1-2FPS difference between the custom SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 6950 XT PURE and MSI RX 6950 XT GAMING X TRIO graphics cards. 45-46FPS average in Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K, and 90-91FPS+ in Forza Horizon 5 at 4K.

The Forza Horizon 5 numbers are real good, as the cards hit 78-80FPS average at stock settings... but 90-91FPS average overclocked. 10FPS+ for free isn't bad at all at 4K.

Final Thoughts

I would've had this up sooner if it weren't for Computex 2022, but I had a lot on my plate last week but now that I've spent a considerable time overclocking MSI and SAPPHIRE's flagship Radeon RX 6950 XT graphics cards, I can finish this article.

MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 505 | TweakTown.com

SAPPHIRE's new custom NITRO+ RX 6950 XT PURE graphics card clocked higher -- at least with my samples -- over MSI's custom RX 6950 XT GAMING X TRIO. We're talking 2650MHz (or so) on the SAPPHIRE vs MSI with 2500MHz (or so) which is a different of 150MHz, which is a difference of 6% that doesn't translate into 6% more performance.

Sure, the Navi 21 KXTX GPU clocks higher on the SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 6950 XT PURE, but that also draws 30W more power (as SAPPHIRE's card has a higher power limit). SAPPHIRE is using 360W total here, while MSI sips a little less power with 330W when fully overclocked and the power limit sliders to max.

But at the end of the day, either Radeon RX 6950 XT graphics card is going to be fantastic. You'll squeeze a few more MHz out of one over the other, but you're not going to tell the difference when it's just a few FPS. If you are benching and going for those world records, well you've already made your mind up.

MSI + SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 6950 XT GPUs: Head-to-Head Overclocking 502 | TweakTown.com

I put plenty of games through their paces on the overclocked SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 6950 XT PURE and MSI RX 6950 XT GAMING X TRIO, with some good hours put into Overwatch at 4K 120FPS. I can't tell the difference in the middle of a game when it's at 160-200FPS most of the time.

If you are gaming at 4K and can't quite hit 60FPS with all of the bells and whistles enabled, then yeah -- those additional frames might matter. In the end, the SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 6950 XT PURE is the champion of the two, and stands out from the MSI RX 6950 XT GAMING X TRIO in style, cooling, performance, power limit adjustment, and now... overclocking.

Buy at Amazon

Sapphire Technology Sapphire Toxic Radeon AMD RX 6900 XT 16GB

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$1224.72$1224.72$1169.87
* Prices last scanned on 7/7/2022 at 2:58 am CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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