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SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480?

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480?

SAPPHIRE's flagship Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 graphics card is one of the best AMD RX 480s you can buy. Here's our full review.

@anthony256
Published Tue, Oct 11 2016 4:32 PM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: SAPPHIRE

Introduction, Specs, & The Card

AMD launched their Polaris architecture earlier this year with the flagship Radeon RX 480 graphics card, and while it isn't a GTX 1080 competitor, it's a well-priced graphics card from AMD that handles 1080p and 1440p gaming without a problem - with some juice left for some VR gaming, too.

SAPPHIRE has been one of the best board partners of AMD, making great Radeon graphics cards over the past many years - and now we have SAPPHIRE stepping it up with their Nitro gaming series of graphics cards. The flagship Polaris-based Nitro graphics card from SAPPHIRE is the Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB, which is a great-looking card with excellent performance in more ways than one.

With the Nitro+ RX 480 8GB priced at $280 on Amazon, it's $50 more than the 4GB version, which might be fine for 1080p gamers wanting the same performance, but a nice discount on the price. Comparing this to an equivalent GeForce GTX 1060, we have the ASUS GTX 1060 6GB ROG Strix at $309 - offering a little more performance, while coming in at around 10% more expensive.

FreeSync vs. G-Sync: For gamers who want to get a cheaper high-end monitor, they can opt for AMD FreeSync-based monitors. FreeSync monitors are sometimes over $100 cheaper than G-Sync based monitors, letting gamers spend that additional $100 onto a graphics card. This means that while the GTX 1060 might be faster, the RX 480 is cheaper overall by a large margin thanks to the reduced cost of gaming monitors rocking FreeSync technology.

SAPPHIRE's Nitro+ RX 480 8GB

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VIEW GALLERY - 43 IMAGES

SAPPHIRE teases that the 14nm FinFET process on the new Polaris architecture provides enough performance for 60FPS+ at Ultra settings in many of the best-looking games out right now.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 04 | TweakTown.com

VR gaming is something you can do on the SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480, with it easily beating the Radeon R9 380.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 05 | TweakTown.com

The Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 has two HDMI ports, with SAPPHIRE thinking of gamers who want to plug a VR headset in - but don't want to have no HDMI port left for their TV or HDMI-based monitor.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 06 | TweakTown.com

AMD's new Polaris architecture is powering the Radeon RX 400 series, including the Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 from SAPPHIRE.

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HDR displays and TVs are slowly making their way to market, so you'll be safe knowing HDR capabilities are included on the Nitro+ Radeon RX 480.

Specifications

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 07 | TweakTown.com

SAPPHIRE is working on the great foundations of the Radeon RX 480 and the Polaris architecture, with 2304 stream processors, 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, and a 256-bit memory interface.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 08 | TweakTown.com

AMD has class-leading DX12 performance, with 16x more draw calls in 3DMark's API test, and up to 50% more FPS in Ashes of the Singularity.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 10 | TweakTown.com

SAPPHIRE has deployed its impressive Dual-X cooler on the Nitro+ Radeon RX 480, with 2 x 95mm fans, and redesigned airflow through the Nitro Free Flow technology, allowing the card to be 10% quieter than the previous cooler from SAPPHIRE.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 11 | TweakTown.com

The Card

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Starting off with the front of the Nitro+ RX 480, we have the Dual-X cooler front and center.

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The rear of the card sports a mean-looking silver/black backplate, with the LED mode switch in the bottom left of the picture (at the top of the card).

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Just a single 8-pin PCIe power connector is required.

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At the top of the card, we have the LED system and SAPPHIRE branding - with the V BIOS switch at the top, and LED button on the back.

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SAPPHIRE includes 2 x HDMI 2.0 ports, 2 x DisplayPort, and 1 x DVI on the Nitro+ RX 480.

Testing Methods & Bench Rig Specs

This is the start of something new for me, as I'm streamlining all of my content and doing these reviews in a new way. The games I'm testing are my legacy benchmark ways, using the built-in benchmarks in most games to show the performance of the graphics cards in a way that is easy for anyone else to reproduce with the game, as it's not real-time (and so, constantly variable depending on where you are in the game, etc).

For now, I'm using the same games, but I will be changing this roster up over the next few months, and things are going to get really interesting. Expect some massive changes in not just the games I'm testing, but the ways they're being tested. There will be more real-world gaming results than before, instead of the reliance of built-in benchmarks.

Test System Configuration

Corsair sent us over their kick-ass AX1500i PSU, which provides 1500W of power for our 3 and 4-way GPU testing that we have coming very soon.

Anthony's Video Card Test System Specifications

Benchmarks - Synthetic & DX12

3DMark Fire Strike - 1080p

3DMark has been a staple benchmark for years now, all the way back to when The Matrix was released and Futuremark had bullet time inspired benchmarks. 3DMark is the perfect tool to see if your system - most important, your CPU and GPU - is performing as it should. You can search results for your GPU, to see if it falls in line with other systems based on similar hardware.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 80 | TweakTown.com

3DMark Fire Strike Extreme - 1440p

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 81 | TweakTown.com

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra - 4K (3840x2160)

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 82 | TweakTown.com

Heaven - 1080p

Heaven is an intensive GPU benchmark that really pushes your silicon to its limits. It's another favorite of ours as it has some great scaling for multi-GPU testing, and it's great for getting your GPU to 100% for power and noise testing.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 84 | TweakTown.com

Heaven - 1440p

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 85 | TweakTown.com

Heaven - 4K

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 86 | TweakTown.com

DirectX 12 Performance

We have 3DMark Time Spy, Ashes of the Singularity and Hitman with DirectX 12.

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SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 203 | TweakTown.com
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Benchmarks @ 1080p

1080p Benchmarks

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 101 | TweakTown.com

Far Cry Primal is a game built on the impressive Dunia Engine 2 with wide open, beautiful environments. It might look stunning, but the performance is actually quite good - but most cards will be stressed at 1440p, and especially so at 4K and beyond.

You can buy Far Cry Primal at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 24 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 103 | TweakTown.com

We recently changed over to Metro: Last Light Redux, with developer 4A Games making the Redux version of Metro: Last Light the 'definitive' version of the game. Redux had a fresh coat of paint on the already impressive 4A Engine, and it really pushes our GPUs to their limits.

You can buy Metro: Last Light Redux at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 25 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 104 | TweakTown.com

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the most graphically intensive games we test, with Monolith using their own Lithtech engine to power the game. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 26 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 106 | TweakTown.com

Tomb Raider is still such a gorgeous game, with developer Crystal Dynamics using their own 'Foundation' engine to build Lara Croft into the new world. One of the best parts about Tomb Raider is the absolutely stellar multi-GPU scaling, so this is an important test to see how well our NVIDIA GeForce SLI and AMD Radeon CrossFire setups scale.

You can buy Tomb Raider at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 27 | TweakTown.com

Benchmarks @ 1440p

1440p Benchmarks

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 101 | TweakTown.com

Far Cry Primal is a game built on the impressive Dunia Engine 2 with wide open, beautiful environments. It might look stunning, but the performance is actually quite good - but most cards will be stressed at 1440p, and especially so at 4K and beyond.

You can buy Far Cry Primal at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 34 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 103 | TweakTown.com

We recently changed over to Metro: Last Light Redux, with developer 4A Games making the Redux version of Metro: Last Light the 'definitive' version of the game. Redux had a fresh coat of paint on the already impressive 4A Engine, and it really pushes our GPUs to their limits.

You can buy Metro: Last Light Redux at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 35 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 104 | TweakTown.com

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the most graphically intensive games we test, with Monolith using their own Lithtech engine to power the game. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 36 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 106 | TweakTown.com

Tomb Raider is still such a gorgeous game, with developer Crystal Dynamics using their own 'Foundation' engine to build Lara Croft into the new world. One of the best parts about Tomb Raider is the absolutely stellar multi-GPU scaling, so this is an important test to see how well our NVIDIA GeForce SLI and AMD Radeon CrossFire setups scale.

You can buy Tomb Raider at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 37 | TweakTown.com

Benchmarks @ 4K

4K Benchmarks

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 101 | TweakTown.com

Far Cry Primal is a game built on the impressive Dunia Engine 2 with wide open, beautiful environments. It might look stunning, but the performance is actually quite good - but most cards will be stressed at 1440p, and especially so at 4K and beyond.

You can buy Far Cry Primal at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 44 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 103 | TweakTown.com

We recently changed over to Metro: Last Light Redux, with developer 4A Games making the Redux version of Metro: Last Light the 'definitive' version of the game. Redux had a fresh coat of paint on the already impressive 4A Engine, and it really pushes our GPUs to their limits.

You can buy Metro: Last Light Redux at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 45 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 104 | TweakTown.com

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the most graphically intensive games we test, with Monolith using their own Lithtech engine to power the game. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 46 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 106 | TweakTown.com

Tomb Raider is still such a gorgeous game, with developer Crystal Dynamics using their own 'Foundation' engine to build Lara Croft into the new world. One of the best parts about Tomb Raider is the absolutely stellar multi-GPU scaling, so this is an important test to see how well our NVIDIA GeForce SLI and AMD Radeon CrossFire setups scale.

You can buy Tomb Raider at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 47 | TweakTown.com

Performance Summary

SAPPHIRE's new Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB graphics card has more than enough horsepower to easily handle 60FPS at 1080p on Ultra details, with 62FPS average in Far Cry Primal, and 84FPS average in Metro: Last Light Redux.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 03 | TweakTown.com

Games like Battlefield 1 will have no problems at 60FPS on the SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480, and when it comes to titles like Overwatch, League of Legends, and CS:GO, you will hit 60FPS without breaking a sweat. You could even enable some AA or use Virtual Super Resolution (VSR) to bump the rendering resolution up, and render games like CS:GO at 4K on your 1080p monitor, without the SAPPHIRE Nitro+ RX 480 hitting a brick wall.

The performance of SAPPHIRE's Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 beats the reference RX 480 from AMD by a few FPS in every test, but as the resolution gets higher, the difference between the AMD reference RX 480 and the SAPPHIRE Nitro+ RX 480 are just 1-2FPS average in nearly all of the tests.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 07 | TweakTown.com

The big difference here is that the SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 rocks better-than-reference RX 480 performance while doing so much quieter (and most of the time, silent) compared to the noisy and hot reference RX 480. Remember, you can throw the RX 480 into a multi-GPU system, so CrossFire performance will be even better - we'll have some numbers very soon.

What's Hot, What's Not, & Final Thoughts

What's Hot

1080p Performance: For a card at under $300, you're getting some damn good performance at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, and even some decent performance at 4K if you turn the details down, and you really, really want that 4K resolution.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 03 | TweakTown.com

You can expect over 60FPS in all the games on the market at 1080p and even 1440p if you turn some details down, and these days some of the in-game details can be turned down for significant performance gains, without looking that much worse. It's like free performance at higher resolutions and refresh rates.

Games like League of Legends, CS:GO, and Overwatch at 144FPS+ at 2560x1440 is capable at low/medium detail, and they still look great, or you don't need the crazy high-end DX12 features for those high-res graphics features that don't add to the gameplay in most certain games.

Stylish Look: I didn't like the 'cheese grater' look of the Nitro cards when the leaks started earlier this year, but now that it's here, I love it. It just looks awesome in my PC. The silver accents along the top against the black cooled are just perfect, and the backplate is designed with a slick, solid look.

LEDs with Physical Switch: SAPPHIRE has included a physical button on the Nitro+ RX 480 which lets you cycle through various LED effects and turn it on and off completely if you don't like the look of it. I went with a solid color for a while and enjoyed it, but the cycling lights breathing in and out was looking great next to me, inside of my PC.

Quieter and Cooler than Reference RX 480: AMD's Radeon RX 480 is a great value for money graphics card, one of the best for 1080p gaming, and the SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB only adds to that with an improved cooler that is much quieter.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 14 | TweakTown.com

The fans sit at around 600RPM at idle and dual monitor idle states, with it hitting around 80C during gaming and benchmarking sessions. I created a specific fan profile inside of Radeon Settings so that the card would have a maximum of 1600RPM for the fans, and 85C maximum GPU temperature - even at this setting, the temps on the GPU stayed at below 82C.

Display Connectivity: SAPPHIRE provides 2 x HDMI 2.0 and 2 x DP ports on the Nitro+ RX 480 so that you can use a VR headset and a TV or HDMI-based monitor at the same time. Normally there's just the single HDMI port on a graphics card, but SAPPHIRE chose to change over one of the DP ports for HDMI, hence futureproofing your system for VR gaming.

What's Not

Display Connectivity: The display connectivity decisions that SAPPHRIE made on the Nitro+ RX 480 aren't perfect. For those like me with all-DisplayPort displays, the second HDMI port gets in my way - in the fact that I can't use my third monitor. Well, I could - as it also supports HDMI 2.0, but that would mean using a different cable. While this isn't a problem, it's the only thing I could nitpick on the card. Other than that, it's simply a great card.

Final Thoughts

I did a livestream earlier today when I was finishing up on this review. Yong from our FB Live videos (a regular of our FB Live chats, you should come check them out!) and I said that I love the mid-range graphics cards more, and that is really highlighted by the SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB.

For gamers who want smooth 60FPS+ gameplay in the latest games like Battlefield 1, Overwatch, Gears of War 4, and the slew of games on the way later this year, the SAPPHIRE Nitro+ RX 480 is a great choice for AMD Radeon fans. If you've got a 2560x1440 native resolution, you might need to knock the detail levels down a little, but you'll still be able to reach a minimum of 60FPS in today's games.

SAPPHIRE has provided a great future with the Nitro+ RX 480 with VR-ready features in the 2 x HDMI 2.0 ports, and AMD has provided its Polaris architecture and Radeon Software to do the rest of the magic behind the scenes for VR. You will play today's games in VR on the Nitro+ RX 480 (and any RX 480 for that matter), but choose carefully if you plan on using this graphics card for another 1-2 years in VR, as you'll want to wait for Vega-based graphics cards.

SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB - The Best RX 480? 04 | TweakTown.com

The first generation of VR games aren't too GPU intensive, but as we get into the next few generations of VR games, I expect that GPU tax to increase quite significantly. Although, Oculus did drop the minimum requirement for VR recently which now includes a VR-ready system powered by AMD technology that starts at just $499. SAPPHIRE backs you up on the Nitro+ RX 480, and even more so with the new changes to the Oculus Rift requirements. HTC Vive requirements are still hitting 90FPS+, so you'll need some more beef to play Vive titles.

For other gamers, the SAPPHIRE Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB is the strongest Polaris offering yet, with great performance and styling, down to the quiet operation and not so in-your-face LED system. SAPPHIRE always crafts a great graphics card, but the hat is tipping strongly towards the Nitro gaming series, and now the Polaris-powered Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 8GB.

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FreeSync monitor owners will want to jump right into this card as well, especially if you're rocking a 3440x1440 UltraWide like the Acer XR341CK, which features a 75Hz refresh rate and supports AMD's FreeSync technology. The native resolution really makes a difference to your productivity, as you can have so much more open at once and still have pixels to spare.

I was using the Nitro+ RX 480 and the Acer XR341CK enjoying the 3440x1440 resolution with half the screen with a massive Chrome window and many tabs open, and Luke Cage playing on Netflix in a tab on the other half of the screen. Gaming in UltraWide on the Nitro+ RX 480? No worries.

SAPPHIRE has a massive win on its hands with the Nitro+ RX 480 8GB, a great overall performing graphics card with slick looks and a good price.

TweakTown award
Performance (overclocking, power)95%
Quality (build, design, cooling)95%
General Features (display outputs, etc)90%
Bundle, Packaging & Software90%
Value for Money90%
Overall92%

The Bottom Line: SAPPHIRE becomes the star of the Polaris line up with its Nitro+ RX 480 8GB, representing killer value for money for 1080p and 1440p gamers, with 60FPS+ performance. The cooler looks great, and keeps your GPU nice and cool under any load. FreeSync monitor owners will also want to jump into the Nitro+ RX 480, especially 3440x1440 at 75Hz with FreeSync, oh and did we mention great VR support? The Nitro+ RX 480 has it all for AMD Radeon gamers.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

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DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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