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

By: Anthony Garreffa | AMD Radeon GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Oct 11, 2016 9:32 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: SAPPHIRE

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.




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.




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.




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.




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.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance (overclocking, power)95%
Quality (build, design, cooling)95%
General Features (display outputs, etc)90%
Bundle, Packaging & Software90%
Value for Money90%
Overall TweakTown Rating92%

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.

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