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SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review

SAPPHIRE is our first time with the refreshed Radeon RX 580, but the RX 580 Nitro+ leaves us with some questions.

@anthony256
Published Tue, Apr 18 2017 8:05 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 80%Manufacturer: SAPPHIRE

Introduction

SAPPHIRE was the first company with a custom Radeon RX 580 at my door, and it enjoyed a few good days on a couple of my test beds. I've run the new SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ graphics card on my newly built Intel Core i7-7700K and GIGABYTE Z270X-Gaming 9 motherboard combo, as well as AMD's new Ryzen 5 1600X processor. This gives me a good feeling for both sides of the market. We'll talk about that in the later part of the review.

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VIEW GALLERY - 46 IMAGES

The work that SAPPHIRE puts into its cooling technology is one of the main reasons the company is one of the biggest AIB partners for AMD and custom Radeon graphics cards, especially it's higher-end Tri-X and VAPOR-X cooling tech. We aren't seeing much of the high-end cooling tech from SAPPHIRE lately, but this isn't their fault - AMD has been stuck in the mid-range market for 18 months now, and will only crawl out of it with Radeon RX Vega. This is when SAPPHIRE's custom Radeon RX Vega will be my most anticipated RX Vega of them all, especially in VAPOR-X form.

Right now, the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ is a mish-mash Frankenstein graphics card, with parts Polaris, a larger and questionably better cooler over the RX 480 - which is not only higher, but requires 6+8-pin PCIe power connectors. Why the hell does this card need another 6-pin power connector when its predecessor required a single 8-pin PCIe power connector, and we're only seeing barely 10% performance increases across the board.

SAPPHIRE nails a specific look with its upgraded Nitro+ branding, with their RX 580 Nitro+ looking great in our test bed, especially with the RGB LEDs at the top. I do wish the PCIe power connectors were on the end of the card again, as it looks sleek as hell in my system.

New Dual-X Cooler & Changeable Fans

New Dual-X Cooler + Changeable Fans

SAPPHIRE has allowed gamers to change out their faulty fans on their graphics cards for a little while now, with the previous RX 480 Nitro+ allowing fan changes. But SAPPHIRE stepped it up a notch with the RX 580 Nitro+ with changeable fans and included two LED-capable ones in the box for an awesome silver/gray/blue theme.

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There's a new custom PCB for the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ with a new Dual-X cooler that features 2 x 8mm heat pipes as well as 2 x 6mm heat pipes, with 54 fins. It's designed for up to 300W of power, which explains the 8+6-pin PCIe power connectivity, but it's just disappointing to see a ceiling at 1505MHz. We'll be playing with our card more, that's for sure.

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We have black diamond chokes, an 8-player 2oz PCB, with dual UEFI-Boost and Silent Profiles, while the fan is built from 2 x Quick Collect/2-ball bearing fans.

The new Nitro Free Flow Cooling technology reduces heat circulation around the fans, by drawing air in and dispersing it from the sides, and top and bottom of the heat sink.

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SAPPHIRE's updated Gear-Nitro LED fans will work wth a bunch of the previous Nitro+ and Pulse branded Radeon RX 580/570 and RX 480/470 cards.

Removable Fans

This is one of the best things about SAPPHIRE's great Nitro+ range of graphics cards, is that the fans are removable.

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There's a super-simple removal and installation system, where a single small screw is removed, and then you unclip the fan from the push-down insertion lock.

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It takes just a few seconds, and your fans are replaced. SAPPHIRE includes two LED fans in the box, which I switched onto the card.

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Detailed Look

SAPPHIRE has tweaked the style of its Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ from the previous-gen RX 480 Nitro+, with the new card being taller, and donning a second PCIe power connector.

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The front of the card with the dual-fan cooler and chunky heat sink popping out at the top.

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The rear of the card features a stylish backplate, with a BIOS switch at the top.

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From the bottom of the card, we can see the chunky heat sink and heat pipes.

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SAPPHIRE has some serious heat pipe and heat sink work going on underneath, and the 6+8-pin PCIe power connectors.

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The 6+8-pin PCIe power connectors allow the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ to draw up to 300W, for serious overclockers.

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The chunky heat sink from the end of the card, where SAPPHIRE placed the PCIe power connectors on the previous-gen RX 480 Nitro+.

Test System Specs & Benchmark Details

Test System Specifications

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For our mid-range testing, we're shifting over to testing the cards on our AMD Ryzen 5 1600X system. It represents more real-world results compared to benchmarking them on the Core i7-7700K, especially when the Ryzen 5 1600X is priced at $100 cheaper than the 7700K, and offers 6C/12T of performance over the 4C/8T chip from Intel.

Detailed Tech Specs

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1600X (6C/12T)
  • Cooler: AMD Wraith Cooler
  • MB: ASRock AB350 Gaming K4
  • RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) GEiL EVO X 3200MHz DDR4
  • SSD: 1TB OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2
  • PSU: be quiet! Dark Power 1200W
  • Chassis: In Win X-Frame

Detailed Look

There's a bigger article I've got coming that will detail the new system, but for now - here are some shots I've taken of the new system in action:

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What Resolutions We Are Testing

I've run through Unigine's new Superposition on a bunch of different resolutions, bringing every single graphics card - even overclocked GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, to their knees.

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  • 1080p (1920x1080)
  • 1440p (2560x1440)
  • 4K (3840x2160)
  • UW (3440x1440)
  • 5K (5120x2880)
  • 8K (7680x4320)

Benchmarks - Synthetic

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 Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 21 | TweakTown.com

3DMark Fire Strike - 1440p

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 Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 31 | TweakTown.com

3DMark Fire Strike - 4K

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 Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 41 | 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.

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Heaven - 1440p

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Heaven - 4K

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Benchmarks - 1080p

1080p Benchmarks

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Ubisoft's latest installment in the Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon series is Ghost Recon Wildlands, an open world tactical shooter with some of the best graphics on the market, with Ubisoft Paris using a modified version of the AnvilNext engine.

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SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 102 | TweakTown.com

Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best looking games on the market, a truly gorgeous game - and a wonder to benchmark. The team at Crystal Dynamics made a very scalable PC game that plays really well testing graphics cards. We've got DX11 and DX12 results in one here, showing the slight strengths of running DX12 mode.

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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.

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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.

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Metro: Last Light Redux comes from 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.

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Benchmarks - 1440p

1440p Benchmarks

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 106 | TweakTown.com

Ubisoft's latest installment in the Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon series is Ghost Recon Wildlands, an open world tactical shooter with some of the best graphics on the market, with Ubisoft Paris using a modified version of the AnvilNext engine.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 32 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 102 | TweakTown.com

Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best looking games on the market, a truly gorgeous game - and a wonder to benchmark. The team at Crystal Dynamics made a very scalable PC game that plays really well testing graphics cards. We've got DX11 and DX12 results in one here, showing the slight strengths of running DX12 mode.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 33 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 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 Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 34 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 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 Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 35 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 105 | TweakTown.com

Metro: Last Light Redux comes from 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.

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Benchmarks - 3440x1440

3440x1440 Benchmarks

These results are coming soon!

Benchmarks - 4K

4K Benchmarks

These results are coming soon!

Benchmarks - 5K

5K Benchmarks

These results are coming soon!

Benchmarks - 8K

8K Benchmarks

These results are coming soon!

Benchmarks - DX12

DX12 Benchmarks

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 102 | TweakTown.com

Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best looking games on the market, a truly gorgeous game - and a wonder to benchmark. The team at Crystal Dynamics made a very scalable PC game that plays really well testing graphics cards. We've got DX11 and DX12 results in one here, showing the slight strengths of running DX12 mode.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 23 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Review 33 | TweakTown.com

3DMark TimeSpy (DX12) 1440p

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.

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Temps, Power & Overclocking

Overclocking

With the overclocked Polaris 20 core hitting 1505MHz in my testing, the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ sitting on the Core i7-7700K system was using an average of 270W, while peaking at 290W. Considering the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition on the same system consumes 230W, this is a big difference between the power efficiencies of the Polaris GPU architecture from AMD, and NVIDIA's efficient Pascal GPU architecture.

Temps

Still, the SAPPHIRE RX 580 Nitro+ was operating at a maximum of 57C under my 1500MHz+ overclock thanks to the increased fan speed of around 2100RPM. The 3DMark Time Spy results increased by roughly 100 points for graphics/full system, not a bad result for free, considering it's already clocked up from the RX 480 frequencies.

Power Consumption

This is one area I really don't like, is that SAPPHIRE requires a 6+8-pin PCIe power setup, and uses more power than NVIDIA's much faster GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition.

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In our full power testing, we can see that the Polaris GPU architecture is nowhere near as power efficient as NVIDIA's Pascal GPU architecture. AMD's original Radeon RX 480 reference card used 245W total in our system, while the custom SAPPHIRE RX 480 Nitro+ uses 254W, the new SAPPHIRE RX 580 Nitro+ boosts all the way up to 281W.

281W for the SAPPHIRE RX 580 Nitro+ while the brand new MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Gaming X+ 6G @ 9Gbps is ridiculously power efficient, sipping 194W total - nearly 100W less than the new RX 580. SAPPHIRE's overclocked RX 580 Nitro+ still loses to the custom MSI GTX 1060 6G 9Gbps, which is a super-new card, we haven't even finished our review on it yet as the RX 580 rush arrived too quickly after the GTX 1080 Ti rush, and now all three are going at once.

Final Thoughts

This was a hard one. SAPPHIRE's new Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ is a decent enough performance upgrade over AMD's own reference Radeon RX 480, but the overclocked and better cooled RX 480 Nitro+ from SAPPHIRE isn't much slower than the RX 580 Nitro+.

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SAPPHIRE is positioned to sell the Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ to people who waited, and didn't buy the RX 480 - but it's not enough of an upgrade to only now jump in. You could buy cheaper, second-hand RX 480s that are cheaper now. SAPPHIRE's choice of a 6+8-pin PCIe power connector is another weird decision since the performance over the RX 480 isn't worth another PCIe power connector being used.

SAPPHIRE placing the PCIe power connectors on top of the card behind the massive heat pipes is an oversight, at least in my opinion - as you can't grab the PCIe power connectors as easily as you could on the RX 480 Nitro+ which had them placed at the end of the card. It was a neater position for a gaming PC to have the PCIe power cables not visible from the top of the PC. It was a nice touch that SAPPHIRE used on the previous-gen card.

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So where is it positioned? I'm recommending SAPPHIRE's Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ to gamers who might have an older generation graphics card, and want to save $100-$200 on a Radeon GPU/FreeSync combo. There are some seriously cheap FreeSync gaming displays out there, and if you can't afford what I'm sure will be a much more expensive card in Radeon RX Vega, then the Radeon RX 580 is definitely a great purchase.

From that perspective, SAPPHIRE's new Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ is the perfect AMD Radeon graphics card for 1080p 60FPS gaming with all of the bells and whistles enabled, and it doubles as a 1440p 60FPS gaming card. Mixed in with Radeon Chill, you can have a power-efficient gaming experience without spending $300+ on a graphics card and an additional $100 average for the premium of NVIDIA's own G-Sync panel in displays.

TweakTown award
Performance (overclocking, power)75%
Quality (build, design, cooling)75%
General Features (display outputs, etc)80%
Bundle, Packaging & Software90%
Overall80%

The Bottom Line: SAPPHIRE's new Dual-X cooler has two optional fans, and just 'good' performance. With no reference RX 580 to compare it to, it's not impressive on its own. New gamers with FreeSync displays needing a new Radeon, look no further - this is what you want, if you can't wait for Radeon RX Vega.

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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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