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SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?!

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?!

SAPPHIRE's fully-custom Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ is here... the best Vega 64 yet?!

@anthony256
Published Sun, Dec 17 2017 8:22 PM CST   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 88%Manufacturer: SAPPHIRE

Introduction

SAPPHIRE is the brand of choice when it comes to the best custom Radeon graphics cards made, so when the company reached out to me asking if I would like to review their first custom Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics card, I of course jumped at the opportunity.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 14 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 39 IMAGES

SAPPHIRE's new Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Limited Edition is the company's new flagship Radeon RX Vega graphics card, packing their next generation cooler: Turbine-X. Vega is a hot monster as it is, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that new 'enhanced TRI-X cooling' keeps not just the Vega 10 NCU cool, but the 8GB of HBM2 that also runs incredibly hot.

The card is being launched right now, with the card available in most markets around the world that sell SAPPHIRE products. As for the price, we're looking at $659 for the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ and $569 for the RX Vega 56 variant.

Detailed Specs

SAPPHIRE is tapping AMD's latest Vega 10 GPU which is made on the third-gen FinFET 14nm process, as well as the 8GB of next-gen HBM2 memory technology. There's additional overclocking headroom on the Limited Edition variants of the new SAPPHIRE RX Vega 64 NITRO+ graphics cards, something we'll be testing out later in the review.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 05 | TweakTown.com

We have 4096 stream processors alongside 64 NCUs powered by the Vega architecture, joined by 8GB of HBM2 memory and HBCC technology., he 8GB of HBM2 is on a 2048-bit memory bus.

The card itself is a 3-slot beast that requires 8+8+8-pin PCIe power connectors (yes, three 8-pin PCIe) and is pretty hefty at 310 x 133 x 54cm. There's a custom PCB with 14-phase VDDC, and SAPPHIRE's new enhanced TRI-X cooling and 'robust' VRM cooling.

Dual BIOS - NITRO Boost By Default

SAPPHIRE provides two BIOSes on the Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Limited Edition, with the NITRO+ Boost BIOS clocking the GPU at 1423/1611MHz for base and boost, respectively. The other efficient BIOS clocks the GPU down to 1273/1529MHz, which would be perfect for cryptocurrency mining as the card doesn't reduce HBM2 clocks down from 945MHz.

Cooling Tech

Enhanced TRI-X Cooling

SAPPHIRE is using something they're calling 'enhanced TRI-X cooling' which packs double ball bearing fans, black diamond chokes, and SAPPHIRE's staple vapor chamber technology.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 11 | TweakTown.com

There's also a bunch of BOOST-powered technologies on the RX Vega 64 NITRO+ with NITRO Boost overclocking, NITRO Quick Connect Fans (so useful!), NITRO Intelligent Fan Control III, and the beautiful NITRO Glow RGB LED indicators on the back of the card.

SAPPHIRE uses an elaborate and chunky 3-slot card with a triple-fan cooler that as we explained above, is the 'enhanced TRI-X cooler'.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 14 | TweakTown.com

As for the cooler design, we have a triple-fan cooler with the left and right fans spinning in an anti-clockwise direction while the middle fan runs clockwise. SAPPHIRE has used dual ball bearing fans, while there's 4 heat pipes running through the card that keep it surprisingly cool - especially when compared to the reference Radeon RX Vega 64 from AMD.

Detailed Look

The box for the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Limited Edition is a little plain for my liking, especially for this being the flagship Radeon RX Vega from SAPPHIRE, and a Limited Edition variant.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 02 | TweakTown.com

Once it's out of the box, all those feelings disappear as it's one of the best-looking Radeon RX Vega graphics cards on the market.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 03 | TweakTown.com

The card looks great, but it's also thick.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 04 | TweakTown.com

SAPPHIRE's new RX Vega 64 NITRO+ requires a huge triple 8-pin PCIe power connectors.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 05 | TweakTown.com

The backplate looks great, with SAPPHIRE using their NITRO branding on the back and the NITRO logo at the end.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 06 | TweakTown.com

When I said the card was thick, I wasn't joking - check out this heat sink.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 07 | TweakTown.com

Display connectivity wise we have 2 x DP and 2 x HDMI.

Test System

I've recently edited my GPU test bed, which was powered by the Intel Core i7-5960X processor, and shifted into the arms of Kaby Lake and Intel's new Core i7-7700K. GIGABYTE hooked us up with their awesome new AORUS Z270X-Gaming 9 motherboard, which is the heart and soul of my new GPU test platform.

Detailed Tech Specs

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
  • Cooler: Nocua U12S
  • MB: AORUS Z270X-Gaming 9
  • RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) G.SKILL Trident Z 4000MHz DDR4
  • SSD: 1TB OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2
  • PSU: Corsair AX1500i
  • Chassis: In Win X-Frame

Detailed Look

A larger article on our 7700K system is available right here.

Here are some shots I've taken of the new system in action:

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 150 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 151 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 152 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 153 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 154 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 155 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 156 | TweakTown.com

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 Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 41 | 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 Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 51 | 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 Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 61 | 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 Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 40 | TweakTown.com

Heaven - 1440p

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 50 | TweakTown.com

Heaven - 4K

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 60 | TweakTown.com

Heaven - 3440x1440

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 70 | TweakTown.com

Benchmarks - 1080p

1080p Benchmarks

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 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 Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 42 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 104 | TweakTown.com

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to the popular Shadow of Mordor, which was powered by the Lithtech engine. 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 War at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 43 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 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.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 44 | TweakTown.com

Benchmarks - 1440p

1440p Benchmarks

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 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 Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 52 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 104 | TweakTown.com

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to the popular Shadow of Mordor, which was powered by the Lithtech engine. 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 War at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 53 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 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.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 54 | TweakTown.com

Benchmarks - 4K

4K Benchmarks

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 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 Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 62 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 104 | TweakTown.com

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to the popular Shadow of Mordor, which was powered by the Lithtech engine. 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 War at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 63 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 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.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 64 | TweakTown.com

Benchmarks - 3440x1440

3440x1440 Benchmarks

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 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 Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 72 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 104 | TweakTown.com

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to the popular Shadow of Mordor, which was powered by the Lithtech engine. 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 War at Amazon.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 73 | TweakTown.com
SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 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.

Power & Temps

Power & Temps

I thought the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ would consume more power, but even with the HBM2 clocked at 1100MHz (up from 945MHz) and mining Ethereum, the entire system was drawing 390W.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 04 | TweakTown.com

390W of power consumption for the entire system is still a lot, considering NVIDIA's faster (and yet 18 month old) GeForce GTX 1080 has a single 8-pin PCIe power connector, and consumes less than 260W in our test system.

As for temps, with Ethereum mining pushing the card to 100% the RX Vega 64 NITRO+ was only hitting a maximum of 70C. This is impressive considering the air-cooled Radeon RX Vega 64 reference card from AMD hits a maximum of 80C and is a hell of a lot louder in the process.

SAPPHIRE has done some truly great work with the cooling technology on the card to keep both the Vega 10 GPU and HBM2 cool, without making a huge fuss out of the noise from the fans. Kudos, SAPPHIRE.

Overclocking

I was in Hawaii last week and have simply not had the time to do this in time for the review, but is something I will be doing next week and updating the results.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 05 | TweakTown.com

However, I did quickly play around with the HBM2 overclocking headroom and reached the same 1100MHz ceiling that I've found in every RX Vega 64 that I've tested so far. The temperature of the card didn't exceed 70C during 100% load, even with the 8GB of HBM2 overclocked to 1100MHz.

Game & Mining Performance

Performance Analysis

If we are comparing the Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ against its closest competitors in the market, we're looking at the GeForce GTX 1080 and not the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. The higher-end GTX 1080 Ti is not only much more powerful, it's more expensive than the RX Vega 64 NITRO+. Another factor is that if you're spending the money on the RX Vega 64 NITRO+ you'll really want to couple it with a cheaper FreeSync-enabled gaming display.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 12 | TweakTown.com

Going the route of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is much more expensive when you consider monitors are $100-$300+ more expensive when compared to their FreeSync counterparts. It's a nice chunk of cash you can save that you can put into a better CPU (Core i7-8700K or even Ryzen 7 1800X for example), or a faster/larger M.2 SSD or better cooling for your CPU so you can overclock it.

The SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ performs about as good, but sometimes worse, than NVIDIA's reference GeForce GTX 1080 at 1080p. In games like Rise of the Tomb Raider we can enjoy the best graphics on offer, and still reach 111FPS average (compared to 116FPS on the GTX 1080 FE).

In newer games like Middle-earth: Shadow of War, we're looking at 96FPS average at 1080p just a single FPS drop the RX Vega 64 LCE and 1FPS faster than the GTX 1080 FE.

Ethereum Mining Performance

From now on we'll be taking a look at the performance of Ethereum mining in all of our new graphics card reviews, with the new SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ being the first to receive these new benchmark figures.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 10 | TweakTown.com

I was able to get the 8GB of HBM2 on the card up to 1100MHz, the same frequency as every other RX Vega 64 that I've tested so far (RX Vega 64 air-cooled, RX Vega 64 LCE, and the ASUS ROG Strix variant). With the HBM2 at 1100MHz, we had Ethereum mining performance of 37MH/s. Not quite the 82MH/s that the new TITAN V is capable of, but that's a $2999 card.

Final Thoughts

SAPPHIRE has built the best Radeon RX Vega graphics card bar none, including the ASUS ROG Strix variant and even AMD's own Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition. The LCE version is great and all, but it's still a huge watercooler compared to the stock triple-cooler on the new NITRO+ card from SAPPHIRE.

SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 NITRO+ Review: 3 x 8-pin PCIe?! 11 | TweakTown.com

Even with the RX Vega 64 NITRO+ mining Ethereum, we had a maximum of 70C. Now this might sound like a lot, but the liquid cooled variant from AMD was running at 65C in an air conditioned room, while the air-cooled RX Vega 64 (the worst of them all, and the loudest by far) was running at 79-80C.

SAPPHIRE's card is a work of art throughout the entire process while under load, with its fans barely making any noise - and silent when next to the air-cooled RX Vega 64. With the fans manually cranked to 100% you can begin to hear them but again, when compared to the air-cooled RX Vega 64 it's not a problem.

You'll never need them at 100% in anything you do, unless you're overclocking the card to the limit - and even then, the triple-fan, 3-slot cooler is good enough to handle it.

TweakTown award
Performance (overclocking, power)80%
Quality (build, design, cooling)95%
General Features (display outputs, etc)95%
Bundle, Packaging & Software80%
Overall88%

The Bottom Line: This is the Radeon RX Vega 64 to get, with SAPPHIRE's beyond-impressive TRI-X cooler keeping the steaming hot Vega/HBM2 mix cool. FreeSync monitor owners should be all over this card.

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

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

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CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

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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