Sapphire Radeon RX 5700 XT Nitro+ Special Edition Review 40

Sapphire Radeon RX 5700 XT Nitro+ Special Edition Review

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Introduction


Just a few days ago, Sapphire released the Radeon RX 5700 XT Nitro+ Special Edition, a premium variant that crowns the company's RX 5700-series "Navi" family of graphics cards. Positioned above the RX 5700 XT Nitro+, the Special Edition adds better aesthetics and higher factory-overclocked speeds out of the box, including overclocked memory. This makes the Nitro+ Special Edition the fastest air-cooled Radeon RX 5700 XT on the market. Besides the higher clock frequencies, Sapphire is including their $30 ARGB fan kit pre-installed with the card, which makes for an impressive RGB light show. Sapphire is pricing the card at $480, which is a $30 increase over the RX 5700 XT Nitro+.

The Radeon RX 5700 XT is AMD's first true performance-segment graphics card in over two years since the RX Vega series. It's based on the brand new "Navi" architecture that leverages the 7 nm silicon fabrication process and has brand new number-crunching machinery AMD calls RDNA compute units. These constitute the biggest update to AMD's GPU design since the very first Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture circa 2013. Together with clock speeds, RDNA is designed to bring about massive IPC improvements over GCN. The silicon also has a number of architectural changes. An interesting series of price adjustments and product launches ensure that even at its starting price of $399, it offers a bit more price-performance than NVIDIA.



AMD had originally planned to launch the Radeon RX 5700 XT at $449 and the RX 5700 at $399, with the two cards beating the $499 NVIDIA RTX 2070 and $349 RTX 2060 respectively. This forced NVIDIA to refresh its lineup with the new RTX 2070 Super at $499 and the RTX 2060 Super at $399. The RTX 2060 Super in particular was carefully crafted not to cannibalize the RTX 2070. AMD seeped into this imbroglio of NVIDIA and slotted the RX 5700 XT at $399 and the RX 5700 at $349, at which prices they outclass the RTX 2060 Super and original RTX 2060 respectively. NVIDIA didn't adjust prices of its RTX 2060 Super or RTX 2070 Super any further, and we hence have a fair bit of headroom between the RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 Super in which AMD's board partners can launch custom-design RX 5700 XT cards with factory-overclocked speeds and other goodies, such as quieter coolers.

At the heart of the Radeon RX 5700 XT is the 7 nm "Navi 10" silicon with an impressive 10.3 billion transistors crammed into a 251 mm² die. Unlike the "Vega 20", Navi is a more traditional GPU in that the package only has the GPU die and is surrounded by memory chips. AMD opted for cost-effective 256-bit GDDR6 memory over exotic design choices such as HBM2. At a memory frequency of 14 Gbps, Navi enjoys a healthy memory bandwidth of 448 GB/s. It also features the latest-generation PCI-Express gen 4.0 x16 host interface with full backwards compatibility for older generations of PCIe, so you can pair it with AMD's new Ryzen 3000 processors on an X570 chipset motherboard. The buzz-words "7 nm" and "PCIe gen 4.0" are extensively used in AMD's marketing, as if to suggest that Navi is a generation ahead of NVIDIA's Turing, which is built on 12 nm and has PCIe gen 3.0.

As mentioned earlier, the Sapphire Radeon RX 5700 XT Nitro+ Special Edition ships with the company's highest factory-overclocked speeds for this SKU, with 2035 MHz maximum boost clock speeds for the GPU (up from 2010 MHz on the vanilla Nitro+), and memory overclocked to 14.4 Gbps (GDDR6-effective), up from 14 Gbps standard. Sapphire also uplifted the card's aesthetics by giving it RGB LED-illuminated fans in place of opaque ones on the original Nitro+. In this review, we take the Nitro+ Special Edition for a spin through our test suite.

Radeon RX 5700 XT Market Segment Analysis
 PriceShader
Units
ROPsCore
Clock
Boost
Clock
Memory
Clock
GPUTransistorsMemory
GTX 1070 Ti$4502432641607 MHz1683 MHz2000 MHzGP1047200M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
RTX 2060$3401920481365 MHz1680 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
RX 5700$3302304641465 MHz1625 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
GTX 1080$5002560641607 MHz1733 MHz1251 MHzGP1047200M8 GB, GDDR5X, 256-bit
RTX 2060 Super$4002176641470 MHz1650 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX Vega 64$490 4096641247 MHz1546 MHz953 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1080 Ti$7003584881481 MHz1582 MHz1376 MHzGP10212000M11 GB, GDDR5X, 352-bit
RX 5700 XT$4002560641605 MHz1755 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
Sapphire RX
5700 XT Nitro+
Special Edition
$4802560641840 MHz2035 MHz1800 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070$4702304641410 MHz1620 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070 Super$5002560641605 MHz1770 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
Radeon VII$7003840641802 MHzN/A1000 MHzVega 2013230M16 GB, HBM2, 4096-bit
RTX 2080$6502944641515 MHz1710 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Super$7003072641650 MHz1815 MHz1940 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Ti$11004352641350 MHz1545 MHz1750 MHzTU10218600M11 GB, GDDR6, 352-bit
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