Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Limited Edition 8 GB 176

Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ Limited Edition 8 GB

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Value and Conclusion

  • The Sapphire RX 580 Nitro+ Limited Edition is currently listed online for $280. Generally, RX 580 pricing starts at $220.
  • Faster than the GeForce GTX 1060
  • Large overclock out of the box
  • Quiet in gaming
  • Fans turn off in idle
  • Dual BIOS
  • RGB illumination
  • Two replacement fans included
  • Blu-ray power consumption reduced
  • Backplate included
  • HDMI 2.0b, DisplayPort 1.4
  • Very high gaming power consumption
  • Memory not overclocked
  • Overdrive memory overclock limit too low
9.2
Today, AMD launched the new Radeon RX 500 Series, and we are reviewing their RX 580 flagship. The Radeon RX 580 is basically a rebrand of the RX 480, with the same Ellesmere GPU, just made on a better process (still 14 nm), which allows higher clock frequencies. Sapphire's RX 580 Nitro+ Limited Edition is a highly overclocked custom variant running at 1450 MHz (Boost BIOS), a frequency impossible out of the box on factory overclocked RX 480 cards. This clock increase results by a 6% performance uplift over the RX 480 when averaged over our benchmarking suite at 1080p resolution, which is the recommended resolution for this card. NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB is 5% behind, and the GTX 1060 3 GB is 15% slower. NVIDIA's next-fastest SKU is the GTX 1070, which is around 25% faster than the Sapphire RX 580. It would have been nice to see some overclocking on the memory, too, which would have provided additional benefits to cover against the upcoming GTX 1060 with faster 9 Gbps memory.

We also tested the card using the "Boost BIOS", which is accessible on the card through a physical BIOS switch. Even though it is rated at 1450 MHz, that's just "up to". Actual clock frequencies are lower, and fluctuate between 1415 and 1450 MHz, with roughly 1430 MHz as average. This explains why additional performance gained from the Boost BIOS is only 2%. Considering the increased power draw and noise, and how little extra performance it provides, my recommendation is to just use the Quiet BIOS all the time.

Sapphire is using their trusty Nitro thermal solution for the card, which uses four heatpipes to keep the card cool. Also included is the idle-fan-off feature we love so much since it provides a perfect noise-free experience during desktop work, Internet browsing, and even light gaming. A high-quality backplate and controllable RGB lighting round off the cooling configuration. Temperatures are good, reaching 75°C under load, which enables Sapphire to deliver good noise levels with 32 dBA, which are on par with many GTX 1060 cards. The quietest GTX 1060 custom designs we tested are significantly quieter though. In the box, you'll find a pleasant surprise in the form of two transparent fans with blue LEDs that are user-replaceable by just a single screw, which should increase the lifetime of your card since the fan motors are usually the first thing to fail on an aging graphics card. These extra fans come with blue LEDs, while the pre-installed ones are opaque.

I thought I'd never see the day, but AMD is finally addressing their cards' high multi-monitor and Blu-ray playback power consumption. While the multi-monitor power improvements didn't work for me, Blu-ray power draw is massively reduced, down from 39 W on the RX 480 reference to 19 W on the Sapphire RX 580. Gaming power draw is really high though; with 214 W, it is 50 W higher than the GTX 1080, which is much faster at the same time, of course. To me, it looks like AMD's GPU fabrication process improvements only help with achieving higher clocks, with no reduction in power consumption. Looking at performance-per-watt numbers, the RX 580 has dropped back to R9 Fury X levels, which makes NVIDIA's GPU more than twice as energy efficient.

Overclocking of our sample worked well and reached 1480 MHz, which is basically 100 MHz higher than what we've seen on RX 480 cards - an impressive feat and the cornerstone for this new Series of graphics cards. Memory overclocking is unfortunately still artificially limited by AMD's drivers, which will only allow for frequencies up to 2250 MHz, which seems lower than what the memory chips are capable of.

AMD is positioning their cards at pricing very similar to RX 400 Series cards. The 8 GB RX 580 will retail at prices "starting at $229," which is just $10 more than the cheapest RX 480 I'm currently finding online. Sapphire's card will certainly come with a significant premium, we assumed $50, since that's the markup on current RX 480 Nitro+ models. This positions the card well into GTX 1060 6 GB territory, but the GTX 1060 6 GB is definitely slower than the RX 580. Also, the Sapphire Nitro+ delivers good noise levels. Only power consumption is a clear win for NVIDIA. Since it doesn't affect thermals and noise significantly on the Nitro+, I'm not overly concerned about that. The RX 580 is obviously not a worthy improvement for RX 480 owners, but people who have older cards and are looking to upgrade should definitely consider these cards.
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