Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 5700 XT review: Superfast and nearly flawless

Sublime software makes the impeccable hardware design even better.

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Our test system

Our dedicated graphics card test system is packed with some of the fastest complementary components available, to put any potential performance bottlenecks squarely on the GPU. Most of the hardware was provided by the manufacturers, but we purchased the cooler and storage ourselves.

  • Intel Core i7-8700K processor ($350 on Amazon)
  • EVGA CLC 240 closed-loop liquid cooler ($120 on Amazon)
  • Asus Maximus X Hero motherboard ($395 on Amazon)
  • 64GB HyperX Predator RGB DDR4/2933 ($420 on Amazon)
  • EVGA 1200W SuperNova P2 power supply ($230 on Amazon)
  • Corsair Crystal 570X RGB case, with front and top panels removed and an extra rear fan installed for improved airflow ($130 on Amazon)
  • 2x 500GB Samsung 860 EVO SSDs ($78 each on Amazon)

We’re comparing the $440 Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 5700 XT against the similarly priced $440 XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra. We’re also pitting it against AMD’s $350 reference Radeon RX 5700, the $400 reference Radeon RX 5700 XT, the $400 GeForce RTX 2060 Super Founders Edition, and the $500 GeForce RTX 2070 Super Edition. Its nearest competitors, basically. For a broader look at how AMD’s core GPU stacks up against other cards, be sure to check out our original Radeon RX 5700 series review.

Every card was tested with their default BIOS if multiple BIOS options were available. Both the Nitro+ and XFX’s Thicc II Ultra default to high performance over lower acoustics.

All prices cited are launch MSRP. You can often find reference RX 5700 cards cheaper on the streets these days, while custom RTX Super GPUs tend to sell for more than the (now-gone) Founders Edition cards.

Each game is tested using its in-game benchmark at the highest possible graphics presets, with VSync, frame rate caps, and all GPU vendor-specific technologies—like AMD TressFX, Nvidia GameWorks options, and FreeSync/G-Sync—disabled, and temporal anti-aliasing (TAA) enabled to push these high-end cards to their limits. If anything differs from that, we’ll mention it. We run each benchmark at least three times and list the average result for each test.

Because the Sapphire Nitro+ is a faster Radeon RX 5700 XT at its core, we’re going to skip our usual commentary after each gaming benchmark and let the testing speak for itself. We’ll provide more analysis during the thermal and noise results and put a bow on things in our closing recommendations.

Gaming performance benchmarks

Division 2

Let’s start with the latest games. The Division 2 is one of the best looter-shooters ever created. The luscious visuals generated by Ubisoft’s Snowdrop engine make it even easier to get lost in post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. The built-in benchmark cycles through four “zones” to test an array of environments. We test with the DirectX 12 renderer enabled. It provides better performance across the board than the DX11 renderer, but it requires Windows 10.

d2 Brad Chacos/IDG

Far Cry: New Dawn

Another Ubisoft title, Far Cry: New Dawn drags Far Cry 5’s wonderful gameplay into a post-apocalyptic future of its own, though this vision is a lot more bombastic—and pink—than The Division 2’s bleak setting. The game runs on the latest version of the long-running Dunia engine, and it’s slightly more strenuous than Far Cry 5’s built-in benchmark.

fcnd Brad Chacos/IDG

Strange Brigade

Strange Brigade ($50 on Humble) is a cooperative third-person shooter where a team of adventurers blasts through hordes of mythological enemies. It’s a technological showcase, built around the next-gen Vulkan and DirectX 12 technologies and infused with features like HDR support and the ability to toggle asynchronous compute on and off. It uses Rebellion’s custom Azure engine. We test the DX12 renderer with async compute off.

strange brigade Brad Chacos/IDG

Next page: Gaming benchmarks continue

At a Glance
  • The Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 5700 XT delivers excellent performance that's pushed even further with some smart software tricks, and the graphics card's hardware design is so thoughtful it's virtually flawless. We can't think of anything we'd change.

    Pros

    • Excellent gaming performance
    • Trixx Boost software uses smart downscaling for great FPS gains
    • Extremely cool and quiet
    • Gorgeous physical design
    • Thoughtful hardware and software features

    Cons

    • No dedicated ray tracing hardware
    • Physically large card might not fit in some systems
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