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

Sublime software makes the impeccable hardware design even better.

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Should you buy the Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 5700 XT?

Oh lord, yes.

dsc00719 Brad Chacos/IDG

The Radeon RX 5700 XT is a killer graphics card for 1440p gaming, and Sapphire’s $440 overclocked Nitro+ delivers frame rates well beyond similarly priced GeForce RTX 2060 Supers and within spitting distance of the $500 GeForce RTX 2070 Super Founders Edition. Activating the wonderful Trixx Boost feature in Sapphire’s Trixx software sends frame rates skyrocketing to (or past) even the $700 RTX 2080 Super’s performance levels with minimal visual impact, for hundreds of dollars less. Trixx Boost can even turn this into a surprisingly decent 4K gaming card.

Boost is just part of Sapphire’s superb new updated Trixx software, which also lets you check your card’s fan health, overclock your graphics card, see your system configuration, and manage the gorgeous RGB LED implementation on the Nitro+.

If you really love flashy lights, you can buy an optional $30 set of ARGB fans for the Nitro+—though they’ll be hard to see in a standard case, pointing down—or assign their control to your motherboard’s software with the help of a 3-pin RGB header at the end of the card. Sapphire also outfitted the Nitro+ was a triple-BIOS switch loaded with two different fan profiles and the option to handle switching between them in Trixx itself, negating the need to ever open your case.

dsc00691 Brad Chacos/IDG

The aluminum-clad Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 5700 XT stays a cool 71 degrees Celsius even under heavy loads, beating the rival $440 XFX Thicc II Ultra by 5 degrees and dipping far below the reference RX 5700 XT’s 86-degree temperatures. Better yet, it stays quiet throughout, with the fans never topping 1,800rpm.

Everything about this card feels perfectly considered, and it’s virtually perfect as a result. The only possible drawbacks are out of Sapphire’s control, and they aren’t really drawbacks.

First, Radeon graphics cards don’t support real-time ray tracing like GeForce RTX 20-series GPUs offer—but in return, they offer you more traditional gaming performance for your money. The Nitro+ routinely outperforms the GeForce RTX 2060 by double-digit percentages. And while ray tracing is picking up steam and looks incredibly impressive in the right games, only a small handful of titles support the cutting-edge lighting technology at this point. Second, the Nitro+ is a big card, measuring a full foot long and a bit over two slots deep. That’s necessary for a card this powerful to run so cool and quiet though.

Bottom line: I can’t think of any single thing that Sapphire could do to make this card more impressive. The Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 5700 XT is essentially flawless, incredibly powerful, and very highly recommended. Sapphire’s enhancements more than justify the $40 price premium over the reference Radeon RX 5700 XT. If you use Trixx Boost to supercharge your frame rates with clever software tricks, you could even consider the Nitro+ one hell of a value. Bravo.

This story, "Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 5700 XT review: Superfast and nearly flawless" was originally published by PCWorld.

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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