Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6700 XT review: Performance-boosting Trixx

The Nitro+ punches above its class thanks to Sapphire's killer Trixx Boost software.

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Power draw, thermals, and noise

We test power draw by looping the F1 2020 benchmark at 4K for about 20 minutes after we’ve benchmarked everything else and noting the highest reading on our Watts Up Pro meter, which measures the power consumption of our entire test system. The initial part of the race, where all competing cars are onscreen simultaneously, tends to be the most demanding portion. 

This isn’t a worst-case test; this is a GPU-bound game running at a GPU-bound resolution to gauge performance when the graphics card is sweating hard. If you’re playing a game that also hammers the CPU, you could see higher overall system power draws. Consider yourself warned.

power Brad Chacos/IDG

Nvidia GPUs prevent our computer from fully going into idle in the five minutes of downtime we use for this test, though it does so after a longer duration. That’s new to this Ryzen 5900X platform; we didn’t see it on our old Intel-based testbeds, nor with AMD Radeon graphics cards installed. We’ll have to change our methodology going forward and poke around the behavior to understand it more fully. 

The Sapphire Nitro+ draws slightly more energy than the reference Radeon RX 6700 XT, but that’s to be expected given its higher power limit, faster clocks, and abundant RGB lighting. This hot rod still draws less power than the RTX 3070 and even an overclocked RTX 3060 Ti, however, which shows just how power-efficient AMD’s new RDNA 2 architecture is.

We test thermals by leaving GPU-Z open during the F1 2020 power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end.

temp Brad Chacos/IDG

The Nitro+’s beefed-up custom cooling design delivers, and how. Sapphire’s card runs over 10 degrees cooler than AMD’s reference board while running in near silence—and that’s with its default Performance Mode BIOS. Enough said. The Quiet Mode BIOS offers actual silence, but the Performance Mode is quiet enough that most people should stick to its faster speeds.  

Should you buy the Sapphire Nitro+ RX 6700 XT?

Most people should avoid buying any graphics card right now. Thanks to a crushing mixture of supply shortages, insane demand for all gaming hardware during the pandemic, logistics woes, tariffs, and the mania swirling around the booming Ethereum cryptocurrency, graphics cards sell out instantly at retail and tend to be available only for hundreds of dollars more at resale sites like Ebay and Craigslist. I’d recommend most people sit on the sidelines and stream their PC games via Nvidia’s GeForce Now service until the dust settles.

dsc01580 Brad Chacos/IDG

All that said, if you’re bored at home and have a wad of stimulus cash or unspent vacation earnings in your bank account, the Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6700 XT is a fantastic graphics card for ultra-quality 1440p and high-refresh-rate 1080p gaming (though AMD’s GPU struggles with ray traced games). It looks fantastic and runs in frigid silence.

Better yet, Trixx Boost makes it a much more worthwhile purchase than rival RX 6700 XT options, especially in today’s crazy GPU market. While the Nitro+’s factory overclock doesn’t provide any practical speed advantage over the reference RX 6700 XT, flipping on Trixx Boost immediately elevates the card’s 1440p gaming performance to the level of the Radeon RX 6800. Hell yes. Sapphire’s robust custom cooler also provides plenty of headroom if you want to try pushing things even further via manual overclocking. The Nitro+’s handy triple-BIOS switch is available as a backup if things go awry.

In a sane world, the reference RX 6700 XT is priced $100 too high for what it offers (hence its lower 3-star rating) and Sapphire’s Nitro+ adds another $100 on top of that. But in today’s crazy reality, Trixx Boost and an exceptional cooler likely makes this one of the best options available. If you’re going to spend double to grab a graphics card, this should be on your short list until graphics card prices regain their sanity. It’s great. Just be sure to install Trixx!

This story, "Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6700 XT review: Performance-boosting Trixx" was originally published by PCWorld.

At a Glance
  • The Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6700 XT delivers exceptional 1440p and high refresh rate 1080p gaming with no compromises other than ray tracing performance. It's silent, cool, and looks great, with Sapphire's optional Trixx Boost utility capable of pushing frame rates significantly higher. We aren't taking price into consideration given market conditions during a pandemic-driven global GPU shortage.

    Pros

    • Great 1440p and 1080p gaming performance
    • Trixx Boost can make performance significantly faster
    • 12GB of memory bolstered by Infinity Cache
    • Exceptional design: Very cool, whisper quite, and attractive
    • Luxurious extras like ARGB header and triple-BIOS switch

    Cons

    • No DLSS-like feature means AMD's ray tracing performance is lackluster
    • Price is high, but will be much higher on the street during global GPU shortage
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