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Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ 8GB Review

Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ 8GB Review

Manufacturer: Sapphire
UK price (as reviewed):
£248.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $259.99 (ex tax)

The first RX 580 card we happened across, the Asus Strix RX 580 Top OC, was a very good one but a much too expensive one; we finished our review by stating that it should have been a £250 card. Well, now we do have a £250 RX 580 with us, the Sapphire Nitro+ 8GB to be precise. Now, this may not have Strix-level features, but we'd argue that's overkill anyway in this price range, so can the Sapphire RX 580 Nitro+ do enough to earn its keep? It's been through a redesign since the RX 480 variants, so let's dig in and find out.

Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ 8GB Review
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The redesign hasn't resulted in a new look, and we happen to think this is a good thing. Sapphire's Nitro+ design, to our eyes at least, manages to maintain a neutral colour scheme (important in these days of RGB Everything) without being boring. The matt black plastic shroud has a dotted pattern on, while the silver, grey, and, black aluminium backplate adds a bit of flair to the part of the card most will see through a window. Having nickel-plated heat pipes complements the look as well. Notable absences from the previous design include the dual-BIOS switch and RGB LED control button for the top Sapphire logo; the company now takes a software approach, allowing you to set multiple OC profiles and control RGB lighting (including settings where it is synchronised to PCB temperature or fan speed) directly through its Trixx overclocking utility.

Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ 8GB Review
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This SKU ships with the same boost clock as the aforementioned Asus card: 1,411MHz, which is a five percent uplift on the reference speed of 1,340MHz. Whether it's able to maintain this boost clock, of course, is another issue. The memory, however, is left at stock speed: 2GHz for an effective transfer rate of 8Gbps. This is one of the higher available clock speeds on the market, but not the highest, although Sapphire may well hold the title for that with its Limited Edition version of this card, which comes in at 1,450MHz. There's also a 4GB Nitro+ SKU – only consider this if you've no plans to move away from 1080p any time soon.

Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ 8GB Review
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Physically, the card is of rather average dimensions, although it has seen a size increase since the previous generation. Thankfully, it still keeps within the dual-slot form factor, though a handful of smaller cases might struggle with the 135mm height – it extends quite some way beyond the PCI-E bracket. Thankfully, the 6-pin/8-pin PCI-E plug combination is indented on the PCB, so you won't have to worry about your power cables protruding even further than the card's edge. This combination of power plugs is excessive for the RX 580, but it does mean that power will never be a limitation in your overclocking efforts.

Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ 8GB Review Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ 8GB Review
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As with the Asus Strix card (and a number of others), Sapphire opts for a more VR-friendly set of display outputs, replacing one DisplayPort with a HDMI connection so you can have a HDMI display and VR headset connected at all times. This leaves you with two of each connection on top of the legacy dual-link DVI-D port, which is another addition to the reference design.

Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ 8GB Review
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The Dual-X cooler has been revamped for the RX 500 series, with Sapphire boasting of a doubling in fin surface area – perhaps unsurprising since the card is 20mm longer and 10mm taller than the previous round of Nitro+ cards. Two 8mm heat pipes coupled with two 6mm ones means it's sporting one more than before too. One thing we always like to see is when the VRAM and MOSFETs are not forgotten about, and Sapphire uses thermal pads to connect all GDDR5 chips and the GPU MOSFETs directly to the heatsink; the latter are also connected to the backplate with more padding for additional heat dissipation.

Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ 8GB Review
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The heatsink is cooled by a pair of 95mm fans that use Sapphire's latest dual ball bearing design. One neat little feature is the Quick Connect fan system, which allows you to easily remove a failed fan by undoing one screw and popping it out and replace it by reversing the process (the fans should be obtainable through resellers). The Trixx software also offers a Fan Check feature to test the status of the fans. A semi-passive mode is supported, so you can expect total silence in idle/low load situations. Airflow will be partially directed out of the rear I/O panel thanks to the orientation of the fins and semi-sealed shroud, but some will inevitably exhaust straight into your case. Once again, we find gaps in the backplate, which cleverly allows warm air to pass straight through the card towards the exhaust fan (at least in a traditional tower arrangement).

Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ 8GB Review
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A look at the PCB reveals what looks like a 6+1 or 6+2 phase power configuration, and Sapphire boasts of its 200,000-hour, high-polymer, aluminium capacitors and its Black Diamond 4 chokes, which are said to be 10 percent cooler and 25 percent more power efficient than a 'normal' choke.

Specifications

  • Graphics processor AMD Radeon RX 580, 1,411MHz boost
  • Pipeline 2,304 stream processors, 144 texture units, 32 ROPs
  • Memory 8GB GDDR5, 8Gbps effective
  • Bandwidth 256GB/sec, 256-bit interface
  • Compatibility DirectX 12, Vulcan, OpenGL 4.5
  • Outputs/Inputs 2 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x Dual-Link DVI-D, 2 x HDMI 2.0b
  • Power connections 1 x 8-pin/1 x 6-pin PCI-E, top-mounted
  • Size 260mm long, 135mm tall, dual-slot
  • Warranty Three years