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Sapphire Nitro+ RX 480 4GB Review

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Sapphire Nitro+ RX 480 4GB Conclusion:

As AMD's largest AIB partner, Sapphire has been making custom cards for quite some time now. There is not a lot left to innovate in this space anymore, so just about anything can be a point of difference. As a factory overclocked card, the Nitro+ RX 480 4GB card comes right out of the box with a serious 1306MHz boost clock speed on the Polaris 10 core. What makes this card is the BIOS and thermal work done by the Sapphire team. Whereas the two RX 480 cards I have in the wings would throttle under a heavy load, this card just stays right on point at 1304-1306MHz, allowing it to deliver all it can from a capability standpoint. The memory speed of the 4GB of GDDR5 memory comes in at 1750MHz rather than the 2000MHz seen on the 8GB cards, but the sustained higher clock speed allows it to deliver a higher level of performance.

Overclocking the card is possible, but there is less than 100MHz worth of headroom available from the factory boost clock speed. I'll dig more into this with an upcoming RX 480 overclocking review. However, using AMD's Wattman tool, the Sapphire Nitro+ RX 480 4GB can be under volted to reduce the overall power pull from the wall while still maintaining the 1306MHz core clock speed. I was able to drop the voltage to the card from 1150mv on the core to 1030mv with full stability. Trying to boost the core clock any higher while undervolted caused screen lock ups and driver failures. Kind of the expected results when you are realistic with your expectations.

Cooling performance of Sapphire's Nitro+ RX 480 4GB is on par with expectations. Using this card when packed into a chassis will net you idle temperatures in the 50 °C range. While this might initially seem alarming, the card is running at a 0% fan speed to reduce the noise levels of the card. Good chassis airflow can push the idle temperature results lower, but 50 °C should be the expectation. I have a 200mm fan blowing through the front of my test chassis that does a great job providing cool airflow to the card. Under a 3D load you can expect to have the card try and stay in the 72 °C target zone, but increasing the fan speed to hit this number. By comparison, the Nitro+ RX 480 delivered the same result as the GTX 1060 FE in this category. Like most aftermarket cooling solutions the majority of the thermal load is dumped into the chassis, further making case airflow paramount to cool all of the system components.

The noise profile for the Sapphire Nitro+ RX 480 4GB is decent, with a no to low noise profile before cranking up the fan speeds. When cranked up to max RPM, you will hear the card outside the chassis, but in my case with a full-on water cooling system, the noise is negligible at that point. Sapphire decided to use an easily replaceable fan assembly so that you can request a replacement fan instead of the whole shroud assembly.

If you look at overall gaming performance delivered by the Sapphire Nitro+ RX 480 4GB at its 1920 x 1080 target resolution when compared to the GTX 1060 Founders Edition card I recently looked at, the Nitro+ RX 480 is delivering anywhere between a low of 69% of the GTX 1060 FE in Battlefield 4 to a high of 107% of the GTX 1060 FE in Hitman (2016). In most of the tests, the average difference in performance between the Nitro+ RX 480 4GB and the GTX 1060 FE was in the 89-91% range. Putting this in perspective, you get a card that averages around 92% of the overall performance for 72% of the cost of the GTX 1060. Strictly looking at 1080p performance, the Nitro+ RX 480 4GB offers a pretty solid value for the cost outlay.

Performance and game play at 1920 x 1080 was excellent. At 2560 x 1440, the card is still more than capable of delivering a good gaming experience should you choose to push its limits. For the $219 price of entry, you get a solid card from Sapphire. It gets the job done and saves some of your budget.

 

Pros:

  • Factory overclocked
  • Cooling performance
  • Low noise
  • Custom build
  • Pricing
  • 1080p performance
  • 8-pin power connector
  • 4GB 

 

Cons:

  • None


 

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