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SAPPHIRE NITRO+ Radeon RX VEGA 56 Limited Edition 8G HBM2 Review

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SAPPHIRE NITRO+ Radeon RX VEGA 56 Limited Edition 8G HBM2 Conclusion:

Sapphire has put together a pretty strong package with the NITRO+ Radeon RX Vega 56 Limited Edition 8G HBM2 video card. Let's start with the performance delivered by the product. In pretty much every game, this offering from Sapphire just outperformed the competitor's card by a measurable margin right out of the box. So much so that it even gave the GTX 1080 FE a run in many games. The performance varied by game between the GTX 1070 FE and GTX 1070 Ti, but there is no hard and fast rule as to where the performance falls comparatively. Even so, the card is capable of delivering excellent FPS in all the games tested even at 4K.

Overclocking the Sapphire NITRO+ proved that Sapphire had extracted almost as much out of the silicon as it could with the 1572MHz Boost clock speed out of the box. The HBM2 memory had just over 100MHz left to toy with, while the core only would reliably run in the 1611MHz to 1615MHz range. This little bit of added clock speed does help drive some higher performance results if you take the time to tune the card for the best performance/voltage combination.

To make sure that this card performs well under a load, Sapphire slapped a massive Vapor Chamber-based cooling solution on the card. The combination of Sapphire's Tri-X dual ball bearing fans and Vapor Chamber cooling solution make this card one of the coolest running cards I have tested, both stock and overclocked. What makes this cooling performance that much more impressive is that the power consumed by the card is in excess of 300 watts stock and overclocked. Impressive indeed.

Planning for the future, Sapphire has made its fans replaceable without removing the shroud. Simply remove two screws, lift out the dual ball bearing fans, and reverse the procedure to put it back. Simple as can be. To help tie the video cards cooling performance to the case cooling, Sapphire has added the Turbine X feature to this card. You can connect up to two case fans to the card that intelligently manages the fan speeds based on the input from five thermal sensors on the PCB. A pretty cool feature, but not really necessary as many cases and most motherboards have PWM controlled headers to manage cooling performance.

One thing AMD has to get past is the power consumption of its silicon. Polaris had its own issues, but Vega really pulls some juice. More so than the highest current draw on one of the GTX 1080 Ti partner cards I have tested. Generally going the wrong direction.

As a robust video card at over 12 inches in length, Sapphire has included a support bracket to keep from adding undue stress to the PCIe slot on your motherboard. This feature has become more commonplace as video cards become more robust with dual slot or deeper cooling solutions.

One of the key features of this card is the RGB lighting that is so common nowadays. Hell, I am even writing this review on an RGB keyboard! To control the RGB lighting, Sapphire has a small software tool called TriXX NITRO Glow so you can either roll with a single color or an effect of colors to match your system. It is a simple lightweight utility that is functional.

Priced at $669, Sapphire's NITRO+ is not going to be the least expensive option for a Vega 56 card, but you get a cool running, high performing, great looking video card.

Pros:

  • Vapor Chamber cooling
  • Low noise
  • TriXX NITRO Glow RGB lighting
  • Performance
  • Turbine X
  • Replaceable fans

Cons:

  • Power consumption
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