Last year, a review of the SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card, the affordable Radeon RX 5700 XT, was published on our website. Today we will talk about the flagship version of the Radeon RX 5700 XT. Moreover, the SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT claims to be the fastest video card in the class, as it is already decently overclocked by the manufacturer. The device is equipped with a large cooler and is equipped with some proprietary “sapphire” chips, which we will tell you about later.
⇡ # Specifications and design features
The very name of the video card – NITRO + – already says a lot. It would be strange to give the device such a name and not provide it with factory overclocked GP. Well, we see that in the Boost mode the processor frequency of the “nitrogen video card” turns out to be as high as 130 MHz. If you read reviews of other versions of the Radeon RX 5700 XT, then you know that such a difference for Navi 10 can surely be called significant. The table below shows all the main characteristics of the hero of this review.
|Radeon RX 5700 XT (reference)||SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE|
|Title||Navi 10 XT||Navi 10 XT|
|Process technology, nm||7 nm FinFET||7 nm FinFET|
|The number of transistors, million||10300||10300|
|Clock Boost Frequency, MHz||1905||2035|
|Number of Shader ALUs||2560||2560|
|Number of texture mapping blocks||160||160|
|Bit depth, bit||256||256|
|Chip type||GDDR6 SDRAM||GDDR6 SDRAM|
|Clock frequency, MHz (bandwidth per contact, Mbps)||1750 (14000)||1750 (14000)|
|Input / output bus||PCI Express 4.0 x16||PCI Express 4.0 x16|
|Peak performance FP32, GFLOPS (based on maximum indicated frequency)||9754||10419|
|Performance FP32 / FP64||1/16||1/16|
|RAM bandwidth, GB / s||448||448|
|Image Output Interfaces||DisplayPort 1.4a, HDMI 2.0b||DisplayPort 1.4a, HDMI 2.0b|
|Retail price, rub.||32,000||38,500|
Pay attention to the abbreviation SE in the name of the device. The test copy belongs to the Special Edition series, which means that it is equipped with backlit fans by default. Opponents of fashionable youth trends will surely like the SAPPHIRE NITRO + version with conventional fans. And vice versa: the owners of the usual “nitra” can always buy RGB fans on their own – replacing them will take you no more than a couple of minutes.
At the time of writing, the SE version could be bought in Moscow at a price of 34,600 to 41,500 rubles. The average price, according to Yandex.Market, was 38,500 rubles.
The cost of the Radeon RX 5700 XT in Moscow retail is very “walking”. For the reference, which can still be found on sale, they ask about 32,000 rubles. The SAPPHIRE PULSE model, which I mentioned earlier, costs an average of 34,000 rubles. The top versions of the Radeon RX 5700 XT, such as ASRock Taichi X, ASUS ROG STRIX, GIGABYTE AORUS, PowerColor Red Devil and, of course, SAPPHIRE NITRO +, cost about the same – closer to 40,000 rubles.
The main competitor of any Radeon RX 5700 XT is the GeForce RTX 2070 (discontinued, but still sold for 34-43 thousand rubles) and the GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER (32-42 thousand rubles).
In the bundle with the accelerator, I found only a brief user manual and a visual description of the operation of some interesting NITRO + functions.
And SAPHHIRE also offers to install your own software – download an application called TRIXX. In the future, I will definitely tell you how and why it can be used.
Since one of the main features of the graphics adapter is the Nitro Glow RGB backlight, we’ll start with its description. In the SE version, fans, logos located on the side and on the back, as well as a side strip at the end, are highlighted.
In dynamics, the backlight looks as follows:
You can adjust the backlight of the device using the TRIXX software – for this, open the Nitro Glow tab. Several operating modes are available, and the “garland” can always be turned off.
Interestingly, the device’s circuit board has a 5-volt three-pin connector for connecting an asynchronous RGB-backlight cable. By connecting the video card to the board (now the motherboards are equipped with both 5- and 12-volt connectors), you can synchronize the backlight of both devices.
The design of gaming accelerators SAPPHIRE can be safely described as recognizable. The hero of the review is very similar to the SAPPHIRE NITRO + Radeon RX Vega 64. The front apron is made of matte silver-black plastic, and the fans themselves are translucent. The length of the device is 32 cm, but in the NITRO + case it “eats” one and a half centimeters less. Before us is a pretty large graphics accelerator, but you will not find any compact Radeon RX 5700 XT on sale anyway. At the same time, the thickness of the 3D accelerator is 48 mm – the video card will occupy 2.5 expansion slots in the case.
The reverse side of SAPPHIRE NITRO + is massive. It can be seen that the cooler is longer than the printed circuit board, but the entire back surface of the device is occupied by a thick (1.5 mm) metal plate – it not only increases the rigidity of a rather long design, but also protects the PCB elements from unauthorized human interference. However, the accelerator backplate also plays the role of passive cooling – with the help of a thermal pad it contacts the PCB in the area of the power converter.
The plate also has perforation, but I suppose, like the illuminated logo, it is used here exclusively for decorative purposes.
The design of the cooler uses two 95 mm fans and one 90 mm. The larger impellers rotate counterclockwise, while the “small” ones rotate clockwise.
The fans are removed quite simply – you need to unscrew only one screw and carefully remove the impeller from the plastic sled. This know-how is also useful because it is easier to clean the fans: removed, wiped with a cloth, degreased, returned to its place. It is unlikely that throughout the entire life cycle of the SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE, you will be able to change the fans due to their failure – high-quality double bearings are used in the Carlson design. But such an opportunity should not be ruled out.
In the TRIXX program, by the way, there is a Fan Health Check tab that launches the fan health check function.
At the end of the video card, closer to the video outputs, there is a three-position BIOS switch. By default, the operating mode No. 3 is set – this means that the ability to select the operating mode in TRIXX is activated. The position of the lever No. 2 activates the second firmware, in which more sparing settings are recorded, allowing the video card to work more slowly, but also quieter. Mode No. 1 activates factory overclocking.
On the I / O panel of the device there are two DisplayPort 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0b. This point must be taken into account if you are still using an old monitor with a DVI input. Just buy the appropriate adapter with the device.
The SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE cooling system, if you do not take into account removable fans and backplate, consists of two parts. The main radiator is with two sections of aluminum fins that pierce five nickel-plated copper tubes. It comes in contact with the GP using a large copper sole. And a large radiator removes heat from the elements of the power converter – this is clearly seen in the photo.
The memory chips and their batteries are cooled by a separate radiator, which is quite large by the way. It clearly fits into the free space of the main radiator and at the same time has rather large plates.
If you read the review of the reference Radeon RX 5700 XT, then you know that the printed circuit board of this video card has quite a lot of unused PCB area. The SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE uses a noticeably shorter PCB. But much more sophisticated.
The GPU power circuit has 9 phases, which are controlled by the International Rectifier IR35217 PWM. Since the controller used is 6-phase, a converter with doublers is used in the converter. The On Semiconductor NCP81022 PWM controller controls the three phases of GDDR6 memory power. Eight Micron chips with a nominal bandwidth of 14 Gb / s per bus contact are soldered on the printed circuit board.
For comparison: the reference version of the Radeon RX 5700 XT has 7 + 2 phases under the control of exactly the same controllers.
Two 8-pin PCI-E power supply slots are required to connect to the video card. The 12 and 3.3 V power lines, including the PCI Express slot, are equipped with fuses that are safe in the event of a short circuit.
⇡ # Testing technique and stand
The potential of the Radeon RX 5700 XT is well known. You will find a comparison of this video card with many other graphics adapters – including those in Ultra HD resolution – in this article. In our opinion, such a graphics accelerator is perfect for modern AAA games launched in WQHD resolution. In this review, we will compare the SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE with the Palit GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER JetStream. The full configuration of the test bench is shown in the table below.
|CPU||Intel Core i9-9900K, 8 cores and 16 threads, 3.6 (5.0) GHz|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING|
|RAM||G.Skill Trident Z F4-3200C14D-32GTZ, DDR4-3200, 2 × 16 GB|
|Storage device||Samsung 970 EVO|
|Power Supply||Corsair AX1500i, 1,500 W|
|CPU cooling system||NZXT Kraken X62|
|operating system||Windows 10 Pro x64|
|Graphics card software|
|Driver Removal||Display Driver Uninstaller 184.108.40.206|
|FPS measurement||Fraps 3.5.99|
|FRAFS Bench Viewer|
|Acceleration and monitoring||GPU-Z 2.30.0|
|MSI Afterburner 4.6.2|
|Thermal imager||Fluke ti400|
|Sound level meter||Mastech MS6708|
|Wattmeter||watts up? PRO|
Video cards were tested in 13 games and two popular resolutions: Full HD and WQHD. Full list of applications and graphics settings:
- World of Tanks enCore. DirectX 11. Benchmark. Ultra Mode, TSSAA HQ.
- Dota 2. DirectX 11. Record of a match. The highest quality.
- Counter Strike: Global Offensive. DirectX 9. Map “Mirage”. Maximum quality, MSAA 8x + FXAA.
- The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. DirectX 11. Novigrad and surroundings. The highest quality.
- Far Cry New Dawn. DirectX 11. Built-in benchmark. Maximum quality, HD textures – incl., TAA.
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider. DirectX 12. Secret city. Maximum quality, DXR – off, SMAAT 2x.
- GTA V. DirectX 11. City. Maximum quality, FXAA + 4x MSAA, additional quality settings – on, 16x AF, image resolution scale – off.
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. DirectX 11. Kefalonia. Highest mode.
- Metro: Exodus. DirectX 12. Taiga. Ultra mode, HairWorks – on, DXR – off, tessellation – on, 16x AF, PhysX – on.
- Battlefield V. DirectX 12. The Last Tiger mission. Ultra Mode, TAA, DXR – Off
- Total War Three Kingdoms. DirectX 11. Built-in benchmark. Max Mode, TAA.
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. DirectX 12. Complex “Utulek”. Maximum quality, 2x MSSA.
- Red Dead Redemption 2. Vulkan. Built-in benchmark. Maximum quality (advanced settings – off), TAA.
Game performance was determined using the well-known MSI Afterburner program. It allows you to get the rendering time of each frame. The use of the 99th percentile instead of the minimum number of frames per second is due to the desire to clear the results from random bursts of performance that were provoked by reasons not directly related to the operation of the main components of the platform.
⇡ # Clock frequencies, power consumption, temperature, noise level and acceleration
The NITRO + cooling system operates in a semi-passive mode. When reaching 50 degrees Celsius on the chip, the cooler fans are activated. All three impellers spin rather smoothly – there is no sharp increase in noise level.
In the first part of the article, it was noted that the SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE has two firmware: the main one with factory overclocking and the quiet one with underestimated performance. In the default mode, after two hours of load in the Witcher 3 game, the maximum chip temperature reached 69 degrees Celsius – this is an excellent indicator for a card with a TDP of 225+ W. The GPU frequency during this time varied in the range from 1997 to 2043 MHz. Most of the time, the frequency of the Navi 10 did not fall below 2000 MHz. For comparison: the frequency of the ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon RX 5700 XT OC, which is a direct competitor to NITRO + in the premium segment, in the same conditions changed in the range from 1937 to 2003 MHz. It turns out the video card workseven a little bit, but faster, and our claim that the SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE is one of the fastest Radeon RX 5700 XT turned out to be true.
The problem of overheating of the GDDR6 memory SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE does not concern – an additional heatsink, used exclusively for cooling VRAM and its power, works efficiently. The maximum heating of Micron microcircuits was 76 degrees Celsius – this is 14 degrees below the allowed limit. The hot spot temperature reached 95 degrees Celsius, but we know that the Junction Temperature limit for Navi 10 is 110 degrees Celsius. Therefore, the video card operates at a decent distance from the border of thermal throttling – hence the operation of the chip at maximum frequencies almost all the time. The power converter was heated to a maximum of 78 degrees Celsius. We conclude: compared to other Radeon RX 5700 XT, you have a rather cold graphics card.
The peak power consumption of the stand in The Witcher was rather big 314 W, and the noise measured from a distance of 30 cm was 36.3 dBA. Yes, the operation of the video card cooler under load is clearly audible, but I can’t call it noisy. For example, the previously mentioned ASUS ROG STRIX Radeon RX 5700 XT OC works a little, but louder. Such acoustic performance is achieved due to the operation of the fans at speeds up to ~ 1600 rpm, or 48% of the maximum.
I tried to overclock the fans of the NITRO + cooler as much as possible – the impellers of the video card can thresh at a frequency of 3200 rpm. In this mode of operation, the accelerator is noisy at the level of 50.1 dBA, and now it turns out to be really loud. On the other hand, the maximum temperatures of the core, hot spot, VRM, and memory dropped to 57, 83, 58, and 66 degrees Celsius, respectively.
Unfortunately, the bug that settled in AMD drivers with the release of version 20.4.2 has not been fixed. In some completely mystical way, the fan speed is linked to the clock frequency of the memory chips, and any change in it leads to the fact that the VRAM frequency starts to constantly change, and this, in turn, leads to freezes in games and a drop in FPS. As a result, you have to overclock any Radeon RX 5700 XT only in the automatic mode of “wind turbines”. As it turned out, this fact imposes restrictions on user overclocking of not only video cards with weak cooling systems.
The second BIOS mode of the video card can be called quiet. The screenshot above shows that the SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE fans noticeably slow down to ~ 1000 rpm, which is 30-32% of the maximum frequency. The noise level also decreased: from 30 cm it amounted to 35.3 dBA – in this mode of operation, the video card can be called almost silent.
The frequency of GPU and memory decreased: the processor began to operate within the range of 1847-1933 MHz, but this is still higher than the values of the reference Radeon RX 5700 XT. The VRAM chips “lost” 50 MHz, and at the same time the maximum power consumption level of the stand dropped to 271 W. But up to 74 degrees Celsius the maximum temperature of the GPU increased, up to 82 degrees – VRM and GDDR6, up to 93 degrees – the temperature of the hot spot.
I tried to make the SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE even quieter – completely silent. For this, the supply voltage was reduced from 1.2 to 1.18 V, and the power limit dropped by another 10%.
In this mode, the NITRO + core worked at a frequency of 1775-2014 MHz, but its maximum temperature increased by 2 degrees Celsius. Maximum power consumption dropped to 250 watts. The temperatures of VRM, memory and hotspot were 82, 84 and 93 degrees Celsius, respectively – all within acceptable limits. Most importantly, the noise level decreased to 34.8 dBA, as the fan speed decreased to 26-28%.
It seems that SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE engineers squeezed the most out of the video card without resorting to a radical increase in the device’s power consumption. After importing one of the reg-files intended for the subsequent overclocking of the device into the registry, the power limit was increased by 90%, and the core voltage was raised to 1.25 V. Such manipulations were only enough to change the GPU frequency in The Witcher in the range from 2076 to 2123 MHz. At the same time, the device began to work noticeably louder – the noise level increased to 39.8 dBA, as the fans began to spin up to 2100-2200 rpm.
The maximum temperature of the Navi 10 during acceleration reached 71 degrees Celsius, the temperature of the VRM increased to 82 degrees, the memory – up to 76 degrees, and the hot spot – up to 108 degrees Celsius. We have almost come close to the permissible limit of AMD itself, but to reduce (for the reasons described above) independently these figures are not possible. The power consumption of the stand after overclocking the video card increased from 314 to 364 watts.
Such manipulations led to an increase in benchmark performance in benchmarks by an average of 3%. Given the results, the desire to overclock the SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE at home disappears completely.
|3DMark and Unigine Superposition, Graphics Score, points (more – better)|
|SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE (2035 MHz, 14 Gb / s), redundant BIOS, 1.18 V, -10% PL||SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE (2035 MHz, 14 Gb / s), redundant BIOS||SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE (2035 MHz, 14 Gb / s), main BIOS||SAPPHIRE NITRO + RX 5700 XT SE (2130 MHz, 15.2 Gbps), 1.25 V, +90% PL|
⇡ # Test results in games
Almost a year has passed since the Radeon RX 5700 XT went on sale, so the potential of the device under study in modern games is well known to us. In Full HD resolution, the hero of the review proves to be just great – comfortable FPS is observed in all games. In WQHD – the resolution targeted for the adapter – problems appeared only in Metro: Exodus. Well, how are the problems … The minimum FPS dropped to 38 FPS. В принципе, для однопользовательского шутера и такой результат можно считать вполне приемлемым.
Сравнивая Radeon RX 5700 XT с GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER, важно понимать, что в разрешениях Full HD и WQHD мы в некоторых играх попросту сталкиваемся с процессорозависимостью — именно поэтому, адаптеры показывают одинаковый FPS в Dota 2, World of Tanks и CS: GO, например. В целом же легко заметить, что SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 5700 XT SE в большинстве случаев опережает своего оппонента. В некоторых играх разницу можно назвать существенной, а в других — символической.
Если оставить за рамками стоимость SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 5700 XT SE, то к видеокарте даже при всем желании не получится придраться. Ускоритель основан на довольно горячем процессоре, а потому совершенно не удивительно, что видеокарту оснастили массивным кулером. Работает система охлаждения отлично — NITRO+ смело можно назвать холодной, и ее не донимают болячки, присущие бюджетным моделям (тот же перегрев чипов памяти, например). Рассмотренное устройство по умолчанию работает не очень громко, но при желании вы сделаете ее вообще практически бесшумной.
Разгон SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 5700 XT SE ограничен тем, что видеокарта, по сути, работает на пределе — и это на самом деле является атрибутом многих видеокарт премиум-сегмента. Было бы странно, если бы производитель не выжимал максимум из железа, предлагая геймеру элитный и знаковый продукт.
Ну а переплачивать за устройство класса SAPPHIRE NITRO+ RX 5700 XT SE или нет — решать уже не мне, а покупателям.
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