Sapphire Nitro+ RX 480 review: Polaris rethought and refined

The wait was worth it for custom Radeon RX 480 cards.

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SteamVR and 3DMark

Time for some synthetic benchmarks! First up: The SteamVR performance test, which serves as the only major virtual reality standard until more benchmarking tools hit the streets. The SteamVR performance test is better thought of as a gauge for your graphics card’s relative virtual reality performance—and as a pass/fail test for determining whether your rig can handle VR whatsoever—than it is for making head-to-head GPU comparisons.

nitro 480 steamvr

The Nitro+ RX 480 clocks in with a higher average fidelity rating than the reference RX 480 and is definitely VR-ready, although it doesn’t score quite as high as the pricier GTX 1060. That’s not a big surprise, though, as Nvidia’s cards score consistently higher across the board in the SteamVR performance test than AMD hardware does.

3DMark Fire Strike and Time Spy

We also tested the GTX 1060 and its rivals using 3DMark’s highly respected DX11 Fire Strike synthetic benchmark, which runs at 1080p, as well as its brand-new Time Spy benchmark, which tests DirectX 12 performance at 2560x1440 resolution.

nitro 480 fire strike
nitro 480 time spy

Sapphire’s Nitro+ RX 480 gets a healthy boost thanks to its mild overclock, bringing the card within spitting range of the GTX 1060 in Fire Strike and far surpassing both the GTX 1060 and the stock RX 480 in Time Spy.

Next page: Power and heat

At a Glance
  • The 4GB Sapphire Nitro+ RX 480 delivers tremendous build quality, great performance, and thoughtful touches for a price that won't break the bank.


    • Quiet, efficient cooler
    • Astonishing build quality for the price
    • Great 1080p and 1440p gaming performance
    • Tremendous price to performance ratio


    • Not overclocked much over reference RX 480
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