Sapphire Nitro RX 460 OC review: A classy, capable low-cost graphics card

But that fanciness comes at a price.

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Bottom line

When it comes to 4GB models of the Radeon RX 460, Sapphire has a clear winner on its hands here.

The Nitro RX 460 OC ($140 on Newegg) costs $10 less than XFX’s version, has one of the heftier overclocks available on custom RX 460 models, and its carefully calibrated cooling solution keeps those overclocks running at full speed at all times. It rocks for e-sports, and even does a fine job in traditional games if you’re realistic about balancing frame rates and graphics settings. And that 4GB definitely comes in handy if you’re expanding beyond CS:GO and League of Legends.

If you do plan on playing traditional games with the Sapphire Nitro RX 460, we’d definitely recommend picking up a FreeSync monitor to help smooth out the visuals if you’re able to. You can pick up a 22-inch 1080p FreeSync monitor for as little as $110 on Amazon, or a speedy 144Hz 1080p FreeSync display for $209 on Amazon. And if you’ve only got a 60Hz monitor, using AMD’s Frame Rate Target Control to limit e-sports games to 60 fps would result in even lower temperatures and power usage.

That said, we have the same qualms recommending the Sapphire Nitro RX 460 as we do with its XFX counterpart, and it has nothing to do with the superb custom designs from either vendor—both of which are outstanding for this price class. Most 4GB Radeon RX 460s simply cost too much in today’s market.

Further reading: The best graphics cards for PC gaming, at every price

The 2GB Radeon RX 460s have carved a nice niche out for themselves. The reference design doesn’t require extra power connectors, which makes it a compelling solution for transforming a “big box” prebuilt PC from HP or Lenovo into a game-ready machine. The cutting-edge media support also makes the RX 460 a compelling option for home theater PCs. The price is right on the lower models, and the 2GB memory capacity is more than enough for the e-sports games the card is designed for.

dsc01010 Brad Chacos

You’d only want a 4GB model if you’re planning on playing traditional games as well. But the vast majority of the 4GB Radeon RX 460s out there demand the use of an extra power connector, and cost in the neighborhood of $150. If you’re already making those sacrifices to play “normal” games, you’ll get more bang for your buck buying a GeForce GTX 950, many of which are selling for $150 these days, or even less after rebates. Most also use a six-pin power connector, and Nvidia’s card offers much better performance in most games.

The only major noticeable 4GB exception to the above: The Gigabyte Radeon RX 460 Windforce OC 4GB ($130 on Newegg), which is priced well and doesn't require the use of an extra power pin connector. We've yet to test it, however.

The equation changes if you’re planning to pick up a variable refresh rate monitor to complement your card. G-Sync monitors cost much, much more than 1080p FreeSync monitors. On a tight budget, a 4GB Radeon RX 460 and a FreeSync monitor would be more cost-effective overall, and the thoughtfully designed Sapphire Nitro is the best 4GB Radeon RX 460 we’ve tested. Barring the FreeSync need, however, a GTX 950 is a better deal.

Update: Added mention of the Gigabyte Windforce OC 4GB to the end of the article.

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At a Glance
  • Sapphire's custom model delivers thoughtful touches you don't normally find in budget graphics cards, but 4GB versions of the Radeon RX 460 simply cost too much.

    Pros

    • Thoughtful design
    • Overclock speed stays rock-solid during gameplay
    • Supports a wide-range of cutting-edge technologies

    Cons

    • All Radeon Rx 460 models with 4GB of memory aren't priced compellingly
    • Rock-solid overclock requires slightly more power and heat.
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