Sapphire Radeon RX 580 Nitro+ review: AMD battles for PC gaming's sweet spot, again

Polaris refined and repurposed still kicks ass.

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Power

We test power under load by plugging the entire system into a Watts Up meter, running the intensive Division benchmark at 4K resolution, and noting the peak power draw. Idle power is measured after sitting on the Windows desktop for three minutes with no extra programs or processes running.

power Brad Chacos/IDG

No surprises here. Nvidia’s Pascal GPU architecture is still vastly more power efficient than AMD’s Polaris, and that lead’s only extended now that the Radeon RX 500-series cranked up clock speeds. Both are a huge improvement over the power draw of yesteryear’s graphics cards.

The power optimizations AMD promised during idle usage are reflected here as well. While we didn’t measure it here, Radeon Chill can indeed bring down your power use and temperatures significantly—but only in the whitelisted games, and you have to manually enable it. (Which you should!)

Heat

We test heat during the same intensive Division benchmark at a strenuous 4K resolution, by running SpeedFan in the background and noting the maximum GPU temperature once the run is complete.

gpu temps Brad Chacos/IDG

Here’s proof that the custom cooling designs by graphics card makers matter. The 6GB GeForce GTX 1060 SSC sucks down much less power than the Radeon RX 580, but Sapphire’s Nitro+ keeps AMD’s GPU chillier under load. It runs sliiiightly louder than the EVGA card as a result, but still damned quiet, even while gaming—and again, Radeon Chill can work wonders here if you use it.

Next page: Bottom line

At a Glance
  • $249.99 MSRP $249.99
    View

    The Radeon RX 580 is basically the Radeon RX 480 with a new name, but that still makes it the best mainstream graphics card around. Sapphire's custom Nitro+ design is stellar.

    Pros

    • Great 1080p, good 1440p, and solid VR gameplay
    • Compelling price to performance
    • Sapphire's Nitro+ customizations look and work great

    Cons

    • Lags far behind GTX 1060 in power efficiency
    • Basically a rebrand of the RX 480 with slightly higher clock speeds
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