Sapphire Radeon RX 570 Pulse and RX 580 Pulse review: Solid gaming on a tight budget

While Sapphire's flagship Nitro+ series goes for broke, the Pulse lineup focuses on value.

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Our test system/The Division benchmarks

We tested Sapphire’s Radeon RX 570 Pulse and RX 580 Pulse on PCWorld’s dedicated graphics card benchmark system. Our testbed’s loaded with high-end components to avoid bottlenecks in other parts of the system and show unfettered graphics performance.

  • Intel’s Core i7-5960X with a Corsair Hydro Series H100i closed-loop water cooler ($120 on Amazon).
  • An Asus X99 Deluxe motherboard ($230 on Amazon for an updated version).
  • Corsair’s Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory ($130 on Amazon), and 1,200-watt AX1200i power supply ($310 on Amazon).
  • A 480GB Intel 730 series SSD ($280 on Amazon).
  • Phanteks’ Enthoo Evolv ATX case ($190 on Amazon).
  • Windows 10 Pro ($158 on Amazon).

PCWorld’s original RX 570 and RX 580 reviews compared the cards to their closest competition, so for this review we’re going to focus on how Sapphire’s Pulse series compares to folks who have already decided to pick up a Radeon. To that end, we’re comparing the Sapphire RX 570 Pulse ($180) against Gigabyte’s Aorus RX 570 ($180 on Newegg) and the older XFX Radeon 470; and the 8GB Sapphire RX 580 Pulse ($230) against the aforementioned 8GB Sapphire RX 580 Nitro+ ($260 on Newegg) and MSI’s older, overclocked 8GB RX 480 Gaming X. It’ll be fun to see how the RX 570 Pulse stacks up against the overclocked MSI RX 480, too.

Each game’s tested using its in-game benchmark at the mentioned graphics presets, with V-sync, frame-rate caps, and all GPU vendor-specific technologies—like AMD TressFX, Nvidia GameWorks options, and FreeSync/G-Sync—disabled. For these cards, we’re testing at both 1440p and 1080p resolution.

Let’s go!

The Division

The Division, a gorgeous third-person shooter/RPG that mixes elements of Destiny and Gears of War, kicks things off with Ubisoft’s new Snowdrop engine. We test the game in DirectX 11 mode; The Division recently rolled out an update that adds DirectX 12 support, but the performance is virtually identical to the DX11 results.

pulse division Brad Chacos/IDG

The trends you see here will repeat throughout these game benchmark tests, to such a degree that we won’t be commenting on the other gaming results. The Aorus RX 570 and Sapphire RX 570 Pulse are effectively in a dead heat, while the pricier, higher-overclocked Sapphire RX 580 Nitro+ beats its more affordable cousin by a few frames per second.

Even though the RX 580 Pulse hews close to the RX 580’s minimum MSRP, it still manages to beat out the overclocked MSI Gaming X, which was a highly regarded (and fast) custom RX 480 card.

Next page: Hitman

At a Glance
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