Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 64 Limited Edition review: Taming Vega's flaws with brute force

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Power, heat, and noise

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.

snp power Brad Chacos/IDG

It’s no secret that Vega draws wildly more power than Nvidia’s GeForce cards. And it’s no surprise that Sapphire’s overclocked, LED-laden, triple-fan Nitro+ Limited Edition sucks down even more juice than the reference cards. But the compromise was worth it, as you’ll see in the next section.

Heat and noise

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 over. These tests are conducted after first performing numerous benchmark runs so the cards are warmed up.

snp gpu Brad Chacos/IDG

Look at that temperature. Sapphire’s monstrous cooling system manages to run chillier than the liquid-cooled Vega 64! That’s downright wild (even though AMD should’ve slapped a bigger 240mm radiator on its card). Separate from our formal test, I played Destiny 2 for two hours straight on the Nitro+ Limited Edition at 4K resolution with every graphics option cranked as high as possible, and still the temperature fluctuated between 58 and 59 degrees Celcius. We’ve never seen an air-cooled card run so cold in this test. All that metal pays off.

It’s effective on the noise front, too. The Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 64 Limited Edition’s fans aren’t silent, but they’re damned quiet, especially if you have it in a closed case, and doubly so if you have it in a closed case underneath your desk. (The reason we test graphics cards in traditional cases rather than open-air test benches is to get a feel for real-world use cases.)

Unfortunately, our review sample exhibited a high-pitched coil whine while gaming. The lack of fan noise might have made it more obvious. It’s not so obnoxious that you’d notice it while gaming with music or in-game audio blaring, but you can definitely hear it during menu screens. Interestingly, our liquid-cooled Vega 64 also exhibits coil whine.

Next page: Bottom line

At a Glance
  • The Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 64 Limited Edition eliminates Vega's heat and noise issues with the most impressive cooling we've seen.

    Pros

    • The most effective GPU cooler we've tested
    • Very quiet fans
    • Overclocked and built to overclock more
    • GPU support bracket included

    Cons

    • Gargantuan size
    • Some coil whine
    • Performs like GTX 1080, priced like GTX 1080 Ti
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