Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT review: Great hardware turbocharged by killer software

Don't sleep on Trixx Boost.

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Trixx Boost: Slightly lower resolution, much higher performance, just-as-good graphics

Trixx Boost is a feature Sapphire added to last generation’s RDNA 1-based Nitro+ RX 5700 XT, configurable using the company’s Trixx management software, which also controls the graphics card’s lighting effects.

The feature leverages the Radeon Image Sharpening feature AMD debuted alongside the RDNA architecture. Trixx Boost creates custom resolutions just below standard 1080p, 1440p, and 4K, which are then upscaled to fit your display. Radeon Image Sharpening (which works with all major graphics APIs now) cleans away the blurry effects usually associated with image upscaling. When you select the new custom resolutions in your game’s graphics options, performance soars, as you’ll see below.

It’s wicked-smart, and I’m shocked other GPU makers with software suites haven’t cribbed it. Honestly, Trixx Boost does nothing you can’t do manually with any graphics card by cobbling together custom resolutions in AMD or Nvidia control panels, then turning on AMD or Nvidia’s sharpening features. That’s a complicated process that entails diving deep into control panel submenus though, limiting it to enthusiasts. Trixx Boost makes it easy, and you can set it up in mere minutes.

screenshot 17 Brad Chacos/IDG

Screenshot of a custom resolution created using Sapphire’s Trixx Boost software. Select these in your games rather than native 4K, 1440p, or 1080p to get Trixx Boost’s benefits.

Open the Boost tab in Trixx, use a slider to determine at what percentage of the original resolutions you want the custom resolutions created for—the default is 85 percent, which works great with the 4K and 1440p gameplay this card targets—and click Apply. Your screen will flash a few times. The Trixx Boost interface used to include a button that let you turn on Radeon Image Sharpening right inside Trixx, but we didn’t see it with the Nitro+ RX 6800 XT installed. You’ll need to head into the global display portion of AMD’s Radeon Software and enable it. That makes Trixx Boost slightly less seamless than before, but the setting is easy to find, and you’ll need to activate only once for it to work in all games.

After that’s done, simply select the new custom resolutions rather than the usual 4K, 1440p, and 1080p options in your game settings and watch frame rates soar. How high? Check out this small sampling of games, taken using the 85-percent default scaling:

trixx f1 2020 Brad Chacos/IDG
trixx gears tactics Brad Chacos/IDG
trixx sotr Brad Chacos/IDG
trixx strange brigade Brad Chacos/IDG

As you can see, activating Trixx Boost turbocharges performance to such lofty heights that Sapphire’s Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT topples even the behemoth $1,500 GeForce RTX 3090 in some games. Yes please! The faster frame rates could also help with ray tracing performance, though we didn’t have a chance to test that extensively.

If you find the default 85 percent custom resolution scaling too blurry or otherwise compromised—we didn’t—you can inch it back up closer to native 100-percent scaling in granular one-percent increments until you find the sweet spot for your eyes. The closer you get to native resolution, the lower the performance gains, however.

Next page: Power, thermals, and noise

At a Glance
  • The Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT is attractive, cool, quiet, and fast, with an excellent Trixx Boost feature that supercharges performance even further. Its only real drawbacks are AMD's weak ray tracing capabilities and Sapphire's massive price premium.

    Pros

    • Excellent 4K and 1440p gaming
    • Trixx Boost can make performance much faster
    • Cool, quiet custom cooler with attractive futuristic design
    • 3 BIOS switches, option to switch BIOS profiles in software
    • 16GB memory capacity
    • Gets faster when paired with Ryzen 5000
    • Extra DisplayPort vs. reference design

    Cons

    • Very steep premium over reference MSRP
    • Similar out of box experience to much cheaper reference design
    • Need to switch BIOSes and turn on Trixx Boost for best experience
    • Ray tracing is faster on GeForce GPUs, can't play 4K ray traced
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