Sapphire Nitro+ RX 5700 XT Review: Triple-Fan Cooling, Fast Clocks out of the Box

Sapphire's tri-fan Navi XT card is colorful, quiet, and speedy. But it's also pricier than most of its competition.

(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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Reaching 60 fps or more at 2560 x 1440 is a feat that many mid-range cards accomplish, including the reference Radeon RX 5700 XT. Board partner cards that include a factory overclock tend to yield a few more fps over the reference clocked GPUs and will continue to produce frames near that magic 60 FPS threshold or higher. Depending on the title, frame rates range from about 56 FPS (Final Fantasy XV, the GPU crusher), to nearly 130 fps when using Ultra/Very High Settings. If a card is 60+ fps capable at this resolution, it is high refresh rate capable at 1080p.

In our test group, all the cards fell nicely into their performance brackets with the RTX 2060 Super (Gigabyte Gaming OC version) running a few fps slower than our 5700 XT’s in this comparison. The RTX 2070 Super is a few to several percent faster than the RX 5700 XT in all titles not named Far Cry 5 and Metro: Exodus. 

Our Nitro+ sample generally outpaced the Gigabyte RX 5700 XT and, at worst, it matched performance. With a 75 MHz clock speed advantage, the titles that rely more on the GPU show a greater a gap than some of the others. In all, the Nitro+ performed as expected.

The Division 2

Strange Brigade

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Metro Exodus

Grand Theft Auto V

Forza Horizon 4

Final Fantasy XV

Far Cry 5

Battlefield V

The Witcher 3

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table

MORE: All Graphics Content

Joe Shields
Motherboard Reviewer

Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.

  • HideOut
    They specs chart shows the same memory bandwidth as the stocker but with the factory OC it should be higher, much like the TFlops calculation. Sounds like a nice card, but paying a huge premium for what, 3-5% more speed? Doesn't sound like a great buy though.
  • King_V
    Well, you're paying for more than just the extra speed - also for a very well engineered, quiet cooling solution, as well as better regulation, etc.

    Though, I do have to agree - I like quiet, and will pay extra for it, but I'm not sure I'd pay that much of premium for it. I might, but then it was mentioned that the Power Color variant has a good cooler and a bit lower of a price.

    A nice card, but, not sure it justifies the premium.
  • Loadedaxe
    Once you pass this price point there is no need to go AMD. Might as well get a 2070

    I have been waiting for the custom aibs for the 5700, and minus the PC Red Devil, I am completely disappointed. However, I wont buy a Power Color, I have been burnt by them twice.

    Lets see what the MSI Gaming X looks like when it lands price wise. I may just jump ship this round.
  • King_V
    Loadedaxe said:
    Once you pass this price point there is no need to go AMD. Might as well get a 2070

    The 2070 non-super generally performs less than the 5700XT, so why, if the prices were about the same, would anyone choose the lesser performing card?
  • waltc3
    My Built-by-AMD 50th Ann 5700XT sports significantly higher boost clocks, and costs $20 less....I have zero problems with it.
  • Loadedaxe
    King_V said:
    The 2070 non-super generally performs less than the 5700XT, so why, if the prices were about the same, would anyone choose the lesser performing card?
    I was referring to the super. Its $40 more.
  • King_V
    Gotcha. Not sure I'd go to the 2070 Super over the Sapphire, not enough performance gain to justify the $499 price of entry.

    Then again, I'm thinking the premium for the Nitro+ is also probably more than I'd be willing to pay for it. I'm 2 for 2 on PowerColor success, though, so that brand wouldn't make me hesitant.

    Come to think of it, I haven't ever having a new video card I've bought fail on me. Used ones, either, with only 3 exceptions - two dead when I got them (both Nvidia), and one that worked, but had slightly blurry output (back when CRTs and VGA output was still fairly common), also Nvidia. Still, given the number of used cards I'd come across, and the "who knows what the heck the previous owner did" state of the ones that did fail, I'm confident in all video cards in general.
  • Regulus Star*
    In the last few days we have now started to see prices fall at a few retailers with the lowest price I've seen being £429.99 these new lower prices should start to tip the scales even more when comparing against alternative brands & architecture. And not to mention the price to performance ratio.
  • Big Nish
    I purchased this card to replace my reference 5700XT and, while it is a good card in many respects, it suffers from the same technical flaw as my original Sapphire RX480 Nitro+. The heat sink is simply not large enough to passively maintain a fixed low GPU temp under desktop conditions, which makes the fans come on periodically. Under desktop conditions the GPU temps steadily climbs up to 59degC and then the fans come on until the temp drops down to 49degC at which point the fans stop. Then the cycle constantly repeats: the GPU temp steadily climbs back up to 59degC and the fans come back on and then off once it reaches 49degC again. As mentioned this is just using desktop applications such as Word/Outlook or browsing etc which, according to Sapphire's claim, should see no fans coming on. The time it takes between fan off to fan on is approx. every 3.5 minutes. This fan on/off cycling is really annoying - its actually more annoying than the constant low level fan noise of eh reference card - and makes Sapphire's the 'fan stop at idle' claim misleading. Please note that I am currently using the card's quiet BIOS and have an HP 1440p monitor with a fixed 75Hz refresh rate. I have also tried lowering my monitor to a 60Hz refresh, but the card exhibits the same fan on/off cycling. GRRRR. My Sapphire VEGA 64 Nitro+ was able to stay cool enough under all desktop conditions that the fans never came on. I think Sapphire should have used the exact same heat sink for the RX 5700 XT. Unfortunately, this fan cycling in the desktop has spoilt my enjoyment of this card quite a bit.