Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX Vega 56 8GB Review: It's Time to Challenge Turing

Temperatures, Clock Rates and Fan Speeds

Gaming

Sapphire’s thermal solution is massive. As a result, the Nitro+ RX Vega 56’s fans can sit idle for a few seconds before AMD’s Vega 10 GPU requires active cooling. At that point, they spin up quickly, peaking at about 1,450 RPM before slowing back down. By the end of our benchmark, the fans only spin at around 1,050 RPM. In comparison, the reference Radeon RX Vega 56 settles at ~2,100 RPM after similarly spiking and cooling off.

Both GeForce cards ramp up more gracefully and stabilize at fan speeds below AMD’s reference Radeon RX Vega 56. Even they top out well beyond Sapphire’s Nitro+ RX Vega 56, though.

The Sapphire card’s temperature rises quickly in passive mode but slows its ascent once the fans kick on. By the end of our Metro: Last Light benchmark sequence, AMD’s Vega 10 GPU hovers right around 70°C. That’s lower than any other card in our comparison.

Sapphire must dial in a higher voltage than AMD’s reference Radeon RX 56 to maintain its clock rate advantage through our real-world gaming benchmark. As our fan speed and temperature testing shows, though, it can afford to do so. Despite more aggressive settings, the Nitro+ RX Vega 56 8G runs cooler and quieter.

FurMark

The Nitro+ RX Vega 56 8G’s semi-passive mode doesn’t last as long, its top fan speed peaks above 1,500 RPM, and its eventual steady state is higher under FurMark than Metro: Last Light. However, Sapphire’s card still fares far better than its competition in this comparison thanks to a huge cooler.

Vega 10’s temperature starts hotter, then levels off faster under FurMark than in our gaming scenario. But in both cases, the GPU on Sapphire’s Nitro+ RX Vega 56 8G tops out around 70°C, which is cooler than the other three cards.

Again, the Nitro+ establishes a slight frequency advantage over AMD’s reference Radeon RX Vega 56 through a notably higher voltage setting. Thus, for its modest performance boost, the Sapphire card consumes quite a bit more power.

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12 comments
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  • MrN1ce9uy
    Sapphire's RX Vega 56 & 64 Nitro+ is my personal favorite all-time AIB partner design. Particularly, the Limited Edition with the vapor chamber. I'm glad this article made the distinction (y) Even the standard edition is one of my favorites.
  • lmille16
    Can we color code the target card for future reviews? Tends to get lost on the chart.
  • ElectrO_90
    Quote:
    Can we color code the target card for future reviews? Tends to get lost on the chart.

    Agree always a pain trying to read them tables for the one they are actually reviewing, as it doesn't stand out. Do as all the others do and what you used to do - makes it easier for everyone involved apart from your graphics artist who has to change the colour
  • King_V
    I have to say, given that it's the non-vapor-chamber version, the cooler is impressive - particularly with how low the temperatures stay with such a low fan RPM.

    Then again, the article used superlatives such as massive, and brutally effective, and that pretty much is my feeling on it.

    In a perfect world, I'd like to see this with the fins oriented so that the rear vents could actually be useful, allowing some of the hot air to be expelled out of the case.

    This isn't the card for me, were I looking to upgrade my son's PC - as I'd need to upgrade his PSU. At 2560x1080, I think running at the lower clocks, for a better performance/watt, as was mentioned in the analysis of the Vega 56 back when the first review was done, would be what I'd go for, and take advantage of things being uber-quiet.

    Eh, basically, I wouldn't need the overclocking - but I'd love a model that was price-effective, and had such an amazing cooler. Major kudos to Sapphire on the cooling front.
  • Yuka
    I have the Vega64 version of this one, but not the one with the third 8pin connector... It can definitely use it, TBH, as it's one power hog of a card and incredibly silent nonetheless!

    And I think AMD still has a lot of issues with the Wattman thingy as it keeps crashing on me to the point where I just stopped bothering and just used the TRIXX fan profile and that's it.

    Cheers!
  • MrN1ce9uy
    I never liked Wattman. It did the opposite of what I wanted it to do more often than not.
  • Saieden
    Why are there no charts with undervolt and increased power limits? Surely you know by that the Vega cards push their clocks higher so long as they're within their thermal and power envelopes. You basically neglected the entire point of buying a non-reference Vega.
  • King_V
    Not specific to this card, but I do have to say that, for the tradeoff of much worse power/performance, and the fall of some Vega 56 models down to the $299 price level, Nvidia, through their pricing for their 1660Ti and 2060, has somehow managed to make the Vega 56 a contender in the price/performance arena.

    Granted, Vega 56's prices fell as a result of the release of the new Nvidia cards - but it seems to me that Nvidia's pricing model has made the Vega 56 viable. That strikes me as a hilarious bit of irony.
  • MrN1ce9uy
    Even AMD's RX 590 pricing makes the RX Vega 56 a better choice. The only thing is RX Vega pricing is not consistent.

    I really wish I needed a GPU right now. I would buy this one (or two):

    Video Card: Sapphire - Radeon RX VEGA 64 8 GB NITRO+ Video Card ($399.99 @ Newegg)
  • Yuka
    I think I got mine for £400, which is basically that price for the UK (including VAT). It was a killer deal and right on time when I got a WQHD 32" 144Hz beauty.

    Cheers!
  • zodiacfml
    Good point. I wonder why it consumes so much power without changes in clock speeds?
    The Pulse version is pretty substantial enough in terms of cooler design. I also like the shorter PCB design where the cooler extends past the card.
    Anyways, good job THG for this review of an old card. It has been a while the last time I went here as tech news is pretty slow especially today

    Quote:
    Why are there no charts with undervolt and increased power limits? Surely you know by that the Vega cards push their clocks higher so long as they're within their thermal and power envelopes. You basically neglected the entire point of buying a non-reference Vega.
  • King_V
    Quote:
    Even AMD's RX 590 pricing makes the RX Vega 56 a better choice. The only thing is RX Vega pricing is not consistent. I really wish I needed a GPU right now. I would buy this one (or two): Video Card: Sapphire - Radeon RX VEGA 64 8 GB NITRO+ Video Card ($399.99 @ Newegg)


    That's not a bad price for the Nitro+ Vega 64 at all! I almost wish I were in the market now. That said, I think that TDP specification is wrong - the Vega 64 isn't only 240W, is it?

    The 590 has at least come down to a little below the GTX 1660, but I don't think that it's cheap enough given its performance relative to the 1660. The PowerColor Red Dragon version of the 590 is currently $199.99.