Sapphire doesn’t do much on the software side. Instead, it encourages control using AMD’s Radeon Settings and the WattMan pane. We’ve had mixed success with WattMan over the years, though steady improvements have made the built-in utility more functional and user-friendly.
As with the reference Radeon RX Vega cards we looked at back in 2017, Sapphire’s Nitro+ card features two UEFIs, selectable through a switch on the top edge, and a trio of performance/watt profiles applicable to each. All the benchmark results we generated for our benchmark charts were collected using the default BIOS’ Balanced profile. However, we also wanted to compare the influence of each firmware on power and performance.
Right out of the box, Sapphire’s Nitro+ card is set to operate aggressively (as it should, given copious cooling and a pleasantly quiet fan profile). We recorded an average power consumption of 286.0W through three runs of Metro: Last Light at 2560 x 1440 using demanding settings and SSAA. We also observed an average clock rate of 1,357 MHz. Clearly, the “up to 1,550 MHz Boost” specification is more than just a little ambitious, even for a real-world workload.
Flipping the UEFI switch forward engages the more “efficient” secondary mode. Average power consumption through the same benchmark dropped to 277.4W (about 9W less), while the average frequency fell to 1,337 MHz (a 20 MHz reduction).
The one piece of software that Sapphire does make available for download is its TriXX NITRO Glow utility, which controls the card’s LED lighting. With it, you can specify a static blue motif, a slowly cycling rainbow, colors that change based on PCB temperature, colors that change based on fan speed, or a custom color of your choosing. We also like that brightness can be dialed down to 75% or 50% if you’d prefer a subtler effect.
As of this writing, Sapphire’s Nitro+ RX Vega 56 doesn’t appear on Newegg. However, if another Radeon RX Vega 56 catches your eye, AMD is giving away Division 2 Gold Edition and World War Z for a limited time to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
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