Sapphire Radeon RX Vega 64 Nitro+ Review

Sapphire took its time getting a home-grown Radeon RX Vega card to market, and that's not a bad thing. While some competitors sneakily seeded production validation test boards (the ones that precede mass production), Sapphire kept to itself and made sure the Radeon RX Vega 64 Nitro+ was running well. When you think back to the issues those leaked cards demonstrated, Sapphire did well to keep its efforts quiet until the right time.


Of course, the factory making these cards got plenty of experience with AMD's reference Radeon RX Vega 64 boards. Sapphire goes even further than AMD, though, serving up its own cooler and a bespoke PCB.

The combination of custom design and aftermarket heat sink combine to create an almost-1.6kg behemoth. Wisely, Sapphire bundles a bracket to keep a sagging card from tugging on your PCI Express slow.

Measuring 31cm long, 13cm tall, and 4.8cm deep, this is technically a 2.5-slot card that ties up three slots worth of expansion on your motherboard. Additionally, a plate tacked on to the back side ties up another 0.5cm, meaning you'll need to leave room behind the Radeon RX Vega 64 Nitro+, too.

Dropping this card into your first motherboard slot may consequently result in a tight fit. You'll want to be careful with its height too, since the 13cm measurement doesn't take into account another 3cm or so for cables that stick straight out from the top.

The Sapphire logo under the backplate features RGB lighting, meaning it can be color-coordinated or switched off altogether.

Of course, Sapphire includes the requisite software for blinging its board out. As you can see, the interface is fairly straightforward.

The fan shroud is made of black plastic. There are two transparent rings around the larger fans, which sandwich a smaller one in the middle. Without power, this looks a little strange. But that changes once the card roars to life and Sapphire's RGB lighting makes its presence known. By default, you're greeted by a bright blue hue.

Up top, the card is dominated by no fewer than three eight-pin auxiliary power connectors and a back-lit Sapphire logo. Again, the standard setting is bright blue. Choosing any other color requires Sapphire's software.

Similar to AMD's reference Vega 64 cards, Sapphire implements a switch that lets you choose between two BIOS versions. The secondary build facilitates significantly lower power consumption, making the card quieter, cooler, and inevitably slower. Combined with WattMan’s three modes, which are Turbo (maximum power limit), Balanced (default), and Power Saver (minimum power limit), you have access to six different clock rate combinations. For more on this, check out our AMD Radeon Vega RX 64 8GB Review.

Looking at Sapphire's Radeon RX Vega 64 Nitro+ from the side reveals vertically-oriented heat sink fins that are bent a bit above the GPU. This guides airflow a bit, and increases the surface area for cooling. The back end is all but closed due to those vertical fins.

At the other end, a slot bracket hosts two DisplayPort 1.4-ready outputs and two HDMI 2.0 connector. There is no DVI-I connectivity, leaving more room for ventilation. Unfortunately, the way Sapphire positioned its heat sink fins, there is no real flow out the back. Instead, heated air exhausts down, toward your motherboard, and up, back into your case.

Model Sapphire RX Vega 64 Nitro+
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Radeon RX Vega FE
GeForce GTX 1080
GPUVega 10 XTXVega 10 XTXVega 10 XTXGP104
Die Size
486 mm²486 mm²486 mm²314 mm² 
Transistors12.5 billion12.5 billion
12.5 billion7.2 billion
Base/Boost Clock Rate
1423/1630 MHz1247/1546 MHz
1138/1382 MHz
1607/1733 MHz
Texture Units/ROPs
Pixel Fill Rate
104.3 GPix/s
98.9 GPix/s
88.4 GPix/s
114.2 GPix/s
Texture Fill Rate
417.3 GTex/s
395.8 GTex/s
353.8 GTex/s
257.1 GTex/s
Memory Interface
Memory Type
Memory Bandwidth
484 GB/s484 GB/s484 GB/s320 GB/s
Memory Speed
1.89 Gb/s1.89 Gb/s
1.89 Gb/s10 Gb/s
Memory Size
DX12 Feature Level12_112_1
PCIe Power Connectors
(3)× 8-pin(2) 8-pin(2) 8-pin(1) 8-pin

Test System and Methodology

We introduced our new test system and methodology in How We Test Graphics Cards. If you'd like more detail about our general approach, check that piece out. We've upgraded the CPU and the cooling system since then to make sure that nothing's holding back graphics cards as fast as this one.

The hardware used in our lab includes:

Test Equipment and Environment
SystemIntel Core i7-6900K @ 4.3 GHz
MSI X99S XPower Gaming Titanium
Corsair Vengeance DDR4-3200
1x 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 (M.2, System SSD)
2x 960GB Toshiba OCZ TR150 (Storage, Images)
be quiet Dark Power Pro 11, 850W PSU
Windows 10 Pro (All Updates)
CoolingAlphacool Eisblock XPX
5x be quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM (Closed Case Simulation)
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut (Used when Switching Coolers)
PC CaseLian Li PC-T70 with Extension Kit and Mods
Configurations: Open Benchtable, Closed Case
MonitorEizo EV3237-BK
Power Consumption MeasurementContact-free DC Measurement at PCIe Slot (Using a Riser Card)
Contact-free DC Measurement at External Auxiliary Power Supply Cable
Direct Voltage Measurement at Power Supply
2 x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500 MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function
4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50 Current Probe (1mA - 30A, 100 kHz, DC)
4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355 (10:1 Probes, 500 MHz)
1 x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012 Digital Multimeter with Storage Function
Thermal Measurement1 x Optris PI640 80 Hz Infrared Camera + PI Connect
Real-Time Infrared Monitoring and Recording
Noise MeasurementNTI Audio M2211 (with Calibration File, Low Cut at 50Hz)
Steinberg UR12 (with Phantom Power for Microphones)
Creative X7, Smaart v.7
Custom-Made Proprietary Measurement Chamber, 3.5 x 1.8 x 2.2m (L x D x H)
Perpendicular to Center of Noise Source(s), Measurement Distance of 50cm
Noise Level in dB(A) (Slow), Real-time Frequency Analyzer (RTA)
Graphical Frequency Spectrum of Noise

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  • docswag
    What mosfets is sapphire using for VDDC
  • AgentLozen
    Even though Vega 64 is rough around the edges, I appreciate that you gave the Sapphire Nitro an Editor's Choice award for it's technical prowess.

    There is so much hardware out there with cut corners that it's nice to see something work so well.
  • FormatC
    What mosfets is sapphire using for VDDC
    Plase take a look at page Two. You will get the full info, pictures included. ;)

    I wrote on page Two:
    ...This so-called doubling is achieved through a total of seven IR3598s located on the back of the board. Voltage conversion for the 14 circuits is handled by one IRF6811 (on the high side) and one IRF6894 (on the low-side) for each circuit. The latter also include the necessary Schottky diode.
  • docswag
    482859 said:
    What mosfets is sapphire using for VDDC
    Plase take a look at page Two. You will get the full info, pictures included. ;) I wrote on page Two:
    ...This so-called doubling is achieved through a total of seven IR3598s located on the back of the board. Voltage conversion for the 14 circuits is handled by one IRF6811 (on the high side) and one IRF6894 (on the low-side) for each circuit. The latter also include the necessary Schottky diode.

    My bad, I must have skimmed over that part. Thanks!
  • Cryio
    So once the drivers will actually apply to 3rd party OEMs as well given the reference with slower clocks is sometimes faster, will basically make Vega64 universally and sometimes significantly faster than the 1080 and guaranteed substantially faster in DX12/Vulkan games.

    So ... with some underclocking and undervolting, this should perform on the level of the 1080 while being more future proof. Got it.

    Wonderful work AMD! Too bad miners skyrocketed the price.
  • Sakkura
    Is this ever going to be sold to people, though?

    And will there be a Vega 56 version?
  • Wisecracker
    Thanks for the bench work. Interesting boost in minimums in some titles considering struggles with 'optimizations'

    What's the verdict on the previously reported 'elevation difference' between the memory stacks and processor?
  • FormatC
    This is randomly the molded version. That means, no difference. :)

    Powercolor got unmolded and the result is well-known. But I also know from others, that Sapphire is using also both packages. The 3rd package version is Vega56 only.
  • Cryio
    While also being more efficient or as efficient as the 1080 I might add.
  • FormatC
    It depends at your preferences, what you need in your rig. Only the price is currently a big con. Too bad.
  • mahone7
    a gtx 1080 equivalent 16 months later
  • Martell1977
    Maybe I missed it, but did you OC the HBM2? I read a lot about how Vega tends to get a bigger boost from overclocking the HBM2 than from OC the core. Would like to see a comparison between this card at stock and with a nice HBM2 OC.
  • FormatC
    We wrote OC und UV reviews, this card is not different :)

    I saw the first Vega over one year ago in Sonoma. And I got my first PVT samples of a custom card in summer. AMD lost too much time for nothing. :(
  • techy1966
    482859 said:
    Sapphire’s engineers took their sweet time creating a graphics card that heats up the third-party Vega 64 market by staying cooler than the competition. We run its Radeon RX Vega 64 Nitro+ through our test suite. Sapphire Radeon RX Vega 64 Nitro+ Review : Read more

    Very nice review of Sapphires new card as always they just do it right without to many issues. I currently have Sapphires Tri-X 390x 8GB card and it performs like a champ and runs way cooler than other 390 series cards I have seen in reviews for them. If I was going to get a new video card right now and it was gonna be a new AMD card it would be one made by Sapphire for sure as I just really like their cooler design and how effective it is on hardware that is not known to play nice with most other coolers out their.
  • FormatC
    The Sapphire RX Vega Nitro+ is a good example to show, how to do cooling right.
  • TJ Hooker
    414569 said:
    While also being more efficient or as efficient as the 1080 I might add.

    How do you figure that? Sapphire Vega 64 looks to be maybe 15% faster on average than a 1080 FE, while using ~90% more power. That means the Sapphire Vega 64 performance per watt is only ~60% of a 1080's perf/watt. Do you really think you can increase the performance per watt of a Vega 64 by 50% through underclocking/volting?

    Edit: I forgot to take into account the fact that the sapphire card seems to be performing at less than it's full potential due to drivers. So it's perf/watt is probably going to end up a bit better at stock settings than I estimated here. Still doubt you can get it to match or exceed a 1080s perf/watt through tweaking.
  • Rock_n_Rolla
    Hoowaah! Finally.., a heaivly OC'd Vega 64 \ii/ kudos to Sapphire, actually they're one of ATi's long time partners way back when the company was still on its own (not yet bought by AMD), till now they still have exclusivity (aside from other long time ATi partners) on Radeon's top end GPU models to fiddle and tweak with.

    IMO, based on the benchies it really is freakin fast tho i dont have any idea what the percentage increase it will yield when AMD release a vendor specific driver for those heavily OC'd models like this one but based on the specs and benchies for sure it will perform much faster.
  • silverblue
    I was wondering if it was possible that AMD would release a Vega Nano, as downclocking Vega should put it back within a decent efficiency window (like with the Fury Nano), however this time around the competition from the 1070 and its mini ITX derivatives is too strong. Moving Vega to the next manufacturing node cannot come soon enough, but we can't blame the current node for everything.
  • rush21hit
    Good review. Good luck finding one of these, tho.

    Even the reference are elusive, if not at sky high price. Understandably, all thanks to its monstrous compute output. It's an AMD's tradition; an overly engineered gpu with dissapointing actual performance because of driver incompetence.
    Well, to AMD's defense, Gameworks titles run like crap on Nvidia's too. So there's that.
  • photonboy
    VEGA-64 at a cheaper price, lower power consumption (coming in 2018), better drivers, and more GAMES that properly utilize it would make a really great product.

    *However, NVidia will be coming out with a Volta product that adds in better ASync Compute etc so competition is going to heat up between quite similar GPU architectures in 2018.

    (Gamers Nexus did a review of the Titan V100 that has a Volta GPU in it. It also has tensor cores that don't get utilized for gaming but in his quick gaming tests it appears it has good ASync Compute as it managed to get up to 2x the FPS as a GTX1080 at a lower frequency... I won't bore you with the details but normally things don't scale CUDA vs FPS etc so it's a good SUGGESTION at the very least that gaming Volta for DX12/Vulkan especially is on track... probably other features in there too, and frankly I think AMD and NVidia GPU's are going to get incredibly CLOSE in architecture especially considering that the PS4, XBOX ONE and likely PS5 etc will be based on a GCN architecture so I think we'll just fine-tune that)