Features & Overview
The “Nitro” moniker indicates that Sapphire is doing something different with this card's cooling solution. At first glance, everything looks consistent with the new generation of Nitro-branded cards.
Let’s first turn the card all the way around and take a look at its backplate. It’s a sight to see: Sapphire forgoes any and all openings and vents, but noticeably indents certain areas of the plate above the voltage converters. You'll need to remove it if you want to know what's behind those sections.
With the plate set aside, we’re greeted by a sight for sore eyes: there are finally thermal pads between the backplate and the sections of PCB where the voltage regulation circuitry's pins exit. If and how this makes a difference in cooling performance remains to be seen.
The two 10cm fans are made by Apistek. They max out at 2500 RPM, and under a full load, we measure six watts of overall power consumption between them.
Fortunately, Sapphire uses a massive copper heat sink and forgoes the cut-down heat pipes (DHT) and aluminum body. The efficient sink dissipates thermal energy evenly through the four 6mm heat pipes, which take it to the horizontally-oriented cooling fins.
The voltage converters and memory modules don't make contact with the heat sink, but are linked directly to the cooler’s body with the help of surfaces specifically designed for this purpose and thermal pads.
On the other side of the PCA, we find the five-phase VRM on the left. This needs to provide up to 250W during our stress test. In stark contrast, the phase for the memory (at the right-bottom) runs mostly idle with its maximum 5W.
By the way, Sapphire utilizes much better coils than its corporate parent PC Partner uses on the Radeon Fury X and Nano. Overall, the voltage conversion design is excellent.
The heat pipes can be seen on the bottom. Their positioning allows the graphics card to stay relatively flat and its height isn’t increased unnecessarily.
On the top, the only interesting features are the dual six-pin PCIe power connectors. The board is recessed right next to them, which gives away that these connectors are turned by 180 degrees. This should come in handy when installing the card, and it'll give the cooler some additional space to boot.
Last but not least is the back of the card. Sapphire does manage to avoid blowing waste heat directly onto the motherboard by implementing horizontally-oriented cooling fins. That also means some hot air can exit the case through openings in the back, next to the connectors (though much of it recirculates into your chassis, which we don't care for).
The second DVI port could (and should) have been a DisplayPort connector instead. You do get one full-sized DP interface though, along with HDMI 1.2a output.