Sapphire NITRO+ Radeon RX Vega64 8GB HBM2 Limited Edition Review

Intro

As a gamer, I want the latest and the greatest to fuel my PC and to outpace the other guy, for that competitive edge.  The next gen video card comes out, and we all want it but its best to know what you are getting.  I plan on helping you today with that, today I am reviewing the Sapphire NITRO+ Radeon RX Vega64 8GB HMB2 Limited Edition Video card.

This currently is the ultimate video card in Sapphire’s arsenal, so ultimate that this is a Limited-Edition card.  What makes it so Ultimate, let’s check out the specifications and features.

Specifications and Features

  • Engine Clock: 1423Mhz
    • Boost Engine Clock: 1611
  • 8GB GDDR5 2048-bit Memory Bus
    • 945Mhz
      • 1.9Gbps Effective Memory Frequency
  • stream Processors: 4096
  • 4 Output Maximum
    • 2 x HDMI 2.0b
    • 2 x Display Port 1.4
  • Resolutions Supported
    • HDMI 2.0b
      • 4096 x 2160 (60Hz)
    • Display Port
      • 5120 x 2880 (60Hz)
  • Supported API’s:
    • OpenGL 4.5
    • OpenCL 2.0
    • DirectX 12
    • Shader Model 5.0
    • Vulkan API
  • Supported Features
    • FreeSync Technology
    • AMD Eyefinity
    • AMD Xconnect Ready
    • Dual BIOS
    • AMD Liquid VR Technology
    • NITRO Fan Check
    • NITRO Quick Connect System
    • NITRO Glow RGB LED
    • NITRO CoolTech(NCT)
    • Turbine-X
    • Fuse Protection
    • Precision Fan Control
    • DirectX 12 Optimized
    • HDR Ready
    • Frame Rate Target Control
    • Intelligent Fan Control III
    • Radeon Chill
    • Radeon Relive
    • Power Consumption: 65Watts
    • System Requirements
      • 850-Watt Power Supply (Suggested)
      • Windows 10, 8.1, 8 or 7
    • Form Factor
  • Length: 12.20in
  • Width: 5.24in
  • Depth: 2.13in

Lot of stuff there, but before we go on, let’s check out an unboxing

Leaving the card for last, I will start with the other pieces in the box.

Included is a Quick Installation Guide, which might be useful, but a little later I show you how to install it into your system.

This little document states who made the card and their representative in Germany.

This document shows you how to install the Support bracket for the video card. Sapphire includes a graphics card support bracket with this card, a great addition.  I also go over how to install this in the video later in this review.

Here is the bracket that is included.

These are the screws that allow the bracket to be installed on the PCI slots to hold the card up.

The card has a very unique feature that allows you to connect standard 4 pin PWM fans to the card to add additional cooling over the card.  We will go over this a bit later in the review.

Now we have the card itself, it’s a big card.  Let’s take a closer look at this card on the next page.

This beautiful card measures 12.20 inches in length and is 2.13 inches deep, so it takes up 2 and 1/2  PCI slots.  The fan housing is a little thick.

The card comes loaded with 2 x Display Port and 2 x HDMI 2.0b ports.  The Display port supports resolutions up to 5120 x 2880 at 60Hz and HDMI resolutions of 4096 x 2160 at 60Hz.

Turning the card a bit, here we see the side of the card, and actually a few pieces are hidden until the card is actually installed into the machine and the system powered on.  Let’s take a closer look at a few features here on the side of the card.

On the far-left side of the card, we find 2 interesting things.  First, we find the 4-PIN connection that is part of Sapphires Turbine—X system fan control.  This technology allows you to connect a two external PWM case fans having the card itself utilizing the dedicated hardware controller to intelligently adjust the speed of the connected fan.  There is another along the rear of the card, but we will go over that shortly.

Next to the Turbine-X connection, we find the switch for dual BIOS’.  You can select between the 2, and actually during this review we utilize it.  Switching the selector, the left, allows you to utilize the base clock speeds while the right, allows you to unlock more of the voltages for ultimate overclocking.

Passing the tons of heatsink fins and tubing in between the left end of the card to the right, we can see this card requires 3 x 8-Pin PCI-e connections.  The specifications of the card mention that an 850-Watt power supply is recommended.  We will see a little later on in the review how many watts we consume during the benchmarks but if they say 850, it’s probably a good idea to have 850.

On the rear of the card, we find some nice shroud designs, the open portion exposing the heatsink fins and the ends of the tubing, but there is another hidden feature here.

Zooming up some, we find the other of 2 Turbine-X connections for external PWM Fans.

Not sure how much those external fans will be needed though, since this card has 3 fans cooling the GPU, VRM’s and RAM.  Unlike previous AMD cards, AMD has introduced what they call Radeon Chill On.

Radeon Chill On is designed to lower temperatures, save power and lower overall system noise.  When the GPU is very lightly being utilized, the fans on the card slow down even stop.

The picture above shows the card with the GPU fans in the off position while I am writing this article and aside from the other fans in this system, there is very little noise emitting from my PC.  Once you start up a game, a long video or start computing the fans will rev up, but only as needed.  The picture also shows some of its RGB LED Shroud Backlighting, yeah, it’s RGB lit as well but you don’t need to light it if you don’t want to.  We will go over this a little later in more detail.

Not much to talk about here, though keeping up with the rest of the card, it is a bit sexy looking.  Some lighting effects here as well, but again, a little later on.

OK, before we can get into the LED lighting and the performance of this card, it has to be installed into a system.  In this next chapter we I will show you how to install this card, if you don’t know how and also go over installing the GPU Support bracket.

Some might choose to skip this section but not everyone knows how to install a video card, I hope to help you if you don’t.  Though even if you know how to install video card, maybe this video will help you to install the GPU Support bracket.

Is somewhat what it will look like once installed.

Now that everything is installed, you will need to installed the video drivers, of which you can obtain at amd.com, but you will more than likely need to uninstall your current drivers.  You can do this before you update the card or afterwards, though its preferred to do it before.

To remove the drivers, I would recommend using a utility called DDU, short for Display Driver uninstaller.  You can download DDU from https://www.wagnardsoft.com/.

Once you download DDU, you will want to extract it and then run it from the Extracted directory.

When you start it up, on the drop down “Launch Option” menu, select “Safe Mode (Recommended) then click “Reboot to Safe Mode”.

After rebooting, you will select the card manufacturer that was previously in your system in the drop-down box on the right.  For example, if you had an NVIDIA card or integrated Intel HD Graphics, you would select that.  Then on the left, you would want to select “Clean and restart (Highly Recommended) and then follow the prompts.

This will uninstall everything AMD, NVIDIA or Intel Graphics related for you, in one click taking only seconds.  Prior to DDU you would have had to one by one uninstall all instances of that GPU manufacturer with a few reboots in between.  This utility will not uninstall 3rd party utilities like MSI Overburn, EVGA PrecisionX and the likes, you will need to manually uninstall those.

Afterwards, you just install that video driver you just downloaded from AMD and get started playing.  Surely you are interested in the performance of this card, and I will show you how it performs in games as well as benchmarks, perhaps some comparison as well.

A short chapter I know, but in this next chapter we will go over benchmarks, Performance, Temperatures and Power consumption.

Before we get into the benchmarks, you have to know what I am running maybe if anything to help you compare with your own machine.

Here are the clocks and specifications of the Sapphire NITRO+ Radeon RX Vega64 8GB HBM2 Limited Edition as reported by TechPowerUp’s GPU-Z.

The driver I used in this review for testing was AMD’s Adrenalin 18.2.3, a Beta driver.  I usually go with the latest and greatest WHQL or Beta driver.

For benchmarking, we will of course see the performance the video card provides, but we will also check the temperatures as well as the power consumption.  In the tests I report on minimum, average and max power usage using the “Kill A Watt” by “P3 International”.

I have changed up some of the games and programs I have used with more demanding titles, here is the list of games and programs used for benchmarking.

This scored very nicely, and over all scored 93% better than all other results.

Breaking it down a bit, we can see the complete score was 18,049 while the Graphics score was 22,779, Graphics test 1 was 111.17 FPS, and test 2 was 89.30 FPS.  The overall Physics score was 14,035 and the test was 44.56 FPS.  Finally, the combined score was 8,482 with a combined test score of 39.45.

GPU-Z reports 2 separate temperatures for the GPU, namely GPU Temperature and GPU Temperature (Hot Spot), the hot spot is the hottest of the 2, so I will report its findings as it is a sensor inside of the GPU Silicon.  During these tests, the hottest the GPU pumped itself up to was 70°C with GPU itself drawing 264Watts while the entire system drew a max of 428Watts an average of 348Watts and at its lowest with 3DMark running 69.5Watts.

Coming over to DX12, still on 3DMark, we will check out the performance on Time Spy.

The results here, 80% better than all other results, that’s not bad at all.  Now don’t get dismayed, the results captured on 3DMark and Time Spy do not take into account if the system and/or GPU’s are overclocked, so only take it as a reference point and maybe throw in some of your own magic into it.  I will do a little of that for you, so stay tuned and I will also provide the overclocks I applied and how it performed as well as some comparisons.

The Time Spy score was 6,868 while Graphics score was 7,184, Graphics test 1 was 49.72 FPS and test 2 was 39.18 FPS.  The CPU score was 5,498 and the CPU test was 18.47 FPS. On Time Spy, we hit a max of 69°C with the GPU itself taking up 266Watts far less than 3DMark consumed.  Here the total system consumed a max of 407Watts, on average ate up 383Watts and the minimum she took was 97.6Watts.

Getting away from synthetic benchmarks, which are still good to gauge performance we are going to check out how this card performs in games.  I changed up the line up a bit this time, to have a few more current games, but still some of the older games that tax cards.  Check out my list.

Through these benchmarks, I keep the settings the same, changing only the resolutions.  Here are the presets I used.

Here are the results from all 3 presets below at 1920 x 1080, 2560 x 1440 and 3840 x 2160.

At 3840 x 2160, Metro did its duty, even with SSAA disabled and brought down the performance of the card.  On average, the card provided 32.6 Frames per second while consuming an average of 162 Watts heating the card up to 71°C.  From 4K to 1440P, there was a frame rate increase of 58.81% at 59.76 FPS, very playable though the temps did bump up slightly 6.8% though the average power consumption dropped 24.22% to 127 Watts.  The trend continuing, from 1440P to 1080P there was an increase of 29.32% in frames per second, a 1.32% decrease in temperature and another decrease in average power consumption of 2.39% at 124 Watts on average.

So far, this is a pretty decent introduction into the card, the numbers look manageable.  4K might be able to be saved turning off some of that eye candy, but you don’t lose too much at 1440P and you get to keep all of the candy, so for me 2K is where it’s at so far.  We need to make sure these results are not lost, but if they were, Laura would come in and find them for us.  With that, let’s see what kind of performance we get out of Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Here are the settings I used, again only changing resolutions keeping the presets at Very High.

 

This one a little more difficult to provide results without drawing it out some, so I will only work on the “Overall Score”, since it encapsulates all results.  I do provide the other results so that you can compare with your own.

At 3840 x 2160 we receive 47.65 frames per second drawing only 387 Watts on average heating up to 71°C.  At 2560 x 1440, our performance increases by 60.77% at 89.25 FPS and with that the average draw is 393 Watts, only a 1.54% increase and thankfully the temperature dropped by 1°C.  1080P again increases performance by 36.26% coming in at 128.78 frames per second at 75°C at 404 Watts on average, an increase of 2.76% over the previous wattage results.

As of right now, it looks like 4K with the eye candy is out of the picture, but maybe results later in this review will change things.

Laura has gotten deep in the trenches recovering the results but might need some help getting out.  I think Tom Clancy’s crew over at Ghost Recon Wildlands might be able to help out.

This one I do have to apologize on, now after performing all of the tests, I come to find I had benchmarked everything at high in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands and being that I unfortunately have to return the card, I cannot retest everything.  I won’t let the cat out of the bag just yet, but there has been a lot of testing in this review.  If things change on that mater of having to return the card, I will update all results.

Keeping with those settings, here are the results.

At 3840 x 2160, it seems to not pop up here to that magical 60FPS, and this is not even on very high.  Here we can see it hit a peak of 79°C at an average of 406 Watts.  At 2560 x 1440, it performed 52.41% better scoring 78.31 frames per second at 75°C with an average wattage of 417, that’s 2.67% higher than at 4K.  At 1080P, it hit 101.23 FPS at a temperature of 75°C with an average power draw of 397Watts, 4.91% lower than at 2K and 2.24% lower than at 4K UHD.

Up next, all hell has broken lose in New York after Laura returns the relic and it’s up to the team on The Division to bring some semblance of peace back to the city.

Here are the settings at which on which I benchmarked.

The story here seems to hold true with the other results, 4K seems to be a little too much.  Here at 4K, we can see the average FPS was 47.3 with the temperature peaking at 76°C and the average wattage at 408.  At 2560 x 1440, we can see the average was 56.12% higher at 84.8 FPS with the average wattage and temperature dropping 1°/Watt.  At 1920 x 1080, the performance increased by 29.73% at 113.6 frames per second while the temperature rose another degree and the average wattage dropped 2 Watts.

With all these tests performed, 4K still could not keep up and 2K was just above the sweet spot but 4K is not looking that great on the RX Vega right now, would you consider that a bad thing?

All of these results might not give you much to go off of, unless you had this card already but I want to give you a treat, well really 2 treats, but before I go there, I want to show you a little gameplay.

Review is great and all, but a video card is meant to play some games, at least that’s one of its functions.  I need some game time, so here I show you some of the performance in games.  The games I will use to show you some performance is Players Unknowns Battlegrounds, Grand Theft Auto V,   Fortnite and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.

Not bad at all, we can see in the game we get at 2560 x 1440 anywhere in the upper 50’s and 60’s.

Here also we can see at 2560 x 1440 we are seeing the upper 50’s and 60’s.  This cards sweet spot seems to be 2560 x 1440 with all the eye candy turned on.

  • Fortnite

This game plays great on this card, I was sure it would but I wanted to make sure, that was my first time playing.  Lets check out another first, Tim Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.

OK, now on to the treat, let’s see how this card performs with an overclock.  We will now find out in this next chapter, Overclocking Performance, Benchmarks, Temperatures and Power Consumption.

You always want to get more than your payed for, so that is what this section is for, squeezing that little extra performance.

Overclocking is not easy and what works for me, may not for you and visa versa but it’s always good to have a point of reference.  These overclocks are by far not the best or furthest you can push the card but it’s what I could do in the time I had with this card.

To start with, let’s compare the readings in GPU-Z of the stock settings and the overclock settings.

Above, I took the liberty of outlining in red the changes the overclock has changed.  With the overclock, we increased the GPU clock by 61Mhz and the Memory by 140Mhz.  Doing this we increased the bandwidth by 57.9 GigaBytes, Texture Fillrate by 15.6 Gigatexels and the Pixel Fillrate by 3.9 GigaPixels.

Aside from raising the GPU and Memory speeds, we also raised the fan speed and power limit if the card.  Normally on a Sapphire card, I would have used TRIXX but it seems like they do not have a version of TRIXX for the VEGA64, so I had to look towards MSI for their Afterburner.  Here are the settings I used.

It took me a while to get to this point with the overclock, higher that that I would have had to unlock the core voltage and spend a few more hours or days on this.  Again, this is to give you an idea of how the overclocking is done and how it performs with a little push, surely you can push it more than I did.

So let’ start this off with 3DMark.

With the overclock, we can see the complete score was 18,982 while the Graphics score was 26,613, Graphics test 1 was 121.01 FPS, and test 2 was 95.92 FPS.  The overall Physics score was 14,061 and the test was 44.64 FPS.  Finally, the combined score was 8,666 with a combined test score of 40.31.

So let’s compare the stock and the overclock settings to see how much the settings affected the outcome.

The 2 most notable bars here between the 2 are the Graphics Score and the 3DMark overall score.  In the overclock bench, we can see the overclocked coming at 7.74% and 1,834 points higher than the stock speeds.  On the Graphics score, we can see the overclock came in 5.04% and 933 points higher than the stock speeds.  All of the results here came up ahead though the rest maybe not as notable.

This bump in performance also brought up the results in 3DMarks online performance index from 93% better than all the rest to 95% better, that’s pretty nice.

With an overclock though, higher wattage and temperatures are expected and we were not let down.  The overclocked temperature was 5° over stock and while the max wattage consumed 12.94% more power than stock, the average power drain was actually lower than the stock card.  A bit suprising the average was slightly lower but a welcome surprise that the temperature was only 5° higher, Sapphire did a great job introducing 3 fans instead of 2.

One might think that adding the 3rd fan would me more noise, but AMD introducing Radeon Chill and Sapphire design help to keep the card cool and quiet and when a game is not being played, the fans actually stop, making this card 100% quiet.

So, let’s check out Time Spy, to see what sort of improvement we see there.

Just like in the previous test sadly, it is still 80% better than all the other results.  I mean, it still is good where it is, but we all like it to be as best as it can be.

Ok, in these results we can see the overall Time Spy result was 7,299, Graphics score was 7,756, Graphics test 1 was 53.51 FPS and Graphics test 2 was 42.41.  Along with the graphics results, the CPU score was 5,475 and the CPU test was 18.40 FPS.

Now let’s see how the two compares.

Things heat up here, literally.  On the overclock, on the Graphics score, the overclock performed 7.67% better than the stock card, a decent increase.  On the Graphic Test 1 and 2, we also see a 7.92% and 7.34% increase in performance respectfully.  The overall Time Spy score increased by 6.08%.  Now, the CPU tests tell a different story that might confuse you.  Since we have improved the performance on the GPU, the necessity to depend on the CPU decreases ever so slightly.

With this increase in performance, we also have an increase in wattage used and heat generated.  The heat generated was partially my fault though, I set the fan speed to low so that it would not generate too much noise, not that it matters to me because I have my headphones on.  At stock, the hottest the GPU reached was 69°C and the overclocked reach 82°C though both only for a second or 2.

During these times of greater heat, the power increases as well because it is using more of the GPU and resources all together.  On average during these tests the stock card only hit 383Watts while the overclock hit 460Watts, an increase of 18.27%.  Even though we are not going by maximums here, I do want to mention that at one point the system did hit 533Watts.

Each of the game benchmarks will be broken down into resolutions.

Let’s move on to Metro.

1920 x 1080

Ouch, it looks like the overclock actually performed lower, though I can see that the clocks were all correct while it was benchmarking and the temperatures did not cause any throttling.  The stock actually performed 0.08% better than the overclock, though the overclock consumed on average 10.69% more wattage.  The max wattage on the overclock peaked at 519 Watts, 20.15% higher than the peak wattage on the stock.  The saving grace here is that the overclock was 1°C lower.  Let’s see what 2560 x 1440 does.

2560 x 1440

Things are making a little more sense now.  Here we can see on average the overclock performed 6.62% better and on average consumed 17.27% more power than the stock card.  The temperature did increase by 6.37% though, but it could have easily been adjusted the fans a little higher.  Not sure what happened on the 1920 x 1080 results, but things look a little better on here, making 2K much more playable.

Now let’s check out 3840 x 2160.

3840 x 2160

A 4K, there is a slight bump in performance by 17.70%, an increase on the overclock.  There was a huge increase on performance on the max frame rate by 64.77% but you can’t judge perfomance by a spike.  On this, the average wattage consumed on the overclock was 11.63% higher than the stock consumption and 13.16% higher in temperature.

During this overclock, 2560 x 1440 became much more playable but oddly enough performance dropped at 1920 x 1080, though the performance was still very playable.  There was no saving 3840 x 2160 though.  Hopefully Laura can help save this.

1920 x 1080

On the overall score, we find that the overclock performed 1.34% higher than the stock speeds.   Across the board we can see there was an improvement, though a minuscule one.  With that increase, even though small the average power consumption increased by 10.99% and temperature increased as well by 8.92%.  Seeing as Metro’s performance decreased at this resolution, it is a welcomed surprise to see that performance increased, but now what will the next test reveal?

2560 x 1440

Alright, a little better here, we can see that the overclock performed 3.12% better than the stock card.  With that, the temperature did increase by 10.81% coming in a 78°C and Laura demands some power with the average consumption coming in at 18.27% above stock.  While both were very playable, extra performance is always welcome.  Let’s see what 384- x 2160 provides.

3840 x 2160

At 4K, things are a bit better, but not where you would want them.  Overall performance was increased by 4.69% and with that the average wattage was also raised 15.27% watts.  The temperature only increased by 8.11%, a tiny 6° and while the power draw was increased, the fans took care of their jobs very well.

Performance overall at 4K was increased but still left about 11 frames per second before the magic number would be reach.  Do you think this is all due to drivers, could drivers get you that extra fps to make 4K 100% playable?

While I let you ponder on this, let’s check out Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.

1920 x 1080

Wildlands, while already playable at this resolution, the overclock barely made an impact.  We can see the FPS count rose .35%, and thankfully the wattage only increased by 3.71% and a temperature increase of only 1°.  Oddly enough at this low resolution, the CPU usage actually decreased where at other games at this resolution would normally increase and GPU usage increased.  A little backward, nothing really to be concerned with but worth mentioning.

2560 x 1440

On stock we were already at 78.31, well above 60FPS but at the overclock we punched it up 1.78%, not amazing but every single fps count.  The wattage went up by 7.61% but the temperature dropped 2°s which is always welcome.  Can we hit the same at 4K?

3840 x 2160

So close here, we jumped from 45.79 frames per second to 47.72 frames per second here, a bigger jump than before coming in a 4.13% increase in performance, but still slightly short of 60 frames per second.  The boost however drew on average 10.94% more power but the temperature dropped 3°C, so some good and some bad.  Let’s see what kind of performance we can see in The Division.

Well, this resolution does not really need a boost, but what it does take I will gladly take.  On the overclock we gained 6.97% over the stocks 113.6 frames per second.  This increase in performance did bring about a 6.37% increase in thermals and a 12.90% increase in power consumption.  On to 2560 x 1440.

2560 x 1440

The score here was not drastic, but the power draw was.  On average the overclock consumed on power was 21.81% over the stock speeds, a pretty bit hit though the thermals only went up a slight 7.69% over stock speeds as well.  The performance increase was a slight 2.46%, nothing big here, but it was already playable as it was.  So let’s check out the last of the resolutions and the most aggressive, 3840 x 2160.

3840 x 2160

Sadly, it looks like 4K has suffered once again, the overclock performing only 4.95% better than stock.  Like we have already seen before, the power draw increased in the overclock by 24.70%, a pretty significant increase and the temperature has increased as well but only by 8.81%.  Both of course could have been lowered depending on the overclock settings.

So now that we have completed the overclock versus stock comparison, the overclock did not make a huge difference in games, though it did make a pretty significant improvement on a synthetic benchmark… which is more important to you?

So then next treat, something that we don’t get to do often is that there will be a bit of a comparison between cards, not just same chipsets though, this will be an AMD versus NVIDIA type of thing.  I will preface it by stating, a like comparison between card would have been this card versus a GTX1080 but I don’t have one, so we will go up one level and compare this card to a GTX1080 TI, namely the EVGA Geforce GTX1080 TI FTW3 Gaming Edition.

Let’s check out the differences between the two, though it is a bit unfair since they are not the same category of cards.  The direct competition for the Vega64 is the GTX1080, not the GTX1080 TI, but still a nice comparison.  We will be comparing stock versus overclocked for both cards.

Let’s check out the differences between the two, though it is a bit unfair since they are not the same category of cards.  The direct competition for the

is the GTX1080, not the GTX1080 TI, but still a nice comparison.  We will be comparing stock versus overclocked for both cards.

For reference, here are the overclock settings on the EVGA Geforce GTX1080TI FTW3 Gaming Edition.

Here are the original clocks, with the overclock settings as well for reference.

A pretty decent overclock on the 1080TI, and that is what we will be leading these results with.  Overclocks will be different on all cards, even the same GTX1080 TI FTW3 model, 2 will card will get different results, luck of the draw.

Let’s get started with the benchmarking.

Clearly, the GTX1080 TI outperformed the Vega64, it is not really a surprise being that we are running 2 separate tier cards, but the Vega64 did do relatively well.  We can see the Total Time Spy score for the overclocked GTX1080 TI was 29.56% higher than that of the overclocked Vega64.  That’s a pretty decent increase, with that increase, the Vega64 also consumed 19.05% more power and was 14.38% hotter, though still reasonable.

So let’s check it out.

Things are getting smaller as we are packing in the scores here, but clearly the GTX1080 TI is in the lead.  The GTX1080 TI’s overclocked scores pulls out ahead of the Vega64 overclocked scores by 25.42%.  With that, the AMD Overclock actually is pulling less power on average than the GTX1080 TI overclocked version by 8.53%.  The GTX1080 TI comes in though 40% cooler than the Vega64, that’s amazingly impressive.

Let’s see what Metro says.  Metro doesn’t care what you are, it will beat you down.

1920 x 1080

Eeek, that is impressive on NVIDIA’s part.  The EVGA Geforce GTX 1080TI FTW3 out performed the Sapphire Radeon NITRO+ RX Vega64 Limited Edition by 54.39%, but again, not only is the 1080TI on a tier above the Vega64

but the 1080TI FTW3 is one of EVGA’s highest clocked 1080TI’s.  The Vega64’s average wattage was 95.06% lower than that of the GTX1080 TI’s, which is a little refreshing, but of course that does not make up for performance.  On the flip side, the Vega64’s temperature was 6.99% above that of the GTX1080 TI’s.

2560 x 1440

We see almost the same thing we saw on the previous results, over double the performance in favor of the GTX1080 TI FTW3.  The GTX1080 TI FTW3 overclocked scored 69.64% above that of the Vega64 Overclocked, with that the temperature of the Vega64 Overclocked was only 4° higher than that of the GTX1080 TI FTW3, which is decent.  Here again the Vega64 consumed on average 85.60% less voltage than that of the GTX1080 TI.

3840 x 2160

This resolution was the one I was not counting on the Vega64 being above.  We can see here the overclocked GTX1080 TI performed on average 62.69% better than the Vega64 and with that, the card was 5.06% hotter than its green competition.  The saving grace here, the Sapphire Vega64 consumed 72.28% less power on average compared to that of the EVGA GTX1080 TI FTW3.

1920 x 1080

This starts to get a little interesting, while the GTX1080 TI is again out performing the Vega64, the gap has decreased a bit.  There was a performance increase of 27.96% in favor of the GTX1080 TI.  The average power consumption was 24.38% above that of the GTX1080 TI and the temperature was also 30.99% above that the GTX1080 TI.

2560 x 1440

Jumping into the results, we can see the overclocked EVGA GTX1080 TI FTW3 outperformed the Sapphire Radeon NITRO+ Vega64 Limited edition by 36.50% here.  The wattage was also lower by 25.84% and the thermals were also 22.86% improved as well.

3840 x 2160

Being that these numbers are much tinier when I saw then I thought, “Alright the card is gaining some traction” but alas, no such luck here.  The overclocked 1080 TI out performed the overclocked Vega64 by 39.12%, the wattage consumed by the Vega64 was also 4.77% higher than that of the GTX1080 TI.  Lastly, the cooling on the GTX1080 TI was 23.19% better than that of the Vega64.

EVGA did a great job on the cooling of this card, trying hard not to repeat their prior issue with the overheating VRM introduced their iCX cooling technology that contains 9 thermal sensors for more efficient cooling.  Sapphire and AMD introduced Radeon Chill, Vapor Chambers and Sapphires Turbine X.  I could have cooled the cards more but I ran the tests first on the Vega64 and when I thought all was good, I ran the same tests on the GTX1080 TI, pushing both for max overclocks on a short time crunch.  I focused more on speeds and stability than cooling and noise, only of course if cooling was an issue stopping me from obtaining a good overclock.

Anyway, enough rambling, lets check out Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.

1920 x 1080

A surprising turn of events here, it looks like the Vega64 surpassed that of the GTX1080 TI’s scores.  The GTX1080 TI overclock obtained a score of 80.45, while the Vega64 scored 23.22% above that at 101.58.  With that though, the Vega64’s temperatures were 32.06% higher than that of the GTX1080 TI and consumed 14.30% more power.  All of the previous results have favored the GTX1080 TI but maybe the tables have turned here.

2560 x 1440

This is pretty amazing, the Vega64 and the GTX1080 TI both score the same, to the dot in frames per second.  I don’t know if this has ever happened or if it is just incredibly rare, but it is amazing.  Of course, there are differences, the temperature on the Vega64 was 17.13% above that of the GTX1080 TI and with that, the temperature for the Vega64 was 22.90% higher.  Both temperatures are well below the state at which the cards will throttle, so this is a big win in Sapphire court.

3840 x 2160

In another amazing bout, the Vega64 overclock has again taken the crown.  We find here that the Vega64 score 47.72 frames per second, 11.55% above the GTX1080 TI’s 42.51 frames per second.  The temperature on the Vega64 however was 14.08% higher than its rival, the GTX1080 TI and the wattage was also 18.58% higher on the Vega64.  Let’s see on which The Division will run better on.

1920 x 1080

Looks like the streak was broken.  We find on the AMD Overclock, Tom Clancy’s The Division scored a decent 121.8 frames per second but the NVIDIA Overclock came in with a 24.74% gain in performance.  With that win, the NVIDIA Overclock also 26.57% cooler and utilized 10.48% less power than its competition.

2560 x 1440

The GTX1080 TI blew up here, it scored 113.8 framer per second, that’s 27.83% faster than the Vega64’s 86.3.  Things heated up here, the Vega64 heated up to 81°C while the GTX1080 TI was 21.92% cooler at 65°C.  Lastly, the Vega64 consumed 20.47% more power than the GTX1080 TI.

3840 x 2160

At 4K, we can see the GTX1080 TI is still playable at 63.6 frames per second, that’s 24.54% above the Vega64.  The Vega also came in 10.13% hotter than the GTX1080 TI and with that consumes 21.14% more power than the GTX1080 TI.

This comparison by no means was fair, again these are different tiered cards and as I mentioned before, a much better comparison would have been made if I would have benchmarked it again a standard GTX1080.  I did however want to benchmark them to give you an example of the performance you can expect.  We will get more into this on the conclusion.

Let’s check out one more feature of the card using TRIXX Card Utility.

TRIXX Card Utility

TRIXX previously would overclock the video card, change fan speeds, change color of RGB LED’s and more, but it seems Sapphire has stripped it all of its abilities save the RGB feature.  Let’s check out TRIXX Nitro Glow.

This portion of the card, on the back lights up.

The white portions surrounding the outer 2 fans also lights.

The retention bracket itself does not light up but it is a silk screened logo, so it reflects the light.

The software is very basic and simple to use.  The first of the selection is “Pure blue color”.  With Pure blue selected and with all of the options, you can adjust the brightness from 100%, 75% and 50%.  Pure Blue color, Rainbow (random colors), Color change by PCB temperature and Color change by fan speed are basic options with no other options other than brightness, so there is nothing to show there.

Color change by PCB temperature will change the color of the fan outlines as well as the back of the card depending on the temperature of the PCB.  Color change by fan speed changes the color of the fan outlines as well as the back of the card depending on the fan speed, and remember, the fans turn off as well and go extremely fast depending the application, so there will be many different lights you see.

Custom Color, allows you to select predefined colors, select colors from the color prism or actual type in a number reflecting the color you prefer and specifically find the color you want.  You can of course play with these numbers under the R, G, B, # sections to find the color for you.

You can also turn off the lights if they bug you, but we all need a little light in our lives, I prefer blue or Rainbow, what color do you like?

Just in case you want to see what this looks like, I got something for you.

With all this done, its time for the final chapter, Final Thoughts and Conclusion.

Let’s check out the Pros and Cons to help me gather my thoughts on this.

  Pros

  • Tons of ports to fit almost any monitor (except DVI)
  • Supports 4 x 4K displays
  • FreeSync Support
  • Supports DX12
  • 0DB Fan mode
  • Quick Connect Fan Replacement
  • NITRO Glow RGB is a nice little toy
  • Dual BIOS support
  • Includes Video card support bracket
  • Includes 3 fans
  • Support additional fans and regulates their speeds
  • Supports VR

Cons

  • Does not include any adapters or adapter cables (incase you have 3 x HDMI or 3 Display port monitors)
  • No overclocking software included or available on Sapphire website that supports this card  aside from AMD’s own built in software.
  • Requires 3 x 8Pin PCI-e connections.
  • Takes up 3 x PCI slots
  • The card is very long

This card is the top tier of AMD and Sapphires cards and the performance shows.  At 2560 x 1440, it can play all games on Ultra and it’s buttery smooth, but don’t try 4K.  While most people are fine at 2560 x 1440 and even more at 1920 x 1080, that kind of leaves those who prefer 4K out in the dark.  4K will work, it will work fine unless you try to game at 4K with all the eye candy on as you can see from the benchmark results above.

The card really does not get that hot when it is at stock speeds and depending how you setup the fans when overclocking it should not get hot but it could get loud.  As it is now, Sapphire did an amazing job cooling this card.

Sadly, I cannot base a portion of this review based off of cost, because at this moment prices are all out of whack because of GPU mining and not to mention, this card is VERY HARD to find, anywhere, hence the Limited-Edition name tag.

If you currently own a Freesync monitor, this card would do you very well, sadly I only have a basic 60Hz Asus PB287Q monitor.  Freesync will allow you to get the extra and needed performance for 4K and just give you that extra push below 4K.

The recommendation for this card was to use an 850Watt Power supply but in my testing the highest wattage consume was 564.  I am not telling you to not get an 850Watt power supply, I myself have a 1200Watt Power supply, have had it for almost 10 years and have not had to upgrade or replace it once so you end up saving after time, but something to think about if you are planning on getting this video card.

Now, this card has been great but it falls flat on the price, being more expensive than a GTX1080 and performing almost like a GTX1080.  I would say, for this much you should be able to get 4K games smooth but not many people fork over the cash for a 4K anyway and you also get the ability to utilize FreeSync without the royalties of G-SYNC, so there is good an bad.  You might end up getting the Vega64 and a FreeSync monitor for the same price as a GTX1080/GTX1080 TI and a G-Sync monitor, so the price would even out.  As a gamer, there are those that are AMD fanboys and NVIDIA fanboys and there is nothing completely wrong about that but as a reviewer I cannot be biased, so the choice is yours with the information I have provided.  Although with prices as out of whack as they are now, who knows how much you will pay.

With that, I give this card a 4.5 Editors choice.  If it were cheaper, it would be a 5 star editors choice but normally I take an entire star for cost, but because the price evens out depending on the monitor purchased, I only reduce half a star.

Guys please chime in, I would love to know what you think.  Did I rate this too high or not high enough?

[P_REVIEW post_id=75472 visual=’full’]

Iggy Castillo
I have spent many years in the PC boutique name space as Product Development Engineer for Alienware and later Dell through Alienware's acquisition and finally Velocity Micro. During these years I spent my time developing new configurations, products and technologies with companies such as AMD, Asus, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA and more. The Arts, Gaming, New & Old technologies drive my interests and passion. Now as my day job, I am an IT Manager but doing reviews on my time and my dime.
Iggy Castillo
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