Sapphire RX 480 Nitro OC+ Review

Sapphire RX 480 Nitro OC+ Review


The Sapphire RX 480 Nitro OC+ has tons to recommend it, and indeed depending on which way your preference scales are balanced it will either rocket itself to the top of your list, or sit on the bottom with an asterisk.

Clearly the one element of the Sapphire Nitro OC+ that cannot be denied, argued or even quibbled about slightly is its brutally efficient performance. With the beefiest overclock that we’ve seen on a RX 480 we were expecting great things and it delivered in spades. It isn’t just the “on the box in big letters” clock speed that wowed us, but the actual real world clock speed it has. Only 2 MHz difference between the maximum speed and the average one. Trust us, that isn’t something that happens often. The performance graphs reflect this titanic level of polygon crunching too, with the Nitro OC+ at the top of the RX 480 charts as near to always as makes no difference. It regularly matched up with the GTX 1060. Hell this is the best of the best GTX 980 heavily overclocked levels of gaming smoothness for under 300 notes. It’s spectacular.

There is a price to pay for all this performance, and this is where the Nitro both ably demonstrates why we have a separate Performance Award, and why some people will love it and others think of it less kindly. We wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a Marmite card, but there are issues. Those looks, which are almost utilitarian in their cuboid shape, lacking in angles, bright bits or huge cutaways, are fantastic, and we think the Nitro is a great looking card. But that “no cutaways” has a seriously detrimental effect on the ability of the fans to expel the generated heat, and at this level of overclocking (or power target) there is plenty of heat to disperse. It’s the loudest of the non-reference RX 480s, and one of the loudest cards we’ve tested in recent times. The fans work their socks off to keep it cool, but there isn’t really anywhere for the air to go.

Now to their credit the card remains below 80°C, but only just, and at a noise price that you might not be willing to pay. It’s not a Delta fan loud, but it’s hardly whisper quiet (Hi I’m Dr Nick Riveira). And that’s where the balancing act lays. If you’re the type of user who places performance above absolutely every other possible consideration then you need look no further, the Sapphire Nitro OC+ is a spectacular performer and will make all your gaming dreams come true. If, however, you want more of an all-rounder then the noise and heat penalty might be too steep a price to pay. If only Sapphire had put some vents in somewhere to help it along. 

There is no denying the raw performance of the Sapphire RX 480 Nitro OC+ in every scenario, with a relentless level of performance that just has to be admired at this price point, and it wins our OC3D Performance Award.

Sapphire RX 480 Nitro OC+ Review  

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