Get COOL and QUIET with Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse Review

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Get COOL and QUIET with Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse Review

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Problem with the Reference Design
  3. Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse: A Different Proposition
  4. Changes in Clock Speeds and Boost Frequency
  5. Memory Overclock
  6. Dual BIOS Feature
  7. Power Rating and Connectors
  8. Display Outputs
  9. Design and Build Quality
  10. Cooling Design and Features
  11. Disassembly and Cooling Components
  12. Performance Benchmarks
  13. Temperature and Power Consumption
  14. Overclocking Potential
  15. Pricing and Competition
  16. Conclusion

🖥️ Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse: A Cooling Solution Worth Considering

The release of AMD Navi cards brought a strong performance proposition at an affordable price point. However, the reference cooler design received criticism for its high temperature and loud noise levels. In anticipation of third-party Navi cards, we waited for the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse, known for its exceptional cooling capabilities. In this article, we will analyze the features and performance of the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse and compare it with the reference design.

Introduction

The release of AMD Navi cards was met with enthusiasm due to their high performance-to-price ratio. However, the reference cooler design proved to be a major drawback, as it suffered from high temperatures and excessive noise. The solution to this problem came in the form of third-party Navi cards, and one such card is the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse. This article will delve into the features and performance of the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse, comparing it to the reference design and evaluating its potential as a viable alternative.

The Problem with the Reference Design

The reference cooler design of the AMD Navi cards fell short in terms of cooling efficiency and acoustics. The high temperatures produced by the reference design made it unsuitable for prolonged heavy usage, and the noise generated was far from ideal for an enjoyable gaming experience. As a result, many users were advised to wait for third-party Navi cards that would offer improved cooling solutions.

Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse: A Different Proposition

The Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse arrives as the first third-party Navi card, and it promises to address the issues of temperature and noise that plagued the reference design. In comparison to the reference card, the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse offers better performance, lower temperatures, and reduced noise levels. However, the ultimate judgment of this card will depend on its pricing, which will be discussed in detail later in this article.

Changes in Clock Speeds and Boost Frequency

One noticeable change in the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse is the increase in clock speed. While modern graphics cards rely on boost frequency curves rather than exact clock speeds, the Game clock, which is crucial for AMD cards, has increased by approximately 3.5%. This boost in clock speed is expected to result in higher performance. However, it is important to note that there is no memory overclock on this card, which might be a missed opportunity for improving performance.

Memory Overclock

The absence of a memory overclock on the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse is somewhat disappointing. Many users expected third-party partners to push the boundaries in terms of memory overclocking. However, it seems to be a common trend among manufacturers to leave the memory at stock settings. While this decision may not have a significant impact on overall performance, it does limit the potential for improved memory performance.

Dual BIOS Feature

Unlike the reference card, the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse includes a dual BIOS feature. By switching to the silent BIOS mode, which can be activated by moving a switch near the rear I/O panel, the clock speeds are brought down to reference levels, resulting in lower fan speeds and quieter operation. This feature offers a more customizable and versatile experience for users who prioritize noise reduction.

Power Rating and Connectors

With a power rating of 241 watts, the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse surpasses the reference card by 16 watts. Despite this increase, the power connectors remain the same, with an 8-Pin and a 6-pin plug. This configuration allows for a maximum available power of 300 watts. It is worth noting that the power consumption of this card is 16 watts higher compared to the reference card, reflecting the increased power rating.

Display Outputs

The display outputs on the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse mirror those of the reference card, featuring three display ports and one HDMI port. This configuration provides users with flexibility and compatibility, allowing them to connect multiple monitors and different display devices simultaneously.

Design and Build Quality

The Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse stands out with its tall profile, reaching approximately 135 millimeters in Height. It is important to be mindful of this when considering the card's compatibility within a system. On the positive side, the power plugs are indented in line with the PCB, avoiding any issues with protruding cables. The card's length, on the other HAND, is slightly shorter than the reference card, measuring around 260 millimeters. This reduction in length is achieved through the use of a custom PCB design, although it does restrict the use of a third PCIe slot.

Pros:

  • Improved cooling efficiency
  • Lower noise levels
  • Dual BIOS feature for customizable performance
  • Indented power plugs for better cable management
  • Good build quality with a strong aluminum backplate

Cons:

  • Taller profile may pose compatibility issues
  • Impedes on a third PCIe slot
  • Lack of memory overclocking

Cooling Design and Features

The Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse excels in its cooling capabilities, addressing the main concerns of temperature and noise. The card features a custom cooling solution with a large copper contact plate and five U-Shape heat pipes running through an aluminum fin stack. This design, coupled with the use of thermal paste, allows for efficient heat dissipation, resulting in lower temperatures compared to the reference card.

Disassembly and Cooling Components

The Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse allows for easy disassembly for those who wish to explore its internal components. A quick disconnect fan feature distinguishes this card, enabling easy removal and replacement of the fans if necessary. Additionally, the card's cooling design includes a secondary cooling apparatus, consisting of a cooling plate with small fins. This component helps cool the memory modules and MOSFETs of the power phases.

Pros:

  • Excellent cooling performance
  • Easy disassembly for maintenance or customization
  • Secondary cooling apparatus for memory modules and power phases

Cons:

  • Potential airflow issue with some air escaping through the rear I/O

Performance Benchmarks

The performance benchmarks conducted on the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse demonstrate its superiority over the reference card. In games like Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Far Cry New DAWN, the Sapphire card performs on par with the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super, offering smooth gameplay even at demanding settings. It surpasses the RTX 2060 Super in titles such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Total War: Three Kingdoms, highlighting its impressive performance capabilities in various AAA games.

Temperature and Power Consumption

When it comes to temperature, the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse shines. The custom cooling design results in a significant reduction in temperature, with a 10-degree difference compared to the reference card. This brings the Sapphire card closer to NVIDIA's founders edition cards, ensuring better thermal management during intensive gaming Sessions. The power consumption of the Sapphire card is slightly higher than the reference card, reflecting the increased power rating.

Overclocking Potential

Overclocking the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse proves to be more involved compared to NVIDIA cards. While the power limit can be increased by 50%, the performance gains from overclocking may not justify the increase in power consumption, temperature, and noise. The card's performance may even plateau or decrease with certain overclocking settings. It is important to consider these factors before attempting to overclock the card.

Pricing and Competition

The pricing of the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse varies depending on the market. In the US, it is expected to be priced at $409, only $10 more than the reference card. This places it in a competitive position against the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super, which is priced at $90 higher. However, in the UK, the pricing discrepancy is more significant, with a price of approximately £425, about £45 higher than the reference card. This pricing decision puts the Sapphire card in competition with cards like the Gigabyte RTX 2060 Super, which offers overclocking capabilities and additional features.

Pros:

  • Competitive pricing in the US market
  • Improved cooling performance justifies the premium
  • Comparable performance to the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super in selected titles

Cons:

  • Price premium in the UK market without clear justification

Conclusion

The Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse proves to be a compelling alternative to the reference card, addressing its deficiencies in cooling efficiency and noise levels. With improved performance, lower temperatures, and reduced noise, the Sapphire card establishes itself as a viable option in the market. However, pricing discrepancies in different markets may affect its competitiveness against other cards. In summary, the custom Navi cards, starting with the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse, have set a promising foundation for the future of AMD graphics cards.

Highlights

  • Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse offers improved cooling and lower noise levels compared to the reference card.
  • Clock speed increase enhances performance potential.
  • Lack of memory overclocking is disappointing but in line with industry trends.
  • Dual BIOS feature provides customization options for performance and noise levels.
  • Excellent build quality and cooling design make the Sapphire card stand out.
  • Performance benchmarks demonstrate the card's ability to compete with NVIDIA's RTX 2070 Super.
  • Lower temperatures and increased power rating distinguish the Sapphire card from the reference design.
  • Overclocking potential may not be worth the associated increase in power consumption, temperature, and noise.
  • Pricing varies across markets, with the US market offering competitive pricing and the UK market facing a higher premium.

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