Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse: Cooler, Quieter, and Faster

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Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse: Cooler, Quieter, and Faster

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Issues with the RX 5700 Series
  3. Sapphire's RX 5700 XT Pulse: A Solution to the Cooler Problem
  4. Features and Specifications of Sapphire's RX 5700 XT Pulse
  5. Thermal and Noise testing
  6. Frequency Response and Fan Speed Analysis
  7. Gaming Performance Benchmarks
  8. Overclocking and Performance Gains
  9. AMD Driver Issues
  10. Final Verdict and Recommendation
  11. Teardown of the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse

Sapphire's RX 5700 XT Pulse: Resolving Thermal and Noise Issues

Introduction

The launch of AMD's RX 5700 series was plagued by two major problems: the cooler design and the drivers. The blower-style cooler resulted in excessive heat and noise, significantly detracting from the competitiveness of these GPUs against Nvidia. However, Sapphire's RX 5700 XT Pulse aims to address these thermal and noise concerns. This article will delve into the effectiveness of Sapphire's cooler solution and its impact on the overall performance of the RX 5700 XT Pulse.

Issues with the RX 5700 Series

The cooler design and the drivers were the two primary issues that marred the launch of the RX 5700 series. The blower-style cooler was unable to manage the thermal output efficiently, leading to excessive heat and noise levels. This resulted in a subpar gaming experience and decreased overall performance compared to Nvidia's GPUs. In addition, the initial drivers for the RX 5700 series were riddled with bugs and inconsistencies, further dampening the user experience. Despite subsequent driver updates, some issues still persist, albeit to a lesser extent.

Sapphire's RX 5700 XT Pulse: A Solution to the Cooler Problem

The Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse aims to rectify the thermal and noise issues that plagued the reference design. Equipped with a dual-fan axial cooler, this graphics card offers a significant improvement over the blower-style cooler. The two 100mm fans are capable of spinning at lower speeds while delivering superior airflow, resulting in reduced noise levels. The large aluminum heatsink and copper cold plate effectively dissipate heat, ensuring better thermal management. Additionally, the horizontally oriented fins of the cooler provide a balanced distribution of exhaust air, minimizing the heat that remains inside the case. Overall, Sapphire's RX 5700 XT Pulse showcases a remarkable improvement in cooler design, promising a cooler and quieter gaming experience.

Features and Specifications of Sapphire's RX 5700 XT Pulse

Priced at just $10 more than the reference model, the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse offers significant enhancements. It incorporates dual V BIOS, allowing users to switch between BIOS profiles for added flexibility and safety. The default V BIOS provides a more aggressive fan curve and higher frequencies, while the alternate V BIOS prioritizes quieter operation. With its impressive performance and competitive pricing, the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse stands as a compelling choice for gamers seeking an improved cooling solution and enhanced overall performance.

Thermal and Noise Testing

Thermal and noise testing is crucial to evaluating the effectiveness of Sapphire's cooler design. Under a 30-minute power virus workload, the RX 5700 XT Pulse excels in managing thermals. The GPU edge temperature remains significantly cooler compared to the reference card, showcasing a difference of 27.1 degrees Celsius when measured at a constant noise level of 40 DBA. Additionally, the noise-normalized plots highlight the substantial reduction in noise levels achieved by the dual-fan axial cooler. With improved thermals and reduced noise, Sapphire's RX 5700 XT Pulse ensures a more comfortable and enjoyable gaming experience.

Frequency Response and Fan Speed Analysis

The RX 5700 XT Pulse offers different V BIOS options, each influencing the frequency response and fan speed. The default V BIOS maintains a higher frequency range, while the quieter V BIOS prioritizes lower noise levels. The trade-off between performance and noise becomes apparent based on the V BIOS selection. The fan speeds in each V BIOS setting are adjustable; however, there are limitations and software issues that hinder precise control over fan speeds. Despite these limitations, Sapphire's RX 5700 XT Pulse delivers commendable stability and frequency performance.

Gaming Performance Benchmarks

In gaming performance benchmarks, the RX 5700 XT Pulse performs on par with the reference card, showcasing similar FPS averages across various titles. Despite marginal differences in overclocking capabilities, the overall gaming experience remains indistinguishable. However, it is important to note that the RX 5700 XT Pulse significantly improves thermals and noise levels, ensuring a quieter and cooler gaming environment. With its competitive performance and enhanced cooling, this graphics card offers a compelling option for gamers looking for an improved AMD gaming experience.

Overclocking and Performance Gains

Overclocking potential varies among individual units, primarily due to memory quality. Sapphire's RX 5700 XT Pulse showcases better memory overclocking capabilities compared to the reference card. However, the overall overclocking gains are limited, with the memory-dependent nature of AMD's Navi series GPUs being a determining factor. Nevertheless, the RX 5700 XT Pulse exhibits stable overclocking performance, providing a modest boost in FPS averages. The potential for greater overclocking gains remains uncertain, as AMD's drivers and software optimization may influence future performance improvements.

AMD Driver Issues

While AMD has made significant improvements to the drivers since the initial launch, there are still lingering issues that affect the overall user experience. Some of these issues include the inability to set fan speeds under idle conditions, incorrect frequency reporting, and software bugs that cause black screens and hard crashes during overclocking. These software-related problems can be frustrating and detract from an otherwise satisfactory gaming experience. Additionally, AMD's driver suite could benefit from further enhancements to provide a more seamless and reliable user environment.

Final Verdict and Recommendation

In conclusion, Sapphire's RX 5700 XT Pulse offers an impressive solution to the thermal and noise issues faced by the reference design. With its superior cooler design, this graphics card excels in managing thermals and reducing noise, providing an improved gaming experience compared to the blower-style cooler. While AMD's driver issues persist, the RX 5700 XT Pulse remains a compelling choice for gamers seeking an affordable and high-performance AMD GPU. With its competitive pricing and commendable cooling capabilities, the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse receives our recommendation for gamers looking to harness the full potential of AMD's RX 5700 XT series.

Teardown of the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse

For a detailed analysis of the cooler design and internal components of the Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse, please refer to our separate teardown video. This teardown provides insights into the engineering and construction of the graphics card, giving a deeper understanding of its performance and design choices.

Resources:

  • Sapphire RX 5700 XT Pulse: [link]
  • AMD: [link]
  • Nvidia: [link]
  • Sapphire Store: [link]

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