This morning SAPPHIRE is announcing their latest card in the NITRO+ family, the NITRO+ Radeon RX 480. Some key features of SAPPHIRE’s new NITRO+ RX 480 cards include higher clock speeds, an improved cooler with a back plate included, and software fan health monitoring. Along with this we’ll also get RGB lighting and power delivery that is improved over what we saw on the reference RX 480.

The cooler is improved from SAPPHIREs last generation with two 95mm dual-ball bearing fans. Meaning longer fan life and potentially quieter operation. In fact, SAPPHIRE isn’t content simply improving the quality of their fans. They also are including a feature called “Fan Check” in their upcoming SAPPHIRE TriXX 3.0. Fan Check allows users to check the health of their fans and if an issue is detected they can contact customer support for a replacement fan. Thanks to quick swap fans the user can replace just the fan with a single screw, no more need to return a whole card for a dead fan, and no more need to disassemble a card to remove the fan. I think this sounds like a neat feature, but considering the use of dual ball bearing fans and that the fans shut off when temperatures are under 52 degrees Celsius, I won’t be surprised if the number of users needing replacements is rather low.

It has occured to me that you can’t throw a dart without hitting an RGB LED card anymore. Regardless it does come in handy when color coordinating a build. Along with having the usual option to control the RGB lighting through SAPPHIRE’s utility, there is also a hardware controlled red button on the back of the card which will let one work through the various included modes such as fan speed or GPU temperature modes.

Radeon RX 480 Specification Comparison
  SAPPHIRE NITRO+ Radeon RX 480 8GB SAPPHIRE NITRO+ Radeon RX 480 4GB AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB AMD Radeon RX 480 4GB
Boost Clock 1342MHz 1306MHz 1266MHz
Memory Clock 8Gbps GDDR5 7Gbps GDDR5 8Gbps GDDR5 7Gbps GDDR5
Launch Date Next Week 6/29/2016
Launch Price $269 $219 $239 $199

We will be seeing factory overclocks from both the 8GB and 4GB versions of this card. While base clocks are presumably higher they were not shared, though the boost clocks come out to 6% and about 3% over AMD's reference cards respectively. The memory clocks are right in line with the reference Radeon RX 480 8GB and 4GB cards.

For those that enjoy running on overclocked hardware the NITRO+ Radeon RX 480 includes a NITRO Boost dual bios switch that further increases the boost clock and power limit for some extra performance. To help feed overclocking endeavors the card also comes with an 8-pin power connector and a new model of their own Black Diamond Chokes which they profess drop coil temperatures by another 15%.

Amusingly, with the increasing growth in VR this generation having multiple HDMI outputs is becoming a highlighted feature all around. Following suit, we can find dual HDMI on the business end of the NITRO+ Radeon RX 480 sharing space with two DisplayPort connectors and a DVI-D port.

Finally, for pricing the SAPPHIRE NITRO+ Radeon RX 480 will be listed at $269 for the 8GB card and $219 for the 4GB model, a $30 and $20 premium over the reference models, respectively. So far the NITRO+ RX 480 appears to be a robustly built card with all the bells and whistles we’re seeing this generation including RGB lighting, fan shutoff, and warranty fan replacement while they were at it. Exact release dates have not yet been revealed, but those interested in these cards will find them available from etailers next week.

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  • tamalero - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    As biased as running a "The way its meant to be played" Sponsored game which disables things like AA when it detects AMD cards? ;)
  • xthetenth - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Also freesync compatibility is a bigger deal in the lower cost space than a lot of enthusiasts think.
  • Alexvrb - Sunday, July 24, 2016 - link

    Agreed... at this price range a high-end monitor is often unappealing. A budget Freesync unit is very attractive, however, and will improve your gaming experience hugely on a dime. You can get a 23.6" VX2457 for around $150 and that has a reasonable (for entry-level) adaptive sync range of 47-75. That's a huge improvement over NO adaptive sync 75hz displays and $150 is a bargain. If you mind your settings to keep framerate above 47 you avoid the pitfalls of conventional vsync and ditch the potential annoying tearing of a fixed-hz budget gaming build with vsync off.

    On the high end with 144hz displays I'd argue that freesync and g-sync are LESS important, since you're pushing higher framerates and minimizing tearing with a very high refresh rate to begin with. On the low end all of the problems with non-adaptive-sync displays are multiplied, so affordable freesync is really a boon to mainstream PC gaming. Now if only Nvidia would support VESA adaptive sync...
  • Bryf50 - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    This generation just started 2 months ago. Chill out.
  • tamalero - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    It actually feels like a similar slump when ATI had the 2900XT series technology.
    it was slow, ate too much energy but surely was very strong in compute.
  • WinterCharm - Sunday, July 24, 2016 - link

    They haven't even released the new GCN4 cards at the top tier yet. Those are coming later this year, and will have HBM!
  • ScottAD - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Sapphire said they are available now..I call shenanigans. Says next week but on Facebook they say "some etailers" but no Amazon or Egg
  • Outlander_04 - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    I can order a Sapphire nitro from a local etailer . They have no stock , but they have it listed and that's usually a sign that they will drop in a few days
  • watzupken - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    I think its good to finally see a good alternative to the reference cards. I have no idea why it took this long for the non reference card to start rolling out. The non reference cards definitely will have an edge if its released before the GTX 1060.
  • smilingcrow - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Custom 1060 cards were released and in stock from day one and are still in stock. Not all of them for sure but enough for those who don't want to wait.

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