The Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 480 OC is a mid-range graphics card based on the Polaris architecture. The graphics card has two HDMI inputs, two DisplayPort inputs and a single DVI-D connector.
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Pro Factory overclock provides more power than the reference card
The 8% increases in both clock speed and boost speeds that have been applied to the Nitro+ RX 480 card results in a slight, but noticeable performance increase over the reference RX 480. In 3D Mark Fire Strike for example, a reference RX 480 scores 12245 points while this Sapphire card achieves a score of 13298, an 8.5% performance increase.
In Ashes of the Singularity at 1080p, the Sapphire Nitro+ achieves an average FPS of 49.3 compared to a reference card with 43.6 average frames per second (+ 13%). In Dirt Rally, also tested at 1080p resolution, the Nitro+ OC 8 GB achieves an average of 85 FPS compared to the reference card's 75 FPS, a 13.33% improvement. A slight performance boost can also be seen in Grand Theft Auto V, with 75 average FPS versus 72 frames per second for the reference RX 480 (+ 4.2%).
Pro better suited for VR with two HDMI connectors
Sapphire has made a slight adjustment to the available connectors of the RX 480. Instead of going with the regular combination of 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI and 1x DVI-D, Sapphire has opted for 2x DisplayPort, 2x HDMI and 1x DVI-D instead. The additional HDMI connector is particularly useful when using the card in combination with a VR headset such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, which require two HDMI ports. Connecting a VR Headset doesn't require an adapter.
Pro Fans can easily be removed
The fans that are placed on the Nitro+'s cooler are easily replaceable. You just have to unscrew a single screw and the fan will pop out of the cooler. This makes it a lot easier to clean the graphics card and get rid of dust, but it also allows you to replace them in an instant in case a fan is faulty.
Pro BIOS switch allows for quiet operation or max performance
The Sapphire Nitro+ RX 480 has two built-in BIOS settings: one for quieter operation and the other is a boosted mode. You could adjust the GPU settings to achieve similar results in the drivers and additional software, but there's a handy and physical switch located on the graphics card itself which makes for an effortless switch.
Pro Slightly better cooling results than the reference card
The cooler of the Nitro+ OC performs better than a reference RX 480. Under idle - despite the semi-passive cooling system - maximum temperature recorded in this test was 29°C, which is one degree lower than a standard RX 480 (which has fans always running). In a full-load test, a target of 75° C was set in the drivers. The Nitro+ card is able to maintain this temperature without an issue at 74 degrees C, while a reference RX 480 heats up even further at 83° C.
Pro 8-pin power connector allows for plenty of headroom
A reference RX 480 is equipped with a 6-pin power connector, but the power limit of the 6-pin connector has proven to be an issue for the RX 480 cards, as the total power consumption is sometimes higher than specified. The Nitro+ uses an 8-pin connector and although an 8-pin connector requires more power than a 6-pin connector, this effectively eliminates all concerns about the RX 480's power consumption and distribution and allows plenty of headroom for overclocking the card even further.
Pro Features some adjustable RGB lightning
On the top of the card, the Sapphire logo is outfitted with a couple of RGB LED's that are configurable via Sapphire's software. This allows you to customize the look of the graphics card, which can be useful if your setup is built with a specific color scheme in mind. You can also choose to disable these LED's entirely.
Pro Uses a semi-passive cooling solution for silent operation in idle
When the Nitro+ RX 480 OC has a temperature lower than 60° C, the fans of the cooler will not spin up because they're semi-passive. This allows for essentially silent operation when the card isn't working hard and doesn't need to be cooled.
Con Produces the same amount of noise as a reference RX 480 under load
Although Sapphire has equipped this Nitro+ graphics card with their own cooler and claims a "10% lower noise production", there is no noticeable improvement under full load. As seen in this graph, the maximum sound production of the Nitro+ OC (measured while running Furmark) is 35.2 decibels (A). While this is fairly quiet, it is the exact same amount of noise produced by a reference RX 480. Testing was done at the 75° Celsius temperature setting.