Sapphire Technology’s Radeon RX 6950XT is the fastest graphics card to ever be released with AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture. While it may have been released a bit later than expected, it is still a great card that has seen excellent performance reviews due to its strong hardware performance. In recent months, the availability of GPU’s has been an issue, and newer generations of cards like the RX 6000 series has caused prices to drop in order to clear out inventory. We were able to purchase the 6950XT at a reasonable price of 850 euros new a few months ago. There is no denying that this card is the top-of-the-line in RDNA 2, and Sapphire Technology can be proud of the performance they have achieved.
Sapphire RX 6950XT Nitro+
The SAPPHIRE Nitro+ RX 6950XT is the latest addition to AMD’s Radeon RX 6000 series lineup. This card is a slight upgrade over the reference 6950XT but comes with a few variations. Firstly, the card features the same vRAM configuration and slightly faster clock speeds. Secondly, the cooling solution is larger and consequently so is the size of the card itself. However, the card still fits in a three slot form factor, although it adds 5cm in length. For those that don’t overclock a lot, this card will meet their needs without going too overboard.
In this review, a driver issue resulted in a single benchmark being run on BIOS 1.90 for the Intel ARC A750 Limited Edition on Red Dead Redemption2. However, all other benchmarks were conducted using a Windows 11 22h2 installation with all updates applied and DDU used when switching between GPU vendors to avoid driver conflicts. The power supply used for the RX 6950XT benchmarks was the Super Flower Leadex V Pro 1000w as the MSI A650GF was not powerful enough.
The following graphics cards were used in the review:
Sapphire RX6950XT Nitro+
Intel ARC A770 Limited Edition
Intel ARC A750 Limited Edition
Nvidia RTX 3070 Founders edition
Sapphire RX 5700XT Pulse
PowerColor RX 5600XT ITX
MSI RX 460 ITX (Note: this card was cooled with a Noctua NF-A9x14 as the original fan had died)
All benchmarks were done at resolutions of 1920×1080, 2560×1440 and 3840×2160 (except for the RX 460) and each value is an average of at least 3 or more runs (depending on the game). V-Sync was always disabled and all hardware was running at stock settings except for the RAM which was running at XMP at Gear 1 and the CPU which was running without power limits. Two separate EPS cables were used for CPU power and one PCIe cable was used per connector for the GPU.
Sapphire has released a new graphics-RX 6950XT Nitro+ card with impressive specs. It boasts a frequency of 2324mhz, which is almost on par with the advertised frequency. This card can also boost up to 2600mhz in some rare cases, giving it some extra headroom. Benchmark testing has shown that the card performs well in games, with the frequency slightly above 2300-2350mhz on average. This new graphics card from Sapphire is sure to be a good choice for gamers looking for a reliable, performance-enhancing card.
The RX 6950XT Nitro+ is the most expensive video card tested in this analysis, and it shows in its performance. As resolution increases, the difference between the card and the others grows larger. Even at 4K resolution, the card demonstrates notable performance. It maintains an average of 60 FPS across most games, even at high settings, with Cyberpunk 2077 averaging 52 FPS. Furthermore, the card does so with controlled noise and temperature. Tuning down a few details may yield even better results. Overall, this card surpasses expectations in terms of performance at 4K resolution.
In a surprise turn of events, the RTX 3070 has taken the lead in Blender performance. The Ampere architecture proves to be superior in rendering, and at a much more affordable price point. While RDNA 2 is primarily geared towards gaming, it is disappointing to see such a low performance in comparison.
Thermals and fan speed
Sapphire’s graphics card coolers are truly impressive. The GPU never exceeds 85c hotspot and 70c temperature when running demanding games, and the fan curve is properly set to peak at 1600 rpm. The size of the cooler is very impressive as well, being 2.7 slots and 320mm long while still able to manage high temperatures without creating a tremendous amount of noise. Overall, Sapphire has created a very effective and efficient cooling solution in a relatively small footprint.
The power consumption of a GPU under load, particularly when used in gaming, can be quite remarkable. Measuring this power draw requires a special device, such as the Elmorlab’s PMD, which takes 8 readings per second. Using this device, the power going through the PCIE cables can be seen by the blue line, while the orange line shows the power draw reported by AMD’s driver through Hwinfo64. One of the first things to note is the massive spike of 650w at the beginning – while this can be reasonable for some 6950XTs, it appears to be too much. There is also a large difference between the two lines, with Hwinfo reporting 290w whereas the PCIE cables are often spiking above 400w, and even above 450w. This discrepancy highlights the inconsistent power draw of these cards, and the need for a sturdy power supply to ensure it can handle the spikes. While there are questions about the necessity of such power draw for the performance gained, that is a separate discussion.
Teardown and PCB pictures
The Sapphire 6950XT Nitro+ is a powerful graphics card with a lot of features. It has a copper cold plate on the core connected to six heatpipes that run through the finstack, along with three quick-disconnect fans on top for great cooling. There are no stickers on the screws that would void the warranty if removed, which makes it easy to disassemble and repaste the card with only a few screws. The PCB houses an 8GB GDDR6 memory with 8 Samsung chips, and a two-controller vrm system with TDA21490 and TDA21472 phase chips. Additionally, there are fuses located on the PCB after each power connector and the PCIe slot for 12v input, providing protection against catastrophic damage in case of a failure. All in all, the Sapphire 6950XT Nitro+ is a great card with lots of features and reliable protection.
Measurements of Thermal Pads Found on the Card
The Sapphire RX 6950XT Nitro+ is a top-performing graphics card for gaming at all resolutions. It excels at 4K and still maintains a fast performance at 1080p. The size of the cooler is also noteworthy, as it is smaller than most competitors at 2.7 slots thick. Despite its compact size, the card’s thermal and fan speeds are well-controlled, making for a smooth gaming experience.
Given the recent decrease in prices for last-generation cards, the Sapphire RX 6950XT Nitro+ offers great value, especially in comparison to current RTX 3080 and 3070 prices, which have not yet fully stabilized in Europe. Additionally, if you can find a used one at an even cheaper price, it is an unbeatable deal in terms of price to performance.
However, there are some concerns to be aware of. The power draw on this card is quite high, resulting in frequent power spikes. This means you will need to ensure your power supply unit (PSU) can handle the demand before purchasing the GPU. An A-tier 850w PSU is recommended, as it can handle the power spikes and offers more headroom than a 750w PSU.
Another downside is the card’s size, measuring 320mm long, which may not fit in certain cases or cause conflicts with other devices such as AIO coolers or hard drives if they are already installed at the front of the case.
Overall, the Sapphire RX 6950XT Nitro+ is a great high-end card that offers excellent gaming performance while remaining cool and relatively quiet under load. Kudos to Sapphire for creating a well-rounded product.