Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5700 review: A stunning value supercharged by clever software tricks

Nine. Dollars.

Credit: Brad Chacos/IDG

Our test system

Our dedicated graphics card test system is packed with some of the fastest complementary components available, to put any potential performance bottlenecks squarely on the GPU. Most of the hardware was provided by the manufacturers, but we purchased the cooler and storage ourselves.

  • Intel Core i7-8700K processor ($350 on Amazon)
  • EVGA CLC 240 closed-loop liquid cooler ($120 on Amazon)
  • Asus Maximus X Hero motherboard ($395 on Amazon)
  • 64GB HyperX Predator RGB DDR4/2933 ($420 on Amazon)
  • EVGA 1200W SuperNova P2 power supply ($230 on Amazon)
  • Corsair Crystal 570X RGB case, with front and top panels removed and an extra rear fan installed for improved airflow ($130 on Amazon)
  • 2x 500GB Samsung 860 EVO SSDs ($78 each on Amazon)

We’re comparing the $359 Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 against AMD’s $350 Radeon RX 5700 and $400 Radeon RX 5700 XT reference models, as well as Nvidia’s $350 GeForce RTX 2060, $400 GeForce RTX 2060 Super, and $500 GeForce RTX 2070 Super. If you want to see how AMD’s new GPUs stack up against a wider range of cards, be sure to check out our original Radeon RX 5700 series review. (Spoiler: They’re great options, and the $350 Radeon RX 5700 won an Editors’ Choice award.)

All prices cited are launch MSRP; you can sometimes find these cards cheaper on the streets.

Each game is tested using its in-game benchmark at the highest possible graphics presets, with VSync, frame rate caps, and all GPU vendor-specific technologies—like AMD TressFX, Nvidia GameWorks options, and FreeSync/G-Sync—disabled, and temporal anti-aliasing (TAA) enabled to push these high-end cards to their limits. If anything differs from that, we’ll mention it. We run each benchmark at least three times and list the average result for each test.

Because the Sapphire Pulse is just a slightly faster Radeon RX 5700 at its core, we’re going to skip our usual commentary after each benchmark and let the testing speak for itself, aside from in the Trixx Boost and thermals sections.

Gaming performance benchmarks

Division 2

Let’s start with the latest games. The Division 2 is one of the best looter-shooters ever created, and the luscious visuals generated by Ubisoft’s Snowdrop engine make it even easier to get lost in post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. The built-in benchmark cycles through four “zones” to test an array of environments, and we test with the DirectX 12 renderer enabled. It provides better performance across-the-board than the DX11 renderer, but requires Windows 10.

division 2 Brad Chacos/IDG

Far Cry: New Dawn

Another Ubisoft title, Far Cry: New Dawn drags Far Cry 5’s wonderful gameplay into a post-apocalyptic future of its own, though this vision is a lot more bombastic—and pink—than The Division 2’s bleak setting. The game runs on the latest version of the long-running Dunia engine, and it’s slightly more strenuous than Far Cry 5’s built-in benchmark.

fcnd Brad Chacos/IDG

Strange Brigade

Strange Brigade ($50 on Humble) is a cooperative third-person shooter where a team of adventurers blasts through hordes of mythological enemies. It’s a technological showcase, built around the next-gen Vulkan and DirectX 12 technologies and infused with features like HDR support and the ability to toggle asynchronous compute on and off. It uses Rebellion’s custom Azure engine. We test the DX12 renderer with async compute off.

strange brigade Brad Chacos/IDG

Next page: Gaming benchmarks continue

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Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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