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

Nine. Dollars.

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Should you buy the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700?

Yes. Definitely.

The reference Radeon RX 5700 earned 4.5 stars, our Editors’ Choice award, and our recommendation as the best 1440p graphics card for most people on the back of its GeForce RTX 2060-beating performance and stellar value. The Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5700 is only slightly faster than the reference card in out-of-the-box performance, but the greatly enhanced cooler, dual-BIOS switch, metal backplate, and beefed-up internal components easily justify the card’s itty-bitty $9 markup. Nine. Dollars

There’s no reason to buy a Radeon RX 5700 reference design anymore unless you need the blower-style fan for a small form factor system, full stop.

sapphire pulse rx 5700 7 Brad Chacos/IDG

The $359 Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 is faster than the similarly priced GeForce RTX 2060. Once the company releases its Trixx software upgrade with the new Trixx Boost feature in early September, it should come within spitting distance of the $500 GeForce RTX 2070 Super’s performance by pairing a slight, practically unnoticeable resolution downgrade with AMD’s superb Radeon Image Sharpening technology. It’s a shame Trixx Boost won’t be available when Sapphire’s graphics card hits the streets today, but if you buy this graphics card, hop on it the moment it becomes available.

Sapphire deserves major props for seizing advantage of the current upscaling trend so effectively—and for making it so easy for gamers to tap into the significant potential performance advantages.

There’s no reason to buy the $350 GeForce RTX 2060 over the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700, unless you happen to find one on sale for well under $300 (which can occasionally happen). The only reason to opt for a $400 GeForce RTX 2060 Super over Sapphire’s card is if you want to invest in real-time ray tracing, as Nvidia GPUs alone contain hardware devoted to accelerating those tasks. The technology’s only available in a handful of games at the moment, though it’s coming to several top-tier games (like Cyberpunk 2077 and Doom Eternal) over the next year.

sapphire pulse rx 5700 15 Brad Chacos/IDG

AMD knocked it out of the park with the Radeon RX 5700. Sapphire’s budget-friendly spin on it is also a home run, offering several extra features and niceties as well as a much-improved cooling solution for just $9 more. (Nine! Dollars!) More feature-packed custom Radeons are no doubt on the way, but the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 nails the basics, moves the goal posts forward with Trixx Boost, and easily earns our Editors’ Choice award on the back of its outstanding value proposition.

Highly, highly recommended.

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At a Glance
  • The Radeon RX 5700 already provided stunning value for 1440p gamers. Sapphire's custom Pulse RX 5700 builds atop that for just $9 more, and pushes performance even further with its excellent Trixx Boost upscaling.

    Pros

    • Excellent gaming performance
    • Cooler and quieter than reference designs
    • Trixx Boost software uses upscaling for great FPS gains
    • Dual-BIOS for performance or acoustic focus
    • PCIe 4.0 compatible

    Cons

    • Plastic shroud
    • No dedicated ray tracing hardware
    • Trixx Boost feature not available at launch
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