Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT Review: Beastly Big Navi

Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT: Unigine, UL And VR Benchmarks

How We Configured Our Test Systems: We tested the graphics cards represented in this article on a MSI X570 Godlike motherboard, equipped with a Ryzen 9 5950X and 16GB of G.SKILL DDR4 RAM clocked at 3,200MHz. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the UEFI and set all values to their "high performance" defaults, then we disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The memory's clock was dialed in to its optimal performance settings using its XMP profile and the solid state drive was then formatted and Windows 10 Professional x64 was installed and fully updated. When the Windows installation was complete, we installed all of the drivers, games, applications and benchmark tools necessary to complete our tests. For all of the standard tests, the Radeon RX 6000 series cards were tested using their "Balanced" performance profile.

sapphire nitro 6800xt braning

HotHardware's Test System
Intel Core i9 Powered
Hardware Used:
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
(3.4GHz - 4.9GHz, 16-Core)

MSI X570 Godlike (AMD X570 Chipset)
16GB G.SKILL DDR4-3200

Samsung SSD 970 EVO
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 FE
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 FE
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FE
AMD Radeon RX 6800
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT
Relevant Software:
Windows 10 Pro x64 (v2004)
AMD Radeon Software v20.8.3
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers v457.30

Benchmarks Used:
3DMark (Time Spy, Fire Strike, Port Royal, DXR)
Unigine Superposition
Crytek Neon Noir
Metro Exodus
Red Dead Redemption 2
Gears Tactics
F1 2020
FarCry: New Dawn

Unigine Superposition
Pseudo-DirectX / OpenGL Gaming
Superposition is the latest benchmark from Unigine, powered by the UNIGINE 2 Engine. It offers an array of benchmark modes, targeting gaming workloads as well as VR, with both DirectX and OpenGL code paths. There is an extreme hardware stability test built-in as well. Unigine Superposition uses the developer’s unique SSRTGI (Screen-Space Ray-Traced Global Illumination) dynamic lighting technology, along with high quality textures and models, to produce some stunning visuals. We ran Superposition in two modes using the DirectX code path – 1080p Extreme and VR Future -- to compare the performance of all of the graphics cards featured here.

unigine superposition
Unigine Superposition

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unigine 2 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

Unigine Superposition's 1080P Extreme test has the Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT finishing well ahead of AMD's reference Radeon RX 6800 XT, but a notch behind the GeForce RTX 3080.

unigine 3 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

unigine 4 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

unigine 5 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

Superposition's VR Future benchmark tells essentially the same story. The Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT is a couple of percentage points faster than AMD's card, but the additional performance boost offered by the Sapphire card isn't quite enough to catch the GeForce RTX 3080.

Testing Rift And Vive Readiness
UL's VRMark is designed to test a PC’s readiness for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. The benchmark does not, however, require that one of the headsets is attached to the PC to run and it uses an in-house graphics engine and content to ensure comparable results between different platforms. We ran the "Blue Room" VRMark test at defaults settings here, which is currently the most taxing test offered by the tool.

vr mark thumb
Futuremark VRMark

vr mark 1 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

vr mark 2a sapphire nitro 6800 xt

Our results with VRMark show the Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT once again outrunning the stock Radeon RX 6800 XT and overtaking the GeForce RTX 3080. The higher end cards, e.g. the Radeon RX 6800 XT and GeForce RTX 3090, remain on top though.

UL 3DMark Time Spy
Direct X 12 Performance
3DMark Time Spy is a synthetic DirectX benchmark test from UL. It features a DirectX 12 engine built from the ground up to support bleeding-edge features like asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, and multithreading. Time Spy is designed to test the DX12 performance of the latest graphics cards using a variety of techniques and varied visual sequences. This benchmark was developed with input from AMD, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA, and the other members of the UL Benchmark Development Program, to showcase the performance and visual potential of graphics cards and other system resources driven by close-to-the-metal, low-overhead APIs.

time spy
3DMark Time Spy

time spy 1 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

time spy 2 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

In the DX12-based 3DMark Tme Spy benchmark, the Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT offers a clear edge over AMD reference Radeon RX 6800 XT, and inches closer to the pricier flagship Radeon RX 6900 XT.

UL 3DMark Fire Strike
Synthetic DirectX Gaming
3DMark Fire Strike has multiple benchmark modes: Normal mode runs at 1920x1080, Extreme mode targets 2560x1440, and Ultra mode runs at a 4K resolution. GPU target frame buffer utilization for normal mode is 1GB and the benchmark uses tessellation, ambient occlusion, volume illumination, and a medium-quality depth of field filter. The more taxing Extreme mode targets 1.5GB of frame buffer memory and increases detail levels across the board. Ultra mode is explicitly designed for high-end and CrossFire / SLI systems and cranks up the quality even further. GT 1 focuses on geometry and illumination, with over 100 shadow casting spot lights, 140 non-shadow casting point lights, and 3.9 million vertices calculated for tessellation per frame. GT2 emphasizes particles and GPU simulations.

3d mark fire strike
3DMark Fire Strike

fire strike 1 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

fire strike 2 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

We're sure you're starting to see a pattern emerging at this point. Once again, we see the Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT outpacing AMD's reference design and the card finishing just a hair behind the bid-daddy 6900 XT.

UL 3DMark Port Royal
DXR Ray Tracing Benchmark
Port Royal was released earlier this year as an update to UL’s popular 3DMark suite. It is designed to test real-time ray tracing performance of graphics cards that support Microsoft DirectX Raytracing, or DXR. Although DXR is technically compatible with all DX12-class GPUs, the graphics card must have drivers that enable DXR.
3mark port royal dxr
3DMark Port Royal

port 1 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

port 2 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

3DMark's Port Royal benchmark does two things -- it's helps point out the small, but measurable performance gains offered by the hot-clocked Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT and it illustrates NVIDIA's clear advantage with DXR ray tracing. As we've seen in every test to this point, the Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT is a not ahead of AMD's card, but NVIDIA's high-end GPUs take the lead in this test. 

We also experimented with the DirectX Ray Tracing Feature test, which was recently released as an update to 3DMark...

dxr 1 sapphire nitro 6800 xt

The Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT settles into is familiar position, just ahead of the AMD's own Radeon RX 6800 XT and behind the Radeon RX 6900 XT. But again, we see the NVIDIA-built GPUs offering a distinct performance advantage with ray tracing-enabled content.

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