On our test bench, today is the SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 5500 XT 8G GDDR6 video card.  Remember, the MSRP from AMD is $199.99 for 8GB variants.  However, this SAPPHIRE PULSE video card is a factory overclocked video card with custom components.  It has a price premium right now on Amazon at $229.99.  This is by no means a cheap Radeon RX 5500 XT video card; the pricing puts it up against some tough competition at this pricing.  It is certainly more expensive than some other brands by comparison.  For comparison, the 4GB version of the SAPPHIRE PULSE is $179.99 at Newegg, on the same card.

Factory Overclock

The SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5500 XT 8G GDDR6 video card has a factory overclock.  The default AMD gaming clock frequency is 1717MHz.  This SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 5500 XT 8G GDDR6 has a factory gaming clock overclock set at 1737MHz.  That is only a 20MHz overclock, and doesn’t sound like a lot. 

However, what you will find out in our review is that with all technologies combined, the actual gaming frequency will run much, much higher when gaming.  Even though this is just set at 1737MHz, that is not what it will run while gaming.  It can and will boost much, much higher, so check out what the default clock speed is on the next couple of pages.

Otherwise, all of the base specifications on this video card match the AMD reference specifications.  It has 8GB of GDDR6 on a 128-bit memory bus at 14GHz.  It has a total boost clock up to 1845MHz.  It has one HDMI and three DisplayPort connections.  This is a bit unique, typically we find video cards have two and two, but this one allows three DisplayPorts for a nice and easy multi-display setup, but only one HDMI. 

SAPPHIRE recommends a 500W Power Supply, 450W minimum.  The power consumption is rated at 135W on this video card.  It requires one 8-pin power connector.  It measures 9.17 inches in length.

Custom Specs

As we mentioned, this is a custom video card from SAPPHIRE, so many SAPPHIRE technologies are included specific to this video card.  It has a custom PCB and heatsink/fan unit with customized hardware components.  There is also a full backplate with cooling vents so it does not trap heat. 

Custom Cooling

The heatsink and fan unit uses SAPPHIRE’s Dual-X cooling.  This keeps the GPU, memory and VRM components all cool with a low noise level.  The fans are intelligently controlled by RPM so that they keep all these components cool but don’t create a lot of noise.  The fan IC control reduces the differential between fan rotation cycles at 3% versus standard fans at 10%, this is a 70% improvement on accuracy.

Free Flow is interesting, it improves upon the traditional axial fan design.  SAPPHIRE redesigned the airflow so that the hot air is expelled through the system fan instead, rapidly dissipating heat.  It includes a tunneled fin with tiny holes which increases the convection airflow.    

The VRMs are cooled and have a high thermal conductivity pad on the back-plate to take away the heat efficiently and effectively.  Memory is also cooled using a specially designed independent cooling module.  Dual-X cooling refers to the two large silent fans and radiator design.  The fans have a streamlined form, are 95mm and low noise.

There is also a full backplate with cooling vents so it does not trap heat and it also provides rigidity. The fans are dual-ball bearing fans and have an 85% longer lifespan than sleeve bearings.  The fans are easy to remove for cleaning, and if one fails SAPPHIRE will send just the replacement fan to you so you can replace your own fans if they give you trouble. 

Custom Hardware

Speaking of hardware, SAPPHIRE has fuse protection built-in.  There is fuse protection built into the circuit of the external PCI-E power connector to keep components safe.  This video card also supports a Dual BIOS.  You can choose between performance mode or silent mode; the default position is performance.  The power design is customized as well using SAPPHIRE Phase Digital Power to aid in overclocking and balancing current distribution and averaging thermal dissipation for each power phase. 

The list of SAPPHIRE specific features are as follows:  Power Design, Free Flow, TriXX Supported, TriXX Boost, Intelligent Fan Control, Precision Fan Control, Robust VRM Cooling, Robust Memory Cooling, Dual-X Cooling Technology, Tough Metal Backplate, PCB Layers, Two-Ball Bearing, Fan Quick Connect, Fuse Protection, Dual BIOS. 

Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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  1. Nice review. The card tested as I expected it. The additional VRAM isn’t really needed as the card just can’t crunch the #’s quickly enough to do 1440p (where the 8Gb would come in handy).
  2. Just curious… would testing it on a system with PCIE 4.0 make a discernible difference in performance? Sapphire lists it as a PICE 4.0 supporting card.
  3. Just curious… would testing it on a system with PCIE 4.0 make a discernible difference in performance? Sapphire lists it as a PICE 4.0 supporting card.

    Unlikely, unless you were constrained purely by VRAM and it was having to cache out of local VRAM often, which doesn’t seem to be the case in our testing.

    However, we will re-run benchmarks and test directly PCIe 3.0 versus 4.0 in the future. We have many good articles planned, and that is one of them.

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