Gadgetslab: Sapphire Nitro R7 370 4GB

Reviewed by Chris Noel Hidalgo

If it ain’t broke, then tweak a few variables, slap a new name on there, and call it a day—that seems to be what AMD has done with the Radeon R7 370, a refresh of the mid-range R9 270 card released almost two years ago. The newest R7 370 is priced against some proven contenders from the green team, so we tested its Sapphire Nitro 4GB iteration to see if it deserves the same “bang for the buck” tag.

Specifications:

Stream Processors: 1024

Core Speed: 1000MHz

Boost Clock: 1050MHz

VRAM: 4GB GDDR5

Memory Speed: 1400MHz

Memory Bus: 256-bit

Memory Bandwidth: 179.2GB/s

Power Requirement: 100W, 6-pin PCIe power connector required

Output: Display Port, HDMI, dual link DVI-I, dual link DVI-D

Others: Crossfire, Eyefinity, ZeroCore Power compatible

Dimensions: Dual slot, 211 x 111 x 36mm (L x W x H)

Design: 4/5

Sapphire’s take on the R7 370 looks very utilitarian to say the least, with almost no fancy and over the top design cues anywhere on its boxy body. While it lacks a back plate to protect the PCB, it does have a decent looking black plastic shroud accented with silver bits to safeguard the heatsink array as well as the RAM, voltage regulators, and GPU die.

Flip the card over and you’ll be greeted by the matte black PCB; up top is the gold CrossFire finger; along the bottom is the PCIe connector; on the right edge is the 6-pin supplementary power port; and on the left are the exhaust and display outputs.

This card looks very clean save for the off-looking Nitro stickers on the fans. I wish they would have put the 6-pin connector at the top and not the side though. Plugging in the power cable adds a few significant centimeters to the overall length, posing a problem for those with smaller chassis.

Hardware: 3.5/5

The R7 370 struts AMD’s Trinidad Pro GPU, but while it’s essentially a rebranded and slightly modified Curacao Pro from the R9 270 (which is another rebrand of the HD 7000 series’ Pitcairn core), it still manages to consume 40W less TDP at 110W compared to its predecessor’s 150W draw.

That energy efficiency is compounded by an intelligent fan control system wherein the two 9-bladed fans only spin when the card is under significant stress. This, along with the aluminum fins and dual copper coils which draw excess heat away from the GPU, should see to it that your card is running within acceptable temps at all times.

Not that it would face that much of an overheating problem. The 1000 to 1050MHz clock speeds as well as the 5600MHz effective speed of its 4GB memory buffer is decent but won’t be enough to send the card searing.

User Experience: 4/5

Tom’s Hardware puts the R7 370 in the same league as the two year old Nvidia GTX 760—the current card in my personal rig. I was expecting more or less the same performance between the two, and I was spot on. The benchmarks were done with the card paired with an Intel Core i5-4460 and 8GB of RAM, all at stock clocks, and all at 900p.

In Unigine Valley, the Nitro R7 370 notched a score of 1528 on the Extreme preset with x8 AA, no doubt being helped along by the generous 4GB of frame buffer. It averaged 36.5 fps as it reached a best 107.1 fps and a worst 20.6 fps in the utility.

As expected, it blazed through older games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, and The Witcher 1 and 2: Assassins of Kings. It was able to churn out more than 30 frames per second at maximum settings across all the titles above, albeit without anti-aliasing and tessellation.

Meanwhile, playing NBA 2K15 at maximum settings and 8x AA, the card averaged 84fps, but that really speaks to how well the game and drivers are optimized. Finally, in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor with everything maxed out (only FXAA though), the R7 370 averaged around 45 fps while keeping frames over 30.

Sapphire’s Nitro fans did a decent enough job keeping the card tame. The cooling system was able to keep the card to a maximum 73°C at Shadow of Mordor, way below the alarming 80°C mark. Because I maxed out most of the graphical settings while playing at a relatively low resolution, GPU utilization was at a constant 100-percent. If you bump up resolution to 1080p or 4K, the frame rate stutter will get to you way before the GPU maxes itself out.

Value: 3.5/5

The Sapphire Nitro R7 370 4GB is sold in some stores for as low as PHP 8,660, with the 2GB version going for around PHP 7,500. While it performs solidly and churns out a decent frame rate-per-Peso ratio, the almost four year old graphics architecture merits a few question marks, especially considering that other cards in the same price range are strutting newer innards. It’s not a terrible purchase per se, but as it stands, the card should’ve been better.

Total: 15/20

Rising Star

What’s Hot

  • Straightforward design
  • 4GB frame buffer for cheap

What’s Not

  • Graphics architecture at the end of its time

Bottomline

  • Still a forerunner at its price point, but this is one dog that shouldn’t be taught tricks (read: refreshed) anymore.

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