ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! 6GB Review: Push The Limit

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The ZOTAC 980 Ti AMP! Edition 6GB is here for all the tech lovers. This card is built from the identical GM200 chipset as the GeForce GTX Titan X even though the shader count comes in at 2816 vs 3072. ZOTAC has just released their own iteration of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti which saw some fantastic builds from the company (AMP Extreme!, ArticStorm) at COMPUTEX 2015. I cannot wait to “push the limit” and see what happens with this card.

Review Podcast Overview

The Makings of The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP!

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The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! Edition card has a dual-slot triple 90mm ‘IceStorm’ cooler that is made of pure metal, so you don’t have to worry about plastic coolers. In terms of the external design, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! is a beautiful gunmetal grey/black fusion that really seems to stand out from the competition.

In terms of the actual fans, I would have loved to see a bit more pattern than the reflective black plain coating on them, perhaps a sort of striation right there to really make it look more beastly. Instead, what really sets this apart even more is the completely metal-adorned ‘ZOTAC’ logo in the center of each fan. It’s just great to see that kind of build than just plain black casing font.

This new card comes with the IceStorm cooling solution that ZOTAC has penned – which has EKO fans that keep the noise and thermals low while trying to enhance the performance to ‘AMP’ volumes. It will be great to see if this card is worth it for people compared to the stock reference cards going around during the initial June-July launch production period.

The backplate is something I really like on this card with its “push the limit” slogan. To me backplates serve as a double edged sword in a way in general (not particularly this card). For a lot of people too, it can come off sort of gimmicky, but I like the attention to detail ZOTAC has here and it’s probably the best gimmick a lot of people will have seen in this day and age.

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Display options include one DVI port, three Display Ports, an HDMI port, and the possibility of VGA with a connector. It’s interesting to see a card still support DVI and something I think was a wise decision given that not many people have still upgraded their monitors to DisplayPort variants. In terms of power it utilizes one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCI-Express connector (with the box including a dual 6-pin MOLEX-to-8-pin PCIe adapter).

Specifications of the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP!:

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As for internal design of the ZOTAC GTX 980 Ti AMP! – it uses a copper baseplate along with a secondary metal base plate that provides cooling to the voltage regulator circuit board. The internal GDDR5 memory chips are Hynix memory chips that runs standard reference GDDR reference clocks at 7.0 Gbps (1750 MHz).

Can it ‘Push The Limit?’

Testing is all the beauty in video cards – and that’s what I’m here for all 15 million+ of you out there! I put the card to the test on the following system:

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The results? Drum-roll please…

 

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A resounding yes it can in fact “push the limit.” Every game pushed to the maximum at the high-end 4K spectrum showed this card come out at top compared to the reference standard and every other card on the bench. The card averaged 5.4 frames per second more across every title compared to the reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti. It definitely is a great sight to see consistently across the board, and reveals that the card had no issues but in fact delivers just what a consumer wants for the price they’re paying.

Overclocking Capability & Power Usage

Overclocking is a must – and I managed to get my ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! to overclock by almost +280 MHz while pushing the clock to 1985 MHz from 1750 MHz (a gain of almost 13.5%). The average frames per second over the reference 980 Ti was close to 10% gains with an average of 9.5 frames per second more than reference, which is just the kind of thing we want to see.

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When it comes to power consumption, the GTX 980 Ti is tested with a multimeter straight from our test rig. At idle the card takes 8.6 watts and at load comes close to 288.9 Watts which is a bit more than we saw with the reference card (at 272.6 Watts), but the enhanced performance draw needs to come from somewhere, and even at 95.8% efficiency (which I also measured) from AC you are looking at a nice use of performance for the price.

Does It Sound Like A Jaguar And Heat Up Like A Volcano?

Admittedly, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! does have a roar of a panther to its frame. When it runs, that is – it is slightly louder (measured using a sound meter of course) than most of the other cards on the testbench rounds. On average it was 2.8 decibels louder (at 42.4dBA) – but what I love about this card is that it can turn OFF the fans completely during idle – something our reference card never did.

Either way, despite the reference card not being able to turn down its fans – it is still a processing beast with a long life shelf time, so stock buyers of the card need not worry too much about the lack of that programmed function on the board but just have that in mind as a little quirk about it.

In terms of heat – it did an incredible job. As of currently, it is the only card I measured along with some others that I tested, which has the coolest frame housing by almost 9 degrees Celsius. At idle it averages 51.4 degrees Celsius but at 100% load it came in at 64.8 degrees Celsius. The reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti came in at 83.4 degrees Celsius on average, just riding the edge of its 84 degrees Celsius profile maximum where NVIDIA boost brings the clocks way down to cool it.

So…Is It Good?

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The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! is more than good – it is simply excellent. It astounds the pleasing qualities and underscores the design that is necessary for add-in board partners to execute in terms of offering a value over the reference established standards, especially when charging for a premium. To really give value further, ZOTAC is selling the card at $659.99 MSRP (with Newegg selling for an excellent $649.99 MSRP) – essentially providing custom card cooling for reference pricing. So, if you are in the market for a card that is better than reference and does not charge a premium, then ZOTAC is definitely the way to go. The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! is simply a no-brainer for any consumer lost in the flurry of non-reference cards and looking for the road where performance, quality, and speed meet.

Score: 9.6/10

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