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GeForce 9600 GT/GTS 250/GTX 260 Non-Reference Roundup

Zotac GeForce GTS250 AMP! Edition

Zotac’s recipe for its GeForce GTS 250 AMP! Edition is simple: take a reference GeForce GTS 250 and squeeze some more performance out of it with an overclock. It’s a straightforward approach that works well, delivering higher performance for what we're expecting to be a low price (this card isn't yet selling at e-tail). Usually the tradeoff is extra heat and noise, but we’ll see how the Zotac card handles that a bit later.

Our first impressions were positive, as the GTS 250 comes in an attractive box with a window that allows you to see the card and the graphics on the cooler. Included in the bundle are a manual, a driver/utility CD, a Molex-to-PCIe power adapter cable, an HDMI audio cable, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, and a DVI-to-HDMI adapter. All good stuff, but once again there’s no SLI adapter included in this SLI-capable card (look to your motherboard bundle for that).

Zotac also went out of its way to include some actual retail software, which we don’t see as much of as we used to. There is a full version of 3DMark Vantage Advanced Edition, which is a nice addition for tweakers out there. Zotac also included a game, XIII Century: Death or Glory, which is a well-reviewed tactical real-time strategy title.

The card itself, as we mentioned earlier, is closely based on the reference model. On the downside, it’s somewhat large at 10" long and comes with a relatively loud reference cooler. On the positive side, we like cards that exhaust hot air out of the case instead of keeping it inside, where it can heat up other components. This is something we don't see as much on non-reference coolers as we used to. As well, the Zotac GeForce GTS 250 is the only card in our roundup that accommodates a single eight-pin PCIe power connector.