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Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP Extreme Review

Board & Cooling

A look at the board reveals enough chokes to suggest a 16-phase power supply for the GPU. That's not the whole story, though. In reality, there are eight, and phase doubling allows these to operate as 16 distinct control circuits. Such a dense implementation complicates layout, making it impossible to put all of the related components next to each other. Fourteen of the circuits for seven phases are arranged from top to bottom. The eighth phase, however, is on the board's bottom-right. This isn't particularly great for uniform cooling.

The GPU's eight phases naturally need the right buck controller, and Zotac taps uPI Semiconductor's uP9511 for this role. The uP9111 uses a special uP1961 dual-channel MOSFET driver with phase extension, which then controls two power phases. So, there are 16 phases. But eight are interleaved and current-balanced.

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Each power phase employs one UBIQ QN3103 on the high side and two QN3107 MOSFETs on the low side.

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The encapsulated ferrite core chokes are familiar. Although they're vertically stacked inside, they cannot solve the problem of insufficient space on Zotac's PCB.

Under their aluminum covers, Zotac's Power Boost components are guaranteed to be nothing more than a circuit board with polymer capacitors designed to smooth out spikes in the supply voltage. However, since stringent requirements are already in place for DC/DC regulation and output-side voltage quality, this is probably just Zotac's answer to the Ultra Durable/Military Class marketing used by its competition.

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Another component that stands out is the 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0+ processor made by Holtek, which Zotac uses to control the RGB lighting effects.

A total of 11 Micron MT58K256M321JA-110 GDDR5X ICs are organized around the GP102 processor. They're rated for 11 Gb/s, which helps compensate for the missing 32-bit memory controller compared to Titan X. We asked Micron to speculate why Nvidia didn't use the 12 Gb/s MT58K256M321JA-120 modules advertised in its datasheet, and the company mentioned they aren't widely available yet, despite appearing in its catalog. Because Nvidia sells its GPU and the memory in a bundle, Zotac only has a little room to innovate in this regard.

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Similar to Nvidia's approach with its Titan Xp, Zotac overclocks these memory modules (albeit to 1400 MHz). The jump isn't huge, but it's enough to reach a theoretical bandwidth of 492.8 GB/s, covered under the company's three-year warranty.

A uP1666 two-phase buck controller is responsible for supplying the memory's voltage.

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For each of the two power phases, Zotac again relies on one QN3103 on the high side and two QN3107s on the low side. Somewhat simpler SMD chokes are used this time; they're almost identical in design to Foxonn's Magic coils.

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Current monitoring is handled by a triple-channel Texas Instruments INA3221.

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With three chokes behind the eight-pin connectors, Zotac even adds some kind of filtering. Surely this will be appreciated by more mainstream power supplies tasked with supporting the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP Extreme.

Around back, we see components lined up one on top of the other. There are also plenty of surfaces that the backplate could have helped cool.

Inside Zotac's Cooler

This card's backplate doesn't have foil attached to the inside, but it unfortunately only serves to stabilize the heat sink. It plays no part in cooling.

There is a light-scattering film under there, which evens out the RGB diode's illumination behind Zotac's logo. A few holes are meant to provide at least some airflow behind the board.

We mentioned earlier that the main cooler doesn't incorporate a built-in heat sink for the voltage converters. Moreover, we pointed out that the voltage regulation circuitry had to be spread out across the PCB because there are so many power phases. Zotac works around this using two small sinks that sit on the MOSFETs. They're screwed into the board and supplied with fresh air from above.

The thermal solution is a bulky, heavyweight powerhouse. Its copper sink dissipates thermal energy from the GPU into two 8mm and four 6mm heat pipes made from composite material. Cooling for the memory modules is provided by an overlapping aluminum plate around the GPU, which is attached to the heat sink.

This plate performs double duty, cooling the memory's MOSFETs and chokes as well.

The card's three 85mm fans are equipped with nine rotor blades each. Their steep angle suggests optimizations for lots of airflow, rather than delivering just constant static pressure.


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  • dstarr3
    Boy, looking at how hard it is to keep these things cool, I'm thinking it'd be better to wait until the next generation and the efficiency improvements that'll bring. May only be a 10-15% bump in performance, but if it means a card that's producing reasonable amounts of heat again with a not-triple-slot cooler, that's worth the wait.
    Reply
  • EpIckFa1LJoN
    I have this card. It cools great. I have a pretty low airflow case and it never goes over 66C and thats on BF1 in "The Runner" at 3440x1440. Very consistently at 2000MHz or higher on stock settings (fan too). You can easily set a fan curve as long as it doesn't conflict with the idle profile. Zotac set the card to always be at 0% fan speed under something like 39C (not 49C I know that for a fact). The fans are completely unresponsive until it goes into active mode. I also know unless you set the curve to kick in right as it comes out of idle mode the fans will spin up past 100% before settling down to whatever value they are at.

    As for the noise... I have 5 ML140's all (were) set less than 900RPM, and I have a Seasonic Prime Titanium 850W PSU, in a Corsair 750D case, also a Corsair H115i cooler also with ML140 fans set about 900rpm, and I could never even hear the GPU until it hit about 58% (which it never does under normal circumstances). I consider my rig extremely quiet even as it sits 3 feet away from my face on my desk I can't hear it even in a dead silent room, where even a whisper would disturb the peace. You must have bat-like hearing to call this card loud.

    I have since upped all my fan speeds as I have overclocked my 6700K to its thermal limit so far. H115i pump is set to almost 3000rpms, fans on that are set to around 1350rpms, the case fans are set to 1100rpms, and I always keep my ceiling fan on now to help the air flow in my room. With my gaming headset on the GPU could go up to 75% before I hear it. And the ceiling fan is still louder than the rest of my rig FYI.

    I absolutely love this card, it is a brute-force method of cooling and overclocking, but I don't mind at all, it's an absolute beast when it comes to running my Acer Predator X34. There isn't a (at least decently) optimized game I can't play at 100Hz Ultra 3400x1440.
    Reply
  • Nei1
    Re: GPU for computing, http://boinc.berkeley.edu/wiki/GPU_computing

    And the other thing besides gaming is to use the computational power of today's GPUs for processing Distributed Computing Project work-units, as described in the Berkeley link. Do any of Tom's measurements indicate if this GPU would survive if it were driven to 100% load continuously, or what percentage would be catastrophic (given ambient temperature or whatever)? Or shall we project-participants assume that if we set our project-clients to run the GPU at 100%, it wouldn't be a problem? Heat is the enemy; it would help to know what heat sensors are available, what apps are available to monitor the temp(s), so that we may reduce the load as necessary, possibly automatically. One could use some guidance about how to run the GPU, perhaps not at its maximum limit, for longevity and error free computations.

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • JDubstep
    I don't know that the fuss about the noise was. I hear my case fans and water cooling pump before I hear the card. Even still, I wear headphones most of the time I'm at my computer gaming and the only noticeable detail? Card sag. My riser cable came in today and I'll address that accordingly. Other than that, my gripes are: a) the YouTube tech community still failing to review and publicize this beast b) you might have to hit the weights more in order to put this card into your system. Other than that, it's money well spent. I'd even go as far to say better than the KingPin cards coming out soon too.
    Reply
  • FormatC
    19788805 said:
    Re: GPU for computing, http://boinc.berkeley.edu/wiki/GPU_computing
    And the other thing besides gaming is to use the computational ... Thanks.
    Feel you free to send me any files to check it. But I measure all things on an offline-system. It is secure. I measure the VGA cards with Furmark over a longer time, not only a few minutes. That gives me a good overview about the quality of the PCBs and the cooling. This Zotac is simply to hot for my taste (VR area).

    Reply
  • EpIckFa1LJoN
    19789269 said:
    I don't know that the fuss about the noise was. I hear my case fans and water cooling pump before I hear the card. Even still, I wear headphones most of the time I'm at my computer gaming and the only noticeable detail? Card sag. My riser cable came in today and I'll address that accordingly. Other than that, my gripes are: a) the YouTube tech community still failing to review and publicize this beast b) you might have to hit the weights more in order to put this card into your system. Other than that, it's money well spent. I'd even go as far to say better than the KingPin cards coming out soon too.

    Exactly! The only problem I have with mine (since I have a GPU Brace) is the fact that there are basically two fan profiles and the fans are 100% unresponsive under 40C. So you have to set a fan profile that kicks on AFTER the stock profile for it to work. It's a workaround at least. TweakTown's review has it beating every other 1080 Ti that has come out so far.
    Reply
  • threecs
    You can deactivate the "always idle" fan functionality through the Zotac Firestorm software. Install and run Firestorm. Select Spectra. The middle panel will have a small - easy to miss - down arrow. Press it and it will reveal a "Fan stop setting ON/OFF". When set to OFF the fans will always follow any custom settings.
    Reply
  • JDubstep
    Prior to running stress tests I did the following:
    -opened up the card and applied Thermal Grizzly in lieu of MFR thermal paste
    -mounted my card to the side of my case with a riser cable and mount

    Notables:
    -ambient temperature was 23ºC
    -ran FurMark at the following settings: 1920x1080 AA-8X MSAA
    -GPU runs a three monitor setup; all are 1080p/144Hz/1ms and monitor 1 was used
    -GPU clocks were stock with the boost clock at 1974 MHz and memory at 5599 MHz
    **edit**
    -two tests consisted of approximately 30 mins of stressing with ample cool-down time in between (44ºC)

    End results
    -min FPS: 67, max FPS: 71, avg FPS: 70
    -GPU utilized 85% TDP, 69% fan speed, temperature 70ºC
    -no SLM was used; most prevalent noise was due to water pump, case fans, and coolant being flushed back into reservoir

    My take:
    Not the most 'sound' way to prove a point, but since my parts came in I decided to apply some decent thermal paste while I had the case open and the card out. The board sag was irking me, so I rectified that as well. I do believe in the process that by positioning the card in this manner I have: a) probably reduced the ambient heat in the case and b) increased the level of sound I would hear from the fans as it sits right up against the tempered glass panel. This being said, I honestly have yet to see my card fans push 100%. I don't dabble in overclocking GPUs, and with this beast you really shouldn't have to do that. With an MSRP of $729 (currently on sale), this price point not only trumps a majority of the non-reference cards in price, but all of them in performance as well. I'm quite happy with my purchase, and I really think all this talk of 'coil whine' is either a farce or a fluke. Go buy the card off of Newegg and return it after 20 days if it whines. After that, go buy your FTW3 or Strix. Neither one of these will compare, IMHO.
    Reply
  • EpIckFa1LJoN
    Threecs, you da real MVP.
    Reply
  • rlssetiawan
    Anyone experience have to underclock the core clock ? I have to underclock it -20 up to -40 just to have stable performance. Fire strike/heaven or gaming will be freezing in default setting. Experienced this on 2 cards of zotac 1080 ti amp extreme.
    Reply