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Zotac GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition Review

Zotac’s GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition sure looks good, thanks to its sleek metal shroud and dual fan design, but does it perform as good as it looks?

Our Verdict

Zotac’s Geforce GTX 960 AMP! Edition is not a bad card. In fact it’s quieter than most and performs very well, while requiring less power to do it. Sadly that’s not quite enough as it falls just short of the competition for the same GPU.

For

  • Build quality • Design • Overclocking • Power usage

Against

  • Memory • Noise • Temperature

Introduction

Anyone familiar with Zotac knows that the company has a history of offering some of the best values for Nvidia-based graphics cards. Not only does Zotac often hit attractive price points, but its engineers also come up with some of the highest-clocked components. The board we're looking at today is no exception, sporting a 1266MHz base clock rate and GPU Boost rating of 1329MHz. Couple that with a $210 price tag, and we could be looking at one of the better GeForce GTX 960s out there.

Grab the GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition and you'll immediately notice how sturdily-built it feels. There is a solid metal back-plate that wraps around the top and rear of the card. This protects the PCB from damage during handling, while significantly improving the card's rigidity.

Not that stiffness is all that important in a card this size. The GeForce GTX 960 AMP! is one of the smaller overclocked boards in our lab. A standard PCB is around 117mm tall. This one comes in at 111.15mm. Its not a dramatic difference, but when you consider that the GTX 980 AMP! Omega is 133mm tall, more diminutive dimensions are refreshing. Not only is the 960 AMP! shorter than most of its competition, but it's also 208mm long, so its length measurement registers on the more compact side. And despite that beefy-looking heat sink up front, the card is quite light as well, weighing in at 590 grams.

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Zotac does a commendable job with its aesthetics. The gunmetal-colored shroud with carbon fiber accents looks fantastic, and the wrap-around back plate really complements the card.

Hidden below that lovely shroud is a large aluminum sink with two copper heat pipes running through aluminum fins. To bring in fresh air, dual 90mm fans are used. Zotac calls this its IceStorm Cooling System.

Given the card's conservative power specification, the GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition uses a single six-pin PCIe connector. Zotac's maximum consumption is rated for 120W, which matches Nvidia's reference. That's interesting if only because this board is running at a higher clock rate, suggesting Nvidia's spec had some headroom built in or Zotac has some hand-picked GPUs.

When it comes to display outputs, Zotac has you covered. Again sticking closely to the reference design, we find one dual-link DVI-I connector, full-sized HDMI and three DisplayPort outputs. Four of the five can be used simultaneously. And as with all GeForce GTX 960s, there is only one SLI bridge connector, enabling two-way configurations.

There really isn’t much to say about the bundle. You get the graphics card, a driver disc and a user manual in the box. Additionally, there is a dual four-pin molex to six-pin PCIe adapter. There are no included games, nor any stickers or posters. You get what you need and nothing else.


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  • Rattenmann
    Why did you not inlcude a benchmark comparing the three cards at stock and max overclock? That would actually be the most interesting part about this review / test.

    /sadface
    Reply
  • NinjaNerd56
    I have the EVGA SSC card, and it's a solid card.

    I use Afterburner with an anal retentive fan profile, so my card has never exceeded 56C. Unless I'm playing a game, the fans are idle...I have a slew of case fans installed.

    Performance is very good to amazing considering the 128bit handcuffs, and overall my rig is quieter, cooler, and uses less juice than my 'old' 650Ti board.

    Reply
  • Larry Litmanen
    Zotac does good stuff. My old rig came with a Zotac 9800 GT. To date still going strong in my brother's rig (he doesn't game).
    Reply
  • atheus
    Like Rattenmann, I'm a little puzzled that you compared the card against competing cards in power draw and related issues, but then stopped the comparisons there. Seems like an article that got published about half finished. Could it be that we are "looking at one of the better GeForce GTX 960s out there"? After reading this article, I still have no idea.
    Reply
  • Blueberries
    People are asking for overclocked comparisons when the card can't run 1080p without underclocking itself?

    Maybe they should have considered more than two heat pipes. This card is a joke considering other people are selling a much better product for the same price.
    Reply
  • atheus
    15716966 said:
    People are asking for overclocked comparisons when the card can't run 1080p without underclocking itself?

    Maybe they should have considered more than two heat pipes. This card is a joke considering other people are selling a much better product for the same price.

    That's sort of what I take away from the little info that is here. It seems like the article is very positive about all these rather suspicious results, though. It leaves me wondering if there is some sort of bias going on, and if that's the reason it isn't being tested at its best against the other cards at their best. Well, not so much wondering as that is exactly what I wind up concluding.
    Reply
  • Blueberries
    15716966 said:
    People are asking for overclocked comparisons when the card can't run 1080p without underclocking itself?

    Maybe they should have considered more than two heat pipes. This card is a joke considering other people are selling a much better product for the same price.

    That's sort of what I take away from the little info that is here. It seems like the article is very positive about all these rather suspicious results, though. It leaves me wondering if there is some sort of bias going on, and if that's the reason it isn't being tested at its best against the other cards at their best. Well, not so much wondering as that is exactly what I wind up concluding.

    Why bother with benchmarks and graphs and equipment and testing and swapping this and that and... the preliminary results tell the whole story to me.
    Reply
  • dcunited
    Perhaps I can add to the discussion here. The smaller size makes this an excellent buy for those with smaller, noncustomizable mid towers. A lot of these cases comfortably house one fan models but can squeeze in a 8-9 inches.

    TLDR: this model is more powerful than comparable single fan models for those concerned with size.
    Reply
  • atheus
    15717272 said:
    Perhaps I can add to the discussion here. The smaller size makes this an excellent buy for those with smaller, noncustomizable mid towers. A lot of these cases comfortably house one fan models but can squeeze in a 8-9 inches.

    TLDR: this model is more powerful than comparable single fan models for those concerned with size.

    I see. This may be a good angle, but although the Zotac's size was discussed in the article, this is not the angle the article has taken. The opening paragraph states "we could be looking at one of the better GeForce GTX 960s out there", and the card is compared against two variants with coolers that mop the floor with this Zotac's cooler. The analysis and the data do not match up. What you say may be true, but you would have to read some other article to know it.

    15717151 said:
    Why bother with benchmarks and graphs and equipment and testing and swapping this and that and... the preliminary results tell the whole story to me.
    Well, I can see that this card's cooler isn't all that great, but the author is hypothesizing they may have hand-picked GPU's for these cards. I would think floating this kind of statement should justify some comparisons beyond how the power and cooling stack up. Besides, although it is clear that it will run hot as hell I don't see clear evidence that this will cause throttling, or how its performance will pan out against other cards running 25 degrees cooler.

    I guess the main complaint though is this general super-positive review with a bunch of very unimpressive data, and a bunch of other data with no context so I can't really tell if it's good or bad.
    Reply
  • Calculatron
    Interesting review!

    I'm surprised no reviewing sites have done a GTX 960 4gb SLI benchmark, yet, however.
    Reply