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Zotac GeForce GTX 980 AMP! Omega Edition Review: The Big Gun

Zotac's GeForce GTX 980 AMP! Omega edition boasts a large aftermarket cooling solution enabling an aggressive factory overclock. How does the board perform right out of its box? How about after we try to push it even harder?

Our Verdict

At stock and factory quick boost overclocks, Zotac's GeForce GTX AMP! Omega is one of the best $580 graphics cards we have ever tested. Serious overclockers will be disappointed by the low 111% power cap, though.

For

  • Excellent performance for the price, High factory overclock and quick boost presets, Aggressive and attractive non-reference card design

Against

  • Firestorm overclocking utility needs improvement, Cooler isn't notably improved over reference, Manual overclocking is severely limited by BIOS-induced 111% power ceiling

Big And Beautiful

Zotac has a rich history of providing some of the highest factory overclocks with its performance-oriented AMP! line of graphics cards. The product we're looking at today is no different; Zotac's GeForce GTX AMP! Omega Edition boasts a 1203MHz base and 1304MHz rated GPU Boost clock rate, along with a selectable profile that dials both frequencies to 1273 and 1374MHz, respectively. At $580 on Newegg, it sits between the company's $550 AMP! edition (1165/1266MHz GPU) and its top-of-the-line $610 AMP! Extreme (1291/1393MHz).

Truth be told, the AMP! Omega has a lot in common with the premium AMP! Extreme. Both share the same oversized custom PCB with"power boost"-branded capacitors, 8+2 power phases and the OC+ module with a dedicated USB microcontroller (more on that later). The only physical difference between the two appears to be their cooler. The entry-level AMP! card employs a standard-sized PCB and does not possess the OC+ feature.

Physically, the GeForce GTX 980 AMP! Omega Edition stands out due to its extra-tall circuit board. Standard PCIe cards tend to be about 117 mm (4.5") high, but Zotac's product measures 133mm (5.25"). Sitting three-quarters of an inch higher, the AMP! Omega edition may have problems fitting in narrow enclosures. Most ATX cases should be big enough to accommodate it, though.

The card's 50mm (2") width exceeds the space provided by two expansion slots, which makes SLI difficult to enable on some motherboards. At least the circuit board's 268mm (10.5") length is no longer than the reference GeForce GTX 980. Weighing 1187 grams (2lb 10 oz), it's barely heavier than Nvidia's own 1034-gram version.

Visually, Zotac's AMP! Omega is undeniably distinct. The dark gray brushed metal finish with yellow accents delivers a serious, militaristic impression. A large heat sink bridges the top of the tall PCB to the fan shroud, and the back plate is recessed to showcase the power boost-branded capacitors and OC+ module.

Active cooling is delivered by two 85mm fans. The GPU is topped by an aluminum cooling block that utilizes six 6mm heat pipes, all of which are attached to aluminum cooling fins. That block makes direct contact with the die, although it is attached to a separate memory heat sink, and each VRM has its own individual heat sink as well.

The reference GeForce GTX 980 has two 6-pin PCIe power inputs to feed its 165W TDP. But Zotac's AMP! Omega utilizes two 8-pin connectors, facilitating headroom for tuning.

On the back, you can see the OC+ USB module, which provides extra information and functionality for Zotac's Firestorm overclocking utility. Those tiny DIP switches on the left are labeled LN2_OTP, exposing a temperature protection override for extreme overclockers who use liquid nitrogen.

The card features dual-link DVI-I, full-sized HDMI and three DisplayPort outputs.

The bundle includes a mini-USB cable for OC+, two dual-6-to-8-pin PCIe power adapters, manuals, driver CD, case sticker and a DVI-to-VGA adapter. You don't get any fancy extras, but rather what you really need to maximize functionality.

  • chimera201
    "which allows us to provide a stable higher factory clock setting without reducing the lifespan of the components of the graphics card"

    Almost everyone needs a GPU upgrade in less than 3 years. Who cares about the lifespan if it is more than 3 years?

    Reply
  • wh3resmycar
    i'm currently using the 970 version of this card. sweeeeeetttt
    Reply
  • MeteorsRaining
    It's ridiculous to see this card doesn't provide the actual OCing experience one hopes for. Out of the box OC is good, but one simply doesn't expect it to be enough, atleast not for the card in the OCing segment of the brand. This was supposed to be a OCer's card, it failed on those terms. Too many software-bound restrictions. But yes, the hardware does look quite appealing.
    Reply
  • ralanahm
    did you try the nitro boost switch to see if that unlocks the locks. I would hope for a fw or software update.
    Reply
  • mapesdhs
    Not impressed with the Zotac at all.

    I bought an EVGA 980 ACX 2.0 (1266 base clock, 1367 boost), it scores 14260 for
    the Firestrike test just at default settings, it's a proper 2 slot card, much quieter
    (the fans don't turn on until the GPU goes over 65C) and from what I've read will
    oc better. Also, in the UK the EVGA card is 35 to 40 UKP cheaper; I can't imagine
    why anyone would buy the Zotac.

    Don, did you try using Afterburner instead for the oc tests?

    Ian.

    Reply
  • jasonelmore
    So zotac goes and over engineer's the hell out of a 980, adding LN2 dip switches, Voltage Readouts, Beefed up power delivery, High performance inductors, and then what do they do?

    They lower the TDP by 11%, when compared to the Nvidia Reference Model. Whats the use of LN2 features if your going to handicap the voltage cap?

    My reference 980 hit 1.5ghz with ease. 1st try overclock actually. And reference board is using the cheapest coils and inductors money can buy.
    Reply
  • WithoutWeakness
    What is the point of this monstrosity of a card? It has an oversized PCB and massive 2.5-slot open air cooler and isn't any faster, cooler, or quieter than Nvidia's reference design. GM104 is only a 165W chip and Zotac designs this huge overkill cooler and it's no better than Nvidia's rear-exhaust design AND takes up 3 slots? What a joke.
    Reply
  • SirKnobsworth
    I'm skeptical that the 980 needs such a beefy cooler, even when overclocked.
    Reply
  • The original Derfman
    Seriously people, you sound like the kind of people that would buy a $100,000 muscle car, then bitch that you can't turn it into a formula dragster and still drive it on the street. This card is seriously overclocked already and yet people still want more, with an intact warranty. Spoiled much?
    Reply
  • coolitic
    Apparently I can't rate posts if I don't disable adblock.

    Toms is really pissing everyone off.
    Reply