Zotac GTX 480 AMP! Edition VideoCard Review - HotHardware

Zotac GTX 480 AMP! Edition VideoCard Review

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Performance Summary: Going into this article, we had a good idea of how the Zotac GTX 480 AMP! Edition would perform. That's because we recently tested a similarly overclocked GTX 480 from EVGA, and the clock speeds of the two cards were very close, a difference of only 4MHz. The results tell us the AMP! Edition offers an 8% performance increase, on average, beyond the reference design GTX 480. Not surprisingly, that's the same percentage we saw in the EVGA article. What we didn't know was how much overclocking headroom the upgraded cooling would allow. After hitting 845MHz on the core during our testing, its clear that the VF3000 cooler from Zalman that Zotac employs in this design, provides significant additional headroom for users interested in pushing this card even further.

Aside from the overclock, the improved cooling performance of the AMP! Edition GTX 480 is what really sets it apart from the reference model. One of the biggest knocks against NVIDIA' s GF100 GPU is its heat production, while ATI HD 5800 cards get praised for relatively lower operating temps. Our testing showed that Zotac's card could match the HD 5870's thermal performance within one degree and eliminated a major disparity between the two cards. Furthermore, we also recorded a drop in power consumption when comparing the AMP! Edition to a stock model.  

Pricing is always part of the decision process, so let's take a look at cost. At $509, the AMP! Edition GTX 480 is one of the pricier GTX 480 cards on the market. Reference 480's are selling for about $449, which gives us a $60 premium for the upgraded cooling and the out-the-box overclock offered by Zotac. Is it worth it? Considering the VF3000 costs roughly $60, we think the price is reasonable. Think about it. If you were to buy a stock GTX 480, along with the Zalman VF3000F (which is not out quite yet), you would be paying the same amount as the AMP! Edition is asking for, except Zotac's product has the cooler pre-installed and the 756MHz clock speed is guaranteed. Of course, its reasonable to expect most standard GTX 480's will be able to hit at least that much, but you never really know how much headroom a particular card will offer. Zotac has taken the guesswork out of the equation, by binning the crop of GTX 480s they have, setting higher frequencies, and installing superior cooling.

High performance enthusiasts should also consider two GTX 460's in SLI. Various performance comparisons show that a couple of 460's outperform a single GTX 480, for roughly the same price. If you can handle the additional noise and heat, its worth looking into.    

To wrap things up, we must admit this card is not for everyone. Its price alone keeps it out of reach for most consumers. In addition, its triple slot form factor might be a deal-breaker for consumers who can't afford to lose an extra expansion slot. But anyone looking to purchase a high end graphics card like the GTX 480 should definitely take note. The AMP! Edition offers considerable advantages over a reference design model. Lower operating temperature is the biggest benefit, by far, followed by measurable performance gains due to the factory overclock and a much quieter sound profile. Zotac also offers customers a lifetime warranty for peace of mind too. With that said, we are definitely impressed by the product overall, and if we were looking to buy a GTX 480 in particular, this is the one to get.



  • Fastest GTX 480 available
  • Quiet 
  • Run amazingly cool
  • Requires less power than reference GTX 480
  • Lifetime warranty

  • Expensive
  • Triple slot form factor

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sick card

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Thats is a wicked card and cooler

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Looks loud, and unnecessary. Although I wouldn't mind having it. It beats the crap out of my 5870.

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Nice card, and great review.

In the future, would it be possible to also run Heaven in OpenGL mode on Windows?  It would give your alternate-OS followers a better idea of how well the devs are pushing it in their drivers.  Tests on both Windows and Linux have shown that the OpenGL scores in Heaven are consistently equal between Win7 and Ubuntu 10.04 when using Nvidia's drivers.

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I have owned this card for about 2 months now.  It is not loud at all, in fact it's damn near silent.  The fans turn at 44% under idle and they never go above 60% speed while playing Crysis Warhead (which by the way, I play with every setting on max or enthusiast settings and 16xAA and I'm getting 50fps avg. at 1920x1080).  I have also overclocked my card to 800MHz core and 1025 memory so far with no voltage changes and it's 100% stable for 24hrs under OCCT GPU test.  This is by far, for the last 3 months, the fastest single GPU solution on the market.  I bought mine for $499 off newegg.com (with a $10 discount coupon).

Here is the kicker... add a second of of these cards to your system in SLI and get an 80% performance increase.  Wow.  Compared to ATI's 45% increase with crossfire, this card becomes the best price to performance enthusiast card on the market in a duel setup. 

Nvidia got some bad press at the Fermi debut but Zotac turned all that right around. This is the only GTX480 you should really consider IMO.  It's worth it.

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Good performance...But LOOK AT ALL THE PLACES THAT DUST CAN COLLECT! Indifferent

Your gonna have to take it out and clean it with a toothbrush every other week:P

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