Zotac GTX 480 AMP! Edition VideoCard Review

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Test System and Unigine Heaven 2.0

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM: In order to provide comparable results, the graphics cards were installed on the same, high end X58 based test system. The components we used consisted of an EVGA Classified motherboard, Core i7 980X Extreme Edition processor, and 6GB of OCZ Blade memory.

Within the BIOS, we configured the processor to an overclocked speed of 4.38GHz and memory to 1857MHz. We feel these settings will minimize the occurrences of performance bottlenecks during benchmark runs and allow the graphics cards to show their true potential. Furthermore, our Crucial M225 solid state drive entered the testing process with a clean copy of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit installed. Once installation was complete, we fully updated the OS and installed the latest drivers and applications relevant to the review article.

HotHardware's Test System
Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7 980X Extreme Edition
Overclocked 4.38GHz

EVGA Classified 760 Motherboard
X58 Express Chipset

Zotac Amp Edition GTX 480 1.5GB
XFX HD 5970 Black Edition 2GB
Gigabyte Super OC HD 5870 1GB
EVGA GTX 480 1.5GB

6GB OCZ Blade DDR3-1857
(3 X 2GB) 7-8-7-20 1T


Crucial M225 128GB SSD
Firmware 1916

Display:
Dell 3008WFP LCD Monitor
2560 x 1600 Resolution

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Professional 64bit
NVIDIA GeForce Driver Release 257.21
ATI Catalyst Display Driver 10.7

Benchmarks Used:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Dirt 2
Aliens vs Predator
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat
Just Cause 2
Batman: Arkham Asylum
FarCry2
H.A.W.X.

We put the Zotac GTX 480 Amp Edition against some stiff competition. The comparison group consists of three top end models and should provide a good idea of where Zotac's card fits in. We included a reference design EVGA GTX 480, Gigabyte's Super Overclock HD 5870, and an XFX HD 5970 Black Edition. Of course, we expect the Amp Edition to show a performance bump over the stock GTX 480, but it will be interesting to find out just how much the extra 56MHz provides. In addition, the HD 5970 is widely regarded as the fastest single video card available, and should show a measurable performance lead in some tests.

Keep in mind while looking at our results, we ran benchmarks with every setting as close to being maxed out as possible to see how well the graphics cards could handle them. In most cases, this means anti-aliasing (AA) set to 8x and anisotropic filtering at 16x, at a demanding resolution of 2560 x 1600. Some of the games we use offer higher levels for NVIDIA cards like the GTX 480, but we find 8x AA / 16x aniso to be the max for ATI cards. Textures, shadows, and all other image quality settings were locked in at their highest settings, with V-sync disabled.

Unigine Heaven v2.0 Benchmark
Synthetic DirectX 11 Gaming


Unigine Heaven

The Unigine Heaven Benchmark v2.0 is built around the Unigine game engine. Unigine is a cross-platform real-time 3D engine, with support for DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL. The Heaven benchmark, when run in DX11 mode, also makes comprehensive use of tessellation technology and advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion), and features volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm and a dynamic sky with light scattering.

We couldn't max out all the settings in this particular benchmark due to load it puts on our test cards. In order to avoid slideshow like performance, tessellation and shaders were set to medium and we ran with 4x AA and 8x aniso. As the graph shows, the Zotac Amp Edition falls between the HD 5970 and stock GTX 480 in performance, but the average scores are very close.


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