Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Review
   
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Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition Review

February 12th, 2015 James Leave a comment Go to comments

Overview

 

Recently we have taken a look at both the Zotac 980 and the Zotac 970, and I guess our round-up wouldn’t be complete without taking a look at Nvidia latest Graphics Card the Nvidia GTX 960. Therefore today I will be taking a look at the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition.

The Nvidia GEFORCE GTX 960 is the baby of the NVIDIA Maxwell™ based family, it’s also (possibly more importantly) the cheapest! Despite this the card still supports all of the latest Nvidia technologies, including: NVIDIA® Super Resolution technology, NVIDIA® GameWorks technology, NVIDIA® GameStream technology and NVIDIA® TXAA technology. This Zotac 960 AMP! Edition also features an overclocked Core Clock of 1266Hz and a Boost Clock of 1329Hz, with its 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM running at the default 1753Hz (7010Hz effective). All of this equates to a TDP of just 120W.

 

Zotac logo large ‘The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition is a high-performance graphics card designed with gamers in mind. Powered by the next-generation NVIDIA Maxwell architecture ,the card delivers incredible performance, unmatched power efficiency, and cutting-edge features.

The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition focuses on performance, function, and style. The new FREEZE technology disables the dual 90mm IceStorm cooler when idle to lower noise and extend the life of the fans while the metal gunmetal ExoArmor front shroud and wraparound backplate, help to minimize vibrations and enhance durability. The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition is the solution for enthusiasts who want performance, function, and style..’

 

Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - box front

Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - box back

 

The Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition arrived at pcG in a smart predminanltley black box, with the front of the box highlighting the model, the extended warranty (up to 5 years), 2GB VRAM, Zotac’s Firestorm overclocking utility, Nvidia SLI, NVIDIA® GameStream, NVIDIA® GameWorks, NVIDIA® G-Sync and support for DirectX 12.

The back of the box goes on to highlight various Nvidia technologies with certain Games. I was surprised to see two unreleased Games featured here: Evolve and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Although why I’m surprised I don’t know, as we all know releasing badly optimised Games is now common place anyway (soz, rant over!).

 

Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - box open

Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - inner box

 

Opening the outer box reveals an all black inner box adorned with a simple grey Zotac logo.

 

Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - inner box (open)

Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - box contents

 

Opening the inner black box shows us the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition’s somewhat eco friendly packaging with the card further protected by a bubble wrap style anti-static bag.

In the box there’s nothing more than the Graphics Card and a Dual 4-pin MOLEX-to-6-pin PCIe adapter. The Driver CD and User Manual (that should be there) were not!? But what we can see is what is effectively a warning label, telling us about Zotac’s Freeze Tech. This label advises us that the fans will stop spinning at low loads, also please remove before first use! 😉

At the time of review the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition is available for £175 on Ebuyer or on Amazonfor £180 and comes with a very generous 5 year warranty (first two years through your retailer, extended by a further three upon registration of your GPU with Zotac).

 

Specifications/Features

courtesy of Zotac

Model ZT-90303-10M

Interface PCI Express 3.0

Chipset Manufacturer NVIDIA
GPU GeForce GTX 960
Core clock 1266 MHz (base) 1329 MHz (boost)
Cores 1,024
Shader Clock N/A

Memory Clock 7010 MHz
Memory Size 2GB
Memory Interface 128-bit
Memory Type GDDR5

DirectX DirectX 12
OpenGL OpenGL 4.4

DVI 1 (2560×1600)
HDMI 1 (4K @ 60 Hz)
DisplayPort 3 (4K @ 60 Hz)
VGA (with adapter)

Tuner None
RAMDAC N/A
Max Resolution 4K
RoHS Compliant Yes
SLI Supported 2-way
Cooler Dual Fan
Dual-Link DVI Supported Yes
Supported OS Certified for Windows 8 / 7 / Vista / XP

Package Contents ZT-90303-10M, Dual 4-pin MOLEX-to-6-pin PCIe adapter, Driver Disk & User Manual
Game Bundle N/A

* Additional details available here

 

First Impressions

 

Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - fans

 

First impressions of the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition are wow isn’t it small, the question is though, is it going to be a little power house or not!? From a looks point of view there’s not much to dislike about the 960 AMP! as the card’s custom cooler is predominately black with only the centre’s of the fans being silver, further enhanced by the central metallic grey Zotac logo, which does look kind of cool. That carbon effect strip running around the sides looks pretty cool too! Of course its size also helps when it comes to Cases, I’m confident that the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition will fit in pretty much an cases out there. But believe it or not its bigger brother the Zotac Geforce GTX 970 is actually 3mm shorter!

 

Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - front Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - back

 

Looking at the front of the Zotac 960 AMP! Edition we can see that it is dominated by its twin 90mm cooling fans. As we saw during the un-boxing (via a warning sticker) these fans will actually stop spinning when the card is not under any load, which is kind of cool! The black and silver contrast fans also look pretty good giving the otherwise safe design a bit of a much needed lift.

Flipping the card onto its back we see what is always a very welcome sight, especially on a budget concious card like this one, and that’s a back-plate. Not only does this make the card look better by hiding all of those solder joints, but it also adds rigidity to the card and stops it flexing quite as much. Oddly though, as pcG Mike pointed out in his Zotac 980 Review the Zotac name is logically upside down!?

Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - left Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - right

 

The Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition is a dual slot card with a depth of approximately 40mm. What is rather smart is the carbon effect running down the side of the card, I didn’t notice it at first, but it does add a little bit of bling!

Looking at the other side we can see (from its single connector) that the Nvidia GTX 960 only supports dual SLI. Again we see the same carbon effect running down the side of the card, with a single 6-pin power connector at the far end. The main shroud also features a centrally mounted silver Zotac logo.

Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - outputs Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP - end

 

Looking at the PCIE bracket we can see that the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition features 5 outputs. x1 DVI-D, x1 HDMI and x3 DisplayPort, although why the HDMI is sandwiched between the DisplayPorts, I don’t know!? The rest of the bracket is covered with mesh of triangular holes in an attempt to aide cooling.

Looking at the far end of the card there’s really not much to see, other than it looks pretty damn good, with the coming together of the shroud (again with its carbon effect) and the back-plate that forms half of this end of the card.

 

Hardware Installation

 

Installation into our Test Rig‘s motherboard and case was simple enough, as the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition is very short at just 208mm in length and 112mm wide, meaning it fits easily without any issues at all. Cabling was easy enough just x1 6-pin plug.

  • Test Rig Setup

  • Case Cooler Master HAF XB Power Supply Corsair Professional Series AX 760i
    Motherboard ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer CPU Intel Core i5-4690K
    CPU Cooler Raijintek Themis RAM HyperX Savage 2400MHz 8GB Kit
    Graphics Card Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition SSD HyperX FURY 120GB

     

    Zotac 960 AMP - installed (side) Zotac 960 AMP - installed (angled) Zotac 960 AMP - installed (above)

     

    Testing Methodology/Setup

     

    Our Test Rig was treated to a fresh install of Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit (Service Pack 1) with all associated drivers also installed. Nvidia Driver 347.52 was installed and used throughout testing.

    For testing purposes we use MSI Afterburner (here), to help us with our testing and overclocking.

     

  • Overclocking the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition using MSI Afterburner (Version 4.1.0)
  •  

    Zotac 960 AMP - Overclocked (Afterburner Settings)

    Nvidia’s Boost clock (Nvidia Boost 2.0) is a bit of a difficult thing to explain, but the bottom line is that it runs at whatever the best speed it can while trying to remain within its TDP of 120W (READ: whilst staying cool!). With the card at stock this saw it Boosting up and beyond its Stock Boost Clock (1329MHz) to 1380MHz. But obviously we wanted more…

    Via MSI Afterburner I raised the Power Limit to 108% (the maximum supported) overclocked the Core (Boost) Clock by a further 75MHz (sorry that’s all I could manage) and overclocked the Memory Clock by a further 600MHz (now that is impressive). While also turning the fan speed to manual and setting it to 100%, in an attempt to keep the thermal throttling at bay.

    The end result is a card with a theoretical Core Boost Clock of 1404MHz and a Memory Clock of 8210MHz. Of course (due to Nvidia GPU Boost 2.0) what shows on screen at any time is anyone’s guess (I saw 1454MHz), as the card it constantly balancing within its TDP. BUT of course the final net result is that the card does run quicker, woohoo! 😉

     

    Hardware Performance

     

  • Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition – STOCK (Core: 1266MHz / Boost: 1329MHz / Mem: 7010MHz)
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    Batman Arkham Origins 24.00 74.00 50.00 129.00 FPS (average)
    Tomb Raider 24.00 67.00 43.00 60.10 FPS (average)
    Metro Last Light 24.00 78.00 54.00 55.33 (average)
    UNiGiNE Heaven 24.00 74.00 50.00 844
    3DMark (Fire Strike) 24.00 64.00 40.00 6406

     

  • Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition – OVERCLOCKED (Core: 1341MHz / Boost: 1404MHz / Mem: 8210MHz)
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    Batman Arkham Origins 22.50 59.00 36.50 141.00 FPS (average)
    Tomb Raider 22.50 55.00 32.50 66.60 FPS (average)
    Metro Last Light 22.50 59.00 36.00 60.00 (average)
    UNiGiNE Heaven 23.50 56.00 32.50 941
    3DMark (Fire Strike) 22.50 52.00 29.50 6988

     

    Comparative Test Results (at stock):

    NOTE: Please note that all of these benchmarks are valid and correct at the time of review and we do not use historical data. Each benchmark is re-run every time (against our Test Cards) for each new GPU review using the latest Drivers at that time. Therefore the scores may fluctuate between reviews as Driver optimizations come into play…

     

  • BATMAN ARKHAM ORIGINS
  • Batman Arkham Origins - Benchmark Settings
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    226
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    183
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    179
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    141
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    129
    XFX 270X Black OC Edition
    102
    Results measured in FPS (average)
  • TOMB RAIDER
  • Tomb Raider - Benchmark Settings
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    109.7
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    90.6
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    87.1
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    69.0
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    60.1
    XFX 270X Black OC Edition
    49.3
    Results measured in FPS (average)
  • METRO: LAST LIGHT
  • Metro: Last Light - Benchmark Settings
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    86.61
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    81.33
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    74.67
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    58.33
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    55.33
    XFX 270X Black OC Edition
    43.33
    Results measured in FPS (average)
  • UNIGINE HEAVEN 4.0
  • UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 - Benchmark Settings
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    1693
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    1417
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    1302
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    938
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    844
    XFX 270X Black OC Edition
    733
    Benchmark Results
  • 3DMARK (Firestrike)
  • 3DMark - Benchmark Settings
    Zotac GTX 980 AMP!
    10809
    XFX 290X Black OC Edition
    9636
    Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970
    9052
    XFX 280X Black OC Edition
    7281
    Zotac GTX 960 AMP!
    6406
    XFX 270X Black OC Edition
    5718
    Benchmark Results

     

    Being Nvidia’s budget option the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition was never going to be found at the top of our benchmarks, and luckily it’s not at the bottom either! The performance of the Nvidia 960 seems to sit squarely between the AMD 270X and the 280X. Meaning that for Gaming in HD (1920×1080) the Zotac 960 AMP! is a good partner.

    I have to say tough that I was a little disappointed by the cards overclocking headroom though, especially the Core Clock that I was only able to add another 75MHz to. This may be just down to the silicon lottery, it’s difficult to know as this is the first Nvidia 960 that we have seen. Luckily the memory overclocked extremely well, as I was able to add a further 600MHz boosting total effective VRAM speed to 8210MHz! This boosted the performance of the card by a much needed 11%, when looking at the Unigine Heaven test.

    Of course this overclock comes at a cost and that’s by way of the noise that it produces with its dual fans running at 100%. At stock settinga the card is very quiet never peaking above 40dB, but 58dB is loud and probably too loud for Gaming, even with a headset on. But via MSI Afterburner you can balance the performance/noise ratio to find the best settings for you, but with a maximum performance increase of around 11%, it may not even be worth it for some…

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    While the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition is a good card with some great Nvidia technologies, its price is actually the most important factor, as AMD’s 280X is often to be found for just a few pounds more…

    The Zotac 960 AMP! came we packaged in a smart box, with what appeared to be eco-friendly inner packaging. There was no manual or Driver CD in the box (and there should have been), but to be fair in this day and age it’s probably not needed! Once out of the box the I appreciated the smart subtle design of the Zotac 960 AMP! with its black shroud , silver fan centres and its carbon effect side strips. For a budget card, it’s a good looking card, small too! But strangely not as small as its bigger brother the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 970!?

    Of course from a Gaming point of view all we really care about is how fast does it go? Well it’s fast enough for modern Gaming at HD (1920×1080) but I would not recommend if using a higher resolutions that this. But does it go fast enough for its cost? The answer is difficult to categorically answer at this point, as the card is new and this is the first one we have seen. BUT, the bottom line is if you take a look at our benchmarks, Nvidia’s 960 is consistently outperformed by AMD’s 280X a card that can be had for just a few pounds more!

    The slightly lack lustre overclock didn’t help the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition either, as I couldn’t seem to boost the Core Clock by more than 75Hz! The memory did fare much better though with and overclock of 600MHz, giving us an effective memory speed of 8210MHz! The net result was an overall performance increase of approximately 11%.

    What is to be admired though is the low output noise (38dB) while using the stock settings and the low power consumed by the card (120W), this much performance, in such a small package, with so little heat and noise was a dream only a couple of years ago. It may well the the perfect partner for a Living Room, Small Form factor (SFF) PC.

    There’s nothing wrong with the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition as a standalone Graphics Card, its problem is the competition at this price point (£175). Its main competitor is AMD’s 280X (not the 270X), as the 280X consistently performs better has more VRAM and only costs a few pounds more…

     

    Verdict

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    51-OXtpkT7L._SY355_Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition


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    Design/Quality pcGameware awards the Zotac GEFORCE GTX 960 AMP! Edition a Silver
    Performance
    Value
    Overall

     

    Many thanks to Zotac for providing this sample for review

     


    1. Gelila
      June 30th, 2015 at 12:41 | #1

      Hi there

      I have this device and wants to know the spec of a pc to use to run without any modification please advise the best one to use