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Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition Review

Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition Review

A few months ago NVIDIA launched their GTX 980 graphics card along with models from a wide range of manufacturers. We found it to be a great card which performed very well both in its own right and against the closest competition from AMD. Of course over time manufacturers look to move away from reference models and create their own custom, overclocked edition. Today we start the first in a series of graphics card articles with our Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition Review. In this article we have almost completely refreshed our game suite to include Assassins Creed Unity, Alien Isolation, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare and F1 2014 with a basic selection of cards with more comparisons to follow soon.

Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition Review – Packaging and Bundle

zotac-gtx-980-amp-extreme-edition-review-box zotac-gtx-980-amp-extreme-edition-review-bundle

Zotac have pretty much gone all out with the AMP! Extreme Edition packaging, giving us a nice textured fold open box inside a more flashy sleeve. When we open the box we find that the bundled items are all in their own compartments, or in the case of the documentation in its own envelope. Zotac include a DVI to VGA connector, power cables and a USB cable which allows us to connect the card to our motherboard for advanced monitoring.

Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition Review – The Card

zotac-gtx-980-amp-extreme-edition-review-card zotac-gtx-980-amp!-extreme-edition-review-back

The Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition is shown above and as is immediately clear it uses a triple fan cooling solution. Below those fans are two blocks of aluminium heatsinks with nickel plated copper heatpipes and those sit on copper GPU blocks. All in all, this cooler which features carbon fibre aspects, is 2.5slots wide and turning the card round we find that the card is slightly thicker than standard on the other side too, thanks to a large metal backplate which adds stability and protection for the PCB. We can see that Zotac have used enhanced power circuitry on this card and that there are two SLI connectors, though at this time we need to match two identical Zotac cards together rather than mix brands.

zotac-gtx-980-amp-extreme-edition-review-top zotac-gtx-980-amp-extreme-edition-review-outputs

Looking at the top of the card we can see two 8pin power connectors and then turning round to the outputs we find that Zotac employ three DisplayPorts, HDMI and DVI. NVIDIA do allow multi-screen configurations to create resolutions such as 5760×1080 across varied output types however the card is very much geared to 4K support (including over HDMI 2.0).


In terms of core configuration the Maxwell GPU used on the GTX 980 features 2048 Cuda Cores with a reference speed of 1126MHz. The GPU boost spec is 1216MHz and our memory configuration is 4GB of GDDR5 (1750MHz) on a 256-bit bus. Zotac go with 1291MHz standard, 1393MHz boost and 1800MHz memory. Also worthy of note, as well as the usual NVIDIA support of PhysX, 3DVision and the like is support for DirectX 12 on this GPU.

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Helping to make the Zotac AMP! Extreme Edition stand out from the competition are two features. One is enhanced LED lighting which sits on, or within, the IceStorm cooler, changing between green and red depending on the scenario. Then we have the OC+ feature which uses the bundled USB connector to access advanced software features…

Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition Review – Software


…those advanced software features are accessed through the Zotac FireStorm panel and allow us to monitor and overclock the card in great detail.

Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition Review – Conclusion

Starting with the build quality of the Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition we have a card which immediately impresses when unboxed. Zotac are using a cooler design which very much stands out from the competition and while we would like to see the majority of the construction use metal, we appreciate this is already a fairly chunky card and the carbon fibre effect sections look great. The enhanced power circitry takes it above the build quality level of the reference card and we noted no issues with soldering or general assembly. It was also good to see the use of some decent sized copper memory/GPU blocks underneath the aluminum heatsinks.

Worthy of note is that those who register their purchase soon after purchase will receive an extended warranty free of charge and that across various regions we get to choose a free game due to an NVIDIA promotion. That can be chosen from Assassins Creed Unity, The Crew or Far Cry 4. All adding value to an already impressive product.

In terms of performance, that is hard to fault on the Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition. There is a little blip in performance when playing Assassins Creed Unity at 4k where we need to significantly reduce the detail but at 1920×1080 with maximum detail the performance is flawless. Elsewhere, in the likes of Call of Duty Advanced Warfare the card breezes through with maximum detail at resolutions up to 4k which is great. Looking at the power use of the card, Zotac have managed to stay reasonably close to the reference design, though the use of enhanced components doesn’t quite keep the watts down due to the factory overclock. Finally, thermal performance is the best we have seen on on a GTX 980 to date.

As we noted at the start of the review, we will be building up comparison results in the coming days/weeks however looking at the initial testing (see below) in the likes of 3DMark, the AMP! Extreme Edition is significantly faster than the 290X, even in its overclocked form and easily improves over the standard GTX 980 too. A worthy winner of our performance award.


Performance Award


Availavble from Overclockers.co.uk and Newegg.


Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition Review – Performance

Here are a selection of display quality examples from the games we have tested in this review, Assassins Creed Unity, Alien Isolation, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, DOTA2 and F1 2014. All look exceptional on the GTX 980.

ac-unity alien-isolation cod-aw dota-2 f1-2014

Zotac GTX 980 AMP! Extreme Edition
Zotac GTX 970 AMP! Edition
XFX R9-290X Black Edition

Intel Core i7-5960X Gigabyte X99-Gaming 5
16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800
Samsung 850 Pro 512GB 
Corsair AX1500i Antec Kuhler 1250

Installed on a Dimastech EasyXL Test Bench

Intel Wireless AC 7260
Razer DeathAdder
Razer BlackWidow Ultimate
ASUS 120Hz/3D Display

Windows 8.1 64-bit
AMD Drivers: 14.11 Beta 2
NVIDIA Driver 344.75
Assassins Creed Unity
Alien Isolation
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
F1 2014

The test system was built from scratch, a format of the hard drive was performed (NTFS) and then Windows 8.1 was installed. Following the completion of the installation, the video drivers were installed. All windows updates were then installed as were the latest builds of the benchmarking tools. Finally, the hard drives were de-fragmented (where appropriate). For each test, the video drivers were set to default quality/optimizations (unless otherwise stated).

Good Benchmarking Practice

Where possible, each benchmark was performed three times and the median result for each resolution/setting is shown in the tables that will follow. All applications had their latest patches applied and all hardware features the latest BIOS/Firmware.

1920×1080 + Thermals and Power

3DMark FireStrike Extreme and Ultra
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Assassins Creed Unity 1920×1080 Ultra High Detail
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Alien Isolation 1920×1080 Ultra Detail
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Call of Duty Advanced Warfare 1920×1080 Maximum Detail
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DOTA 2 1920×1080 maximum
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F1 1920×1080 Ultra Detail
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Assassins Creed 4K Low Detail
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Alien Isolation 4K Ultra
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Call of Duty Advanced Warfare 4K Maximum Detail
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DOTA2 4K Maximum Detail
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F1 2014 4K Ultra Detail
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About Author

Stuart Davidson


  1. jackjackduank

    Thanks for the review, ZOTAC GTX 980 AMP! EXTREME EDITION totally looks Outstanding!

  2. EfrainMan

    Hate to say it, but there are some issues with this line of cards: http://www.gamersnexus.net/news-pc/1657-zotac-gtx-980-extreme-voltage-issue-warning

    • For extreme overclockers, it seems so. Out of the box though it is a mighty fast card. Having said that, the new BIOS should make for some interesting manual overclocking. (Our sample manually overclocked past GamersNexus btw, by about 75Mhz with full stability on the current BIOS. So could be a mix of BIOS+the luck of the draw)

    • Diddy

      The card is perfect for people who do not want to overclock it themselfs and void the warranty i would take a site like gamernexus with a pinch of salt

    • This problem caused my noVideo itself, not by third-party manufacturers such as Zotac.

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