Zotac GTX 480 AMP! review

Is this Nvidia's Fermi finally done right?

TODO alt text


  • Cooler and quieter
  • Extra OC headroom


  • Slightly delicate fan guard
  • Miserly factory OC

Nothing inspires less confidence in the quiet running of a top-end GPU than the words 'dual-turbine' slapped onto its cooler. That said, though, the plain black stock cooler that usually adorns the vanilla-flavoured Nvidia GTX 480 could quite easily sport the words "frickin' loud-ass jet turbine" in day-glo paint and still be an understatement.

So Zotac's AMP! edition of the GTX 480 has a new, less melty cooler on-board. Now what does that get you?

Well, you're picking up a factory overclocked card, as the AMP! moniker indicates. The new Zalman VF3000 dual-turbine cooler has allowed the normally Eyjafjallajökull-hot card to have a little extra speed squeezed out of it without burning a hole through your motherboard and out the side of your chassis.

The factory overclock, though, only works out as around an eight per cent increase in the core and shader speeds, which hardly translates into an impressive boost in gaming frame rates over the stock GTX 480.

Across the board, that only gives you around a four per cent increase in frame rates; in real terms that's around an extra two or three frames per second at the highest resolutions.

Easy install

So far, so meh then; especially considering the performance of the overclocked, custom water-cooled GTX 480 housed in the Scan 3XS Cyclone rig.

But this new cooling solution is far easier for the lone upgrader to install in their existing system and offers enough of a thermal envelope to allow you to upclock the AMP! to almost the same point as the liquid-loving Scan card.

We hit 850MHz on the core clock, giving an overclock of over 20 per cent on the stock GTX 480 speeds. In real world terms that's a frame rate increase of as much as 15 per cent in some cases.

Putting that in context, you've got a Fermi card that's finally delivering on the early promise of that GF100 GPU. Okay, so it took some serious after-market cooling solutions to give Nvidia the bump it needed, but now we've got a GTX 480 that is slightly cheaper than AMD's twin-GPU HD 5970 and is as close as damn it any benchmark you can throw at them.

That said, we did need to have both fans running at full revs in order to stave off those freezy, freezy graphics fails. But even then it's nowhere near as loud as Nvidia's wheezing and whining stock cooler.

Well, that's with a little judicious tweaking of the metal fan guards, which got in the way of the fans out of the box and made for some hideous plastic-on-metal scrapey noises on initial booting.

But this is the top air-cooled Fermi card you'll find in the wild until Nvidia manages to sort out its chip yields and actually produce a 512-core GF100-based card. Now what's your response to this, AMD?

Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview

Tech Specs

Product TypeGraphic Card
Chipset ManufacturerNVIDIA
Chipset Model480
Chipset LineGeForce
Chipset SeriesGTX
Maximum Resolution2560 x 1600
Brand NameZotac
Standard Memory1.50 GB
Host InterfacePCI Express 2.0 x16
HDCP SupportedYes
Bus Width384 bit
Multi-GPU TechnologySLI
RAMDAC Speed400 MHz
Analog SignalYes
Digital SignalYes
Dual Link DVI SupportedYes
Number of DVI Outputs2
Number of HDMI Outputs1
Height111.2 mm
Cooler TypeFan Cooler
Memory TechnologyGDDR5 SDRAM
Form FactorPlug-in Card
Length266.7 mm
ManufacturerZOTAC International
Memory Speed3800 MHz
Product ModelZT-40102-10P
Product NameZT-40102-10P GeForce GTX 480 Graphics Card
Manufacturer Part NumberZT-40102-10P
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.zotac.com
Marketing Information

Experience games with phenomenal visuals and unprecedented realism with the Microsoft DirectX 11 and OpenGL 3.2 compatible ZOTAC GeForce GTX 480. The latest 3D Games render with the utmost visual quality and precision with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 480 thanks to superior anti-aliasing methods that render up to 32x sample rates for lightning-fast and high quality anti-aliasing that eliminates jagged edges for crystal clear visuals without sacrificing performance.

Package Contents
  • ZT-40102-10P GeForce GTX 480 Graphics Card
  • Disc
  • ZOTAC Technology Demos Disc
  • User Manual
  • Mini-HDMI-to-HDMI Adapter
  • DVI-to-VGA Adapter
  • Dual 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe Power Cable
  • Dual MOLEX to 6-pin PCIe Power Cable
Limited Warranty2 Year
API SupportedDirectX 11.0, OpenGL 4.0