Zotac GTX 1080 AMP! Extreme 8 GB 30

Zotac GTX 1080 AMP! Extreme 8 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The ZOTAC GTX 1080 AMP! Extreme is available online for $689.
  • Large overclock out of the box
  • Extremely quiet
  • Fans turn off in idle
  • Low temperatures
  • Backplate included
  • Memory overclocked, too
  • RGB lighting
  • HDMI 2.0b, DisplayPort 1.4
  • High price
  • Significant increase in power draw
  • Triple-slot design takes up extra space
  • DVI output no longer includes analog VGA signals
9.9
The Zotac GTX 1080 AMP! Extreme is the company's strongest card in its arsenal; it is also one of the highest-clocked GeForce GTX 1080 custom-design cards on the market, featuring a massive triple-slot cooler. Thanks to the overclock out of the box, the card is 11% faster than the reference GTX 1080 when averaged over our test suite - the biggest improvement we've seen so far. Compared to the GTX 1070, the card is almost 40% faster, and the difference to the Radeon R9 Fury X, the fastest AMD card, is 42%. Zotac has overclocked their memory, too, which is missing on many other custom overclocked GTX 1080 cards. Good stuff!

As mentioned before, Zotac is using a triple-slot cooler on their AMP! Extreme, which is an interesting choice. I've been a fan of triple-slot coolers for years - as long as they're properly engineered so that they provide benefits in the noise and temperature department over a dual-slot design. Zotac's thermal solution certainly delivers here if you can fit it into your case. Gaming temperature is around 73°C, which is sufficiently far away from NVIDIA's thermal limit of 82°C beyond which the card will reduce clocks to hold that temperature. In terms of gaming noise, the ZOTAC AMP! Extreme works great, too. With 29 dBA, it is the quietest GTX 1080 we have tested so far, slightly quieter than the Palit GTX 1080 GameRock, which is also triple-slot, and the MSI Gaming X, which uses a dual-slot cooler, though. Zotac has also included the idle-fan-off feature we love so much since it provides a perfect noise-free experience during desktop work, Internet browsing, and even light gaming. Unlike most other cards, many pieces of the cooler assembly are made from metal, which gives the card an ultra-high quality feel, and, combined with its weight, leaves an excellent impression.

Just like on the reference design, power efficiency of "Pascal" is amazing, with huge improvements over the "Maxwell" architecture that is already highly efficient in the first place. However, it looks as though Zotac traded quite a bit of efficiency for more performance, which isn't unreasonable and something all manufacturers of custom cards do. Compared to the reference design, we see about 60 W more power draw in gaming, which translates into around a 20% loss in performance per watt. This increase is bigger than on any other GTX 1080 we have tested so far and right on the edge of what's worth it in my opinion. Still, Pascal is so efficient that the card is still more efficient than the best AMD has to offer. Even with the higher power output, the card is silent and quiet, so no problems here.

Unlike the reference design, which only uses a single 8-pin power connector for the sake of convenience, the Zotac GTX 1080 AMP! Extreme requires two 8-pin power connectors, which kinda sounds like overkill. The good thing is that Zotac increased their board power limit accordingly, so you could at least make use of that extra power - most other vendors add extra power inputs and then leave the board power limit at a fraction of what would be possible with that power-input configuration.

Overclocking potential of the card is similar to what we've seen on other GTX 1080 cards; GPU max overclock sits at around 2100 MHz and maximum memory frequency is around 1400 MHz. This means that the out-of-the-box overclock eats into the manual OC headroom should you choose to do so. This is a reality on all custom design GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 cards. The manufacturer will basically do some overclocking for you, providing some convenience and peace of mind by the way of a warranty.

With a price of $690, the Zotac AMP! Extreme is one of the more expensive GTX 1080 cards on the market today, the cheapest GTX 1080 can be found for $580, which makes it $110 cheaper. Other high-end GTX 1080s, like the Palit GameRock, EVGA FTW, MSI Gaming Z, ASUS STRIX, and Gigabyte XtremeGaming, come at similar pricing, so it's not just Zotac that's asking for a premium. Without looking at price, the Zotac GTX 1080 AMP! Extreme is without a doubt the best GTX 1080 I have reviewed so far. Still, I'm not fully convinced of whether its extra cost is worth it for the typical gamer unless you want the quietest possible card - then, there is no way around a triple-slot design. What could also matter if you want to do hardcore overclocking is the Zotac engineering and increased power limit - both could provide additional OC headroom, but for the majority of gamers, these 110 bucks probably don't provide enough to heave the card to the undisputed top spot of their GTX 1080 buying list. Had the card been a bit cheaper and more power efficient, I'd have given a 10.0 rating.
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