GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition Continued
The cooler is covered by a very sharp looking grey shroud with carbon fiber accents. The card itself is very heavy and very long. The cooler extends a couple inches past the PCB. The card features 2 x 6 pin power connectors which should be able to supply up to 225 watts of power. The official TDP of the GTX 970 is in the 147 watts range, so there is some room to play with when it comes to overclocking. The video card communicates with the world by way of a single dual-link DVI port, a single HDMI 2.0 port (possibly 1.4a), and three DisplayPort 1.2 units. The DVI port can go to 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz, the HDMI can supposedly do 4K @ 60 Hz, and the three DP units can in fact do 4K @60 Hz. Users who run in surround should make sure they either have DP capable monitors or plenty of DP to DVI active adapters.
The bundle is very much utilitarian and spartan. Serves a users needs for the most part.
The bundle is fairly minimal, but effective. It comes with a pair of molex to PCI-E power adapters incase a user’s power supply does not have enough 6 pins. It also ships with the fairly uncommon (and anymore mostly unused) DVI to VGA adapter. The driver CD of course has some older driver versions on there, but a user should always go to NVIDIA.com and download the latest version. Zotac also bundles in their overclocking utility called FireStorm.
Zotac has done a nice job with the design and build quality of the card. It is very heavy, but does not flex very much due to the solid construction of the fan and heatsinks, as well as the backplate. The ports are an interesting decision, but one that I think works in this case. As mentioned above, if a user wants to use Surround they have to have either monitors that are DP native, or have a pair of DP to DVI active adapters handy. Zotac does not include any of those in the bundle, but this is not surprising since they cost around $25 to $35 in retail.
Zotac likes to keep their gear well protected. The bubblewrap sleeve is a nice touch.
The board retails for around $375, which is a little high for a GTX 970. This is offset by the cooling performance of the card as well as the extremely high overclock right out of the box. Without further tweaking this card will match a reference GTX 980 in most circumstances, which is not bad considering a stock GTX 980 is going to be in the $490 range.
The cooling performance is outstanding with this board. It rarely spun up the fans to a point where I could hear them outside of the case. It is pretty much dead silent all the time, even with the small amount of overclocking I was able to accomplish. The backplate did get very warm to the touch, but that is likely by design as it is taking heat away from components on the back of the card.
The card is very long so care should be taken to measure the case it will be going into to make sure there is enough space. It is very close in length to some of the longer Lightning cards from MSI which would often challenge smaller and older cases. The power connectors are on the top edge of the card, so they are readily accessible and should not add to the length problem. When the card is turned on the Zotac logo at the top of the card lights up. It is another neat little feature that adds some spice to a windowed PC enclosure.
The card is very much a looker. The dark plastic complements the carbon fiber. Have we mentioned how long this card is?
The FireStorm overclocking utility is not a good selling point. Yes, it works, but it skips many of the overclocking features found in MSI’s Afterburner. I installed it for a while on the test machine, but results were not favorable. It is nice that Zotac includes such a thing, but there are better options out there that will work with this particular card.
Overall the board is quite impressive for a user not wishing to run 4K resolutions.