Zotac GTX 1080 Ti Amp Edition Review

If you are after the best graphics card at the moment, would the Zotac Amp be the one to choose?

In the box

With the 1080 Ti you get

  • A pair of 6 pin to 8 pin adapters
  • The manuals
  • A software disk

Its not much but then again its all you really need to get up and running.

in-the-box

Design

The Amp edition 1080 Ti is I have to say one of the better looking cards that Zotac make, its much cleaner aesthetically than something like their Amp Extreme edition. Don’t get me wrong, the Extreme is a nice looking card, its just a bit aggressive in its style. This is like a wolf in sheeps clothing, its subtle but you know it packs a serious punch.

front-face

design-shadow-2

amp-ex-front
Reference: 1080 Ti Amp Extreme

The front facia design still contains some sharp and aggressive lines, but its way toned down and I prefer it. I know you don’t see it but if you opted to use a vertical riser it looks nice. I do wish they would have added a bit of LED accent though, if you were to mount it facing the front. But I suppose you could opt for the Amp Extreme edition if you want that.

top

The front also contains two large 100mm fans with some Zotac branding in the centre. These fans work with all the cooling tech that Zotac has added to the card, but more on that in the performance section.

Gone is the Yellow. Now if you have seen one of Zotacs older GPUs or some of their newer models, you’ll have seen the extensive use of Yellow as an accent colour. Well, as much as I liked the Yellow its hard to colour match it with other components. Now with the Amp Edition they’ve gone with a more colour neutral finish and its not as in your face and its also improves its flexibility when adding it to a PC. I’ve added images of a 1080 Extreme for reference.

The backplate is nice, it features some modern patterns and I’m glad they have kept some of their design flourishes as it sets Zotac apart from the rest of the crowd. I’m glad that although they’ve kept it their own, they’ve managed to make it less loud, so its not as in your face as before and it just sits nicer in your build.

sheild-design

On that side of the card that faces outwards there is some Zotac branding which can have the colour altered in the software. Its called Spectra and I’ll show that more in the next section. The branding though is nice and again just right. There is also some Nvidia branding which is a bit large for my liking but there isn’t a deal you can really do about that.

Also on this side there is the power input. The Amp requires two 8 pin PCIe to power the card. Just make sure that your power supply has them. If not you do get some in the box but they aren’t the most attractive of adapters.

power-delivery

Last up is the IO and here you get three display port 1.4, a single HDMI 2.0b and a DVI-D. So there is plenty of scope to run a multi monitor setup if you require. The max resolution output is 7860 x 4320 @60Hz, but you can alternatively run mutiple 1440p monitors or even dual 2160p (4K) monitors. Just make sure you get the same or have the same if you can and that way you’ll get the best possible experience from the Ti.

io-2 design

Software

With the 1080 Ti you get the usual drivers, but its the Firestorm software that really allows you to control and tweak the card. The software is a little like MSIs afterburner but for Zotac cards. With Firestorm you can both tweak and monitor your GPU. It allows you to keep an eye on the cards GPU clock, memory clock, GPU temp and fan speed.

monitor

You can also overclock the cards GPU clock, memory clock, boost the power and increase or decrease the GPU temp limit. To be honest I would not mess with these unless you know what you are doing. The final thing you can do in this section is manually adjust the fan speed of the GPUs fans. This is great if you want to run the card at higher frequencies as you can dial in a fan curve to suit your needs.

fan-curves

The next you can control is the cards lighting with Spectra, this gives you 7 preset colours to choose from, these are Red, Yellow, Pink, Green, Cyan, Blue and White. But if you’re feeling a little more adventurous you can go into the advanced mode and tweak the colour to your preference, or even pick a colour that matches your PC build.

Below there are a selection of images to show you some examples of the different colours you can go for and the different effects you can achieve. Of course if you have more fancy RGB then there are some options to have visual effects. These are static, cycle, breathing, wave and strobe. I like to keep mine subtle but you can go all out if you want to.

spectra-2

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If you have a Zotac card and want this software then you can download it here www.zotac.com/firestorm.

No onto my issues with the software. Spectra works perfectly, as does the overclocking features, its just manually activating the fans. No matter what I do they will not activate. I’ve uninstalled the software, rebooted my PC and nothing has worked. It does work with my 1070, so I’m unsure to why it won’t with the 1080 Ti. I’m thinking this is an isolated incident as I haven’t seen any other reports of people having the same issue.

In PC

The Amp measures in at 300mm (Length) x 148 (Width) x 43.5 (Height) so its not the biggest of GPUs but its something to keep in mind when looking to buy one. I know that in my case there is around 10cm of clearance before hitting the front fan, so just make sure that your case can support a card this big, especially if you have a front mounted radiator.

Also I’m glad to say that with my motherboard there is very minimal GPU sag, my 1070 Amp extreme has some serious GPU sag but this does not, so you’re not likely to need a brace or bracket to hold it in place.

no-sag

Noise levels are quite good, in my system the GPU was not even audible, especially when not being pushed. When the GPU was being utilized the fan speed was only hitting a maximum of 71% in auto mode and even then it wasn’t that noisy at all and I couldn’t hear it over the game audio via my speakers. So if you use a gaming headset, you’ll probably not even hear it. It does get noisy at 100% usage but I’ve yet to see a scenario where that was needed.

Specifications

  • CUDA cores: 3584
  • Video Memory: 11GB GDDR5X
  • Memory Bus: 352-bit
  • Engine Clock Base: 1569 MHz
  • Boost: 1683 MHz
  • Memory Clock: 11 GHz
  • PCI Express 3.0
  • Multi Display Capability Quad Display
  • Recommended Power Supply: 600W
  • Power Consumption: 270W
  • Power Input: Dual 8-pin
  • DirectX 12 API feature level 12_1
  • OpenGL 4.5
  • Cooling 2 x 100mm fans
  • Slot Size: Dual Slot
  • SLI Yes, SLI HB Bridge Supported

Benchmarks

So I’ve decided to do away with synthetic benchmarks as they don’t really tell you the full story when it comes to gaming, but I have been busy and tested the 1080 Ti in a fair few games, so here are the results. Keep in mind all tests were run at 1440p and using DX11 unless stated otherwise. On final note and that is that the 1080 Ti was running stock speeds.

First up was Batman Arkham Knight. This was run at 1440p with high settings, Texture filtering was set to Trilinear and Nvidia gamework effects were enabled. Here are the numbers in FPS.

  • Low (Min): 64
  • Average: 123
  • High (Max): 166

Next up was Bioshock Infinite. Again run at 1440p with the settings cranked to ultra.

  • Low: 91.3
  • Avg: 190.4
  • High: 298.9

The next game for the 1080 Ti was Grid 2, a highly well optimised game that isn’t too demanding. Settings were set to the ultra preset with MSAA x8.

  • Low: 93.7
  • Avg: 128.3
  • High: 183.7

Up next was Metro Last Light Redux. This was run using very high settings with texture filtering on 4x, tessellation on and physics off. Also to note, the benchmark on this game yields odd minimum values and during gameing the card never dropped below 60 FPS.

  • Low: 22
  • Avg: 73
  • High: 144

Overwatch was next to be tested and as we know its not exactly the most demanding title but high framerates do help. It was tested using the epic preset. I tested OW in two different ways. The first was using Dr Junkensteins revenge (JR), which is a almost non stop bombardment of enemy robots, this won’t be available forever as its a Halloween special, but I couldn’t not include it. I used this as it had a lot going on and it would help nearly simulate an epic battle. The next method was just a few random games (Reg) on the different maps and an average was taken.

  • Low: JR – 98 / Reg – 114
  • Avg: JR – 125 / Reg – 140
  • High: JR – 152 / Reg – 166

So you can see that if you were to drop the settings down a notch you could easily hit 144 to be inline with a 144Hz monitor.

PUBG is an odd game, its not very well optimised and even powerful systems struggle to hit super high framerates on intense settings. I tested the game using high settings with foliage and shadows set to low.

  • Low: 64
  • Avg: 82
  • High: 112

So it will comfortably lock out a V-Sync monitor but not a higher refresh rate. Of course you could drop the settings if you really wanted more performance from it. The trade off though is worse visuals.

Shadow of Mordor is a decently demanding title, especially when surrounded by your enemies. So it can get pretty intense. I tested it using the ultra preset with tessellation enabled.

  • Low: 97.1
  • Avg: 142.1
  • High: 233.5

Rise of the Tomb Raider was the final game to put the 1080 Ti through its paces and this was done using DX12 with anistropic filtering on 16x, tessellation on and all other effects enabled.

  • Low: 64.6
  • Avg: 102.4
  • High: 151.5

So you can see that the 1080 Ti is a beast at 1440p and if you really need those extra framerates then you can always drop your settings a little. Alternatively if you really want to squeeze the most from it, you can perform an overclock and you may get a few more frames from the card, but only do this if you are comfortable doing so. This though is highly achieveable as the Amp has a TDP of 270W and with its dual 8 pin PCIe providing a total of 300W and the motherboard giving around 75W, there is tonnes of headroom to perform an overclock. One final point is that these numbers will vary depending on what system you are using.

Gaming experience and performance

The 1080 Ti performs amazingly, coming from the 1070 the gaming experience is in a whole different league. With the 1070 I often experienced some drops below 60 FPS and stuttering when gaming at 1440p with higher frame rates, to combat that I would have to drop the settings. Not so with the Ti, you can easily max any game at 1440p and it didn’t seem fazed at all. I didn’t experience any stutters, lag or anything other than smooth gaming, even when pushing over 140 FPS in Overwatch or even averaging around 100 FPS in PUBG. In PUBG the lowest framerate I saw was 82 and that is still highly playable.

Gaming with pretty much any game I threw at it was a joy, its so smooth and fluid and there was no issues at all. I know I’ve said this already but its so nice. So if you’ve got a 144Hz 1440p monitor you’ll be in gaming heaven. I unfortunately was unable to test the card at 4K, but I’ve seen benchmarks and talked to peers with this card they say it can hit 60 FPS easily. Well depending on the title and settings you opt for. But to be honest 1440p at 144Hz is a hard experience to beat.

The card stayed stable too, the max GPU boost clock of 1911 MHz and a memory clock of 5508 MHz. The fan speed stayed at around 71% with a temp of 78ºC, so an overclock would be very possible. I’ve seen some reviews saying that they were able to hit above 2000 MHz, so there is some great headroom to get even more from this GPU. Like mentioned I didn’t get to try 4K, so maybe these results would be different and you’d have to crank the fans a bit more to keep the card from throttling.

in-game

Finally if you use a multi monitor setup you should face no issues. You could easily game on one 4K monitor and use another for monitoring your system. You’d also face no issues running a game on an ultrawide or even dual 1440p monitors. The only time you may find some trouble is trying to game on two 4K monitors at the same time. Then it would be advised to go for two 1080 Tis in SLI. But the likely scenario for this card would be one 144Hz 1440p or one 60Hz 4K monitor and the Ti would be great for either.

Cooling and Temps

Icestorm is the name for the tech that Zotac uses to keep the Ti cool, this utilizes direct copper contact to draw heat away from the GPUs core. It also uses thermal pads to help maximize the efficiency of the cooling performance. The Ti also uses Freeze which keeps the fans off unless required. This not only saves on power but it keeps the card quiet when not under load. The Amp also uses two 100mm fans to draw air into the card, these work in tandem with the Freeze tech to help keep the card cool and silent.

icestorm

front-face-2

So how does this all effect the cooling performance. Well the Amp had an idle temp that sat at 33ºC in my rig, this is a little warm as my 1070 had an idle temp of around 26ºC. I’m unsure to why the idle is so high as its in the same PC as my 1070 was and at idle there is nothing running. So its a bit odd to why the idle temp is so high. During my testing the ambient temp in my room was around 18ºC which is not too hot and shouldn’t really cause an increase in temps. During hotter weather in the summer, maybe, but in the winter, not so much.

monitoring

The maximum temp I experienced was 82ºC whilst testing PUBG. This is a quite demanding title, especially at 1440p with the settings on high. I also saw this same spike whilst playing Overwatch but it was PUBG that more consistently hit this peak. Keep in mind that the fans were set to Auto and with a more agressive fan input, this max temp would probably not have been seen.

PEAK-TEMP

This is still way under the maximum temperature allowed by the card before it shuts down or begins to thermal throttle. The max temp allowed by the 1080 Ti is 91ºC according to Nvidias website. So there is still some headroom even with the max temp that I saw. Thus you shouldn’t really see any thermal throttle, unless your case has very low or restrictive air flow.

Summary

Now to the summary, this card will set you back anywhere between £690 to over £800, yes that is a lot but is it worth that?

Well in a word, yes. Its one of the cheaper 1080 Ti options and well it looks great, its well made, performs fantastically for 1440p and will do 4K if you have a monitor. Its also quiet and has plenty of room to perform a solid overclock. My only issues are the software, yes in most parts it works great but it does have the one minor problem. Again its more than likely an isolated occurrence but it needed mentioning.

Also the 82ºC max temp was a little toasty and like mentioned I couldn’t use the software to manually bring down the temp. But other than these minor issues the card is fantastic and if you want to hit the magic 144Hz at 1440p or game at 4k then this card would be a great choice. However if that isn’t for you and you just want to game at 1440p with decent settings at 60Hz, then save yourself some cash and get a 1080.

Score 8/10

Get one here: www.amazon.co.uk/zotac-1080ti

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