Ok, the first thing I thought of when I looked at this card is “what does the 'AMP' stand for?” While normally the suffixes that are used in card names give an idea about their overclocking abilities, such as SuperTurbo, Overclocked, and so forth – this one, well, it's a bit harder to decipher. Maybe “amplifier”? Maybe they want to “amp” up the competition? I don't know. . . and you probably won't either. . .
Before I get into the card and what it does, let me tell you a bit about Zotac and who they are so you will know why people spend so much money on a video card. A long time ago, in a land far, far away, PC Partner used to make all of the reference cards for a company called ATI. But, when the companies drifted apart and ATI started having problems with their products, NVIDIA swooped in and gained most of the business. Soon after that, PC Partner created a couple of smaller companies, and finally created Zotac, which was completely independent of any other companies out there – thus the wondrous Zotac graphics cards were born.
But, on to the review of this card as that is why you're here . . .
When you look at the card compared to the Zotac GeForce GTX 260, they pretty much look exactly the same. But inside, they are very different. The GTX 260 is pretty much a copy of the GTX 280, except the 280 has two more memory chips, which will up the memory bus from 448 bits to 512 bits and it will up the overall memory size from 896MB to 1024MB. So, this is a big plus for those of you who are looking to get more out of their cards.
Another major difference is the actual size of the 280 when it's compared to the 260. Here is why: in the 280 has a double-sided arrangement for it's chips, eight on each side, so the card itself is long. If you are wondering just how long this GTX 280 card is, it's as long as the 8800 GTX/Ultra. You will need to make sure that you have two slots available, as this is a massive card that will take up more space than normal cards. So, you will need to make sure that the casing on your PC is big enough for this new card to fit into. Normal configurations should have plenty of room for this card, but you want to make sure before you head out and spend the money on one, as they are pretty pricey.
For those of you out there who are concerned with audio quality – either for movies, gaming, or music – you want to make sure that you get the GTX 280 bundle that contains the audio cable, as this graphics card doesn't have any type of audio codec included. It does have the soundcard connectors for transmitting the audio stream, so as long as you have the right cord, you're good to go. And last but not least when it comes to this card, it requires two power connectors – yes, two. You will need one 8-pin and one 6-pin connector for the GTX 280, so you also will need to make sure that the card bundle contains the right adapter so that you can use the thing when you get it to your CPU.
So, aside from the differences and what type of adapters you'll need and so forth, how does the thing function? How does it stand up in a real environment? Well, the Zotac GeForce GTX 280 AMP! 1024MB is pretty much the most powerful graphics card out there right now . . . with one of the only exceptions being the BFG GeForce GTX 280 OCX 1024MB. Overall, it stands up great to most of the games out on the market that it has been tested against (such as Company of Heroes, CRYSIS Rescue, and Call of Juarez), so you will be extremely satisfied with it when you get it installed.
What about the price? (I know that is what you really want to know.) Well, the Zotac GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition is around $470 on most of the larger computer component sites, such as Newegg.com. As for how it compares to the other two cards I mentioned here, the smaller version of this card, the Zotac GeForce GTX 260 AMP! Edition is only about $290, while the other card that is as large as this one, the BFG GeForce GTX 280 OCX, will run you about $440. So, for those who want that extra memory and all the bonuses that go along with these massive cards, the money is well spent.
I give the Zotac GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition a solid 5 out of 5 rating just because of the mass of power that you get with this new graphics monster.
And for those of you out there who are more concerned with all the technical specs and information on the Zotac GeForce GTX 280! AMP, here are the specs to help you out:
- GPU: GeForce GTX 280 (GT200)
- Interface: PCI-Express x16
- GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 700/1400 MHz (nominal -- 600/1300 MHz)
- Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 1150 (2300) MHz (nominal -- 1100 (2200) MHz)
- Texture processors: 80 (BLF/TLF)
- Dimensions: 270x100x33 mm (the last figure is maximum thickness of the graphics card).
- RAMDACs/TDMS: in a separate NVIO chip.
- Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link/HDMI), TV-out.
- TV-out: integrated into GPU.
- Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware)