Temperature, Noise, Overclockability
The described graphics card being a copy of the reference design, we did not measure its power consumption. Instead, we checked it out in our temperature tests and the advanced cooler of the Zotac GeForce GTX 480 AMP! proved that it is worth the three slots it occupies!
Its huge heatsink and two large fans could easily keep the GPU temperature below 70°C even during continuous 3D load. This is not just good. This is excellent for a GF100 chip working in its maximum configuration. If it were not for the size of the heatsink and the abovementioned problem with the cooler’s casing, we’d call the Zalman solution ideal. Yes, you can hardly use two such cards to build a SLI tandem, but the Zotac GeForce GTX 480 AMP! is going to be a perfect choice for a PC configuration with one or two expansion cards. You only have to make sure that your system case is ventilated properly because this cooler does not exhaust the hot air to the outside.
The original cooler is good in terms of noisiness, too. Like the Palit GeForce GTX 470, the Zotac is not silent, but its two low-speed large-diameter fans are not irritating even in 3D mode. The card’s noise is quite agreeable to the ear and sounds like a soft whisper of the air. When in desktop mode, the card does not betray itself among the other system components at all. Besides the cooler, it is the result of the power-saving technologies Nvidia has implemented in the GF100 which lowers its clock rates when idle. Thus, the Zotac GeForce GTX 480 AMP! is indeed one of the best versions of GeForce GTX 480 for building a top-performance but quiet gaming platform with PhysX and CUDA support.
We were not successful in our overclocking experiment but we hadn’t expected much from this pre-overclocked card. In fact, the monstrous GF100 chip is itself no good at overclocking. So, our sample of the Zotac card overclocked to lower frequencies than those we had achieved with the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480.
The card was stable at GPU frequencies of 772/1544 MHz and a memory frequency of 976 (3904) MHz. Again, this is not much, considering our earlier experiments with other such cards. But on the other hand, the Zotac is pre-overclocked and guaranteed to work at those pre-overclocked frequencies whereas an ordinary GeForce GTX 480 may prove to have zero overclocking potential. Besides, the advanced cooler may help some samples of the Zotac card reach higher frequencies if we were just not lucky with our sample.
Now we move on to benchmarking our GeForce GTX 480 in SLI mode.