Zotac GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition Review: Maxwell’s Budget Workhorse Is Here

Nvidia has announced the latest video card in the GeForce 900 series, the GeForce GTX 960. With the GTX 980 and GTX 970 targeting high-end and mid-tier segments, it is now time for Nvidia to turn its attention to the entry-level segment with the GTX 960.

Based on the Maxwell architecture, the GTX 960 is designed to enable full-HD gaming, with the GTX 980 and GTX 970 targeting beyond full-HD resolutions. The GTX 960 is aimed as the successor to the GTX 660 and GTX 760, but with better performance and lowered power consumption. With pricing starting at $200 for the card, it is clear that Nvidia is looking to deliver great performance at an affordable price with the GTX 960.

Zotac GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition


Zotac is offering the GTX 960 in standard and overclocked variants, with the factory overclocked version dubbed the AMP! Edition. The Zotac GTX 960 continues on from the rest of the GeForce 900 series when it comes to low power consumption and high overclocking headroom, but this time the focus is on the budget segment.

Zotac’s GTX 960 AMP! Edition is a non-standard design from the vendor, and includes a custom backplate as well as 90mm fans, which Zotac calls IceStorm. There are other additions that give the card the ability to clock to over 1,500 MHz.

The GTX 960 AMP! Edition comes with a 1,266 MHz core clock and a 1,329 boost clock. Other vendors have also launched factory overclocked variants of the GTX 960, but Zotac’s variant offers the highest clocks.


Boasting a 128-bit wide memory bus and a 2GB GDDR5 memory at 7 Gbps, Zotac’s card can achieve a memory bandwidth of 112GB/s, and has 1024 CUDA cores. The numbers are exactly half of what is offered by the standard variant of the GTX 980, which boasts 2048 CUDA cores, 4GB GDDR5 video memory and a 256-bit wide memory interface.

While the numbers may seem low, Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) is stating that users would be able to deliver a higher bandwidth by undertaking a lossless texture compression technology that significantly reduces memory bandwidth usage. An effective bandwidth figure of 144 GB/s was quoted.

Maxwell Bandwidth Management

Unlike the GTX 980 and GTX 970, the GTX 960 is not based on the GM204 silicon. Nvidia has instead announced the GM206 GPU, which has a smaller 228mm² die size than the 400mm² size of the GM204. A GPU with smaller die makes sense considering the GTX 960 is aimed at maximizing efficiency.

Here’s where the GTX 960 slots in with the rest of the GeForce 900 series:

Zotac GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 Nvidia GeForce GTX 980
GPU 28nm GM206 28nm GM204 28nm GM204
CUDA Cores 1024 1664 2048
TMUs 64 104 128
ROPs 32 64 64
Core clock 1266 MHz 1050 MHz 1127 MHz
Boost Clock 1329 MHz 1178 MHz 1216 MHz
Memory Clock 7.0 GHz 7.0 GHz 7.0 GHz
Memory Bus 128-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Size 2GB GDDR5 4GB GDDR5 4GB GDDR5
Bandwidth 112 GB/s 224 GB/s 224 GB/s
DirectX 11.3/12 11.3/12 11.3/12
TDP 120W 145W 165W
Power Connectors 1x 6-pin 2x 6-pin 2x 6pin
Display Connectors 1x DL DVI-I, 1x HDMI 2.0, 3x DP 1.2 1x DVI-I, 1x HDMI 2.0, 3x DP 1.2 1x DL DVI-I, 1x HDMI 2.0, 3x DP 1.2
MSRP $200 $329 $549

In terms of connectivity, the GTX 960 AMP! Edition has three DisplayPort 1.2 connectors that can handle 4K resolutions (4096 x 2160 and 3840 x 2160) at 60Hz. There’s also a dual-link DVI-I that can drive QHD (2560 x 1600) resolutions, but the port that is most interesting is HDMI 2.0, which finally offers 4K resolutions (4096 x 2160) at 60Hz. The display controller can simultaneously support as many as four displays. The controller can even drive a 5K (5120×2880) screen. 


Power consumption has been one of the major areas of focus with Maxwell, and that continues with the GTX 960 as well, which has a max TDP of 120W. The low power utilization means that the card comes with a single 6-pin connector. DirectX 12 compatibility means that the GTX 960 now comes with OpenGL 4.4.


The GTX 960 AMP! Edition comes with a slew of additions from Zotac, including the new 90mm fans called IceStorm. Originally debuted on the overclocked variants of the GTX 980 and GTX 970, the dual 90mm fans work in conjunction with the 6mm copper heatpipes and the aluminum fin stack to maximize airflow. The custom backplate, with its gunmetal structure, gives the card added rigidity.


Zotac is introducing a new idle mode which will see the fans switch off if the temperature falls below 59° C, or when the TDP is under 13W. The option, called Freeze, is designed to minimize noise levels when not under load.