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Zotac GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Omega Core Edition Review: Mid-Range Cards Don’t Get Any Better

With the Maxwell-enabled GeForce 900 series cards, Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) has clearly established itself as the runaway leader in the video card segment, squarely edging out AMD’s (NASDAQ:AMD) offerings when it comes to both pricing and performance. The GTX 960 (review here) forms the base for full-HD gaming at ultra high settings, while the GTX 980 is catered to the 4K segment. The GTX 970, which has the same silicon as the GTX 980 with a few features disabled (more on that later) is aimed at the mid-tier segment and is ideal for those looking to play the latest games at beyond-HD resolutions, mainly QHD and 4K.

Let’s get this out of the way first: The GTX 970 will allow you to run games at 4K resolutions, with the included HDMI 2.0 port able to drive games at 60Hz, but you won’t be able to max out the settings with this card. That’s what the GTX 980, which retails for $200 to $250 more, is for. Then again, if all you’re looking to do is game on full-HD with a multi-monitor configuration or at QHD, the GTX 970 at $360 is the ideal card for you, and obliterates anything AMD is offering in this segment.

Overview of the card

Zotac is offering the GTX 970 in several configurations, which includes an entry-level reference design card along with the more robust factory overclocked editions. In total, Zotac has six GTX 970 cards on offer. The overclocked versions are marketed as the Omega and Extreme lines, with Core Editions of the already overclocked cards available as well that take things to 11. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the Zotac GTX 970 AMP! Omega Core Edition.

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In terms of where the card slots in with Zotac’s portfolio, the Omega series is in between the reference model and the high-end Extreme Edition card, and is targeted at the mid-tier segment. With the Core Edition, however, Zotac has included most of the features from the regular Extreme Edition model (which also has a Core Edition), most notably a three-fan cooling stack that the vendor calls IceStorm. Another feature that has made its way onto the Omega model is a gunmetal backplate that adds to the overall rigidity of the card, a necessary addition when you consider that it is only slightly shorter at 11.02 inches than the Extreme Edition model, which comes in at 11.79 inches. The backplate also adds in heat dissipation.

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The Omega Core Edition is also clocked slightly lower, with base clocks of 1152MHz and boost of 1304MHz, whereas the Extreme Core Edition comes in with base/boost of 1228/1380MHz. The card has 1,664 CUDA cores, 4GB GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit wide interface, effective memory clock of 7010 MHz and a TDP of 151W.

Other noticeable differences between the two cards are the lack of LED lighting and Zotac’s OC+ feature, with the former adding just aesthetic value that in no way affects the performance of the card.

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The box for the GTX 970 AMP! Omega Core Edition is standard fare, with Zotac highlighting the features on offer, including 4GB GDDR5 RAM, Zotac’s three-fan Ice Storm cooling system, as well as software-driven utilities such as Nvidia GameStream, G-Sync, GameWorks and Direct X12.