On the Thursday of Gamescom we got to sit down with Maciej Wieczorek, the Senior Marketing Manager at ZOTAC. He was there to talk about two product ranges aimed at gamers that are either out now or coming out in the next few months. Here’s what he had to say:
The 980Ti Amp! Series
While many card manufacturers have been pushing their 980Ti builds to be quieter and cooler (given that they’re already insanely powerful), ZOTAC have taken a different approach. We got to look at the 980Ti Amp! cards, a collection of overclocked 980Ti chipsets with large cooling fans, that are currently the most powerful 980Tis currently on the market. Maciej had three on the desk, an simple AMP! model, the Omega, and the Extreme. The Extreme edition is the one that has passed the most tests during manufacturing, so can be overclocked to a completely stable 1253Mhz, and even up to 1355Mhz in boost mode. This is quite frankly a ludicrous speed and Maciej suggested that you could probably take it a little bit further with your own overclocking and the cards, of course, fully support that.
All of that performance does come with a cost though. First of all there is the literal cost, an AMP! Extreme will set you back £587 at the moment, while the ‘standard’ AMP! model will be around £509. That’s a lot of money for a performance boost, but if you’re already shelling out this kind of money for a GPU, you’re not likely to want to compromise. The other, less financial, cost is one of noise. The impressively chunky (2.5 slots on the Extreme model) cooler doers a good job, keeping it under 70 degrees at load, but it’s very noisy. This can be a real problem if you game in a shared area, but if you have your own space and some headphones, it’s unlikely to be a problem.
We were impressed with the specs on the AMP! series and would love to get our hands on one. If/when we do we’ll be sure to bring you a full review..
Maciej also had an ArticStorm model. These are pricey, going for around £683 currently, but they featured not only a full air cooler but a connection for your own custom liquid cooling loop. For those who are worried about noise but still want extreme performance, this could be an option.
The ZBOX is ZOTAC’s answer to the new trend of living-room based PCs. We still use our PC in the lounge, we just hide it under a desk and curse when it gets too noisy, but the ZBOX is custom made to be subtle, but powerful enough to play the latest games. There are plenty of models to suit different budgets but the one on show was running a 970m GPU and was capable of running a 4K display via HDMI. Now clearly you’re not going to get AAA games running well at 4K with this, but just running the desktop at 4K was impressive enough for something that is around the size of a Wii U. On show was Fifa 15, running at 1080p at what looked like a completely stable 60fps. The ZBOX has its own wireless modem (and aerial), 4 HDMI outputs, two SSD drive bays spare in case you want to increase the capacity, and easy access to upgrade the RAM with laptop RAM should you feel the need. It’s a tiny little gaming-capable PC that runs closer to the mid-range than the budget end of desktop PCs, but what makes it remarkable is that it’s small, silent, and barely feels warm to the touch even when left overnight playing FIFA. We were surprised at just how quiet and cool the machine was while running something that’s reasonably demanding. Once we get one here for testing we’ll run a full 3dMark benchmark to see how far we can push it.
So it was an interesting meeting with ZOTAC, with them trying to sell into very different markets. Beastly GPUs for enthusiasts, and subtle, quiet mini-PCs for those who want to get involved in PC gaming but don’t want a giant metal box humming away in the corner. We’d quite like to have both to be honest.