Pros: Performance, power efficiency, aesthetics, ExoArmour & backplate, thermals, silent.
Cons: Expensive, BIG
I managed to find an excellent deal on Amazon, with Zotac listing the card for £389.00, whilst its baby sibling the 2 fan 1070 Amp! Edition, was listed at £409?! Considering that at the time only Ebuyer listed the card at anywhere near this price, at the same £409, I took the plunge, only to find they had no stock and despatch was sited for Aug 12, damn! I ordered it anyway and thought, I'll just wait patiently, whilst watching the prices slowly creep up due to early adopters and lack of UK stock. Every 2 or 3 days I checked to see if despatch times had changed, to no avail, whilst the prices creep up everywhere even when stock became available, up to almost £500. Then, about a week ago, I decided to update my orders' delivery address, from work to home. This prompted the order to also update my expected despatch, bringing it forward to within the next fortnight. Now I got excited!
To keep an already long story short, I received the card yesterday, swapped out my MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G and after 12 hours of usage, I felt compelled to share my thoughts, so here goes...
Firstly, this card is a proverbial and veritable BEAST! Not just in performance, but physically, dwarfing my MSI 970! It's huge - measuring in at 325mm x 148mm and using 2 1/2 slots. This will not fit in all cases, so potential buyers be very aware! I'm using a Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX so lots of room, plus, it is dual 8-pin, although they provide 6-pin extension adapters.
Also, in my humble opinion, it's a very good looking card, with its 'Carbon ExoArmour' wraparound fan shroud morphing into a fantastic backplate, although the colours might not be to everyones liking. It feels like quality though, with the fan shroud being metal, rather than plastic, the huge pcb and very unique triple fan cooler.
Whilst looking at performance, please consider that I own a 24" 1080p, 144hz monitor, using DisplayPort and my library is exclusively sim racing games plus FIFA16. Going through my library, I found on average a performance increase over my 970 of at least 40%+, whilst it ran 20 degrees C cooler at idle and 10 degrees C cooler under load, min 30, max 63 according to HWiNFO64 & GPU-Z. Additionally, this card came factory O'Ced at 1633MHz, boost 1835 & 2052MHz memory. In- game though, the boost actually maxxed out at 2012MHz! , so I'm suitably impressed for an 'out of the box' experience. As a result, I'm in no hurry to overclock the card myself, other than to see what it's outright capabalities are, but that can wait for a few more weeks.
One of my games which in particular prompted me to upgrade, namely Forza Motorsport Apex beta, was using all of my 4GB? 970 memory, if on maximum settings, whereas by contrast, the Zotac with it's actual 8GB and superior performance, just doesn't flinch! All of this with it being extremely quiet, thanks to Zotacs' 'IceStorm' cooling system, including giant heatpipes and a very unique looking 3 fan design which 'FREEZE' in Zotacs' words! Even when the fans do belatedly spin up (once it reaches 60 degrees C), they are inaudible, with a maximum fan speed of 1300RPM (14%). All of this whilst only using 185W, which is excellent.
The next thing to mention is Zotacs' LED lighting system, 'Spectra'. If you like LEDs', you will not be disappointed, with full RGB lighting and man, is it bright! Thankfully, it can all be adjusted with their 'Firestorm' software, which based on my research, I downloaded directly from the website, rather than using the supplied disc (I don't have a disc drive in my case, anyway!). Did I already say it's bright?! Especially without the software. The backplate has 'PUSH THE LIMITS', the ZOTAC logo on the front and on the edges of the fan shroud, all light up, spectactularly.... the card is it's own mini light show!
Finally, the clincher for me, is the 5 year warranty, which is unrivalled and for me, a statement of intent. I have always longingly looked at Zotac cards without ever taking the plunge and although the card is not cheap, in any currency, it's definitely 'bang for the buck' for me, especially if and when I upgrade to 1440p.
With this card, my gaming experience has gone up another couple of notches, visually, aesthetically and audibly. Whilst I appreciate that I have only experienced using this card for a very short time, as long as it's reliable and Zotacs' customer support is up to the task (if they are ever needed), I'm sure that if you've made it this far, you won't be surprised to hear that I cannot recommend this card highly enough, to anyone in the market for an enthusiast grade 1080p 144hz/1440p graphics card.
Zotac, I am impressed and anyone who knows me, knows that's not an easy thing to do.
Thanks for taking the time to read my review.