ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition Video Card Review

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition Video Card Review

ZOTAC adds another GeForce GTX 970 video card to its roster, with the 2-slot GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition.

@anthony256
Published Fri, May 15 2015 9:05 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: ZOTAC

Introduction, Quick Specs and Availability & Price

One of the first video cards I reviewed when I stepped into the shows of this position was from ZOTAC, and their GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Edition. Today, we have the same GTX 970, but this one is the GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition, and the word 'Core' there makes a big difference.

ZOTAC has a growing line of NVIDIA GeForce cards, with their new Core range being unveiled in detail at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 earlier this year. At the time, ZOTAC said that these new Core Edition cards would be "designed for enthusiast gamers". With a dual-slot cooler and out-of-the-box overclocks, we are expecting a good ride from ZOTAC for the GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition.

There's actually another member of this family, the GTX 970 AMP! Omega Core Edition, which features lower clock speeds than the Extreme Core Edition.

Quick Specs

As for specs, ZOTAC has deployed a better cooler than the reference card, and some overclocks to the GPU, while the RAM stays at its normal 7GHz speed.

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VIEW GALLERY - 59 IMAGES

We have the usual three DisplayPort outputs, followed by an HDMI 2.0 port and DVI port. Out of the five, four of them are capable of 4K at 60Hz, while the DVI port is limited to 2560x1600.

Availability & Price

ZOTAC has its impressive GeForce GTX 970 Extreme Core Edition at Amazon for $369.99, which is not too bad at all. An MSI card will cost around $349.99 through Amazon, and with ZOTAC quickly becoming one of the go-to brands for quality, $369.99 is about the price you should be paying for a GTX 970 these days.

This will change shortly, as AMD is expected to launch its Radeon 300 series, including the Radeon R9 390X, R9 390, R9 380X, and more. This should have NVIDIA and its partners dropping the price on the GTX 980 and GTX 970 products.

Packaging

The Packaging

ZOTAC has always made a good package for their video cards, something I've always admired when I used to work in IT retail and sell their goods. The box for the AMP! Extreme Core Edition is virtually identical to that of the AMP! Extreme Edition.

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The front of the box, where in the top right hand corner you can see this is the 'AMP! Extreme Core Edition'.

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There's a lot going on at the back, where we have key features and minimum PC requirements on the left. To the right, ZOTAC explains why you should buy their card over the others, talking about its FireStorm overclocking software, IceStorm cooling technology, Power+ efficiency, and more.

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The top of the box.

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The bottom of the box.

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The sides of the box don't have much to say.

Detailed Look

ZOTAC showed off the GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition at CES 2015, and while I really enjoyed the dual-slot cooler thanks to its reduced thickness, the finish on the cooler didn't do much for me personally.

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Here we have the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition in all its glory. The triple-fan cooler can be seen front and center, with its elaborate cooling system behind of those fans spotted, too.

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On the back of the card, we have the metal backplate, which keeps the rear of the card much cooler during stress.

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We have the usual Maxwell display output configuration here, with three DisplayPort, one HDMI 2.0 and a single DVI output.

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We have SLI support, with four cards capable of being tethered together for some serious performance.

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ZOTAC requires just two 6-pin PCIe power connectors, which will keep the power consumption down in smaller cases.

Card Specifications & Cooling Setup

Card Specifications

ZOTAC has six products based on the GeForce GTX 970, with two of them being the Core Edition. The two Core Edition products are the one we have here today, the GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition, and the GTX 970 AMP! Omega Core Edition.

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The big difference between them is that the Extreme Core Edition is the bigger brother, while the Omega Core Edition is the little brother. The Omega Core Edition features a more military themed cooler, while the Extreme Core Edition features a cooler that we'll give you a closer look at in a few moments. The big difference between the two Core cards is in their Core Clocks. Here's the difference between the two:

  • Extreme Core Edition: 1228MHz / 1380MHz (Base/Boost Clocks)
  • Omega Core Edition: 1152MHz / 1304MHz (Base/Boost Clocks)

So as you can see, we have 76MHz additional Base Clock applied to the Extreme Core Edition, which results in an increased Boost Clock of 1380MHz, versus 1304MHz.

Cooling Setup

ZOTAC has used the triple-fan IceStorm cooler with Carbon ExoArmor on the GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition. This cooler is thin enough to allow ZOTAC to cram the card into a dual-slot design, but it's also unbelievably quiet.

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The cooling technology used is nearly identical to that found on the GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Edition card we reviewed not too long ago, but without the OC+ and LIGHT.id technologies.

Testing Method & Test System Configuration

Testing Method

Because I'm just starting out reviewing GPUs, we're going to slowly evolve our benchmarking setup. I'm not going to dive into the deep end and start testing out real-time FPS, as this will hurt the quality of the reviews. Instead, I'd like to nail these initial reviews and then we can start doing real-time numbers of games like Far Cry 4, and Star Citizen. For now, I've played Battlefield 4 on a 64-player server to provide some real-world performance numbers.

For now, I'm going to be using the same suite of benchmarks I've been using on my Tweakipedia articles, which uses a mix of synthetic benchmarks with Futuremark's 3DMark and Unigine Heaven. After that, we have a bunch of titles with built-in benchmarks (which does not represent actual in-game performance) but they are repeatable for you at home to gauge the performance of your PC or GPU.

Over time, I will be adding in new benchmarks and a new section that will concentrate solely on real-time gaming benchmarks. This will take more time per review, as I'll have to invest time into actually physically playing the games, but it'll be worth it in the long run. For now, let's get right into the synthetic benchmarks and see how this ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition performs.

Test System Configuration

We only recently built our new X99-powered system, something you can read about here. As for the detailed specifications, this is what we're running:

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  • CPU: Intel Core i7 5820K processor w/Corsair H110 cooler
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE X99 Gaming G1 Wi-Fi
  • RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance 2666MHz DDR4
  • Storage: 240GB SanDisk Extreme II and 480GB SanDisk Extreme II
  • Chassis: Lian Li T60 Pit Stop
  • PSU: Corsair AX1200i digital PSU
  • Software: Windows 7 Ultimate x64
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We're running the system at stock CPU speeds, which will provide more of a 'real-world' feel to our benchmarks. Sure, this isn't an i7-5960X at 5GHz, but what person is going to team up an incredibly expensive CPU with a mid-range GPU? Not many.

Our GPU tests are changing, shifting toward more of a real-world feel. But don't worry, we will be doing some crazy balls-to-the-wall tests that will see serious overclocks, Extreme Edition processors, and much more in the coming months. For the most part, we will be doing more real-world testing by teaming up the right processor with the right GPU in its price category.

Benchmarks - Synthetic (3DMark and Heaven)

3DMark Fire Strike - 1080p

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3DMark Fire Strike Extreme - 1440p

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3DMark Fire Strike Ultra - 4K

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Heaven - 1080p

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Heaven - 1440p

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Heaven - 4K

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Kicking things off with 3DMark Fire Strike at 1080p, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition puts out a good effort, with it being just barely behind the overclocked GTX 980 from MSI. At 1440p on the Fire Strike Extreme benchmark, the ZOTAC card is again not that far behind the reference GTX 980 and overclocked GTX 980 from MSI.

Pushing things up to 4K with the Fire Strike Ultra benchmark, the ZOTAC card positions itself identically once again - just behind the reference GTX 980 and overclocked GTX 980 from MSI. Heaven is a harsh benchmark, with it something we keep all of the details cranked up on at all resolutions tested. Starting at 1920x1080, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition finds itself capable of 86FPS, just behind the 88FPS of the reference GTX 980 from NVIDIA.

At 1440p, the ZOTAC card manages 51FPS, which is 5FPS (or 10%) slower than the reference GTX 980 from NVIDIA. At 4K, things are the same, with 21FPS average, compared to the reference GTX 980 with 24FPS, and the overclocked GTX 980 from MSI with 24FPS, too.

Game Benchmarks (1080p)

Battlefield 4

This is one game that we did differently, as it does not feature a built-in benchmarking feature. When it comes to Battlefield 4, there are countless ways you can benchmark it. Some find a spot in the single player campaign which is easily repeatable, and use that. For our testing, we've chosen to use a 64-player online multiplayer server for real-time performance statistics.

We joined a 64-player map and played for five minutes using FRAPS, pulling our minimum/average and maximum FPS. We did this for each test, we run the game for 5 minutes at 1080p/1440p and 4K two times each. One time with Medium settings, and another with a custom Ultra preset (disabling AA). It's time consuming, but it gives us a perfect look into true real-world performance.

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And again, this time with the Ultra preset.

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Grand Theft Auto V

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GRID Autosport

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Metro: Last Light

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

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Thief

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Tomb Raider

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BioShock Infinite

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DiRT Showdown

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You can find our performance summary of all of our gaming tests later in the review.

Game Benchmarks (1440p)

Battlefield 4

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Grand Theft Auto V

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GRID Autosport

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Metro: Last Light

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

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Thief

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Tomb Raider

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BioShock Infinite

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DiRT Showdown

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You can find our performance summary of all of our gaming tests later in the review.

Game Benchmarks (4K)

Battlefield 4

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Grand Theft Auto V

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GRID Autosport

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Metro: Last Light

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

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Thief

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Tomb Raider

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BioShock Infinite

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DiRT Showdown

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You can find our performance summary of all of our gaming tests later in the review.

Performance Summary

How Does the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition Perform?

If there's one thing you'll notice using the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition, is that the fans barely make any noise. We've been loving the Maxwell architecture since NVIDIA unveiled the GM204 core last year, but these cards are nothing short of amazing.

Dead silent, mixed with great performance thanks to the GTX 970 core, and we have a winner on our hands here with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition.

Performance at 1080p

Starting with our Battlefield 4 results, we have the ZOTAC card performing better than we thought. For some reason, it has pushed past some invisible performance boundary that the other cards met - which used to be at 175FPS - with the Extreme Core Edition pushing 197FPS average. Insanity. On the Ultra preset (minus AA), we have the ZOTAC card providing 172FPS average. At this level, you might as well not drop down to Medium.

Our latest entry into our benchmark suite, Grand Theft Auto V, the new GeForce 350.12 drivers definitely help performance compared to our performance analysis on GTA V not too long ago.

Onto GRID Autosport, where the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition beats out the reference GTX 980 by 13FPS, and is just 2FPS from the GTX 980 SLI setup. Metro: Last Light shows that the ZOTAC card is a real force to be reckoned with, beating out the reference GTX 980 from NVIDIA, and just 4FPS from the overclocked GTX 980 from MSI. When it comes to Shadow of Mordor, we know that this game pushes the limits of our VGA cards. The ZOTAC card holds its ground, beating out the GTX 980 by 18FPS or 20%.

Performance at 1440p

The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition performed beautifully in Battlefield 4 once again, where at 2560x1440 on our Medium preset, it was beating the R9 290X 8GB, and scraping on the heels of MSI's GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4G LE. On the Ultra preset (with AA disabled), the ZOTAC card beat the Titan X by 4FPS, and was 1FPS faster than the MSI GTX 980.

The ZOTAC card powered Grand Theft Auto V very well at 1440p, with the new 350.12 drivers providing performance on the overclocked GeForce GTX 970 that beat the GTX 980, overclocked GTX 980, and came close to the Titan X. Not bad at all.

In GRID, the ZOTAC card was able to just keep up with the reference GeForce GTX 980, but it wasn't far behind the overclocked GTX 980 and R9 290X 8GB. In Metro: Last Light, the card beat the reference GTX 980 by 1FPS, and lost to the overclocked GTX 980 from MSI by 2FPS. Not bad for a GTX 970.

Performance in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is what we expected, with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition finding itself right in between the reference GTX 980 from NVIDIA, and the overclocked GTX 980 from MSI.

Performance at 4K

With a card like this, and the constantly talked about 4GB of VRAM problems, 4K performance is something that should be a star of this review. How does the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition perform at 4K? Perfectly. That's how.

Starting with Battlefield 4 at 3840x2160 on the Medium preset, we have 83FPS average, compared to 80FPS on the reference GTX 980 and 91FPS on the MSI GTX 980. Way more than playable on a 4K monitor with 60Hz. On the Ultra preset (with AA disabled), the ZOTAC card managed 61FPS, compared to the 65FPS on the overclocked GTX 980 from MSI.

The new GeForce 350.12 drivers have improved GTA V performance, with 68FPS average on the ZOTAC card. Comparing this to the 65FPS on the reference GTX 980 and 66FPS of the overclocked MSI GTX 980, the ZOTAC card is positioned extremely well here.

GRID: Autosport plays so well on the ZOTAC card at 4K, with 72FPS average. The reference card from NVIDIA is 1FPS slower at 71FPS, while the overclocked MSI GTX 980 pushes 76FPS. The ZOTAC card is once again sandwiched between the reference GTX 980 and overclocked GTX 980 from MSI in Metro: Last Light, with 53FPS to ZOTAC, 51FPS to the reference GTX 980 and 59FPS to MSI's overclocked GTX 980.

Shadow of Mordor is a slightly different story for the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition at 4K, with 47FPS compared to the reference GTX 980 with 52FPS and the overclocked MSI card with 57FPS.

Overclocking

Overclocking - Let's See How Far We Can Go

While the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition is factory overclocked, that doesn't mean it doesn't have some headroom to squeeze out even more performance. We pushed its 1126MHz Core Clock up to around 1400MHz, but it wasn't stable. Knocking down to 1380MHz or so didn't help, even with more power being let into the card, with artifacts and our Metro: Last Light benchmark crashing.

We eventually found a sweet spot of 1360MHz on the Core, which resulted in a Boost Clock of 1512MHz. We ran our four tests (Battlefield 4 on Medium/Ultra, Metro: Last Light, 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme and Unigine Heaven all at 2560x1440).

During our Metro: Last Light benchmarking session at 2560x1440, the total test bed with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition was consuming around 280-285W. So even with a decent overclock, our entire system was still only using less than 300W.

Battlefield 4

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Metro: Last Light

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3DMark Fire Strike Extreme - 1440p

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Heaven - 1440p

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Power Consumption, Sound Testing & Software

Power Consumption

Right off the bat, I didn't expect the card to be consuming too much power. We know that virtually all of the GTX 970 and GTX 980 cards will have our total system power consumption numbers at under 250W, but with two 6-pin PCIe power connectors, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition should be quite low.

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While the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition was using around 300W of power during our testing, in some games and benchmarks it was hovering at around 250-280W. For the most part, your entire system will chew through less than 300W thanks to NVIDIA's Maxwell architecture.

Sound Testing

With a triple-fan cooler, I thought the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition would be a louder card than usual. Not too loud, but something that I would have to write about, but that's not the case. As you can see below, it's actually the quietest card we've tested thus far.

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Software

Anyone who purchases a ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition, or any ZOTAC card for that matter, can use the company's FireStorm.

We took a deeper in our ZOTAC GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition review.

What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts

This is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review, and get a quick recap and points on the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition.

What's Hot

Dual-Slot Cooler: The Core Edition has a dual-slot cooler which means you get a thinner card, but this thin card packs a hell of a performance punch, so don't underestimate it!

Kick Ass Performance: Performance that rivals the reference GeForce GTX 980, and is within a few percentage points of an overclocked GTX 980? Yes please, ZOTAC.

Quiet Operation: The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition didn't make a peep during 99% of my testing. The only time I heard it was for my noise testing, where I manually cranked the fans up.

Maxwell Architecture: As always, the Maxwell architecture shines. Quiet operation thanks to a cool running GM204 core, and it only sips at the power with under 300W total system power consumption.

What's Not

Not Much OC Headroom: I expected some more overclocking headroom out of the card, but with factory overclocks already providing ample performance, there's not much to complain about here really.

Final Thoughts

After reviewing the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Edition, I didn't expect the Core Edition to make this much of an impression on me. We have performance that beats out the Extreme Edition, in a card that is thinner thanks to its dual-slot cooler.

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The usual trimmings are here thanks to ZOTAC's keen eye on design and flavor, with a card that looks great. It doesn't just bench press through all of your games, it'll do so while looking good and great on the ears thanks to its whisper quiet operation.

With its factory overclock, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition outperforms the reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 and comes close to the MSI GeForce GTX 980 Gaming 4G LE card. With all of the hoopla surrounding the 4GB framebuffer on the GTX 970, we experienced no issues once again with the 4GB VRAM on all of our testing.

ZOTAC has a great card in its GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition, so if you are looking at upgrading and not wanting to spend that couple of hundred more on an overclocked GTX 980, this should be one of the cards on your top 5 list for sure.

TweakTown award
Performance (overclocking, power)95%
Quality (build, design, cooling)95%
General Features (display outputs, etc)95%
Bundle, Packaging & Software90%
Value for Money90%
Overall93%

The Bottom Line: ZOTAC impresses us once again with the GeForce GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition, continuing on the success of the Extreme range of video cards with a wicked dual-slot cooler and kick ass performance.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

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DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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