ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition Video Card Review

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition Video Card Review

ZOTAC's GTX 950 AMP! Edition is the second NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950-based video card we're reviewing. So, let's see if they can impress us as usual.

@anthony256
Published Tue, Aug 25 2015 9:12 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: ZOTAC

Introduction, Quick Specs and Availability & Price

NVIDIA unleashed its new GeForce GTX 950 a couple of days ago, powered by the cut down GM206 GPU, aiming at the MOBA and casual gamers. The video card is a great upgrade for gamers with older video cards like the GTX 650 or GTX 750/GTX 750 Ti, as it offers big improvements in not just performance, but power consumption and temperatures.

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VIEW GALLERY - 51 IMAGES

We've taken a look at the MSI GeForce GTX 950 Gaming 2G, but our second card to hit the labs is the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition. ZOTAC is a company that continues to surprise, so we're hoping that the fun doesn't end with the mid-range, GM206-based GeForce GTX 950.

There's not much difference between the slew of GTX 950s being released, with the biggest changes being slight tweaks in cooling technology, clock speeds and display outputs. ZOTAC has changed some things for the better, while some parts of the card go backwards. Let's get into it, shall we?

Quick Specs

All GeForce GTX 950s are relatively the same, with 768 CUDA cores, 48 texture units, 32 ROPs and 2GB of GDDR5 RAM spread out on a 128-bit memory bus.

Where the Maxwell architecture shines is in its display connectivity, something that ZOTAC normally doesn't touch. But the company has decided to change it up for the GTX 950 AMP! Edition, offering up 2 x DVI ports, 1 x HDMI and 1 x DisplayPort versus the usual 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI 2.0 and 1 x DVI. I would dare say this is because the GTX 950 is aimed at MOBA and casual gamers who wouldn't necessarily have DisplayPort compatible monitors, and would most likely still have monitors using DVI ports.

Availability & Price

NVIDIA has a price of $159 on the new GeForce GTX 950, with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition being priced a little higher. For instance, we found a listing at the time of writing on Amazon for $180 including free shipping for this model. We should see vast availability of these, with NVIDIA pumping out a considerable number of GM206 GPUs.

Packaging & Detailed Look

The Packaging

ZOTAC usually has some decent packaging on its video cards, with the mid-range GTX 950 AMP! Edition being no different.

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Starting with the front of the box, we have a mostly plain package. We can see that there's 2GB of GDDR5 on the card, ZOTAC's ExoArmor, Freeze Tech and Ice Storm technologies. On the bottom right, we have NVIDIA's various technologies too.

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On the back, we have a detailed run down of the various parts of the card, including ZOTAC's FireStorm overclocking software.

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Inside, the card is in another box to keep it safe.

Detailed Look

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Here we have the front of the card, which looks identical to any of ZOTAC's AMP! range. We have two large fans, and an elaborate heat pipe array behind the fans that you can spot.

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Interestingly, ZOTAC opted to use a backplate on the card - but it does also look very cool, too.

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We have a change of display connectivity from previous Maxwell offerings, with 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI 2.0 and 2 x DVI ports.

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The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition is powered by a single 6-pin PCIe power connector, with a TDP of just 95W.

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I don't know why you'd want to, but you can SLI the GTX 950 if you wanted to. Only 2-way SLI is supported on the GTX 950.

Card Specifications & Cooling Setup

Card Specifications

ZOTAC has three different GTX 950 cards on offer, with the GTX 950 AMP! Edition sitting at the top. The second-best GTX 950 from ZOTAC is the GTX 950 OC, while the plain GTX 950 has no overclocking applied to it.

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Cooling Setup

ZOTAC doesn't just build cheap cards, it builds very high quality pieces of technology that have various technologies that make them excel. The company has its awesome ExoArmor technology on the card, giving it a great feel - and even touch to the hand. We also have Freeze Tech, which has the card not making any noise at idle, and even during operation the card is whisper quiet - and in some games like League of Legends, absolutely silent.

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As you can see, we have two large fans that keep the GM206 GPU underneath nice and cool, with a pretty big heat pipe system (for the size of this card at least) keeping everything running beautifully cool.

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The backplate will take some more heat away from the card, especially the back of the card which can get considerably warm during heavy loads.

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Here you can see the heat sink and heat pipes underneath the fans.

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And once again, from the front end of the card.

Testing Method & Test System Configuration

Testing Method

I've played Battlefield 4 on a 64-player server to provide some real-world performance numbers. I've found this is one of the best ways to provide the most realistic performance numbers, as it involves actual gameplay in a large server that really strains most setups.

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 video card performs.

Battlefield 4 Testing

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. We are using a custom Ultra preset (disabling AA). It's time consuming, but it gives us a perfect look into true real-world performance.

Test System Configuration

We are still using our X99-based Core i7-5820K processor, but we'll be replacing this soon with Intel's new Skylake processor and Z170 chipset. We just received our awesome new GIGABYTE Z170 Gaming 7 motherboard and have secured ourselves a shiny Skylake-powered 6700K in the last few days. Expect us to move over to that in the next few weeks.

The current X99-based system is something you can read about here. As for the detailed specifications, this is what we're running:

  • 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
  • Drivers: GeForce 355.65 / Catalyst 15.7.1

Benchmarks - Synthetic

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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The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition is a pretty kick ass card to start off our synthetic testing with, as it simply owns the EVGA GeForce GTX 650 in 3DMark at 1080p on the FireStrike benchmark. It's even 7% faster in the 'graphics score' part of FireStrike when compared to the GTX 950 from MSI.

Kicking over to Heaven, the ZOTAC card is 7% faster than the MSI card once again with 46FPS average compared to 43FPS at 1080p.

Benchmarks - 1080p

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

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

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

Performance Summary

ZOTAC Provides Great Value At $159!

While we were impressed with the performance of the MSI GeForce GTX 950 Gaming 2G, ZOTAC has it in the bag when it comes to performance. It beats the MSI card in virtually every test - and while it's only by a few frames per second - at $159, every single ounce of performance counts.

Overall, we found that the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition is an average of 7% faster than the MSI GeForce GTX 950 Gaming 2G, which is not bad considering you'll find both of them for nearly the same price.

Performance at 1080p

Starting off with Battlefield 4 at 1920x1080, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition pumps away at 87FPS average, 7% faster than the MSI GeForce GTX 950 Gaming 2G. We have the same performance gaps between the ZOTAC and MSI cards in GRID: Autosport, where the ZOTAC card manages a decent 97FPS average at 1080p. Metro: Last Light edges close to 50FPS average on the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition, with 49FPS average at 1080p beating the MSI GeForce GTX 950 Gaming 2G by 3FPS.

In the rest of the game benchmarks at 1080p, the ZOTAC card is a few FPS faster than the MSI. Impressive stuff, especially if you consider both cards are priced identically. For 1080p gaming, the ZOTAC card is the undeniable winner here.

Performance at 1440p

The performance gap between the ZOTAC and MSI cards becomes more apparent in Battlefield 4 at 1440p, with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition pumping out an impressive 61FPS average at 2560x1440.

In the rest of our testing at 1440p, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition maintains an average of 30FPS or so - but remember we're using Ultra/Ultimate/Very High presets in our games. If you were to take down the in-game visual settings a notch or two, you could maintain 30FPS+ in nearly any game on the market right now.

Performance at 4K

Just like in our review of the MSI GeForce GTX 950 Gaming 2G, we're not going to be judging 4K performance here. But, it doesn't hurt to take a look at the numbers, right?

Battlefield 4 is actually playable at 4K on the Ultra preset on the GTX 950, with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition maintaining an average of 29FPS, which is not too damn bad at all for the price. For the rest of our testing, we run our games on the Medium settings, with an average of around 25-30FPS - again, for the price, this isn't too shabby.

Overclocking, Power Consumption and Sound Testing

Overclocking - Let's See How Far We Can Go

I tried pushing the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition up by 100MHz on both the GPU core and RAM, but we had artifacts in Heaven. I scaled back down the overclock to 80MHz on the GPU and just 40MHz on the RAM, where we had total stability in all of our testing.

The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition is the fastest GTX 950 we've got, so we weren't able to push it much higher, since it has already been factory overclocked. At stock, it's a few frames per second faster than the MSI GeForce GTX 950 Gaming 2G in nearly every single test, which is a testament to ZOTAC's kick ass cards. Does the OC help though? Take a look at our results below.

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

Thanks to the Maxwell architecture, any of the GTX 900 series cards don't consume much power. Our entire LGA 2011 system was using just 175W with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition behind the wheel, and just 195W when we had our overclock stamped on it.

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We even saw spikes of 225W in Metro: Last Light when we had our overclock applied, but for most of our OC testing, the power consumption stayed just under 200W.

Sound Testing

Throughout the entire review process, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition didn't make a sound, but boy do the fans get loud when you manually have them at 100%.

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Software

Overclocking Software

ZOTAC has some impressive overclocking software with its FireStorm software, which we used for the purposes of overclocking the GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition. We've used it before and enjoy the layout of the software, which is something you can check out below.

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Here we have the ZOTAC FireStorm overclocking software opened up with the GTX 950 AMP! Edition installed. The UI is great, where it's quite different to the likes of MSI Afterburner.

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Once again with our overclocking adventures (which failed at 100MHz on the GPU/RAM) - and GPU-Z opened up for validation.

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 950 AMP! Edition.

What's Hot

The Fastest GTX 950 On The Block: ZOTAC's cards have impressed us for a while now, but the GTX 950 AMP! Edition provides an injection of performance over its competitors.

A Big Upgrade For GTX 650/750 Owners: We have close to, or over 3x the performance of the Kepler-based GeForce GTX 650 with the new ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition. For gamers upgrading from the older GTX 650, you can expect some serious performance improvements.

Maxwell Goes Mid-Range: Maxwell scales from the GTX 950 right up to the super-enthusiast Titan X. The GTX 950 sits in the perfect position for budget-minded gamers, especially those who are playing MOBA games or first-person shooters like CS:GO.

Silent Gaming: The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition makes no noise when gaming, so if you need a silent mid-range card, this should be at the top of your list.

Super-Low Power Consumption: With power consumption at under 200W for the entire system in our strongest tests, and even lower if you are playing games like League of Legends, CS:GO and others, we were quite impressed.

Perfect For 1080p (And Below): If you're gaming at resolutions like 1280x720, 1680x1050 or others lower than 1080p, you're going to see 60FPS+ in everything. Even with a few tweaks at 1080p, 60FPS+ gaming is very easily achievable.

4K Gaming: This is something that the GTX 950 isn't aimed at, but it's more than capable of some light 4K gaming at 30FPS if you tweak the in-game visual settings.

What's Not

Not Much New: We had the same issue with our look at the MSI card, but this isn't a problem with the AIB partners, with ZOTAC not being at fault here. There's nothing new here, as we've seen it all before with the other GTX 900 series cards because all of the technologies and features on offer here are thanks to the Maxwell architecture itself.

Display Connectors: We would have much rather seen ZOTAC stick with the regular NVIDIA connector layout rather than opting for more DVI than DisplayPort. However, we can understand also that this may have been done since this video card is targeting gamers who may be playing MOBA or older games like CS:GO that may not have newer monitors.

Final Thoughts

NVIDIA has a serious winner on its hands with the GeForce GTX 950, and ZOTAC has impressed us quite a lot with their product in the form of the GTX 950 AMP! Edition. We have silent operation, a slick-looking card, and some overclocking headroom if you want to squeeze some additional performance from your GM206-powered card.

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All of the Maxwell features are here, so you've got DirectX 12 support, SLI, 4K abilities, GameStream, and so much more. There are countless features on the Maxwell architecture, all of which can be enjoyed on the new GTX 950 cards. ZOTAC has formed a great product in the GTX 950 AMP! Edition, with it straying from the usual triple DisplayPort output configuration with an older monitor generous dual DVI output configuration. This will be a good card for those with older monitors using DVI and wanted to hook two monitors up to the card, but we would have preferred more DP connectors.

Performance wise, if you're gaming at 1080p or under, you're going to get 60FPS+ no matter what. This is where the Maxwell architecture really shines, especially when you compare it to the older GTX 650 and GTX 750 Ti cards. Don't hesitate picking up the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition, especially if you've been itching for a new video card, but didn't want to spend too much.

ZOTAC has smashed it out of the park with the GTX 950 AMP! Edition, with it being the fastest GTX 950 we've tested so far. Impressive stuff as always from ZOTAC, even on the lower-end of the NVIDIA Maxwell scale. If it comes to a decision between ZOTAC, MSI or ASUS, we definitely recommend grabbing the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 950 AMP! Edition, you will not be disappointed.

TweakTown award
Performance (overclocking, power)95%
Quality (build, design, cooling)95%
General Features (display outputs, etc)75%
Bundle, Packaging & Software95%
Value for Money90%
Overall90%

The Bottom Line: If you are in the market for the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950, ZOTAC has the fastest one by far with the GTX 950 AMP! Edition. Nothing but pure speed here, folks.

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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