As is our usual M.O. lets start with the shipping container. Well… actually we can’t. Our sample is a used model that’s exterior sleeve was destroyed in transit. However, even though the shipping container was shipped, reshipped, used and abused you would never know it from the condition of the video card itself. This is not something we can say about all manufactures shipping boxes and is pretty much the epitome of what a good, well designed box should be.
As to the color scheme and overall aesthetics, it is classic Zotac. That is to say attention getting but not garish. Some will not like the copious amounts of yellow used… but it is attention getting. Even when mixed into a big pile of boxes you can pick this card out just by seeing a corner of the box. More importantly it does have all the information on it that makes it crystal clear what you are getting.
We actually cannot comment directly on the accessories that this model comes with… as our sample is a used card. A used card that the previous owner (or ‘owners’ in this instance) ‘may’ have used said accessories… elsewhere… and kept them. What we can say is, if you purchase it new from a retailer, you can expect to find a pair of dual 6 to single 8-pin adapters, driver + software disc, a case badge/sticker, as well as the usual list of odds n sods. That is to say Zotac may not consider this their ‘premium’ or ‘flagship’ GTX 1070 model but they do pull out all the stops as if it was a much, much more expensive card. Once again others could learn a thing or two about customer satisfaction from Zotac.
Moving on. With its combination of strategically placed LEDs, all metal top fascia, and graceful (if a touch aggressive) styling, the Zotac AMP! GTX 1070 is a rather attractive looking vide card. It is equally at home on an open bench where you can see it clearly, partially hidden inside a tempered glass sided case, or even hidden in a full metal PC case. While we are usually not a fan of fake carbon fiber and glowing LEDs… on this card it actually does work.
This combination is what Zotac calls their ‘Carbon ExoArmor’, and it works because they are being used accents and flourishes which accentuate the aggressive lines of the card without being overly flashy or garish. Of course, not everyone will be happy with the aesthetics as it is not covered in ‘Zotac Yellow’, rather it is a gunmetal gray card. Though for those who buy a Zotac to help complete a yellow theme it does have liberally applied yellow stripes on the backplate. This does sound like an odd combination… and yet it works very well on the AMP! Edition card.
Also worth mentioning is that this card may come with 16.1M ‘Spectra’ LEDs… that is not the same as saying as it lights up light a Christmas tree. Instead Zotac has taken a much more subtle and refined approach to lighting.
Basically, in addition to the ‘Zotac’ logo on the edge of the card there are two chevrons that light up at about the half way point of the card. That may, or may not, be enough for you but we think it makes the card look pretty without going the ‘Las Vegas strip(per)’ route. Either way, these LEDS are fully customizable so it in conjunction with the gun-metal gray of the fascia makes for one adaptable card that can work – with a bit of tweaking via Zotac’s software – with any number of custom PC color schemes. Yes, this really is a good looking and highly adaptable card that belies its moderate asking price.
Lower price or not, and being only a mid-grade card in Zotac’s lineup, Zotac has not cut any corners on the styling. Instead of making their lower-tiered models look worse Zotac simply opted for physical cooling changes to help distinguish the AMP! from the AMP! Extreme models. To be precise this is a true 2-slot, dual fan design whereas the AMP! Extremes are usually 3 slot models sporting three cooling fans. Instead of advanced EKO fans it usually a more classic fan style. Instead of the heatsink having six heat pipes this version of Zotac’s IceStorm heatsink ‘only’ has five. Instead of being well over a foot long … it is ‘merely’ 11.81 inches long. This are all major changes that Zotac has made to distinguish the AMP! Edition from the AMP! Extreme GTX 1070.
Make no mistake, this card still has a ton of cooling performance – so much so Zotac gives it a TDP of 220 instead of 150, which is very similarly to the EVGA FTW2 1070s of the marketplace – it just has… less cooling performance than the AMP! Extreme. This, correct in our opinion, decision to focus in on overclocking potential to different the mid for the top-tier models actually does have a few side effects. Some of which actually are in the Zotac AMP! GTX 1070’s favor. The Zotac AMP! GTX 1070 is meant for buyers who are either budget or size constrained in the card they can justify buying. That is to say it is the ‘everyman’ choice which may not be perfect at all possible tasks, but it is does an admirable job at handling nearly anything you throw at it. Put another way this is a card with a ton of value baked in.
For instances this card does come with a custom backplate that actually is an actively cooled design – just like the AMP! Extreme. If you look closely you will see that unlike most metal backplates this one curves up and around the front of the card with ‘fat fingers’ of metal fins to catch the waste air from the IceStorm heatsink. What this does is allow the backplate to actually cool the card much more effectively without needlessly adding to the form-factor. So much so that it is ‘only’ a 2-slot design but can outperform some 2.5-slot models.
The actual cooling solution is part of what Zotac calls their IceStorm design, and in basic terms it means two large 100mm fans sitting atop a rather large (for a 2-slot) custom heatsink. This heat pipe based heatsink is split into two zones, with each getting its own fan, and copious amounts of air flow. Air flow which does not ‘fight’ with each other – i.e. increase the static pressure of the fin array. Instead this split allows the fans to efficiently cool the Zotac AMP! GTX 1070’s GP104-200 and VRAM modules without undue fan speed increases. This is why even though this card comes factory overclocked to 1797 MHz, when possible the fans will stop spinning (or what Zotac calls ‘Freeze’)… just as they would on most premium models from other manufactures. Albeit without the usual premium price tag that goes along with truly silent cooling.
Now with that said this heatsink is not perfect. The VRAM IC’s do run a bit hotter on this card than they would on say an EVGA ICX based model. That is to be expected as this is a more value-orientated card. Few will care about this issue as the IceStorm heatsink is nowhere near as bad as the original EVGA 10-series ACX models were for example. Mix in the fact that this issue has caused re-sale prices to plummet (in our instance we found a bunch of these reselling for less than EVGAs SC 1070 cards)… and you get the idea on why we are focusing in on this particular card in our continuing ‘budget buyers survival guide’ series.
Hidden underneath this custom cooling solution is a rather robust, to say the least, power delivery subsystem. This subsystem consists of 8-phases, beefy MOSFETs and an all-digital VRM, that is also backstopped by an additional power conditioner that Zotac calls ‘Power Boost’. This little addition sits on the back of the card and its job is to reduce ripples that come from the PCIE board/ports power connectors before they reach the VRM. Now 8-phases may not be as beefy as what some higher priced models used, but for a piddly little GP104-200 based card it is overkill. Also overkill, is the use of dual 8-pin power connectors. Having upwards of 375-watts (150+150+75 from the PCIe slot) means that no matter how hard you push this card it will have more than enough reserves to provide clean, stable power to the overclocked core and memory.
What all this means is that this card slots nicely into the middle of Zotac’s actually sensible design philosophy. The Zotac GTX 1070 Mini is meant for ‘size matters’ crowd who have really small cases but want decent performance, the Zotac AMP! Extreme is for those who have mega-sized PC cases and want all the pixel crushing power they can get, and this card is tailor-made for the average buyer who has a normal amount of room but can’t easily fit in a 3-fan monster into their case or their budget. Like we said this is the ‘everyman’ or ‘jack of all trades’ model that will fit a wide range of builds and scenarios.
Of course, the downside to this middle of the road approach is noise and temperatures will be higher on the Zotac AMP! GTX 1070 compared to 2.5slot and/or 3-fan based models. These two fans are large 100mm fans, but at the end of the day there is only two of them. They simply can not move as much air over the heatsink as what three-fan based cards can at a given rotational speed. At stock ‘factory’ frequencies this card is whisper silent, but it is not dead-silent. Mostly though what this difference in cooling ability means is that it translates to is a bit more added noise and elevated temperatures when pushing the overclocking to the limit. This too has its pros and cons, which we will go over in the over-clocking section, but suffice to say this combination of beefy heatsink with two beefy fans does make the Zotac AMP! GTX 1070 rather user-friendly and an excellent choice for first time manual overclocking adventures… and a heck of a great value for a wide range of buyers.
The only area that some will find disappointing is in the monitor port options. Basically, expect to find a standard list of IO ports. However, the monitor ports included is about the only ‘standard’ list on a card that is well above average.