Last week I spent the entire week covering AMD cards, so to mix things up today I want to revisit the GTX 1060. This time, however, I’m taking a look at the Zotac GTX 1060 AMP! Edition. I had a chance to check out how well the Founders Edition card and now today I can see how the 1060 performs with a little bit of an overclock and an aftermarket cooler. With all of that, this card also retails for less than the Founders Edition card. The GTX 1060 AMP! Edition isn’t the smallest GTX 1060 out on the market, but it is noticeably smaller than the Founders Edition, if it performs well I might just see if it fits in our most recent Lunchbox build as well.
Product Name: Zotac GTX 1060 AMP! Edition
Review Sample Provided by: Zotac
Written by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
Amazon Link: HERE
|GPU||GeForce® GTX 1060|
|Video Memory||6GB GDDR5|
Base: 1556 MHz
|Memory Clock||8 GHz|
3 x DisplayPort 1.4
|Multi Display Capability||Quad Display|
|Recommended Power Supply||400W|
|DirectX||12 API feature level 12_1|
|Cooling||Dual Fan IceStorm|
|Slot Size||Dual Slot|
|Supported OS||Windows 10 / 8 / 7|
|Card Length||210mm x 128mm|
Dual 4-pin to 6-pin adapter
Before diving into testing, I did want to include a copy of the GPUz from the card. With issues popping up this year with manufacturers sending review samples that are turned up to their optional OC clocks I want to make sure we keep everything transparent. The GTX 1060 AMP! Edition is listed with the same 1557 MHz base clock in its specifications as in GPUz. The boost clock in GPUz is actually one tick higher at 1772 where the specifications list 1771 MHz, but I don’t think that is a problem.
When I think of Zotac I always think of orange but for their packaging they go with a bright yellow that stands out against any other video card on the shelf. The box for the GTX 1060 AMP! Edition isn’t as large as the boxes for the GTX 1080’s but they fit all of the standard stuff on the front. We have the Zotac branding up in the top left corner. In the bottom right corner is the normal wrap around Geforce branding with the model name on it. They have another Geforce logo up in the top right along with the VR Ready badge and the AMP! Edition branding. Then down in the bottom left is the 6GB memory capacity and two logos for Zotac's cooling tech (Ice Storm and Freeze Tech). Everything you need is there although I do think they could have maybe put the words GTX 1060 AMP! Edition all together somewhere to make it a little clearer exactly what GTX 1060 model it is.
On the back, we actually have a picture of the card (something I would love to see on the front) along with a short specifications listing and a feature list. They also highlight the card being VR Ready again as well as Freeze Tech but they don’t really explain what that is.
Inside the box, everything sits in a cardboard tray. The card comes wrapped up in a static protective bubble wrap bag and on top of it is a quick installation guide and a card with information on Zotac's SSDs. They also include a basic dual Molex to 6-pin adapter cable for those with an older power supply. The adapter doesn’t have any nice sleeving or all black cables like some companies are now using, but it will get the job done.
The card itself doesn’t come with a big sticker to peel off but they did put a sticker on the two fans that you need to remove before installing. This also helps tell us what Freeze Tech is as well. The fans turn off at low loads to keep your rig silent when out of game.
Photos and Features
In the past, like I said earlier, when I think of Zotac think about orange, especially with their past cards. This time around though they went a completely different direction with a full black and silver look. As someone who loves orange, I’m a little sad to not see it, but black and silver are colors that will go in just about any build. Most of the shroud is silver with the black up the middle helping blend in the fans. Both fans also have silver on their centers as well as the Zotac logo on each. The overall card is considerably shorter than the Founders Edition GTX 1060 that I originally covered but it’s a little short of the normal ITX form factor. ITX video cards typically come in a touch over 6 and a half inches long to match the length of Mini-TIX motherboards so at 8.2 inches long the AMP! Edition doesn’t really fit into that form factor, but it is close. In fact, the PCB fits the form factor but the cooler hangs over a little to be able to fit dual fans.
As with most aftermarket cards, the GTX 1060 AMP! Edition does stray away from the blower design of the Founders Edition. The dual fans blow down through the heatsink against the PCB. They use two thick heatpipes to pull heat out from on top of the PCB out to the ends of the heatsink. The hot air from the heatsink then vents mostly out into your case. This means on the top, end, and bottom the fan shroud is short to lead room for air to vent out each of those directions. Taking a closer look at the top I was really impressed with Zotac’s design. With a lot of the GTX 1060’s just like the RX 470’s on the AMD side, I see a lot of the companies use a universal heatsink design to cool most of their cards. It’s really clear looking at the top profile that Zotac went out of their way to custom fit this cooler specifically to this card. This means additional cooling surface area on the heatsink in the areas rather than big gaps between the cooler and the PCB. Look just how tight it fits around everything, especially the power connection and the fan header.
Here is a better look around the power connection. Speaking of, Zotac went with the same 6-pin power connection that the Founders Edition had. Considering the 120 Watt TDP there should be more than enough power available, even if you are overclocking beyond the overclock Zotac provides. The power connection is flipped and the PCB is knocked to fit it to keep the heatsink as much room as possible.
The back PCI slot cover still is completely covered in triangle vents to let any air that goes this direction out. These are the same triangle vents on the Founders Edition, in fact, everything on this end of the card is the same. For display connections, you get the same triple DisplayPort connections along with a single HDMI and a single DVI port up on the second slot.
At first glance, I thought the PCB might have been the same as the Founders Edition but there are a few noticeable changes. For starters, the most obvious is the power connection actually being mounted on the PCB, not using a pigtail. To fit that they did move things around slightly up in the top left corner. There are also fewer mounting points for the cooler but Zotac does still leave a few empty holes, though they don’t fit the GTX 1060 Mini as well so I’m not sure what they are for. While there isn’t a backplate, the black PCB does look good. I normally don’t like companies having the cooler stick out past the PCB but given they took advantage of that space, filling it in completely with heatsink I’m not going to complain.
I couldn’t just talk about the size difference between the GTX 1060 AMP! Edition and the Founders Edition without showing it right? Here are the cards together. We can see the huge difference in length and we can also see that the Zotac is a little taller as well. The dual fans look HUGE compared to the blower as well. The Founders Edition, being all metal weighs more and has a little more solid feel.
Our Test Rig and Procedures
|Our Test Rig|
|CPU||Intel i7-5960X||Live Pricing|
|Memory||Kingston HyperX FURY Black 32GB Quad Channel Kit 2666 MHz||Live Pricing|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X99-SOC Champion||Live Pricing|
|Cooling||Noctua NH-U12S Cooler||Live Pricing|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master V1000 Power Supply||Live Pricing|
|Storage||Kingston Hyper X Savage 960GB SSD||Live Pricing|
|Case||Dimastech Test Bench||Live Pricing|
|Our Testing Procedures|
|3DMark||The same goes for the most current version of 3DMark using the Fire Strike benchmark in normal, extreme, and ultra settings|
|Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0||Using the Extreme HD preset to get an average FPS|
|Catzilla 4k||Default tests for 1080p, 1440p, and 4k resolutions using the overall score for each as our result|
|SteamVR||Default SteamVR test using Average Quality score|
|DOOM||Doom is tested on the Ultra quality setting. Tests are run at 1080p and 1440p using both OpenGL and Vulkan. The benchmark is a basic one using just the average FPS in the opening scene.|
|HITMAN 2016||Fullscreen with V-Sync turned off Detail, Texture Quality, Shadow Maps, and Shadow Resolution all set to their highest settings. We test using both DX11 and DX12 at both 1080p and 1440p resolutions.|
|Ashes of the Singularity||Built-in benchmark ran at 1080p and 1440p with graphics settings set to the “Crazy” setting with the exception of turning off V-Sync Mode. The benchmark scenario is set to GPU Focused and we use the Average Framerate for All Batches as the result. Tests are run both in DX11 and DX12|
|The Division||Built-in benchmark ran at 1080p and 1440p with graphics settings set to the default “Ultra” setting with the exception of turning off V-Sync Mode|
|Bioshock Infinite||Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Bioshock Infinite on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, FXAA turned on, Ultra Texture detail, 16x Aniso Texture Filtering, Ultra Dynamic Shadows, Normal Postprocessing, Light Shafts on, Ambient Occlusion set to ultra, and the Level of Detail set to Ultra as well. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.|
|Tomb Raider||Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Tomb Raider on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, Exclusive Fullscreen turned on, Anti-Aliasing set to 2xSSAA, Texture Quality set to Ultra, Texture Aniso set to 16x Aniso, Hair Quality set to TressFX, Shadow set to Normal, Shadow Resolution on High, Ultra SSAO, Ultra Depth of Field, High Reflection quality, Ultra LOD scale, Post-Processing On, High Precision RT turned on, and Tessellation is also turned on. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.|
|Hitman: Absolution||Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Hitman: Absolution on the “Xtreme” quality setting other than the MSAA setting is turned down from 8x to 2x. That setting puts the resolution at 1920x1080, MSAA is set to 2x, Texture Quality is set to High, Texture Aniso is set to 16x, Shadows are on Ultra, SSA is set to high, Global Illumination is turned on, Reflections are set to High, FXAA is on, Level of Detail is set to Ultra, Depth of Field is high, Tessellation is turned on, and Bloom is set to normal. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above, except on the “high” setting.|
|Sleeping Dogs||Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Sleeping Dogs on the “Xtreme” quality setting. That means our resolution is set to 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing is set to Extreme, Texture Quality is set to High-Res, Shadow Quality is High, Shadow Filter is set to high, SSAO is set to High, Motion Blur Level is set to High, and World Density is set to Extreme. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.|
|Total War: ROME II||Ultra-setting tested at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, built in forest benchmark|
|Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor||Using the built-in benchmark we test with ultra settings at 1440p|
|Sniper Elite 3||Ultra-setting tested at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, built in benchmark|
|Thief||Tested using the “Very High” setting at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440|
|Folding at Home 2.2||Using the Folding at Home benchmark 2.2.5 set to OpenCL, WU set to dhfr, and run length set to the default 60 seconds. We test at both double and single precision and use the score at the result|
|CompuBenchCL||Video Composition and Bitcoin tests|
|Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0 heat testing||We run through Unigine Valley using the “Extreme” preset for 30 minutes to test in game cooling performance with the fan speed set to auto then again with the fan set to 100%.|
|Power Usage||Using Unreal Valley Benchmark 1.0, we get our “load” power usage number from the peak power usage during our test. We get our numbers from a Kill-A-Watt connected to the test benches power cord.|
|Noise Testing||Our Noise testing is done using a decibel meter 3 inches away from the video card on the bottom/fan side of the card. We test an idle noise level and then to get an idea of how loud the card will get if it warms all the way up we also turn the fan speed up to 50% and 100% and test both speeds as well. The 100% test isn’t a representation of typical in-game noise levels, but it will show you how loud a card can be if you run it at its highest setting or if it gets very hot.|
As always I started off my testing of the GTX 1060 AMP! Edition by running it through our synthetic benchmark tests. Most of these tests don’t give us direct numbers to be able to see in-game performance but because they are consistent they are a great way to compare cards. My main focus re was to see if the overclock from 1506 base/1708 boost to 1556 base/1771 Boost gave the Zotac card a good edge over the Founders Edition GTX 1060 and I also wanted to see how the card compares to the RX 480 with 4GB of vRAM that I recently tested.
So my first tests were in 3DMark using their Fire Strike benchmark as well as the new Time Spy benchmark for DX12. In Fire Strike the overclock on the Zotac gave us a bump of 300 points over the Founders Edition, this put is almost dead even with the GTX 980. The RX 480 4GB was much farther behind, even the 8GB RX 480 was almost 900 points behind. In Time Spy the difference was even less but once again the Zotac was slightly faster than the Founders Edition card as well as the RX 480’s. Hopefully, we get another RX 480 in soon to get a better look at how aftermarket GTX 1060’s compare to aftermarket RX 480’s.
Next, I tested with Unigine’s Valley Benchmark. This test actually gives a real FPS and is based on a popular game engine so it really is more like an in-game test, but because it isn’t a real game it goes in this section. Here things are similar to 3DMark but in this test the two RX 480’s fall back a little more. That said the Zotac has an edge on the Founders Edition by one FPS.
In Catzilla I test at 1080p, 1440p, and 4k to get a wide look at performance. The Zotac once again performed just above the Founders Edition and this put the Zotac 1060 AMP! Edition close to the GTX 980, but what I found interesting is the gap between the Founders Edition and the AMP! Edition is wider in the two higher resolutions.
My last test is just a quick peak at Virtual Reality performance using the SteamVR benchmark. It is once again more of the same only the GTX 980 performs a little worse in this one. We get .1 of a performance increase compared to the Founders Edition, it’s not much but it is consistent.
To put the Zotac GTX 1060 AMP! Edition to the true test I ran it through our ever-evolving in-game benchmark suite. The suite has 12 different games tested at both 1080p and 1440p at their highest settings. Three of the games are also tested in more than one configuration to see the difference between DX11 and DX12 performance or in the case of the most recent addition, DOOM I test out both OpenGL and Vulkan performance. The problem is, with so many results it can be a little too much to take in. To help with that I have condensed our results into two graphs, one for 1080p and the other for 1440p. All of our games are run at their max settings and we use the average FPS as the end result. The graphs below are broken down into three FPS ranges to represent unplayable (below 30), playable but not ideal (30 to 60), and ideal (over 60 FPS). So what did I find from those results? Well at 1080p, the GTX 1060 AMP! Edition is a champ. 11 out of the 14 results were in the 60+ range and the other 3 results were all still playable as well. Even at 1440p, a resolution that the GTX 1060 isn’t really designed for, all but one game is playable. That one game is Ashes of the Singularity and at 29.9 FPS you really can’t get any closer to the playable range without being in it.
Of course, I also include all of our individual results for you to take a look at as well. Did anything in them stand out? Well with DOOM being a new edition we, of course, want to see those results. As expected when running in Vulkan the AMD cards see a huge improvement going from 85 FP to 120 at 1080p for example. Typically, Nvidia does see a bump in performance as well but not nearly as much as AMD but the Zotac GTX 1060 didn’t really gain any noticeable FPS. DX12 in Hitman is similar, the GTX 1060 doesn’t lose any performance going to DX12 but in DX12 the RX 480’s see a big jump in performance. Beyond those two examples, the Zotac GTZ 1060 AMP! Edition does stay consistently ahead of the GTX 1060 Founders Edition and both GTX 1060’s ahead of the RX 480’s. So comparing the two GTX 1060’s is clean cut but when we look at the performance of the GTX 1060 and the RX 480 the GTX 1060 outperforms in most DX11 titles but the RX 480 outperforms in DX12/Vulkan.
Nvidia cards aren’t exactly known for their compute performance, but I still like to take a look and see how they perform. To do that I test using two different benchmarks, Folding at Home to test folding performance then CompuBenchCl to take a look at Video Composition performance and Bitcoin mining performance. My first test was Folding at Home both in single and double precision. In single precision performance the 1060 AMP! Edition performed really well, nearly on par with the GTX 980 Ti and noticeably ahead of the Founders Edition. This is also in a different world altogether from the RX 480’s. But in double precision testing things flip completely upside down and the RX 480’s are up near the top and the GTX 1060 AMP! Edition is down near the bottom. Nvidia doesn’t include FP64 compute cores in their consumer GPUs so the normal FP32 have to do it but this is less efficient.
In CompuBenchCL Video Composition the Zotac card once again outperforms the Founders Edition. That extra edge helps get it a little closer to the RX 480 4Gb that is directly above it. The results are similar in the Bitcoin Mining test where the RX 480’s have a slight edge. In bitcoin mining though power efficiency plays a part as well and the higher efficiency of the GTX 1060’s and with their performance being just a step down from the RX 480 it does make the GTX 1060 a contender.
Cooling, Noise, and Power
For my last batch of testing, I like to take a look at all the other factors you have to keep in mind when picking out a video card. These also just happen to be the main things that will show a big difference between cards with the same GPU and similar overclocks. I look at the cooling performance of the cards cooler, the overall noise output, and the power draw. Starting with power usage, I ran the GTX 1060 AMP! Edition through Valley Benchmark with our test bench hooked to a Kill-a-Watt. The numbers below are total wattage for our test bench, not the numbers for just the card but they still let us compare from card to card. The GTX 1060 Founders Edition was extremely power efficient and the AMP! Edition is as well, but the card does pull 13 watts more to help power the slight overclock that Zotac gave it. This is still well below the RX 480 that it competes with and even the RX 470’s that I tested, so I’m not going to complain about a small bump in wattage.
Next, I did noise testing. This testing is done on our open air test bench with a decibel meter mounted 6 inches away from the intake fans. So this is not a perfect representation of what you will experience with the card in a case but being close to the card gives us a better chance to compare the differences between the cards. The AMP! Edition with its two moderately large fans did make a little more noise with the fans cranked up than I expected. When I turned the fans back down to a normal speed things got much quieter.
My last tests were focused on overall cooling performance. Here I loop Valley Benchmark to let the card warm up and then document the highest temperature reached. I do this twice, once with the fans set to stock settings and again with the fans at 100% fan speed. This shows me what to expect from the card in normal use and gives us a peek at the fan profile and the 100% fan speed test shows raw cooling power of the card. Considering how cool the Founders Edition ran I was a little surprised to see the Zotac card running in the middle of the pack. In fact, I would consider 74 degrees to be warm for a card with an aftermarket cooler. 100% fan speed testing showed however that the cooler is actually capable of cooling much better. An improved fan curve would most likely go a long way to help the Zotac run much cooler.
Overall and Final Verdict
With my testing finished and having taken a closer look at the Zotac GTX 1060 AMP! Edition how does it stand up compared to the Founders Edition and the RX 480’s that it competes with? Well for starters I’m really digging the styling that Zotac ended up going with. In the past, I loved their use of orange because it is my favorite color, but going with neutral colors is important on a video card. A lot of people try to make sure their video card matches the rest of their build and the black and gray of the AMP! Edition is going to go with about anything. While Zotac didn’t go full ITX with this card (they actually have another 1060 that is ITX) at a length of 8.2 inches the card still comes in a compact form factor, especially when we compare it to the GTX 1060 Founders Edition. This opens up some of the smaller case options while also not looking to out of place in full sized cases.
As far as performance goes, the AMP! Edition ended up outperforming the more expensive Founders Edition in basically every test. They didn’t go crazy with the overclock but the extra clock speed did account for a few FPS in every game tested. That said it didn’t really change the performance comparisons between the GTX 1060 and the RX 480. In nearly every DX11 title the GTX 1060 outperforms but the RX 480 shows its chops in the newer titles with DX12 and especially in Doom with Vulkan. Basically, I think the RX 480 is going to perform on par and above the GTX 1060 once those games take over, but right now most games are still using DX11. So right now I would still give the edge to the GTX 1060. The AMP! Edition, like the Founders Edition, was also very power efficient, being in a completely different class than the RX 480 and RX 470 cards.
Where the Zotac card did struggle was in the cooling performance. The card doesn’t run that bad, but when put under load I would have preferred to see the card run a little cooler, especially considering how cool the Founders Edition GTX 1060 ran. Noise testing also showed that the dual fans did get a bit noisier than the competition when the fans are cranked up, but at normal speeds they were fine.
So is the Zotac GTX 1060 AMP! Edition the card to get? Well, it is a better performer and at a better price than the GTX 1060 Founders Edition. That puts it down closer to the RX 480 8GB cards as well that I think it is faster than in most games. With that in mind, I do think it is a good pickup. I have another GTX 1060 6GB card to check out soon so I will have a better idea of how it compares to other aftermarket GTX 1060’s but I do like it enough that as soon as I finished up my testing It went right into a project build that I will be writing about next week.
Live Pricing: HERE