|ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 01 July 2008|
Page 9 of 19
GTX 280 Detailed Look
At first, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition video card could be easily mistaken for the older 9800 GTX. The GeForce GTX 280 uses a dual-slot design with improved clearance around the fan for optimal cooling and airflow. The board is cooled with an exceptionally quiet on-board "smart" blower fan; even when playing the most graphics-intensive 3D games, the GeForce 9800 GTX remained at a hushed level that would cause no real interference to my concentration.
Since I'm sure you just read the long list of new features and specifications GTX 280, you already know that you can use GT200 graphics processor for a lot more than playing video games. Aside from the entire Parallel Computing Architecture, the HDMI functionality paired with the smart fan design and external exhausting ventilation may help the GTX 280 find a home inside premium-level HTPC environments.
A few months back we reviewed ZOTAC's GeForce 8800 GT AMP! Edition HDMI video card, which used a DVI-to-HDMI adapter and S/PDIF audio input cable to stream full HDMI audio and video output for the first time in any NVIDIA product. Then just months ago the GeForce 9800 GTX series was launched with the same HDMI functionality and features. HDMI is back again (although not with the native interface found on the 9800 GX2) as ZOTAC offers in their AMP!'ed version of the GTX 280.
Because the HDMI audio functionality is controlled at a hardware level, there is no need for additional drivers or software. Much like the SPDIF connection on the back of a motherboard, the video cards audio out function is plug-n-play. The P/SPDIF cable included with the kit connects between a small two-pin port on the power-connection side of the unit and onto the HT Omega Claro Plus+ AD8620BR Op Amp sound card we used for testing. Your setup may be different so the cable may connect between the GTX 280 and the digital audio input pins on either your motherboard or add-in sound card. Not all motherboards and sound cards support this option, so make sure it's available before you make your purchase.
Looking at how the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition might stack-up in a triple-SLI configuration, you can see a few advantages and disadvantages over previous GeForce products. One of the primary problems encountered with the 8800 GTX and Ultra series was the tight confinement created inside the case, which often times led to poor cooling. NVIDIA later redesigned the tail end for their 9800 GTX using contours to help open up air channels. The opening at the rear of the card is hollowed to allow supplemental cooling-air intake, resembling a jets intake manifold.
Whether the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition video card will be used in single-unit standalone mode, or multi-unit SLI mode, the GTX 280 has already proven itself capable of matching the power of NVIDIA's previously most-powerful offering. Continue on to our next section, which clarifies the testing methodology here at Benchmark Reviews.