The Zotac nVidia GeForce GTX 275 AMP! Edition is an overclocked graphics card built around the GeForce 275 - nVidia's challenger to ATI's Radeon HD 4890 graphics chip.

Update - the Zotac has dropped significantly in price since we reviewed it. We'll be updating our review shortly.

Graphics giants nVidia and ATI release a huge variety of chips these days, so it's just as well that they've finally sorted out their naming issues.

Time was when graphics cards came out with a bewildering mix of model numbers - often attaching a lower figure to the faster cards, just to keep consumers on their toes. Thankfully those days appear to be behind us, and even without looking at the specifications, we can divine that the 275 comes somewhere between the 265 and 285 graphics chips. But where exactly does that ‘somewhere' fall. And, more to the point, does it fall higher than that of the ATI Radeon HD 4890?

So the GeForce 275 is nVidia's swift riposte to ATI's Radeon HD 4890. In essence the 275 is a 285 with less memory. That doesn't just stretch to the capacity (although, with 896MB of GDDR3 RAM rather than 1GB in the 285, the 275 does fall behind there too).

The memory interface is smaller too, swapping the 285's meaty 512-bit architecture for a mere 448-bit. But, before you write off the 275, nVidia has tried to keep up the clock speeds to compensate. The standard 275 sees a core clock of 633MHz and a memory clock of 1134MHz (2,268MHz DDR effective). These trail only marginally those of the 285.

NEXT PAGE: no ordinary 275

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The Zotac nVidia GeForce GTX 275 AMP! Edition is an overclocked graphics card built around the GeForce 275 - nVidia's challenger to ATI's Radeon HD 4890 graphics chip.

The Zotac nVidia GeForce GTX 275 AMP! Edition, though, is no ordinary 275, but a member of Zotac's overclocked AMP! Family. And that means you get some pretty handsome tweaks - the core clock vaults 690MHz to 702MHz, while the memory clock shoots up by 126MHz (from 1,134 to 1,260MHz). These are major increases indeed, and make the Zotac nVidia GeForce GTX 275 AMP! Edition a serious contender.

The 4890 can better these speeds, but the good work there is dragged down by the paltry 256-bit memory interface. Admittedly, the 4890 does benefit from better memory (the nVidia's GDDR3 memory is no match for the advanced GDDR5 modules boasted by many ATI cards), and it offers several times that of the 240 stream processors employed by the GTX 275. However, the larger memory interface gives the nVidia the overall advantage.

With that in mind, the GTX 275 wasn't perhaps as far ahead of the 4890 in testing as you might expect, given Zotac's upping of the clock speeds. Indeed, at a resolution of 1280x800 the Zotac nVidia GeForce GTX 275 AMP! Edition struggled to achieve higher scores at all, although it did perk up when subjected to higher resolutions - it almost managed to keep up with the pricier 285. The lead over the 4890 was never more than 3-5fps though, with 1-2fps far more likely, especially over DirectX 9 games.

There is more to the 275 then just speed. In nVidia's favour are the CUDA and PhysX features, with considerable potential for the future and, some day, could allow games programmers to create new effects. Only time will tell whether having CUDA and PhysX will make a significant difference to your gaming experience.

Zotac nVidia GeForce GTX 275 AMP! Edition: Specs

  • nVIDIA GeForce GTX 275
  • 896MB GDDR3
  • 702MHz core clock
  • 1260MHz memory clock (2520MHz DDR effective)
  • 400MHz Ramdac
  • 448-bit memory interface
  • 240 stream processors
  • PCI-E Interface
  • 2 x 6-pin power connectors
  • TV out
  • DirectX 10.0
  • DVI
  • 5-year warranty
  • nVIDIA GeForce GTX 275
  • 896MB GDDR3
  • 702MHz core clock
  • 1260MHz memory clock (2520MHz DDR effective)
  • 400MHz Ramdac
  • 448-bit memory interface
  • 240 stream processors
  • PCI-E Interface
  • 2 x 6-pin power connectors
  • TV out
  • DirectX 10.0
  • DVI
  • 5-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

The 275 is good overall, but, even with Zotac’s superb execution, the Zotac nVidia GeForce GTX 275 AMP! Edition card isn’t so far ahead that it leaves the 4890 in the dust. More significantly, the ATI 4890 is considerably cheaper. It’s fallen further since last month and, at the time of writing, the Sapphire version is retailing for £210 – a massive £43 cheaper than the Zotac nVidia GeForce GTX 275 AMP! Edition. Should the gap come down to less than £20 then the Zotac will arguably be the better buy. Until that time, while this is a very viable card that offers strong performance around the £250 mark, we can’t recommend it as the first choice in the £200-£260 price bracket.

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