During this year’s Computex tradeshow we went along to see Zotac, Nvidia’s latest partner, to find out how it planned to fit into the volatile and somewhat crowded Nvidia graphics card marketplace. There are now 21 official Nvidia partners, so it’s not going to be easy for Zotac to not only break into the market, but also to get a reasonable portion of the pie.
We had a quick glance at some of these during our Computex coverage, but today we’ve got our first Zotac product in house for some extensive testing. There are more products en-route as we speak, so this is merely a first glance at what Zotac can add to the market.
Before we get onto the product though, we’re sure many of you are wondering where Zotac has come from and who the people behind it are.
All About Zotac:
Zotac is a subsidiary of PC Partner, the company that is also behind Sapphire – ATI’s largest graphics card partner by quite a margin. PC Partner is also still contracted to produce most of the ATI graphics cards on the market for AMD’s various add-in-board partners and not just for Sapphire.
If you go back to when ATI used to sell graphics cards under its own brand name, PC Partner produced all of its cards. These three key points help to explain just how strong the relationship between ATI and PC Partner is. Thus, it must’ve been a strange meeting when PC Partner consulted ATI (or AMD) about its plans to introduce a new Nvidia brand which, of course, we now know as Zotac.
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PC Partner’s manufacturing expertise and years of experience will undoubtedly benefit Zotac, and they will also benefit Nvidia too of course. To give an idea of the scale of the operation, PC Partner’s manufacturing facilities in China span over 1,000,000 m² and can produce around 2.6 million units per month on 44 SMT lines – that’s not far off the size of ECS’s Golden Elite Technology campus in ShenZhen, China, which is quite simply massive.
During a meeting with the company’s top European brass earlier this month, who all coincidentally used to work for either ATI or one of its partners, Zotac came up with some good answers to our tough questions. Also, from the combination of the PowerPoint slides we saw in our meeting earlier this month and the products we saw at Computex, Zotac has shown some promising differentiating features that it is set to introduce into the marketplace.
It is early days at the moment though, so there are some things that are still being finalised and, for example, we have heard rumours that it is already talking about offering a longer warranty than it currently does (along with back-dating the changes to those that buy Zotac products before it’s finalised). Probably the most interesting and exciting thing about the company though is the fact that the team behind it used to work for the opposition.
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Aside from the standard clocked cards, Zotac will have two main product lines with differentiation: AMP! and ZONE. The AMP! series is the overclocked line of cards and Zotac looks to push the clock speeds as high as possible without compromising on quality or stability. On the other hand, ZONE is meant to be a little more relaxing and cards featured in this range will be completely inaudible and tailored for home theatre use.
Today we’ve got the company’s current flagship card, the GeForce 8800 GTX AMP! Edition, on the rack for a few rounds of torture (seven in fact). Let’s have a look at how it gets on...