Back at the inaugural Nvision festival in August, there weren't really any major announcements made by Nvidia, but some of its partners did reveal new products. One revelation during the show was Zotac's Nitro – a hardware-based overclocking controller that is designed to tweak and tune Zotac graphics cards.
Ever intrigued by the idea, we decided to get the product in to have a look at it a little closer. We had a short amount of time with it when we reviewed the Zotac GeForce 9300 motherboard in October, because the unit had to be returned to Zotac for some additional work before we got around to reviewing it.
Anyway, the unit is back in-house now and we've spent some more time playing around with the device. Let's have a look at how we got on...
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Initially, the Nitro is available as a stand-alone device, but it will eventually be bundled with select Zotac graphics cards as a value-add. It's a neat and very simple USB 2.0-based VFD display that plugs into your motherboard and basically acts as an on-the-fly desktop overclocking add-on for your graphics card.
It comes packed in one of those awful plastic blister packs which, while understandable, really doesn't give you a sense of value for money. It's clearly a cost-cutting measure and although we would have much preferred to see the Nitro packed in a nice box (with a window to show the device off), the blister pack isn't the end of the world – even if they are horrible.
Inside the blister pack, there is the Nitro unit, a Nitro-branded stand (which has a high rubberised bottom to ensure it doesn't slip around), a two metre USB to mini-USB cable, a driver CD and a user manual. That's everything you're ever going to need to get this device working – providing you've got a Zotac graphics card, of course. But that's stating the bleeding obvious, right?
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The interface is incredibly simple, with just three buttons located directly underneath the display itself – there's no indication what they do until you install and run Zotac's FireStorm software, as that prompts the device to start. We'll talk more about that in a minute though.
Each button has a firm, but positive feel and there's no wobbling when they're subjected to the infamous Martin Test, which means they pass with flying colours. The device also has some interesting styling too with its interesting shape – the buttons may look a little simplistic in comparison, but we actually prefer it that way because it's important that the buttons are functional. Picking the unit up out of its dock, its size and weight also feel right and in proportion, which is paramount for a device like this.