Transformers finally vanquished the Ultrabook

Subject: Mobile | October 29, 2013 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: asus, transformer t100, transformer book

The ASUS Transformer Book T100 is two devices, a 10.1" 1366 x 768 tablet powered by a quad-core BayTrail based Atom Z3740 @ 1.33GHz base speed and Intel's HD graphics and 2GB of RAM.  Storage is dependent on the model, both 32GB and 64GB models are available and you can expand that with up to another 64GB with an additional SD Card.  The dock adds a keyboard as well as more connectivity options such as USB 3.0.  If you want to see how it performs you can see The Tech Report's full review here.

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"Despite its low $350 starting price, the Transformer Book T100 offers a quad-core Bay Trail SoC, a 10" IPS touchscreen, 10+ hours of battery life, a USB 3.0-equipped keyboard dock, and the full-fat version of Windows 8.1. We take a closer look at the most uniquely compelling notebook/tablet hybrid to date."

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Mobile

ASUS Xonar Essence STU USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier Launched

Subject: General Tech | October 23, 2013 - 06:44 PM |
Tagged: Xonar Essence STU USB, xonar, op-amps, headphone amplifier, DAC, audio, asus

Fremont, CA (October 22nd, 2013) - ASUS today announced the Xonar Essence STU USB external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and headphone amplifier, based on the acclaimed design and quality of Xonar Essence ST/STX internal sound cards and going beyond their already high standards. Offering audiophile-grade performance, Xonar Essence STU delivers USB connectivity and accessible external controls.

It offers clear sound with a 120dB signal to noise ratio (SNR), strong 600ohm headphone amplifier, asynchronous USB audio and swappable Op-Amps for DIY sound modification. Precision clock tuning technology further enhances audio fidelity, making Xonar Essence STU a great choice for discerning music lovers who need a quality DAC and headphone amplifier to drive the full capabilities of high-end headphones.

"We received considerable positive feedback from customers regarding the excellent sound quality of Xonar Essence ST/STX sound cards, which led us to develop Xonar Essence STU as a USB device that offers even more premium audio quality plus easy controls and connectivity to notebooks. This is another example of ASUS listening to the community and acting on consumer demand”, said Ives Chiu, Audiovisual Product Manager at the ASUS Multimedia Business Unit.

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High quality precision audio
Xonar Essence STU delivers clean, clear, and low distortion sound with 120dB SNR. It achieves this thanks to exacting hardware design, which includes balanced (or mirrored) PCB layout for accurate reproduction of all sound sources and minimal component crosstalk, or interference.

ASUS uses audio industry-leading components such as the Texas Instruments PCM1792A DAC and TPA6120A2 headphone amplifier, which supports up to 600ohm impedance. Also included are audiophile-approved WIMA FKP2 and Nichicon Finegold capacitors for balanced and rich sound.

To satisfy the most demanding users, Xonar Essence STU features precision clock tuning technology and asynchronous audio transfer. Both ensure accurate and jitter-free sound fidelity, allowing customers to enjoy music in its purest form. Bit-perfect playback is aided by support for ASIO audio drivers.

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Complete ease of use
As an external device, Xonar Essence STU offers readily-accessible controls with no need to go into software menus. Customers can switch between low and high gain settings, accommodating better listening experiences across a wide range of headphones, from in-ear headsets (typically 16ohm-32ohm) to premium full-size headphones (up to 600ohm). This is especially useful with the increasing popularity of mobile devices, which normally ship with low impedance/high sensitivity headsets.

Dual volume controls help users change speaker and headphone sound levels simultaneously, similar to features offered by dedicated audio decks. The USB interface means connectivity with USB-compliant devices, while I/O ports include stereo RCA out, a 6.3mm headphone jack, two digital inputs, and auxiliary in.

Xonar Essence STU can be placed horizontally and vertically with a bundled stand, giving customers more space-saving flexibility for different locations and situations.

Tonal tuning and advanced controls
Texas Instruments NS-LME49720 and NS-LM4562NA Op-Amps (or operational amplifiers) deliver acoustics fine-tuned by audio engineers to support livelier and more detailed spacious sound.

Xonar Essence STU has room for three swappable Op-Amps, which can be replaced by users to adjust tonal performance based on personal taste. This open-ended and customizable design is inherited from previous Xonar Essence audio products, and remains true to the series’ commitment to accommodating as many customer preferences as possible.

Additional advanced features are a jumper switch that re-routes sound via Xonar Essence STU, allowing it to be used as a pre-amplifier in conjunction with a dedicated power amplifier. Customers can opt to adjust master volume directly on the power amplifier without having to reach Xonar Essence STU controls. Also, a selectable DC servo headphone output can be activated to minimize pop noise which may occur when powering on.

AVAILABILITY & PRICING
The ASUS Xonar Essence STU will be available from late October worldwide with an MSRP of US$399.

Source: ASUS

Taking the ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP as far as it can go

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 23, 2013 - 06:20 PM |
Tagged: amd, overclocking, asus, ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP, r9 280x

Having already seen what the ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP can do at default speeds the obvious next step, once they had time to fully explore the options, was for [H]ard|OCP to see just how far this GPU can overclock.  To make a long story short, they went from a default clock of  1070MHz up to 1230MHz and pushed the RAM to 6.6GHz from 6.4GHz though the voltage needed to be bumped from 1.2v to 1.3v.  The actual frequencies are nowhere near as important as the effect on gameplay though, to see those results you will have to click through to the full article.

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"We take the new ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II TOP video card and find out how high it will overclock with GPU Tweak and voltage modification. We will compare performance to an overclocked GeForce GTX 770 and find out which card comes out on top when pushed to its overclocking limits."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS Announces AMD Radeon R9 and R7 200 Series Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 9, 2013 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: R9 280X DirectCU II, R9 270X DirectCU II, R7 260X DirectCU II, R7 250, R7 240, Matrix R9 280X, asus

Editor's Note: Be sure to check out our full review of the new AMD Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X that includes the ASUS overclocked 280X!

Fremont, CA (October 8, 2013) - ASUS today announces the launch of its R9 200 and R7 200 Series graphics cards, powered by the latest AMD Radeon R9 and R7 series graphics-processing units (GPUs). As dedicated gamers have come to expect from Republic of Gamers (ROG), the new Matrix R9 280X graphics card feature exclusive technologies, overclocked core speeds and performance enhancing options.

The new R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X DirectCU II models are overclocked to perform faster than reference designs while also featuring DIGI+ voltage-regulator modules (VRMs) for a smooth and stable power supply and GPU Tweak software for tuning the graphics card. The new R7 250 and R7 240 cards benefit from many exclusive ASUS technologies and tools including Super Alloy Power components for superior stability, dust-proof fans for improved card lifespan and GPU Tweak.

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Matrix — Push the limits
The Matrix R9 280X graphics cards benefit from a copper-based thermal design that conducts heat away from the GPU with greater efficiency. Compared to reference Radeon R9 280X designs, ROG Matrix R9 280X cards operate up to 20% cooler and three times (3X) quieter. Coupled with dual 100mm cooling fans, gamers can enjoy ultra-cool and stable game play with minimal noise. The Matrix R9 280X Platinum Edition’s core runs at a blistering 1100MHz — 100MHz higher than reference.

The Matrix R9 280X graphics card allows for overclocking on a purely hardware level with VGA Hotwire connections and TweakIt for voltage control, Turbo Fan button to crank up the fan to 100% and a Safe Mode button to instantly default the GPU back to factory BIOs. It also includes DIGI+ voltage-regulator modules (VRMs) for smooth and stable power, and GPU Tweak tuning software that allows users to squeeze the last drop of performance out of their graphics card.

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DirectCU II — Faster, quieter and cooler, even in the heat of battle
ASUS DirectCU II cooling technology places highly conductive copper cooling pipes in direct contact with a card’s GPU so heat dissipates quickly and with greater efficiency. Compared with reference Radeon R9 and R7 designs, ASUS R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X with DirectCU II allow the latest AMD Radeon GPUs to run up to 20% cooler, three times (3X) quieter– so gamers can enjoy ultra-stable play with minimal noise.

ASUS R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X are all equipped with exclusive ASUS DIGI+ VRM with Super Alloy Power technology. Paired with Super Alloy Power solid-state capacitors, concrete-core chokes and hardened MOSFETs, DIGI+ VRM delivers multi-phase power and digital voltage regulation for increased graphics card stability and cleaner power, even during the most intense GPU activities.

The fans of ASUS R9 280X, R9 270X, and R7 260X DirectCU II are all dust-proof, reducing debris accumulation and retaining peak performance over a longer lifespan. In addition, ASUS R9 280X DirectCU II features exclusive CoolTech fan. This innovative fan’s hybrid blade and bearing design, with inner radial blower and outer flower-shaped blades, delivers multi-directional airflow to accelerate heat removal and maintain cooler and quieter operation.

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R7 250 and R7 240 — Super Alloy Power components and dust-proof fans for superior stability and longevity
The ASUS R7 250 and R7 240 graphics cards both include exclusive Super Alloy Power technology. Super Alloy Power’s solid-state capacitors and hardened MOSFETs all withstand much greater stress and heat due to the application of specially-formulated materials — increasing reliability and overall card lifespan. Compared with reference designs, ASUS R7 250 and R7 240’s Super Alloy Power components deliver 35%-cooler operation and a lifespan that’s up to two-and-a-half times (2.5X) longer.

Additionally, the fans on the ASUS R7 250 and R7 240 are extremely resilient and dust-proof. The Dust-Proof fans ensures that even the smallest airborne particles are barred, reducing debris accumulation and retaining peak performance over a longer lifespan — typically improving lifespan by up to 25% compared to reference fans.

GPU Tweak- Easy overclocking and online streaming
The included ASUS GPU Tweak utility enables R9 280X, R9 270X, R7 260X, R7 250, and R7 240 users intuitive control over GPU and video-memory clock speeds and voltages, cooling-fan speeds and power-consumption thresholds – so they can overclock easily with confidence. Users can create multiple performance profiles for on-demand switching of custom settings for different games.

GPU Tweak now includes Live Streaming, an online-streaming tool that lets users share on-screen action over the internet in real time – so others can watch live gaming sessions. It is even possible to add scrolling text, pictures and webcam images to the streaming window.

Source: ASUS

The second coming of the X79 chipset

Subject: Motherboards | October 7, 2013 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: x79, Ivy Bridge-E, ASUS X79 Deluxe, asus

With the release of Ivy Bridge-E the X79 chipset and socket 2011 are making a comeback.  The chipset is not new and the new motherboards coming out sport the same specifications but with added features that were not available when the chipset was first introduced.  ASUS has added USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps controllers, improved SSD caching as well as updating both the onboard WiFi and audio; no Thunderbolt though.  [H]ard|OCP took it through its benchmarks and overclocking tests and found that the added features do make this a great choice for a new Socket 2011 system but not really worth purchasing if you are already on an X79 motherboard.

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"ASUS resurrects the tried and true X79 chipset putting it back in the spotlight with updated features just in time for Ivy Bridge-E CPUs. We take a look at ASUS’ X79 Deluxe and not only see if this motherboard is worth your hard earned cash, but answer the question: is there any compelling reason for existing X79 users to upgrade?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

IDF 2013: Products With 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 Appear At IDF 2013

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2013 - 06:30 PM |
Tagged: z87, Thunderbolt 2, sonnet, Intel, idf 2013, idf, gigabyte, asus, asrock, aja, 4k

Intel recently launched its next generation Thunderbolt 2 interface, and several devices using the new connection were shown off at the Intel Developer Forum. The major takeaway from Thunderbolt 2 is the increased bandwidth and benefits to video production houses working with large uncompressed media. Specifically, Thunderbolt 2 is a PCI-Express based external interface that sends both video output and data down a single cable. Upgrades over the original 10Gbps Thunderbolt standard include an updated to the DisplayPort 1.2 video standard and double the bandwidth to 20Gbps. Thanks to the increased bandwidth, Thunderbolt 2 enables simultaneous video output and video file transfer of 4K media. Video editors can watch and transfer 4K video to an DisplayPort-equipped monitor and external RAID array respectively.

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Intel is kicking off the Thunderbolt 2 standard with the launch of its DSL5520 and DSL5320 Thunderbolt 2 controllers, which are already in the hands of device manufactures. In fact, there were quite a few bits of hardware being shown off at this years IDF that already support the new Thunderbolt 2 standard. Intel is expecting even more devices in 2014.

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Professional video editing and workstation hardware with Thunderbolt 2

While consumer PC hardware will be supporting Thunderbolt 2, the new interface is most beneficial to professional users and IDF was the launch pad for several high end pieces of production gear. Sonnet launched the Echo Express III external PCI-E card chassis that allows users to hook up PCI-E cards to systems via Thunderbolt 2 (for example: video capture card or fast solid state storage). Also, AJA showed off a video/audio capture box called the IO 4K that supports daisy chaining other Thunderbolt 2 devices and acts as a video capture card capable of taking in 4K and UltraHD video sources as well as high end audio inputs. Finally, PROMISE Technology showed off its Pegasus2 RAID 5 enclosure and SANLink2 Thunderbolt 2 bridge device.

Sonnet Echo Express III-D and Echo Express III-R PCI-E Card External Chassis.jpg

External boxes are not the only professional products with Thunderbolt 2 at IDF, however. The technology is also being integrated into workstations, including the Apple Mac Pro with six Thunderbolt 2 ports and HP’s new lineup of desktop workstations.

Z87 Motherboards With Thunderbolt 2

Thunderbolt 2 will also be used in consumer gear as well, including Z87 motherboards. Asus, AsRock, and Gigabyte all had motherboards on display that each featured two Thunderbolt 2 ports. The new interface will be available on the multiple boards from the manufacturers. German tech site ComputerBase.de posted several photos of Thunderbolt 2-equipped motherboards and gave a glimpse at the upcoming hardware.

New Motherboards With Thunderbolt 2 From Asus, Asrock, and Gigabyte.jpg

The Asus Z87-Deluxe/Quad, an AsRock Z87 motherboard, and Gigabyte Z87X-UD5 TH spotted at IDF by ComputerBase.de.

Of note are the ASUS Z87-Deluxe/Quad, AsRock Extreme 11/ac, and Gigabyte Z87X-UD7 TH. All boards off LGA 1150 CPU sockets, four DDR3 DIMM slots, a slew of SATA 6Gbps ports, multiple PCI-E 3.0 x16 and x1 slots, and rich rear IO including two Thunderbolt 2 ports (naturally).

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The AsRock Z87 Extreme 11/ac via ComputerBase.de.

The following chart breaks down the specifications. Unfortunately pricing and availability have not been announced for these boards, but expect to pay a premium for the high end gaming hardware and new Thunderbolt 2 controller. (The Asrock Extreme 11/ac in particular takes the word “high end” to the, well, extreme.)

  ASUS Z87-Deluxe/Quad AsRock Extreme 11/ac Gigabyte Z87X-UD7 TH
SATA 6Gbps 10 10 10
PCI-E 3.0 x16 3 4 5
PCI-E 3.0 x1 4 3 2
mPCI-E n/a 3 1
Rear IO: --------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
PS/2 n/a 1 1
Audio 6 x analog, 1 x optical 5 x analog, 1 x optical 5 x analog, 1 x optical
Thunderbolt 2 2 2 2
GbE 2 2 1
Video out 1 x HDMI 1 x HDMI, 1 x DP 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI
USB 3.0 6 (+4 USB 2.0) 6 (+2 USB 2.0) 6
eSATA n/a 1 n/a

It is promising to see so many devices this early into Thunderbolt 2's launch, and the various high end motherboard using both Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3 gives consumers the best of both worlds and access to all manner of external peripherals. The bandwidth increase is certainly welcome, and I am interested to see what sorts of new devices it enables. For now, I think Thunderbolt 2 is going to be mainly a professional (or at least "pro-sumer") technology. With that siad, 4K capture and video output is already being worked on, and I am curious to see what other applications and technologies will really be able to push the new 20Gbps interface and what trickles down to the consumer space!

Are you excited about Thunderbolt 2? Let us know what you think of the IDF-launched products and the interface technology in general in the comments below!

Source: Intel

IDF 2013: ASUS Announces Transformer T100 powered by Bay Trail

Subject: Mobile | September 11, 2013 - 08:36 PM |
Tagged: transformer t100, idf 2013, Bay Trail, atom z3740, asus

Last week at IFA 2013 I wrote about a new ASUS Transformer device called the Trio that combined a Haswell processor and Atom Z2760 Clover Trail CPU for a very interesting 3-scenario unit.  It is definitely an interesting product worth reading about, but ASUS took some time tonight to announce another new Transformer Book: the T100.

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The Transformer Book T100 is a 10.1-in ultraportable that can be used as either a standard notebook or as a stand alone tablet; exactly how previous Transformers have functioned.  The design is sleek and light weight: 2.4 pounds for both sections and only 1.2 pounds in tablet only form. 

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Powering the T100 is the brand new Intel Atom Z3740 quad-core SoC (max burst rate of 1.8 GHz) based on the Bay Trail platform and Silvermont architecture.  Earlier today we published our review of the Bay Trail processor and the performance improvements over Clover Trail are impressive and noticeable.  Energy efficiency is also improved and ASUS claims that the T100 will get more than 11 hours of battery life. 

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The screen is an IPS panel with a resolution of 1366x768.  It runs Windows 8.1 and includes USB 3.0 for accessories and external storage. 

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The ASUS Transformer T100 will sell for $349 with 32GB of storage and $399 with 64GB.  For the kind of performance levels and platform flexibility we see with Bay Trail, the sub-$350 price point is very impressive.  Will Android tablets start to take a hit with these low priced Windows options?

Being announced today along with the T100, the ASUS Transformer Book T300 is a larger version of the T100 but powered by Intel's 4th Generation Core processors, Haswell.  The ultra-low voltage processor is the Core i5-4200U or 4500U, both of which are new dual-core variants with 15 watt TDPs.  The 13.3-in screen has a 1920x1080 resolution while the hardware can include storage up to 256GB and DDR3 memory up to 8GB. 

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With a weight of 2.4 pounds when docked and 1.8 pounds in tablet form, the T300 is still able to muster a solid 8 hours of battery life. 

I am going to have some hands on time with these notebooks / tablets very soon so stay tuned for more info!!

You can read the full press release below!

ASUS ROG Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard Claims 5 Overclocking World Records

Subject: Motherboards | September 11, 2013 - 07:44 PM |
Tagged: asus, rampage iv black edition, ASUS ROG, overclocking

Fremont, CA (September 11, 2013) - ASUS today announced that the Republic of Gamers Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard has achieved five world records in 3DMark 11, 3DMark Fire Strike, Cinebench, and CPU-Z Memory benchmarks the OC Main Event San Francisco, co-hosted by ASUS and Corsair, sponsored by Intel. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Intel Extreme Edition, pro-overclockers from around the world gathered with ROG team members Shamino, Raja, and coolice. The team was able to establish five world records using the newly-announced Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard, Intel 4th Generation Core i7 Extreme Edition Processors and Corsair Dominator Platinum Memory in both 2D and 3D configurations.

ROG Overclocking: Five Major World Records!
Furthering its commitment to the pro-overclocking community, ASUS invited world-class overclockers 8 Pack, Gunslinger, Rbuass, Dumo and Fugger to join forces with ROG team members and engineers Shamino, Raja and coolice. Each brought their unique professional experience, working together to push the Intel Core i7-4960X processors and NVIDIA GeForce TITAN graphics cards to their limits.

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Shamino, Rbuass, 8 Pack and Gunslinger focused on the demanding 4-way SLI 3DMark 11 and Fire Strike benchmarks. On 3DMark 11, the team posted scores of 38,231 marks and 38,227 marks in 4-Way SLI on Entry and Performance presets respectively. On 3DMark Fire Strike, a score of 31,998 marks was achieved.

Using the 2D hardware configuration, the team was able to post a score of 17.55 points on 6-core Cinebench, a category record for the Intel Core i7-4960X. Lastly, the team achieved a memory overclock of 3900 MHz using Corsair Dominator Platinum memory, an unprecedented speed for quad-channel memory configurations.

"We are proud that previous ASUS X79 motherboards have dominated overclocking rankings by breaking 26 world records since the chipset launch," said Jackie Hsu, ASUS Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Worldwide Sales, Open Platform Business Group. "The accomplishments we demonstrated here at the OC Main Event San Francisco are a testament to what is achievable by combining world-class R&D with incredible talents from the enthusiast community.”

Xavier Laurent, Director of Product Marketing for Corsair adds "As a company that creates products by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, collaborating with like-minded partners ASUS and Intel to break world benchmarking records using Corsair Dominator Platinum and Vengeance Pro memory was a natural fit. The success of the OC Main Event San Francisco demonstrates the continued strength of the enthusiast community and validates our commitment to this portion of the ecosystem."

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I for one welcome our new overclocking overlord

Source: ASUS

ASUS Announces X79 Rampage IV Black Edition at OC Main Event

Subject: Motherboards | September 10, 2013 - 09:15 PM |
Tagged: x79, rampage iv black edition, asus

Tonight at the OC Main Event sponsored by ASUS, Intel and Corsair, a new X79 motherboard was announced.  The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition is being called "bullet proof" by some ASUS personnel I spoke with and should be one of the (if not THE) best X79 platform for Ivy Bridge-E processors available.

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ASUS takes a lot of pride in its motherboard development and they claim to have put 5x as many hours into developing the intricacies of things like memory traces compared to previous X79 offerings.  Over 500 engineering samples of the Black Edition were made prior to finalization and more than 10,000 man hours were put into the design.

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The Rampage IV Black Edition combines features of the Formula series with those of the Extreme boards to really make the ultimate flagship offering.  Things the advanced audio layout for gamers as well as the perfected overclocking capability will make this motherboard impressive, but also pretty damned expensive. 

I was told that unlike the previous Black Edition this motherboard is not a limited edition and will run until the market demands otherwise.

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Keep an eye out for news from the OC Main Event as ASUS has some plans for these overclocking records...

ASUS' Direct CU II works well with GTX 780s

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 5, 2013 - 04:04 PM |
Tagged: asus, GTX 780 DC II OC, DirectCU II, gtx 780

With 3GB of memory ASUS' GeForce GTX 780 DirectCU II OC card strays from the pack in terms of features and design.  With new and improved DirectCU II cooling on the card, high quality chokes and 10 phase power you should be able to push far ahead of the factory overclock of 889MHz with a boost of 941MHz.  You can use [H]ard|OCP's result of 1093-1145MHz core and 6.158GHz memory as a goal to try to reach, as long as you are willing to put the power sliders all the way to the right.  Check out how it performs in their full review.

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"ASUS revamped the DirectCU II cooling system and visual style, providing a full non-reference video card with the ASUS GeForce GTX 780 DiretCU II OC. New is the hybrid CoolTech fan providing improved airflow, and a 10mm heat pipe. We will see how this video card performs against several GPUs."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP