Plus one GTX 670...
Brand new GPU architectures are typically packaged in reference designs when it comes to power, PCB layout, and cooling. Once manufacturers get a chance to put out their own designs, then interesting things happen. The top end products are usually the ones that get the specialized treatment first, because they typically have the larger margins to work with. Design choices here will eventually trickle down to lower end cards, typically with a price point $20 to $30 more than a reference design. Companies such as MSI have made this their bread and butter with the Lightning series on top, the Hawk line handling the midrange, and then the hopped up reference designs with better cooling under the Twin Frozr moniker.
ASUS has been working with their own custom designs for years and years, but it honestly was not until the DirectCU series debuted did we have a well defined product lineup which pushes high end functionality across the entire lineup of products from top to bottom. Certainly they had custom and unique designs, but things really seemed to crystallize with DirectCU. I guess that is also the power of a good marketing tool as well. DirectCU is a well known brand owned by Asus, and users typically know what to expect when looking at a DirectCU product.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 1, 2013 - 04:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, gtx 650 ti boost, DirectCU II, factory overclocked
The sub-$200 GPU market is getting crowded which is great for enthusiasts without pockets deep enough to drop $400+ on a GPU as they can upgrade a card now and consider getting a second card some time down the road. At $175 ($165 after MIR) the ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC 2GB is fully customized with a boost clock of 1085MHz though a stock 6GHz effective on the RAM. Thanks to the impressive design and cooling of the card [H]ard|OCP pushed those up to 1150MHz and 6.2GHz on the RAM which pushed its performance even further passed the XFX Radeon HD 7790 Black Edition that it tested against.
"Today on the test bench for your reading pleasure, we have the ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC 2GB that comes in at the $175 mark. We will compare it to the XFX Radeon HD 7790 Black Edition 2GB to determine which factory overclocked card can run circles around the other."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- ASUS GTX 760 DirectCU II @ Bjorn3D
- MSI GeForce GTX 770 Lightning Review @ Hardware Canucks
- EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SuperClocked w/ ACX Cooling Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- Gigabyte GTX 770 WindForce OC 2GB Video Card Review @ Madshrimps
- EK Water Blocks TITAN Full Cover Block Kit Review @ Madshrimps
- Sapphire HD7730 2GB GDDR3 & 1GB GDDR5 @ Kitguru
- PowerColor HD 7870 Devil 2048 MB @ techPowerUp
- Powercolor Devil HD 7870 Review @ OCC
- PowerColor HD7870 DEVIL 2GB Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- PowerColor HD 7870 2GB DEVIL Video Card Review @ HiTech Legion
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 10, 2013 - 01:48 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Overclocked, nvidia, just delivered, gtx 780, gtx 770, gtx 760, GTX 670 Mini, DirectCU II, DCII, asus
Returning home on Monday, I was greeted by several (slightly wet) boxes from Asus. Happily, the rainstorm that made these boxes a bit damp did not last long, and the wetness was only superficial. The contents were perfectly fine. I was pleased by this, but not particularly pleased with FedEx for leaving them in a spot where they got wet. All complaints aside, I was obviously ecstatic to get the boxes.
Quite the lineup. The new packaging is sharp looking and clearly defines the contents.
Inside these boxes are some of the latest and greatest video cards from Asus. Having just finished up a budget roundup, I had the bandwidth available to tackle a much more complex task. Asus sent four cards for our testing procedures, and I intend to go over them with a fine toothed comb.
The smallest of the bunch is the new GTX 670 DC Mini. Asus did some serious custom work to not only get the card as small as it is, but also to redesign the power delivery system so that the chip only requires a single 8 pin PCI-E power connection. Most GTX 670 boards require 2 x 6 pin connectors which would come out to be around 225 watts delivered, but a single 8 pin would give around 175 watts total. This is skirting the edge of the official draw for the GTX 670, but with the GK104 chip being as mature as it is, there is some extra leeway involved. The cooler is quite compact and apparently pretty quiet. This is aimed at the small form factor crowd who do not want/need a overly large card, but still require a lot of performance. While the GTX 700 series is now hitting the streets, there is still a market for this particular card. Oh, and it is also overclocked for good measure!
We see a nice progression from big to little. It is amazing how small the GTX 670 DC Mini is compared to the rest, and it will be quite interesting to see how it compares to the GTX 760 in testing.
The second card is the newly released GTX 760 DCII OC. This is again based on the tried and true GK104 chip, but has several units disabled. It has 1152 CUDA cores, but retains the same number of ROPS as the fully enabled chips. It also features the full 256 bit memory bus running at 6 Gbps. It has plenty of bandwidth to provide the card in most circumstances considering the amount of functional units enabled. The cooler is one of the new DirectCU II designs and is a nice upgrade in both functionality and looks from the previous DCII models. It is a smaller card than one would expect, but that comes from the need to simplify the card and not overbuild it like the higher priced 770 and 780 cards. As I have mentioned before, I really like the budget and midrange cards. This should be a really fascinating card to test.
The next card is a bit of an odd bird. The GTX 770 DCII OC is essentially a slightly higher clocked GTX 680 from yesteryear. One of the big changes is that this particular model foregoes the triple slot cooler of the previous generation and implements a dual slot cooler that is quite heavy and with a good fin density. It features six pin and eight pin power connections so it has some legs for overclocking. The back plate is there for stability and protection, and it gives the board a very nice, solid feel. Asus added two LEDs by the power connections which show if the card is receiving power or not. This is nice, as the fans on this card are very silent in most situations. Nobody wants to unplug a video card that is powered up. It retains the previous generation DCII styling, but the cooler performance is certainly nothing to sneeze at. It also is less expensive than the previous GTX 680, but is faster.
All of the cards sport dual DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI outputs. Both DVI ports are dual-link, but only one is DVI-I which can also output a VGA signal with the proper adapter.
Finally we have the big daddy of the GTX 700 series. The 780 DCII OC is pretty much a monster card that exceeds every other offering out there, except the $1K GTX Titan. It is a slightly cut down chip as compared to the mighty Titan, but it still packs in 2304 CUDA cores. It retains the 384 bit memory bus and runs at a brisk 6 Gbps for a whopping 288.4 GB/sec of bandwidth. The core is overclocked to a base of 889 MHz and boosts up to 941 MHz. The cooler on this is massive. It features a brand new fan design for the front unit which apparently can really move the air and do so quietly. Oddly enough, this fan made its debut appearance on the aforementioned GTX 670 DC Mini. The PCB on the GTX 780 DCII OC is non-reference. It features a new power delivery system that should keep this board humming when overclocked. Asus has done their usual magic in pairing the design with high quality components which should ensure a long lifespan for this pretty expensive board.
I do like the protective plates on the backs of the bigger cards, but the rear portion of the two smaller cards are interesting as well. We will delve more into the "Direct Power" functionality in the full review.
I am already well into testing these units and hope to have the full roundup late next week. These are really neat cards and any consumer looking to buy a new one should certainly check out the review once it is complete.
Asus has gone past the "Superpipe" stage with the GTX 780. That is a 10 mm heatpipe we are seeing. All of the DCII series coolers are robust, and even the DC Mini can dissipate a lot of heat.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 20, 2012 - 04:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: overclock, gtx 660, DirectCU II, asus
As promised [H]ard|OCP has spent some time overclocking the ASUS GTX 660 DirectCU II card and have come back with their results. The highest GPU clock they managed was a reported 1170MHz Boost clock in GPU Tweak but which was 1215MHz in actual in-game performance. While that was the high speed record it did not provide the best performance as the frequency often dipped much lower because of the heat produced, [H]'s sweet spot was actually a 1100MHz Boost clock, in-game a much more steady 1152MHz though it did still dip occasionally. They also upped the memory, but again because of the heat produced by the overclock they could not raise voltage without negative consequences. Check the whole review here.
"We put our new ASUS GeForce GTX 660 through the ringer of overclocking and make real world gaming comparisons. If you are thinking the new GTX 660 (GK106) GPU will be a good overclocker like its bigger brother GK104, you may be in for a surprise that puts the new GTX 660 in a new light."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP @ [H]ard|OCP
- GeForce 9800 GT vs GeForce 660 GTX @ Guru of 3D
- Zotac GTX680 AMP Edition @ Bjorn3D
- EVGA GeForce GTX 660 SuperClocked Video Card Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Zotac GeForce GTX 660 with GK106 GPU @ @ X-bit Labs
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Review @ Techgage
- Sparkle GTX650 OC Dragon Series @ Kitguru
- GeForce GTX 650 MSI Power edition @ Guru3D
- KFA GeForce GTX 650 EX OC 1 GB @ techPowerUp
- EVGA GeForce GTX 660 SC @ Guru of 3D
- MSI GeForce GTX 650 Power Edition OC 1 GB @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table @ Hardware Secrets
- NVIDIA FXAA Anti-Aliasing Performance @ Phoronix
- Seven Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 round-up: Super cards @ Hardware.info
- Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Arctic Accelero Twin Turbo 6990 VGA Cooler Review @ eTeknix
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 1GB Low Profile Review @ Neoseeker
- ARCTIC Accelero Hybrid 7970 @ Hardwareoverclock
- PowerColor Devil 13 HD 7990 Review @ OCC
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 Flex Edition Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- XFX Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition Overclocked 1GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- Sapphire HD7770 GHZ FleX Edition @ Kitguru
- Sapphire Radeon Flex HD 7770 GHz Edition Video Card @ Pro-Clockers
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB Vapor-X Review @ OCC
- HD 7990 Review; PowerColor’s Devil 13 @ Hardware Canucks
- MSI HD7850 Power Edition Video Card @ Bjorn3D
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 16, 2012 - 06:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, gtx 660 Ti, DirectCU II, asus
Fremont, CA (August 16, 2012) - The ASUS DirectCU II range of graphics cards continues to expand with the ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II series featuring the Standard, OC and TOP editions. Utilizing the latest 28nm graphics technology from NVIDIA, the OC and TOP cards deliver a factory-overclock while all three cards feature exclusive DirectCU thermal design and GPU Tweak tuning software to deliver a quieter, faster, and more immersive gameplay experience that redefines the term affordable performance.
Superior Design and Software for the Best Gaming Experience ASUS equips the GeForceGTX 660 Ti DirectCU II series with 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 6008MHz. The TOP edition features a blistering GPU core boost clock of 1137MHz, 157MHz faster than reference designs while the OC edition arrives with a factory-set GPU core boost speed of 1058MHz. Exclusive ASUS DIGI+ VRM digital power delivery and user-friendly GPU Tweak tuning software allows all cards to easily overclock beyond factory-set speeds offering enhanced performance in your favorite game or compute intensive application.
The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II series feature exclusive DirectCU technology. The custom designed cooler uses direct contact copper heatpipes for faster heat transduction and up to 20% lower operating temperatures than reference designs. The optimized fans are able operate at lower speeds providing a much quieter gaming or computing environment. For enhanced stability, energy efficiency, and overclocking margins the cards feature a six-phase Super Alloy Power design for the capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs meant to extend product lifespan and durability while operating noise-free even under heavy workloads.
ASUS once again includes the GPU Tweak tuning suite in the box. Overclocking-inclined enthusiasts or gamers can boost clock speeds, set power targets, and configure fan operating parameters and policies; all this and more is accessible in the user-friendly interface. GPU Tweak offers built-in safe guards to ensure all modifications are safe, maintaining optimal stability and card reliability.
Product specifications and features may change without prior notice. Learn more about the ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II series and other ASUS products here.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 28, 2012 - 05:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, DirectCU II, gtx 670, factory overclocked
ASUS' family of DirectCU II TOP have made a good name for themselves with enthusiasts, coming from the factory with impressive overclocks and a quiet and efficient custom cooler. There is a new member of this family, the GTX670 which comes with a default clock of 1059MHz and a boost clock of 1137MHz though the memory remains unchanged at 6GHz. These cards have more than just a custom cooler, the capacitors and switches are significantly better than the ones found on other cards which gives the card a longer lifespan as well as giving it serious overclocking headroom which you can see in action in [H]ard|OCP's review. At $430 it does cost a bit more than the stock version, but not prohibitively so.
"ASUS has delivered the fastest GeForce GTX 670 on the market in the ASUS GeForce GTX 670 DirectCU II TOP video card. The monster overclock and the improved cooling system are sure to provide the performance we yearn for. We will be testing it in the recently released Max Payne 3 against a GeForce GTX 680 and Radeon HD 7950."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Nvidia's GeForce GT 640 @ The Tech Report
- Inno3D iChiLL GTX 670 HerculeZ 3000 Edition 2GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- ASUS GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP Review @ Hardware Canucks
- MSI GTX 670 Power Edition Twin Frozr IV 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- PNY XLR8 GeForce GTX 670 Video Card @ Benchmark Reviews
- ARCTIC Accelero Xtreme III review (w/ Asus GTX680 DirectCU II TOP) @ Kitguru
- Club3D Radeon HD 7850 royalKing 2GB Graphics Card Review @ eTeknix
- Sapphire HD7870 FleX Edition @ Kitguru
- Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 2GB DDR5 Flex Edition Video Card Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB Video Card Overclocked @ Tweaktown
- MSI GEFORCE GTX 680 Lightning 2GB @ Tweaktown
- Sapphire HD 7870 FleX Dual-X 2GB Review @ OCC
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition @ Legion Hardware
- Sapphire HD 7870 FLeX @ LanOC Reviews
- Sapphire HD 7950 FleX Edition @ TechwareLabs
- XFX Double Dissipation R7750 Review @ OCC
- AMD Radeon HD 7750 / 7770 graphics card round-up @ Hardware.info
- AMD Radeon HD 7850 / 7870 round-up @ Hardware.info
- AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition Video Card Review @ Hardware Secrets
AMD Gets the Direct CU Treatment
In the previous roundup I covered the DirectCU II models from Asus featuring NVIDIA based chips. These boards included the GTX 580, 570, and 560 products. All of these were DirectCU II based with all the updated features that are included as compared to the original DirectCU products. With the AMD parts Asus has split the top four products into two categories; DirectCU II and the original DirectCU. When we start looking at thermal properties and price points, we will see why Asus took this route.
AMD has had a strong couple of years with their graphics chips. While they were not able to take the single GPU performance crown in this previous generation, their products were very capable and competitive across the board and at every price point. In fact, there are some features that these cards have at particular price points that make them very desirable in quite a few applications. In particular are the 2 GB of memory on the HD 6900 series cards where the competition from NVIDIA at those price points features 1 GB and 1.25 GB. In titles such as Skyrim, with the HD texture DLC enabled, these cards start to limit performance at 1920x1080 and above due to the memory requirements needed for these higher resolution textures.
3 NV for DCII
The world of video cards is a much changed place over the past few years. Where once we saw only “sticker versions” of cards mass produced by a handful of manufacturers, we are now seeing some really nice differentiation from the major manufacturers. While the first iterations of these new cards are typically mass produced by NVIDIA or AMD and then distributed to their partners for initial sales, these manufacturers are now more consistently getting their own unique versions out to retail in record time. MSI was one of the first to put out their own unique designs, but now we are seeing Asus becoming much more aggressive with products of their own.
The DirectCU II line is Asus’ response to the growing number of original designs from other manufacturers. The easiest way to categorize these designs is that they straddle nicely the very high end and extreme products like the MSI Lightning series and those of the reference design boards with standard cooling. These are unique designs that integrate features and cooling solutions that are well above that of reference cards.
DirectCU II applies primarily to the cooling solutions on these boards. The copper heatipipes in the DirectCU II cooler are in direct contact with the GPU. These heatpipes then are distributed through two separate aluminum fin arrays, each with their own fan. So each card has either a dual slot or triple slot cooling solution with two 80 mm fans that dynamically adjust to the temperature of the chip. The second part of this is branded “Super Alloy Power” in which Asus has upgraded most of the electrical components on the board to match higher specifications. Hi-C caps, proadlizers, polymer caps, and higher quality chokes round out the upgraded components which should translate into more stable overclocked performance and a longer lifespan.