ASUS DirectCU II Updated Lineup: NVIDIA GTX 700 Series Edition
ASUS makes some really nifty cards. The DirectCU II products compare very favorably to the other non-reference designs from MSI, Galaxy, and others. These are nice products that do not break the bank, but are clearly ahead of reference designs in cooling, performance, and overclocking. All of the cards run with the excellent GPU Tweak utility, which again is on par with MSI’s Afterburner application.
I find it somewhat interesting that the Asus GTX 780 DirectCU II is actually smaller than the MSI R7970 Lighting.
The GTX 780 DCII is obviously the most impressive unit here. It cools very well, it overclocks to a nice degree, and it again is not all that much more expensive than a reference GTX 780. Unfortunately, it is still a $660 video card. Typically well out of the price range of most buyers, but certainly a nice investment for those with the means (or the extreme desire to go into a bit of debt). ASUS has a small amount of control over pricing, and I certainly do not think that users are paying a premium for the quality of card they are getting. This is a nice compromise between the GTX 770 and GTX Titan in terms of price/performance, but it is always somewhat disappointing to me when we start seeing video cards above the $500 mark.
The GTX 770 DCII is going to be the workhorse of this generation of cards. It is well built, it is overclocked out of the box, and it performs faster than the GTX 680 for less money. It is unfortunate that they did not create this card with the new DCII styling, but it is still a sharp looking card. It does get a little louder when overclocked, but at standard speeds it is whisper quiet like the other DCII units. In terms of price/performance, this is probably my favorite card of the bunch. My only real complaint might be that it would have been nice to have a CoolTech fan installed. The 2 GB of memory is another small concern. Most applications will not utilize all of that memory, but some of the latest games will utilize that space. When running in Surround mode with those applications, we do see hiccups in performance. 4 GB cards will eventually be available on the GTX 770 line, but this model does not support that amount of memory. Even with 2GB of memory, the GTX 770 is neck and neck with the R7970.
The GTX 760 is a very interesting card. The price point is very reasonable, especially considering the performance. It is not as fast as the previous GTX 670, but it does come awfully close. The disabled portions of the GK104 allow the card to run cooler and with less power. I do find it very interesting that this card uses the same PCB as the GTX 670 DC Mini, but the cooling solution is much quieter and much more effective than that on the 670. It is very similar in performance to the HD 7950, but in our testing it pulled quite a bit more power at the wall. Theoretically it should be more efficient in terms of performance, but the partially disabled GK104 chip used in this card might have been binned downward due to it being power hungry when all of the units were enabled. It is a neat looking card in terms of design, and it certainly will not break the bank.
The backs also tell another story. The MSI card features the "GPU Reactor", but ASUS actually uses a similar unit that is hidden under the backplate. The MSI part is about twice the size and capacity though.
The GTX 670 DC Mini is truly unique. It packs the entire GTX 670 punch into one small package. It does trade off acoustics and heat to get into that particular form factor. It is a pricier model than the GTX 760, but it also outperforms that card by a good margin. It is also very near its limit in terms of power draw and thermal dissipation for the design. It did not overclock very well, but we did not really expect it to given the form factor. There are certainly trade-offs here, but the user should understand them if they are going to buy this card in the first place. I personally really like that it is so small, but packs a nice wallop when it comes to performance.
ASUS has done a nice job with the latest GTX 700 DirectCU II series. The designs really cleared up some issues at the top end (triple slot), and the new look of the 760 and 780 help to freshen things up for those with windowed cases. The technology we see here is an evolution, rather than a revolution. The designs and their coolers have been refined nicely, and they offer plenty of extras for not a whole lot of money. ASUS has a reputation for quality, and I had no issues with these cards during testing.
Users have a lot of choices these days when it comes to video cards, and ASUS is trying hard to earn those dollars. All of these cards are a nice mix of features and quality, with only a small premium over reference designs. All of the cards come with a 3 year warranty on parts and labor. I recently used their RMA service, and it went off without a hitch. The product was repaired and re-delivered to me in a span of two weeks.
ASUS GTX 780 DirectCU II
ASUS GTX 770 DirectCU II
ASUS GTX 760 DirectCU II
ASUS GTX 670 DirectCU Mini