ASUS GTX 670 DirectCu II TOP Review
Since the GTX 670ís initial release, weíve reviewed a number of different versions from various board partners. While the reference design may have been front and center on launch day, it seems like the vast majority of consumers are opting for products that boast custom designs, performance-oriented heatsink assemblies and higher clock speeds. Normally, each of these features is associated with an increased end-user cost but some enterprising companies have gone the extra mile but offering them without a premium. Others like EVGA rely on top-tier customer service alongside other features in order to demand a few bucks more. With all of these choices, performance which nearly matches a GTX 680 and a $399 starting price itís no wonder why the GTX 670 is one of the most popular cards on the market.
ASUS has quickly waded into the Kepler product space with a full range of GTX 670 and GTX 680 cards. Weíve already looked at the award-worthy GTX 680 DirectCu II TOP and itís now time to look at its little brother: the GTX 670 DirectCu II TOP.
Much like its sibling, the TOP version of the GTX 670 has been graced with some highly impressive clock speeds. The Base Clock (the minimum speed at which the core will operate under even the most strenuous conditions) has been upped by 143MHz over the reference design. This is followed up by a Boost Clock (the typical speed the core will reach in games and applications) of 1137MHz but even more impressive is the 1267MHz we observed in most games. This huge increase over the reference clocks is largely due to the DirectCu II heatsinkís ability to quickly and efficiently disperse hear, thus keeping the core within ASUSí preset TDP limits.
Once again we see the stock memory speeds hanging around but unlike with the GTX 680 TOP, we arenít worried about this causing a bottleneck.
When compared against competing solutions, the ASUSí TOP edition is the highest clocked GTX 670 we have tested to date. It may lack EVGAís memory speed increase but the core speeds should allow it to outperform the SC+ and Gigabyteís OC version. However, for the privilege of owning one of the fastest cards on the market, youíll be asked to pay a premium. At $429, the DirectCu II TOP is one of the most expensive GTX 670s around and because of this; it may still have issues competing against Gigabyteís overclocked, custom cooled and reference-priced card. ASUS does have a slight edge in warranty protection as they donít require you to register the card to get the full three years of coverage, nor does their coverage start on the manufacturing date like Gigabyteís.
The GTX 670 DirectCu II TOP cuts an imposing figure with a large heatsink and black plastic shroud but it isnít anything near as large as some previous DirectCu II versions. Underneath that heatsink is a binned core similar to whatís found on Gigabyteís upcoming Super Overclock and MSIís Lightning. This is what allowed ASUS to achieve such high clock speeds.
The heatsink used on this card looks like mini-me version of the one found on the GTX 680 DirectCu II TOP. It has been scaled down but should still cope exceedingly well with the GTX 670ís low thermal load. While it may be smaller than DirectCu II design weíve become accustomed to on hotter-running cards, the use of dual 80mm fans and five large heatpipes which make direct contact with the core should lead to some excellent cooling potential. ASUS actually claims their design accounts for a 600% airflow increase and 9 decibel noise reduction over the reference card.
Naysayers of the previous design will also be happy to see that ASUS has kept the heatsinkís height to just two slots. Meanwhile, the excess length is held up by a cleverly made bracket jutting out of the cardís rear portion.
Peeking out from under the heatsink is a small fuse which ASUS has incorporated onto the PCB. This is used as a secondary Over Current Protection (or OCP) and protects the GPU core from potentially harmful power surges, adding a secondary level of hardware protection.
Ironically, weíve actually put this to good use as one of our old PSUs self-destructed, nuking one graphics card but the card in the secondary slot (an ASUS Matrix at the time) stood up without any secondary damage at all. A new fuse and a few careful minutes of soldering resulted in a fully functional GPU.
The DirectCu II does away with the short PCB from the reference design and instead focuses upon integrating higher end components for improved stability and durability. Indeed, the short PCB may have been a conversation starter but it really doesnít benefit most end users. As such, this particular card is about 10.5Ē long which shouldn't pose an issue for most modern ATX cases but it is still more than the reference designís 9.5Ē.
Peaking out through the integrated backplate heatsink are ASUSí SAP Caps. These are placed directly behind the core and allow for increased efficiency through additional capacitance and should benefit overclockers who are searching for a few additional MHz.
The connectors (both input and output) on this card stick to the reference design with a pair of 6-pins being used for power while the backplate sports DisplayPort, HDMI and DVI outputs. There are two small LEDs behind the power connectors which turn from red to green once your PSUís plugs are properly attached to the card.
The GTX 680 DirectCu II looks massive compared to this card but we actually like seeing a smaller, more versatile design being used on the GTX 670 version. However, though the longer metal plate between the shroud and the I/O panel does looks slightly odd and tacked on.
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