ASUS GTX 780 DirectCU II OC Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: August 26, 2013
Product Name: GTX 780 DirectCU II OC
Part Number: GTX780-DC2OC-3GD5
Warranty: 3 Years
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A Closer Look at the ASUS GTX 780 DirectCU II OC

While the DirectCU design’s exterior characteristics haven’t changed all that much since its inception, this version has a slightly more aggressive look that also flows quite well over the heatsink shroud. With that being said, that heatsink plays a major role in this card’s appeal and is a keystone in ASUS’ “cooler, quieter and more reliable” approach.

At 11.3” long, the GTX 780 DirectCU II OC isn’t all that much longer than the reference card, a fact that will surely be good news to anyone with a compact enclosure. This also means that ASUS has been able to engineer their heatsink in a way that ensures a small footprint without sacrificing performance.

One area where this card is larger is width, which at nearly 6” indicates that additional space was needed for both the DirectCU II and the expanded PWM.

The “cooler” part of this equation is partially taken care of by one of ASUS’ new hybrid CoolTech fans which feature wide-angle, directional airflow characteristics which speed up heat dispersion from the heatsink.

At this point you may be wondering why only a single CoolTech fan has been installed while the other uses a typical axial design. It may seem like an odd choice but the axial fan’s vertical airflow directionality will actually move hot towards the front-mounted CoolTech unit which will then push it out the backplate. The layout is actually quite brilliant since it can act as a quasi-blower style setup.

As with many other ASUS graphics cards, the DirectCU II uses dust proof fan technology which essentially seals the bearing area, preventing particulate matter from entering. This is supposed to help increase the fan’s average life up to 10,000 hours (for a total MTBF of 50,000 hours) or approximately 25% longer than a typical axial design without this addition.

ASUS’ DirectCU II heatsink is able to capitalize upon the fans’ capabilities by giving them a fin array with minimal airflow restrictions and a surprisingly thin design. This last point is particularly important since not that long ago, these cards were critiqued for their overly large triple-slot layout. Now, additional cooling capacity has been built into a high density fin array.

The approach taken here is an interesting one since ASUS has been able to dissect their custom heatsink into five distinct yet critical components. There is a pair of fans, a shroud to direct airflow, the main fin array with its core contact plate, a metal stiffener that prevents PCB flex and a rear heatsink for more efficient heat distribution.

The star of this show is the large heatpipe / fin array combination that sits atop the GK110 core. In order to reduce temperatures it uses a four 8mm and a single massive 10mm heatpipes (all of which are copper) that make direct contact with the core. That single 10mm heatpipe allows for 40% greater heat transfer capabilities versus a typical 8mm pipe.

A heatsink can have a ton of heatpipes but they’d all be for nothing if they’re paired up with a small fin array. ASUS has deftly avoided this potential issue by designing an assembly that’s over twice the size of the one you’ll find on the reference version. This large surface area with its densely packed fin array will allow for much lower temperatures alongside a lower acoustical range since the fan’s won’t have to spin up to crazy speeds in an effort to keep things in check.

That back-mounted secondary heatsink we alluded to before covers the entire PCB and is fabricated out of high-yield aluminum. Perforations have been added near the rear area which encourages airflow to various components and the SAP CAP mounted behind the core.

As with many of these enthusiast-level GTX 780 cards, ASUS has added individual voltage read points. They are conveniently placed along the PCB’s outer edge and are quickly accessible for multimeter probes.

Connector-wise, there really aren’t any surprises here with a stock I/O offering and compatibility with triple SLI. Even the 6+8 pin layout from the reference card remains the same, though ASUS has inverted the connectors to allow more room for the heatsink and even added two small LEDs that glow green when a successful connection is made.

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