The gauntlet has been thrown.
The ASUS DirectCU II TOP edition graphics cards are usually reserved for the flagship cards from AMD and Nvidia, so it comes as no surprise that the GTX 680 is also getting the VVIP treatment from ASUS. As such I’ll be looking at the new ASUS GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP to see how it stacks up against some of the other power houses in the industry.
Design & Features
The ASUS DirectCU II TOP heatsink itself makes this a three slot solution card, expanding outwards, rather than upwards, as was the case with the Zotac GTX 680 AMP! Edition and MSI N680GTX Lightning. For many the DirectCU II TOP may be eating a rather precious PCIe slot, and as such shouldn’t be considered at all. To be honest the heavy duty heatsink on the ASUS GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP is designed for large cases and motherboards, so people with limited physical space are better off looking at the alternatives from other manufacturers.
With that out of the way, let’s have a closer look at the card itself. The ASUS DirectCU II TOP is based on a custom PCB which houses the GTX 680 GPU and 2GB of GDDR5 RAM and an 8+2 phase design for some seriously high voltage setting and efficient power delivery compared to reference Nvidia design.
The whole card sits at a massive 12-inches, with an 8-pin plus 6-pin power connector, requiring a minimum of 550W PSU. The massive heatsink is directly in contact with the GTX 680 GPU; 5 copper heatpipes extend from the point of contact into the multiple aluminum fins along the length of the card. On the top we have two 10cm fans with a black metal cover, while just behind the PCB is another black metal plating with hexagonal perforations for heat dissipation.
Note that ASUS have provide a small area near the edge of the card for ‘VGA Hotwiring’ that allows you to connect cables from the card directly onto a compatible motherboard, the Maximus V Extreme being one recent example. By connecting the GPU, Memory and PLL cables you can control the voltage and monitor performance for each of the three variables.
The factory settings from ASUS for the GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP are pretty high, of course. Core clock is set to 1137MHz, boosting up to 1201MHz. Compare this to 1006MHz on the Core clock, which boosts up to 1058MHz of the reference Nvidia GTX 680, we see factory speed increase of 13%. Memory speeds remain intact at 6008MHz.