The GeForce GTX 670 series is a very nice performer absolutely capable for 1920x1080/1200 and the newest games, which is the sweet spot these days and really, performance is not that far off from the GTX 680 at all. If we look at the Radeon 7970 series we also see that most of the time the GTX 670 definitely is the stronger product (with an exception here and there). So from the single GPU performance versus product point of view the GTX 670 manages to do really really well.
When a manufacturers like ASUS start to change things, they tend to improve the product quite a bit. With that in mind I can say that the DirectCUII TOP edition is a really terrific graphics card mostly thanks to the cooler and default clokc speeds.
At roughly 72 Degrees C the cooling performance is definitely sufficient, it seems a tad high but ASUS is doing that deliberately so that they can keep the FAN RPM very low. As a result this card silent whilst being factory overclocked quite a bit.
Overall the card is just golden for the 1920x1080 and 1920x1200 monitor resolution, there's not a game out there that it can't deal with at resolution. Anno 2070 at the best quality settings and 4xAA pushes 85 frames per second on average at 1920x1200, and still 50+ fps at 2560X1600. In Crysis 2 we end at an average of 63 FPS in 1920x1200 with Ultra quality settings and that high resolution texture package and 4x AA.
Battlefield 3 is another example, with all eye candy opened up in game and again at 4xAA the card still pushes 57 FPS at 19x12 and that is just a couple of frames per second away from the GTX 680.
And that is the general consensus with the DirectCU II TOP edition of the card, it performance as good as a reference GeForce GTX 680. But then again, these cards also come in factory overclocked models :)
While this product might have once shader cluster less, really the performance remains exceptionally good. The lower default base clock frequency made us wonder if the performance would crash, but once the dynamic boost clock aka turbo kicks in, the card easily operates in a 1100~1200 MHz range (if the power envelope allows it), a little trick that seems to really work out for NVIDIA.
Overclocking, the two 6-pin PEG power connectors indicates that the power circuitry can handle less tweaking wise. The DirectCU II TOP edition however already comes factory overclocked. Only another +50 MHz could added to the baseclock and with the Dynamic Clock Adjustment kicking in, that results towards roughly 1300 MHz on the clock frequency where applicable. An 9800 3DMark 11 P score is now reached. Granted, we had hoped to get a little higher though on the core though, a +100 MHz on top of the factory overclock would have been really nice. But we noticed very similar maximum clock behavior with another product as well.
The peak heat levels can close in towards 72 Degrees C. That's perfectly fine within the thermal design of the card. But we prefer cards under load to remain under 70 Degrees C, albeit that is a bit of a personal preference. You can manually set the fan RPM though, a notch higher and the cooling perf will increase at very little to no increase in overall noise.
The noise levels at default -- well really there aren't any. Both in desktop idle mode and under hefty gaming load the card hardly makes a noise, very impressive.
So with all that said it's time to wrap up the review and dive into the conclusion. We definitely like the ASUS GeForce GTX 670 DirectCUII TOP edition, we stated it in the GTX 680 review already; it is quite amazing what NVIDIA is able to do with the GK104 which we still think was intended to be the mid-range chip. Cutting away one shader cluster (SMX) and lowering the core GPU clock frequency remains a bit of a paradox as the card remains to be very fast. With the pretty dandy factory overclock the loss is compensated, making thus product operate at reference GTX 680 performance levels (with a small offset here and there of course).
ASUS has an offering for you that comes factory overclocked, it is boosting the GPU even over 1200 MHz already making the product really shine. The overall design is the evolution of the DirectCU II TOP DNA, and that shows. We have respect for NVIDIA's partners that go the extra mile with a custom product. The DirectCU II cooler does its job really terrific, in idle you will not hear the card, under stress neither.
Let's hope pricing will remain a little under control though. If you can find the card at roughly 449 USD then we can wholeheartedly recommend it. It offers a lot of performance in it's default setup and most the tweaking has been done for you. Definitely a product we can highly recommend.
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