Small form factor PCs have become more and more of a trend. The traditional bulky PCs seem to undergo a transformation into something smaller. The good thing is that while the PC might get smaller, the performance remains superb. You can find many mATX / Mini ITX motherboards that will pack even the fastest high-end processors. Pop 8GB of memory on there, connect an SSD and then insert a graphics card like shown today. The end result will be a monster of a PC alright. In that respect the ASUS GeForce GTX 670 DC Mini is doing extremely well, it offers performance, silence and good cooling levels.
With a base-clock at 928 MHz the magic is to be found in the boost clock. That one is hovering in the 1000~1100 MHz range during gaming. Overall the card is just magic for the 1920x1080 and 1920x1200 range in monitor resolution, there's not a game out there that it can't deal with at this resolution. Anno 2070 at the best quality settings and 4xAA pushes 78 frames per second on average at 1920x1200, and still 46 fps at 2560X1600. In Crysis 3 we end at an average of 42 FPS in 1920x1200 with Very High quality settings and that high resolution texture package and FXAA. Battlefield 3 is another example, with all eye candy opened up in game and again at 4xAA the card still pushes 58FPS at 19x12 and that nearly equal to the GeForce GTX 680. So while this product might have one shader cluster less, the performance really remains exceptionally good and once the dynamic clock aka turbo kicks in, the card easily functions in the 1100 MHz range.
Being on a small form factor does come with one compromise: the cooler looks a little odd. The 17cm design is resulting in the fact that ASUS is using their own design PCB combined with DCU Mini cooler. Overall the design looks good with a nice black PCB, and the cooler is just icing on top of the cake, totally silent whilst keeping that GPU chilled down.
Directly related to the aesthetics is the cooling and thus the noise levels. It is ridiculous how silent the Direct CU Mini cooler is really. Next to that it just really offers good performance, under game load it stays at roughly 75 Degrees C (under the condition that you ventilate your PC properly). As stated noise wise there is little left to discuss as well, the dual-fan cooler keeps the product totally silent even under high gaming load.
The GeForce GTX 670 edition as tested today shows roughly 153 Watt power consumption at peak utilization with a modern game. Honestly that is pretty good as well. Not far off from reference, of course. But the 670 is a high-end class graphics card, being on this small form factor combined with the gaming performance it oozes out, the 153 Watt power consumption is absolutely fine.
Overclocking then, we should all point fingers to NVIDIA as pretty much all cards end up roughly at the same parameters. The boost versus overclock in the end depends a little on GPU transistor leakage and stuff like that. The board power design is 185 Watt, you may increase the power limit with another 20% which means that this SKU could take another 150 MHz + a little something extra on the memory (350 Mhz). This will bring the operating frequency of the GPU towards 1200~1250 MHz (it remains dynamic so per game / load it can differ a little). Going beyond 1250 MHz is pushing it closer to the limits though.
ASUS was on a mission with this card, addressing high-end class graphics card performance for the small form factor PCs. It is a growing market and honestly it is surprising what kind of powerhouse PCs you can build in these small cases. If you stick to single GPU gaming, then such a build can be as impressive as a monster sized PC. Other than the weird small looks we have very little to complain about the GeForce GTX 670 Direct CU from Asus, it is fast, tweakable and silent at acceptable cooling levels. If mATX and Mini ITX is your thing you should seriously opt for a card like this. If you can spot it in etail you can be the happy owner of it for roughly 350 EUR. For its purposes and small form factor intentions as such we can very much recommend it.
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