The ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP edition is a power house and certainly is more interesting opposed to the reference model. The cooling works out splendid, ASUS used the two fan yet three slot design to make the card silent. Admittedly, some people really dislike three slot coolers -- where other just don't care as they have the space inside the PC chassis anyways.
As such in it's default state (factory overclocked) thanks to the cooler under game stress the graphics card would reach 65~70 Degrees C -- but remains very silent. We measured a 39~40 DBa noise level in the test room at 75 CM distance from the card. That very hard to hear in normal conditions.
Fool around with fan RPM a little manually, then you'll get a good impression of how much cooling capacity the card really has. But yeah, then noise levels will rise quickly as well.
As mentioned quite a bit in this review, the card comes factory overclocked for you. The GPU core has been set a good notch higher, overall resulting in a ~15% boost in performance compared to the reference products. We are a little surprised though that ASUS left the GDDR5 memory clock at reference. The tweaking results on the memory are frickin insane as we have reached a stable 7200 MHz (effective datarate). And the GTX 680 on that 256-bit memory bus is one thing, memory bandwidth limited. So that is a bit of a lost opportunity there as a higher memory clock would have certainly translated into the direct effect of (even) more graphics performance.
With any GTX 680 review I mention it, the Dynamic Clock Adjustment technology remains a little weird to observe, it however is a clever trick for the card to clock a little higher when the power envelope justifies it. The ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP edition baseclock is 1137 MHz (1006 MHz = NV reference) and the "Boost" clock at 1267 (1058 MHz reference) gives the card way more headroom to play with. This in fact makes the ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP edition, the fastest clocked GTX 680 currently available on the market.
The end result is a card that performs well, there's not a game out there that it can't deal with. Anno 2070 at the best quality settings and 4xAA pushes 100 frames per second on average at 1920x1200, and still 60 fps at 2560X1600. In Crysis 2 we end at an average of 67 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 61 FPS at 19x12 and that makes it the fastest single GPU based graphics card on the market.
The 28 nm Kepler transition also brought a better power envelope towards the card. The card board power is rated at 195 Watt. Our measurements have shown that (while gaming) we use roughly 181 Watt, and that's for a factory overclocked model.
It was never disclosed by NVIDIA, the idle power consumption of the card, but we are measuring roughly 10~11 Watt in idle. Based on historic data we collect the idle power consumption was the lowest ever for a PC with a dedicated card installed and the monitor activated.
The ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP edition offers a lot in terms of the feature set. The card is fine-tuned on noise levels making it really silent, the GPU temps remain absolutely below the baseline. And then there's the overall design, the customized card with the factory overclock and then the DirectCU II cooler certainly promises what it should deliver, good temps and noise levels. The three slot design however will remain a matter of taste as well as the design of the cooler itself.
Manual GPU overclocking wise we had hope to get a little higher, but then again our results where not disappointing, it drives to the product into even higher performance regions. We where impressed by the memory tweak though, we reached 7200 MHz (effective data rate) and that brings in extra performance as the GTX 680 is definitely memory bandwidth limited. The relatively small GPU overclock and the big memory overclock proof that thesis when you look at the the performance numbers on the overclocking page quite well.
It's good to see that the GTX 680 now supports gaming with three monitors with one card, here we do think that 2 GB of graphics memory would be on the shy side though. The new TXAA mode is something to be further explored in the future, and if the NVENC gets as widely supported in other software as we have tested with MediaShow Espresso, it can haul the proverbial toosh.
Currently the ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP edition is so new that it has not been spotted in the stores just yet. We expect it's price to be in the 500 EUR marker which is a lot of money to play games on your PC alright. The reality remains that the ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP edition is now the fastest retail GeForce GTX 680 we tested to date. While doing it's magic it remains absolutely silent. The three slot design remains controversial, I know. But put a 1 and 1 together and you can't deny how well the concept works.
Overall the ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP edition is a very nice card, and comes recommended by Guru3D.com
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