Alright then, it's hammer time. We very much like the Matrix for what it is, a crazy weird, goofy high-end graphics card that oozes features and offers solid performance. Unfortunately for ASUS this product might not be enough for the true aficionado though for three reasons:
Three slot coolers might be a bridge too far.
1.5 GB graphics memory only ? No, there should have been a 3GB model or at least a 2nd SKU offering this.
Too low of a default overclock to be able to beat the competition.
Let's break these down shall we ? The three slots design will scare away people like mice that run into a cat. The problem with the Matrix is that it has become a bit of a lit up Christmas tree with the shiny parts, balls and lights in them. See this graphics card was designed for gamers who like to overclock, and overclocking wise the product does well, but that's it really. There's nothing out of the extraordinary tweaking wise what you could not do even with a reference GTX 580, or better say a liquid cooled GTX 580.
Features wise ASUS did well as they where able to include something new and refreshing, it's a funky card with the onboard control of RPM selection, it's fun but nothing software can't do either. You probably use that button once, and never again.
So on one side we have this massive fun looking feature rich Matrix graphics cards, and on the other side we are just a little puzzled about who would actually buy this. I mean would you buy this 3 slot graphics card over a two slot stock faster clocked GTX 580 MSI Lightning or a top of the line 465 EUR Gigabyte SOC model ? Heck, you even yield similar results with ASUS's own Asus ENGTX580 DCII (review here). While writing this conclusion the final pricing came in, the card is going to sell for roughly 539 USD, we expect something similar in EUR.
Then there's that one other factor, it's not really needed, but a product in this price range, class and caliber should have been or gotten a 3GB SKU, or at the least a 2nd SKU with that framebuffer as option.
Noise and cooling, it's all good. The Direct CUII based cooler does it's work really well in that segment, under load (default clocks) we stay at roughly 60 Degrees C (during gaming). You can slightly hear it with the default factory clocks but really, that's all. And heck in IDLE it is the best performing card evah ! The temperatures of this pre-overclocked product remain very low and the sheer looks of the cooler are just dazzling for its size alone. So that part really is great stuff.
The card comes factory overclocked for you, where a regular GTX 580 has a 772 MHz base frequency and 1000 MHz (4000 effective) on the memory, ASUS brings that number up-to 816 MHz on the base clock and 4008 MHz on the memory (effective data-rate), we find that a very shy overclock for a card of this three slot stature.
Once you start to manually overclock you can get close to 875 MHz, but it would be a shame not to voltage tweak at the very least the GPU. Set your voltage at 1.15V~1.20V and you can take the GPU into sixth gear, we actually ended already at 912 MHz on that graphics core but would we have had some more Voltage available, time and fiddle around with the cooler RPM, then that 1 GHz might be a barrier you could reach, though after 930 MHz and some more GPU voltage things will get very difficult plus your noise levels and power consumption would go up quite a bit.
As mentioned in the review, there's a second BIOS as well, if you screw up the first with an OC firmware tweak, then you can revert to the default BIOS, and reflash the corrupted firmware. A nice fail-safe. Also there are small micro buttons to be found on the card, but leave them alone we say, unless you are planning to break records with liquid nitrogen or other exotic cooling.
So the final words then, the cards default performance is great really, but nothing very extreme over other competing factory-overclocked models. We like the gadgetry feature and the overall PCB/VRM design. The card is built for a lot, but even with this huge massive three slot cooler, your overclock will be as good as the competition's dual-slot solutions or a refrence GTX 580 with proper cooling.
The good thing is that the card is not priced into the stratosphere, for a custom GTX 580 we feel 539 USD is a fair offering, especially considering what you are receiving. But man, the three slot design, I'm afraid that was a bit of a design choice mistake from ASUS, next to not opting 3GB of framebuffer. But who knows, perhaps our expextations where set too high and you disagree with me, and I honestly hope you do. Let us know in the forums. Other then these remarks let me emphasize strongly, it is a terrific looking product and a great build all by itself. Well worth a recommended award, but it will probably be a hard card to sell.
ASUS GTX 580 Matrix Platinum review We received that big'ass Republic of Gamers (ROG) MATRIX GTX 580 graphics card from ASUS. The Republic of Gamers MATRIX GTX 580 Platinum graphics card is powered by an extensive 19-phase VRM circuitry that draws power from two 8-pin PCI-Express power connectors. The card will come with two BIOSes, so should you mess one up you have a failsafe by pressing a button. Something interesting is on-the-fly fan RPM control, check the photo's later on for that feature.
ASUS GTX580 DirectCU II SLI review We review the GTX 580 DirectCU-II and it is one big momma ! ASUS shortly ago released a new version in the flagship series of NVIDIA graphics card, the GeForce GTX 580. They customized the graphics card itself, overclocked it, allow even more tweaking and to top it off, they placed a three slot wide cooling solution on it. heck let's test two of these in an SLI setup.
ASUS GTX560 DirectCU II review The ASUS GTX560 DirectCU II or SKU name ENGTX560 TI-DCII tested today indeed comes all customized and factory overclocked, with quality grade components and a robust build the dark PCB of the GTX560 DirectCU II will carry a GPU clocked at 900 MHz and memory at 4200 MHz, both thus a nice chunk faster than reference.