Next in our series of video cards review is a product from ASUS. As a large tier-1 hardware manufacturer, ASUS is both a partner of AMD and nVidia for its graphics products. Today we'll be looking at one of ASUS' high end nVidia GeForce GTX 680 based products. One step below the flagship of ASUS' GTX 680 series, the GTX680-DC2O-2GD5 has most of the same ASUS exclusive features as their top dog: the DirectCU II cooler and 10 power phases coupled with the DIGI+ VRM. The only difference is a smaller factory overclock.
At first glance, the GTX680-DC2O-2GD5 is a beast. While most high end gaming video cards are now dual slot designs, ASUS' GTX 680 is even beefier with a three slot height. Browsing the flagship products from ASUS' other product lines reveals a consistent colour scheme of black with red accents. This GTX 680 is no different with most of the video card in black, including the fans, the metal shroud and the PCB. The shroud is adorned with a car-like set of red racing stripes.
A pair of power connections, one 6-pin and the other 8-pin, are used to supplement the PCIe slot's power delivery to satisfy the GTX 680's TDP of 195w. The SLI connectors are in a standard location.
Most of the top (orientation while installed) of ASUS' GTX 680 is covered with a black metal plate. It is covered with vent holes, and ASUS' logo and the GTX 680 GPU name are printed on the outer edge. The plate increases the aesthetic appeal of the video card, and makes it appear more upscale (even though it's on the lower end of MSRP compared to the other ASUS' GTX 680 offerings).
Eagle eyed readers may have noticed the small gap of exposed PCB at the front of the card. ASUS calls this VGA Hotwire, and this small portion of the PCB features points while allow for external control and monitoring of Vcore, Vmem and PLL. While ASUS' GPU Tweak utility offers the opportunity to change voltages, VGA Hotwire makes it easier for modders to go beyond the limited range allowed by the software.
The display outputs on the video card include two dual-link DVIs (one each of DVI-D and DVI-I), an HDMI 1.4a and Displayport 1.2. The backplate also has a vent, but this is likely only trailover from the GTX 680 reference design of which its cooler design uses the vent for hot air exhaust.
A look at the backplate helps to illustrate how large ASUS' DirectCU II cooler is. While most other video cards tend to not extend past the edge of the backplate, the cooler and bracket go past by over an inch. This shouldn't be an issue for standard tower cases, but those looking to make a high powered ITX gaming maching should take this into consideration.
And it's not just the increased width that makes this card big, it's also quite tall with its three slot height. As a result, to ensure adequate and unimpeded air supply to the DirectCU II cooler's intake fans, this video card requires the use of four expansion card spaces.
This ASUS GTX 680 comes out of the box with a mild bump of its GPU and boost clock over the reference nVidia design, 1020 vs 1006MHz and 1085 vs 1058MHz, respectively. Memory clock speeds are the same as the reference design, and make full use of the Samsung GDDR5's rated specification.
ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II 2GB (GTX680-DC2O-2GD5)