ASUS ENGTX580 DirectCU II Reviewccokeman -
Category: Video Cards
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The GTX 580 has proven to be at the top of the food chain in the single GPU arena. AMD has taken shots with the HD6970, falling short on performance, but mitigating that with better pricing. With that said, ASUS has brought together a video card in the ENGTX580 DirectCU II that pushes the performance a little further, with clock speeds that get a small boost for a very modest pricing upside over a reference card, currently selling for $469. What you get from ASUS is a card packed full of all its performance improvements that include the massive dual-fan DirectCU II heat sink package that improves cooling airflow by 600%, ASUS Super Hybrid Engine and SAP 8 phase power circuitry for improved performance and cooler operation, and ASUS' own exclusive protective designs that feature GPU guard, Fuse protection, and a dust proof fan. All these are upsides over the reference design that add some serious value to the package. If you pay any attention to HWbot or any benchmarking news, you know that the ASUS GTX580 DirectCU II is the card of choice when running an NVIDIA GPU. This speaks volumes about the PCB layout and design of the card as a whole. They are absolute beasts when put under LN2 with the right voltage modifications. The key is how this all relates to the average enthusiast concerned with having a good solid card to make it through the next round of game releases. Let's see how this card handles as delivered and see if it does indeed have the abilities set forth with the build quality and cooling solution.
Packaging-wise, the ENGTX580 DirectCU II mirrors much of the ASUS lineup with the Warrior on horseback loaded for war. The green background signifies this card is part of ASUS' NVIDIA-based GPU lineup. The DirectCU II features are noted prominently on the front of the box with the boast of a 20% improvement in cooling performance. Additional mentions include SAP technology, DirectX 11 support, and that the ENGTX580 DirectCU II is factory-overclocked to 782MHz on the GF110 Fermi core. The back side of the box lists the features and system requirements, in addition to expanding on the explanation of ASUS Super Alloy Power technology, the direct contact DirectCU II cooling design, and ASUS' own voltage tweak software utility.
Inside the outer sleeve, ASUS delivers much more than the plain cardboard box to hold the contents. ASUS delivers an elegant black box with the ASUS name embossed in gold on the lid. Inside, the theme continues with the coloring. The ENGTX580 DirectCU II is surrounded by a foam sleeve that houses not only the video card, but the included accessories. The documentation and driver disk are housed in the small disk-sized package inset into the foam sleeve.
The list of bundled accessories is slim, but is all that is really needed to get the ENGTX580 DirectCU II installed and operating into a system. Included is a disk that holds the drivers and ASUS' proprietary software suite with Smart Doctor and Gamer OSD. The hardware side of the bundle includes an extended SLI bridge connector, DVI to VGA adapter, and a dual 6-pin PCIe to 8-pin PCIe power adapter. The SLI bridge is significantly longer than a standard bridge connection and is needed due to the three-slot DirectCU II cooling solution.
The packaging and bundle are standard for ASUS, but let's take a look at the ENGTX580 DirectCU II to see where the standard stops and unique begins.