ASUS MATRIX GTX285 Reviewccokeman -
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The MATRIX GTX285 looks similar to the reference cards at the first casual glance but then the differences quickly become obvious. The heatsink housing is ribbed and contains the ROG logo to let you know this is one of ASUS' cards aimed squarely at the gaming crowd. The red fan, the hump on the top, the back plate, and the Fujitsu chip in the middle of the backplate, these are visual clues to say "look at me." The hump on the top spine of the card actually serves a purpose. It allows the user or select group of friend to see the load the video card is under at the time. The Fujitsu labeled device is actually a Super ML Cap that helps even out the power supply that will allow for higher stable overclocks. There are more differences under the skin but those will have to wait for a bit. The MATRIX GTX285 features clock speeds of 662MHz on the core, 1476MHz on the shader processors and 1242MHz on the 1GB of GDDR3 memory running on a 512-bit bus. If the review of the GTX260 variant of the MATRIX is any indication, this card should have plenty of potential.
The front end of the MATRIX GTX285 contains two Dual Link capable DVI ports and an HDTV output. Pretty much standard fare. What is not standard fare is the "Safe Mode" button. No, it's not the easy button but it sure can make life easier if you have a BIOS flash on the card go bad. When pushed after a power down cycle, the card will recover and reflash the stock BIOS, keeping you from having that sinking feeling that you just bricked your expensive play toy. The rear view shows the venting in the heatsink shroud. Something that is needed when running two of these cards in SLI.
The hump on the back of the MATRIX is there for a reason, to give you an idea as to how hard you are loading the video card. In low resolution or less demanding games the MATRIX logo will stay in the blue range. When you start stepping up the settings and resolutions you can expect a change to purple and then red when you are really running a demanding game. These are not the best pictures but you get a feel for how the card looks. The additional bling factor this adds would go nicely with the SupremeFX sound cards included with some of ASUS' motherboards.
The MATRIX GTX285 is both standard and Tri Sli capable. The SLI bridge connections, as well as most of the connection points, come from ASUS covered with a shield to prevent any damage or shorts. One thing to make sure of before you get a card like this is that you have the appropriate power connections on the PSU since the card only comes with the 6-pin power adapter, not an 8-pin. For power needs the card uses a 6+2 and 6-pin PCI-E power connections. Next to the power connections is a small 2-pin connection that is the S/PDIF digital sound input fron the source so that HD sound can be carried out with the HDMI signal.
To get a better idea what is hiding under the shell you have to start by taking it off. Take it all off! Sorry, wrong story! The backplane comes off by removing the twelve spring loaded screws. These screws also secure the heatsink to the card. Remove the two screws on the bracket and through a little twisting and pulling the heatsink assembly comes right off. The backplane actually sits off the PCB with the help of a few gel based standoffs.
The MATRIX GTX285 is built using what are called the "Ultimate Armaments." What these consist of are using design features to provide a card that runs cooler, is more efficient and longer lasting. The four concepts used on the MATRIX include "Ultimate Clarity," which is using an EMI shielded DVI port to provide a cleaner signal to the display. "Ultimate Durability" speaks to the use of solid capacitors that are guaranteed to run for 5,000 hours at 108 Celsius. "Ultimate Cool" comes into play with the use of low (RDS)on MOSFETs that run up to 15 degrees Celsius cooler than traditional components, and "Ultimate Energy Efficiency" refers to the use of covered chokes that prove to be 25% more efficient than traditional designs. The MATRIX uses an 8+2 phase power design for the GPU and memory. The memory used on the MATRIX is made by Hynix and is rated for operation at 1300MHz.
The cooling assembly used on the MATRIX is equipped with 8mm heatpipes that provide 46% more coverage of the contact plate for improved cooling. The cooling solution uses a copper contact plate in which the heapipes connect to drawing the thermal load from the GPU and memory, then this load is transferred to the fin array and is exhausted out the rear of the chassis. The same blower style system used with the reference cards is used. At 100% fan speeds the temperatures, when overclocked and overvolted, came in at 65 degrees Celsius. Not bad when you throw extra volts into the mix. Noise seems to be somewhat less than that generated by the reference design when run at 100%. The fan is audible but not overly so depending on your noise tolerance level.
With the MATRIX you have a card that for all intents and purposes has some great features that help with the functionality and reliability as well as having that take-no-prisoners look to it. Add in the load monitoring and safe mode switch and you have what looks to be a pretty potent package. Let's get it installed and see if the performance matches the look.