ASUS MATRIX GTX285 Review

ccokeman - 2009-08-18 09:27:20 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: September 3, 2009
Price: $359

Introduction:

When a performance video card series comes out, the performance is great for the masses and is something that will not be upgraded before the computer is obsolete. On the other hand, the reference releases only serve as an appetizer for the main course of custom cooled and built cards that always follow the reference card's launch. Sometimes these cards show up right away and other times they come out a short while after the technology and yields are good enough to get cores that will run at higher levels. I have seen TOP models from ASUS include higher clock speeds and better cooling as well as just higher clock speeds. Going back to the ENGTX260 MATRIX, you had a card delivered with stock clocks and enhanced cooling that overclocked like mad. The MATRIX GTX285 is the next card to get the MATRIX moniker and is part of ASUS ROG (Republic of Gamers) series of products designed specifically for the needs of the gaming community. The MATRIX comes with a clock speed bump of 663MHz, a 15MHz bump over the reference clocks while maintaining the default 1242MHz on the memory and 1476MHz on the shaders. The card has rugged post apocalyptic looks that would mesh well with any of the myriad of industrial cases out on the market. Based on the performance of its little brother, I have a heightened set of expectations for this go around. Let's see if the MATRIX GTX285 delivers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closer Look:

The packaging of the MATRIX GTX285 features a futuristic figure staring off into the stars. The phrase "I rule my game" is a bold statement, making reference to the capabilities of the card. The ROG (Republic of Gamers) logo is displayed prominently on the top left corner. The rear panel lists many of the features, innovations (such as Gamer OSD and iTracker) and the suggested system requirements for using this video card. The front panel flips up to go into greater depth on the features of the MATRIX such as the ASUS Super Hybrid Engine, the Extreme cooler and real time load monitoring through the branded LED. Kind of a bit o' bling for those who have a side panel window on their case. You can get an unobstructed view of the MATRIX through the window in the packaging.

 

 

The inner packaging slides out to reveal a black box that actually contains the card and bundle. The MATRIX is stored in a form fitting foam enclosure with a clear top to allow viewing through the outer packaging. To the right is another box that contains the connectivity part of the bundle while the documentation, driver disc, ROG sticker and disk wallet fit in the box under the card.

 

 

 

The bundle included with the MATRIX GTX285 includes the basics such as the user manual, software disc and a disc containing the manual. For connectivity you get a dual 4-pin Molex to 6-pin PCI-E power adapter, HDTV to component dongle, DVI to D-Sub adapter, DVI to HDMI adapter and an S/PDIF digital sound connection. To make sure you don't hose up the discs, ASUS has included a disc wallet to keep the discs safe and sound from casual abuse.

 

If the packaging is any indication of things to come, getting a look at the MATRIX could prove interesting.

 

 

Closer Look:

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.

 

Closer Look:

Just because you put that shiny new graphics card into your computer does not mean that it will work as intended right off the bat. For that to happen you need to install the drivers to make it work correctly. To do this, insert the supplied driver disc, or better yet, go on over to nVidia's website to download the latest drivers for your specific operating system and hardware. This way you have the latest game and performance fixes. Start the install by choosing the auto run feature if using the disc or double clicking the file you downloaded from nVidia and it will run. Make the choices that are applicable and then click finish and you will need to restart the computer to finish the installation process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the drivers are installed you have access to the nVidia control panel. Here is where you can adjust the performance and visual quality settings to the level you like. The first tab is labeled "3D Settings." The first section "Adjust image settings with Preview" offers pretty granular adjustments for performance vs quality. The second section allows for fine adjustments by and adjusting by application. A new feature in this section is Ambient Occlusion. This feature is added with the 185 series drivers. What this feature does is simulate shadows where ambient lighting should be blocked by an object. Something as simple as a pay phone on a wall will have its shadow cast on the wall when rendered with this option enabled. You can see examples of this in use on the Extras page. The last part of this section is the option to enable or disable PhysX.

 

 

The second section is strictly about managing the display. Setting the resolution, flat panel scaling, custom resolutions and managing the color profiles are all done here.

 

 

 

Last in line on this installation is the video and television settings. If you had the Geforce 3D Vision installed on your system this option would be available to you.

 

 

ASUS continues to develop utilities that help the end user get the most functionality from their hardware purchase. Included with the MATRIX GTX285 is the latest evolution of the iTracker software. This newer version, iTracker2, offers some added functionality that is not available for use with just any card. Examples are the ability to change the memory sub timings for added performance as well as voltage adjustments to help get the most out of the card. Both items that usually are reserved for the more advanced enthusiast. When you open the software up you are greeted with the GUI that lists a variety of things. First off you have the sliders to adjust the GPU, Shader and memory clock speeds as well as the voltages applied to the GPU and memory. The GPU voltage maxes out at 1200mV with the memory maxing out at 2150mV. There are a total of eight presets you can use. Optimized, Gaming , Default, Low Power and four user defined.

 

 

 

The fan setting is limited to three different settings, Auto lets the drivers do all the work managing the thermal load. Manual lets you tweak the fan speed setting to maintain the fan at a certain level and lastly, you can set up a profile under the temperature section that expands on the manual control by dictating what fan speed you want at what temperature threshold.

 

 

Right next to the clock speed sliders you will see what looks to be a memory chip. By selecting this option you are brought to the memory tuning section. There are again a series of presets that can offer that last bit to reach your performance goals. Performance, Default and OC are the three options. By manually configuring the subtimings I saw an increase of just over 200 points when running 3DMark Vantage Extreme test.

 

 

The Setting tab gives a few basic changes to how iTracker2 is launched. Additionally, you have the ability to change the skin color between five different colors.

 

 

 

Along the top right under the close button, or X, is the monitoring tab. Here you can configure which parameters you would like to monitor. The range includes temperatures to voltages to fan speeds. Each can be monitored.

 

 

Last, but not least, we have the feature that really can make the need to constantly reset the overclock settings each time you boot or use a hard to use program to change the VGA BIOS. The additional bonus is that ASUS has made the process easy to use but they do suggest that you verify the stability of your settings before flashing. The worst fear is that you will brick your investment. Remember the Safe Mode button I showed you earlier? That is the fail safe so even if you have a bad flash, recovery is available at the push of a button. To get started you need to find the combination of GPU, Memory, Shader clocks voltages and memory timings that are stable. By stable I mean the ability to play games for hours at a stretch without a driver or hardware failure. To get started, use one of the sser configured profiles and choose the profile management button on the bottom left of the GUI. Once in this menu choose the profile you want to flash and click the details tab at the bottom of the GUI. This gives you a snapshot of the settings you are going to flash to the BIOS. If everything is correct, click the video card in the bottom of the window and you are on the way to a successful flash. Agree to the flash and when the BIOS flash is over the system will need to be rebooted to complete the job.

 

 

 

Once the computer reboots you can go check your work. If the BIOS flash was successful you can verify it by opening the iTracker2 software. If the flash was successful the clock speeds and voltages shown will be those you flashed. I used GPUz to verify what I was seeing in iTracker2 and if you look at the default clock speeds in GPUz they are the same in both default clock and GPU clock windows. Success! Reflashing to stock clocks is accomplished the same way. No fuss, no muss.

 

There are a few technologies that can be used with nVidia graphics cards to take advantage of the massive performance potential designed into the company's cards. First off there is CUDA, a programming language that takes advantage of the parallel computing power of the nVidia GPU. There are already many applications that take advantage of this technology. Badaboom from Elemental Technologies uses the technology to reduce the time it takes to convert media files between different formats. There is Arcsoft's Total Media Theatre that uses CUDA technology to upscale video to HD levels by leveraging the performance of the GPU to increase the frame rate to a steady 30 plus FPS. When run in the compare mode, CPU usage peaks in the high 80+ percent range and offers reduced performance. When using CUDA technology to get the GPU to do the work, the CPU load drops to the 2 to 3% range, resulting in far superior performance.

 

 

One of the other application that uses the technology is one that is near and dear to our hearts, Folding@Home. What this program does, is use the parallel computing power of the nVidia GPU to simulate protein "folding." What is this, you ask? Well, when proteins don't fold correctly the result is some really heinous diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, BSE (Mad Cow), and Cystic Fibrosis. By simulating how chains of amino acids fold or misfold, researchers hope to find cures for these diseases and more. You can find more information here. If you decide to join the ranks of the people looking for a cure, make sure you select team 12772.

 

One enhancement that nVidia has had success with is PhysX technology. This technology is used to enable a more realistic gaming experience. Glass that shatters and stays in the environment instead of just fading away into the floor, curtains and cloth that move realistically and react to impacts and the wind, realistic smoke and bullet fragments and ricochets that do more than just flash on a wall. All of these things are visual enhancements that PhysX acceleration brings to the table. As of the end of 2008, there were three major game manufacturers committed to developing games using PhysX technology. These manufacturers are Take Two Interactive, Electronic Arts and THQ. As time goes by there are even more jumping on the PhysX bandwagon. One of the latest is Cryostasis from 1C games. Developed by Action Frames and distributed by 505 games, this game takes PhysX effects to a new level with water that is simulated using smoothed particle hydrodynamics. Upcoming games that will use PhysX technology include Batman Arkham Asylum, Darkest of Days and Resident Evil 5.

 

 

 

Closer Look:

Model
MATRIX GTX285/HTDI/1GD3
 
Graphics Engine
 
GeForce GTX285
 
Bus Standard
 
PCI Express 2.0
 
Video Memory
 
1GB DDR3
 
Engine Clock
 
662 MHz (Gamer Mode 669MHZ)
 
Shader Clock
 
1476 MHz (Gamer Mode 1.512GHz)
 
Memory Clock
 
2.484GHz (1.242GHz GDDR3)
 
Memory Interface
 
512-bit
 
DVI Max. Resolution
 
2560 x 1600
 
D-Sub Output
 
Yes x 1 (via DVI to D-Sub adaptor x 1 )
 
DVI Output
 
Yes x 2 (DVI-I)
 
HDTV Output(YPbPr)
 
Yes, via HDTV Out cable
 
HDCP compliant
 
Yes
 
HDMI Output
 
Yes, via DVI to HDMI adaptor
 
Adaptor/Cable Bundled
 
1 x DVI-to-D-Sub adapter
1 x HDTV-out cable
1 x Power Cable
1 x DVI-to-HDMI adaptor
Software Bundled
 
ASUS utilities and drivers
ASUS iTracker2
Note
 
The card size is 4.75 inches x 10.5 inches
 

 

Features:

 

All Information courtesy of ASUS @ http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=C8hcuTV9tmpWOGA6&templete=2

Testing:

Testing the MATRIX GTX285 will consist of running the card through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks to test the performance of the Matrix against many popular competitors to gauge its performance. The games used are some of today's popular titles to give you an idea on how the cards perform relative to each other. The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX will be disabled in the nVidia control panel. Clock speeds on each card are left at stock speeds. I will test the MATRIX GTX285 at both stock speeds and then overclocked to see how much additional performance is available when you choose to overclock the card to see if it indeed is the fastest single GPU card on the market.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

Overclocking the MATRIX was accomplished by using the iTracker overclocking utility from ASUS. After looking at ASUS ENGTX285 TOP model earlier this year I was curious to see if the voltage adjustment capabilities in the iTracker software made a difference in the abilities of the MATRIX vs the TOP. What I found is that at stock clock speeds the two cards offer pretty similar performance since they are clocked pretty similarly. By using the iTracker software I was able to push the MATRIX higher than the TOP by a bit. Roughly 30MHz higher on the core and 13MHz higher on the memory while the shader clocks were a bit slower at 1606MHz. All in all, not too much of a bonus. What is a bonus is the ability to change the memory sub timings. Doing this does offer an increase in performance and is another avenue you can take to increase the performance if this card in game. The way to get the most from this card is to manually set the fan speed to anywhere between 85% to 100%. By doing so you keep the core as cool as possible. By using a larger heatpipe on the heatsink ASUS has increased the cooling capacity of the factory solution. When overclocked and overvolted the core hit a max temperature of 65C while looping game test 3 in 3DMark06 for 30 minutes.

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty World at War
  5. Dead Space
  6. Fallout 3
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage

 

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the 1280x1024 and 1920x1200 resolutions the HD 4890 cards deliver almost identical performance to the MATRIX, but once you get to 2560 the MATRIX delivers more FPS than any card in the comparison listing with the closest being the GTX275.

 

 

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The MATRIX 285 is the fastest card in this comparison. At 2560x1600 the difference in performance is within 2 FPS across the board. At this level the game is unplayable.

 

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddies" It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This First Person Shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment as well as the story line will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The scores in BioShock show that the top end nVidia based cards are the higher performers. By 2560x1600 the MATRIX has a distinct advantage that increases by 10 FPS when you ratchet up the clock speeds.

 

Testing:

Activision's Call of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought CoD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a high resolution. This game just may be my reason to move to a 30 inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare the performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The MATRIX 285 shows off its muscle in Call of Duty delivering performance above that of its competitors by a wide margin. When overclocked, the performance increases along with the clock speed.

 

Testing:

Fallout 3 takes place after the nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world an irradiated mess. The vault, or fallout shelter, you are born in is Vault 101, situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The premise of the game is that the Vault has been sealed for 200 years, and now your father has opened the vault and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital. I find myself looking for landmarks since I am familiar with the streets of Washington DC.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

In this game the difference between upper echelon cards is pretty minimal. While it is a great game to play, its promise as a benchmark is limited.

 

Testing:

In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse, starting with the crash landing and seemingly silent and "dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional over the shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the primary character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The MATRIX GTX285 is the fastest card in this group in Dead Space. While nVidia cards appear to work better in this game, the 285 does deliver more FPS while the GTX 275 cards close the gap a bit at the 2560x1600 resolution.

 

Testing:

Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival!

Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance margin between the MATRIX and the GTX 275 cards is between seven to nine frames per second across the resolutions. Compared to ATI's best single card solutions the gap ranges between 10 FPS at 1280x1024 and 17 FPS at 2560x1600.

 

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest has begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

While not the fastest card in the first two resolutions, the MATRIX GTX285 comes up big in the larger resolutions, beating the HD4890s by over 1000 points.

 

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The MATRIX shoves a distinct advantage in this benchmark. The only competition is from the overclocked GTX 275. Once you put the screws to the clock speeds the MATRIX excels far above the rest.

 

Conclusion:

With the GTX285 getting a little long in the tooth and the next generation of video cards right around the corner, you have to wonder why you would make another high end model? Build it and they will come. Limited Edition cards with higher performance and more robust looks and cooling sell even with the higher price tag. Does everyone who makes that purchase use it to its fullest extent? Not always, but the performance is there if you need it. Kind of like spending 100 grand on the flavor of the month super car and only driving it at the speed limit. The MATRIX GTX285 is a high end machine and still proves to be the highest performing card in this test when you get right down to it. The default clock speed on the MATRIX is only 15MHz higher than that of the stock GTX285 and is 8MHz lower than the TOP version from ASUS out of the box with identical shader and memory clock speeds. What helps separate this card from the others is that it comes with more robust cooling by way of the larger heatpipes used in the cooling solution. These are upped from the reference size of 6mm to 8mm, helping transfer the thermal load more effectively to the fin array. According to ASUS, this size increase provides 46% more coverage of the contact plate. Load temperatures in my 75 degree room were quite respectable under load in both the driver controlled stock testing and manually controlled overclocked testing. At the stock speeds and driver controlled fan speeds the load testing created a temperature of 65 Celsius. When the GPU was overvolted and overclocked, I bumped the fan speed up to 100% to keep the GPU and memory as cool as possible and the temperature under load averaged 64 Celsius. Not bad considering the voltage was increased to get there. The fan, while noisy at 100%, does not seem to be any louder than the Scythe KAZE fans used on my CPU heatsink.

Another item that creates a point of difference is the usefulness of the iTracker software utility. Not only can you tailor the performance to your needs with a total of eight different profiles, but you can also adjust the memory and have the ability to flash the Vbios with the best profile for your needs. Wait a minute, isn't that a little on the risky side? Well, sure it is, but ASUS has made sure that you won't brick your MATRIX by incorporating a way back from the edge. If you happen to push too far, and you will, the safe mode button on the bracket allows you to recover by reflashing the original BIOS. Desperation to relief with the touch of a button. When it came to overclocking, the MATRIX I was able to gain 75MHz on the core, 130MHz on the shader processors, and 111MHz on the 1GB of GDDR3 memory. Not earth shattering but these clock speed increases offered an increase in performance while still retaining the ability to run all of the benchmarks in the OCC suite. Built with high end components, including solid caps and low(RDS) on MOSFETs, covered chokes and 8+2 phase power design power, cooling and stability are all part of the design. If you are a gamer (really, who of us isn't?), this card is one you can be sure will deliver on the promise of performance for a price that is competitive with that offered by other brands. Add in the looks and bling factor of the load level LEDs and you have a winner on both the performance and looks front.

 

Pros:

Cons: