ASUS GTX580 MATRIX ReviewGeekspeak411 -
Category: Video Cards
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ASUS has been creating some major waves across the board in the mobile space — first taking the market by storm with its EeePad Transformer series Android tablet, then quickly following it up with a slider model and the newly revealed Padfone. Despite the success of the mobile unit, the desktop parts have not missed a beat, with the company tearing through its release schedule release after release. NVIDIA's GTX500 series has been well received in the market by both performance junkies and tweakers alike with its overclock ability. ASUS now maximizes this ability by potently combining one of these chips with state of the art support components in its newest release, the Matrix GTX580 Platinum. You may recognize the Matrix tag, as there have been a few other cards released under the same tagline, namely the GTX260 and GTX285 back in 2009, which scored an Editors' Choice and a Gold award from OCC, respectively. ASUS states that the Matrix series is designed to be the ultimate in graphics performance while providing superior cooling, tweaking, monitoring, and overclocking. Those two cards performed admirably and it looks like, on paper, ASUS has lined this new model to push the upper echelon of performance once more. With the Matrix GTX580, ASUS has prepared two SKUs: the 'standard' Matrix GTX580 and the review card I am testing today, the Matrix GTX580 Platinum, which features all the abilities of the first card, but adds on a premium, hand-picked GPU factory-overclocked to 816MHz. Both models share TweakIt voltage modding, direct on-PCB ProbeIt voltage monitoring and Mod-Zone hardware volt modding, a Safe Mode button comparable to a clear CMOS button, a brand new GPU Tweak utility that is a special Republic of Gamers release to allow for superior control of the card, a 19-phase Super Allow Power technology power system to maximize the new software and high performance GPU, a DirectCU II Matrix edition cooler to chill the premium GPU, and a Matrix LED lead indicator to top it off. Yes, this new card from ASUS packs some super-premium features on paper, but does it actually deliver? $530 is a steep asking price, so let's see if it's actually worth it!
Republic of Gamers packaging is stock awesome for ASUS. They've been using the red flame motif design since mid-2009 when the ROG Rampage II GENE passed through our halls and have released most every ROG product since then with the same styling. For those who aren't familiar with the ROG look, the retail box is a deep red matte finish with MATRIX GTX580 Platinum plastered across the front in aggressive pearlescent lettering with the ROG logo adorning the top left corner and ASUS in the bottom right with a very contemporary red flame motif shooting out. As with an exhaustive list of previous ROG units, the front panel opens up to reveal an additional flap, packed with information and features, as well as teasing the card itself on the bottom section.
Flipping over to the back of the box is a basic specification listing with accessories and minimum system requirements running the center column, with four pictures highlighting TweakIt, the GPU Tweak OC tool, the card's 19 phase Super Alloy Power system, and the DirectCU II cooling inclusion along the left side.
I opened up the box to reveal inner packaging that closely resembles the boxes used in ROG motherboards, such as the recently reviewed Crosshair V Formula motherboard. The large box contains the graphics card, while the smaller box opens from the center to reveal the accessory bundle included with the card. In this case, I am provided with a SpeedSetup guide, a DVI to VGA adapter, an extended SLI cable to reach over the massive cooler to another card, a driver CD, two dual 6-pin to 8-pin power connections to ensure the card will have enough power (the card requires TWO 8-Pin PCI-E power connections), and a very high quality metal case badge that is classy in its own right, able to fit on any case, from gaudy to minimalistic, and draw looks. The badge is a matte black with ridged red extrusions.
Now don't get me wrong, I really do like the ROG styling because it feels refined, elite, and aggressive all at once — it's perfect. That being said, I just can't wait to see its next iteration of packaging design to see what three years and countless reference iterations can do, as the jump from the last design to this one was epic. If you feel differently, of course, let me know in the comments and let me hear your opinions! On to the graphics card itself.