ASUS GTX580 MATRIX Review

Geekspeak411 - 2011-07-29 14:30:04 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: Geekspeak411   
Reviewed on: August 25, 2011
Price: $530

Introduction:

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!

 

Closer Look:

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.

Closer Look:

Pulling the hard plastic overlay off the graphics card packaging offers me my first unobstructed look at the Matrix GTX580. It is very well protected in a custom cut foam enclosure. It's actually not possible to pull the card out at this point as there is an added safety feature here to protect the card — the PCI-E connection is actually underneath a flap of foam, meaning the entire encasing comes out of the box, and the card must be removed upside down as seen in these photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that I have the card out of the package, the looks do not disappoint. Citing inspiration from various sources, the design team did a very nice job with the card and the build quality feels superb. The card sports a black plastic heatsink cover with ribbed red accents. Toward the I/O edge of the card sits a ROG logo in a similar red print; a larger version of that seen on the case badge. The two large fans that use new dust buildup prevention technologies dominate the face with the back of the card protected by a metal plate. The back plate of the card is very sturdy and offers good protection while still offering ventilation. As with previous ASUS cards recently, the NEC power chip has prime placement directly underneath the GPU, drastically reducing EMI emissions and interference.

 

 

 

Moving next to the PCI-E side of the card, I really like the vent styling ASUS put in on the shroud. It adds depth where most cards are barren, which matters a bit more on this card seeing as how this is a monstrous three-slot GPU. From these pictures, you can get a good sense of the size of this card in relation to the size of the PCI-E connection. On the other side of the card, the true Matrix design claim to fame is displayed: a light up "Matrix" logo that actually changes colors based on the usage of the GPU. Before anyone calls foul, think about this feature, as it can be used beyond a mere gimmick. I would personally find this feature useful while benchmarking with multiple GPUs, as I can see how effective the SLI can distribute tasks, and I can see just how PhysX-heavy a scene is by checking out the coloring on a dedicated PhysX GPU. In single card applications, I can see this feature being useful when running benchmarks, or parallel processing AFK — when the GPU goes idle again, you know whatever you were doing is done and ready for the next task. Oh, the logo also looks pretty damn cool lit up in all its glory. Of course, SLI connections and the dual 8-pin plugs are also to be found here, allowing for all the crazy performance you can dream of. The power ports have an added feature here as well — LEDs are positioned on the opposite side of the PCB and light up green when their respective power connection is properly hooked in.

 

 

 

 

The vented I/O side of the card has pretty standard connections, including dual DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort. The style is very similar to the DirectCU II cards except for one addition, a safe mode button. The Safe Mode button on the Matrix GTX580 is to be compared in functionality to a Clear CMOS button or jumper on a motherboard. If it is pushed, the vBIOS is wiped to stable settings and allows for a stable boot. This is very useful for people trying to do some heavy overclocking with little headache. On the opposite end, the shroud details continue, along with the card's tweaking buttons that allow for hardware voltage modding. Directly next to the voltage tweak buttons are LEDs that indicate the level of manual voltage modding being applied. The red button allows the user to manually override the software fan controls and set to 100%. This is useful if you're testing settings and are having issues at boot. Alternatively, you can write new BIOS settings with the bundled GPU Tweak utility to have the card automatically default to 100% or any percentage at boot until different settings are received as opposed to the default 'auto' setting the card boots with.

 

 

 

I feel like I've seen all I need to with the heatsink mounted, so it's time to take it off and see what else the ASUS engineers have in store. The heatsink is attached via four screws positioned in a square around the GPU. As with the GTX570 DirectCU II, I would like to point out the fantastic build quality here in the screw mountings themselves. It is extremely hard to capture on camera, but the screw holes lie perfectly flush with their surroundings, not sticking up or providing any rough edges. In addition, they feel very premium and well made. For a card of this caliber, it is important that it is designed to last a lifetime. The next area of importance is the fan header, which must be removed to fully detach the heatsink from the PCB. In this case, there are two connections that must be removed — the extra wires allow for the individually adjustable fans and the load-based lighting.

 

 

 

Once removed, the next project is to tackle the heatsink keeping the power management at appropriate levels. It is also removed by four screws and reveals the front of the graphics card in its entirety. The 19-Phase power system here is a huge bump up over standard graphics cards and the setup could probably be seen from space! There is a sufficient amount or thermal paste applied to the GPU and the thermal tape used for the power system feels of high quality. ASUS used Samsung modules here for the 1.5GB of dedicated graphics RAM and used its custom "Super Alloy Power" technology for the power, which eliminates noise from the card, increases efficiency, and offers a much higher thermal threshold. iROG chips are all on board here, enabling the superior tweaking capabilities of the card and allowing for complete control over all functions of the card while it is running live. Here are some nice close-up shots of the equipment on board.

 

The thermal paste on the chip is pretty standard and there's a good amount supplied so there's no need to apply your own.

 

 

 

Once all the thermal paste is removed, you can faintly see the NVIDIA print on the chip and the machining on the heatsink. ASUS could have definitely improved the quality of the finish, but it's adequately smooth.

 

 

Here you can see the 'Super Alloy Power' area of the PCB. These are made with a special alloy blend designed to increase efficiency and reliability, while they are also filled with concrete to prevent vibrations that can cause very irritating high pitched humming under load. The thermal tape on the dedicated heatsink is of very high quality. I also included a close-up of the Samsung GDDR5.

 

 

 

 

These chips are a few of what help make everything happen, regulating the card and contributing to the card's additional features. Republic of Gamers features are strong throughout the card. Whether they'll make a difference remains to be seen, but the hardware's all here.

 

 

That is all premium hardware right there, but does it actually make a difference? I'll check that out in the testing section. Since the card looks good in person, let's take a look at how it looks on paper.

Specifications

 

Graphics Engine
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580
Bus Standard
PCI Express 2.0
Video Memory
GDDR5 1536MB
Engine Clock
816 MHz
CUDA Core
512
Memory Clock
4008 MHz ( 1002 MHz GDDR5 )
RAMDAC
400 MHz
Memory Interface
384-bit
Resolution
D-Sub Max Resolution : 2048x1536
DVI Max Resolution : 2560x1600
Interface
D-Sub Output : Yes x 1 (via DVI to D-Sub adaptor x 1)
DVI Output : Yes x 2 (DVI-I)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1
Display Port : Yes x 1 (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
Accessories
2 x Power cable
1 x Extended SLI cable
1 x DVI to D-Sub adaptor
Software
ASUS Utility and Driver
ASUS Features
DirectCU Series Matrix Series Super Alloy Power
Dimensions
11.5" x 5" Inch
Note
To have the best cooling performance ASUS MATRIX GTX580 P/2DIS/1536MD5 extends the Fansink to 2.6 slot , please check your motherboard slot space before SLI

 

Features

 

All information provided courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/Graphics_Cards/NVIDIA_Series/MATRIX_GTX580_P2DIS1536MD5/#overview

Testing:

Testing is a huge part of the Matrix GTX580 Platinum's review, as I want to see if the performance justifies the price point. This time around it will mean running the card through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors in order to gauge its performance. The games used are some of today's newest and most 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 is disabled in the NVIDIA Control Panel when applicable. I will test the card at stock speeds and then overclocked to see how much additional performance is available and to determine if it can run with or faster than the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. Of course, all settings are left at defaults in the control panels of each respective manufacturer except where noted. I really want to see just how fast this card can fly!

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked Settings:

I want to know if having the extra cooling, features, and premium handpicked GPU is going to give me even a little more than I asked for. Sure the Platinum card comes at an 815MHz factory overclock, but is there more to be had? Time to find out. As always, I begin the overclocking process by setting the fans to 100%, loading up Kombustor, and warming up the GPU. Then normally I would open up a variety of utilities to tweak settings and monitor performance, but here ASUS has already put together the heavy work with the GPU Tweak application suite. Launching the suite I am greeted by a very pleasant step up from the previous SmartDoctor utility that ASUS would bundle, both aesthetically and in function, it would seem. The bulk of the utility is similar in form to MSI's Afterburner utility, albeit in true ROG colors. Afterburner is a popular utility here at OCC so from an organizational standpoint, the design choice is a plus. ASUS also bundles a custom ROG-skinned version of GPU-Z however it has a little issue that I'll go into more depth later. Once I customized the monitor side of the utility and familiarized myself with the tweaking options, I began pushing up the core clock 5MHz every five minutes or so until I lost stability. When the driver crashed, I bumped up the voltage and continued once more. I was able to continue this all the way up to 950MHz, which while not the highest GTX580 overclock, is still a very respectable clock and can be attributed to the individual GPU. I then worked up the memory to a nice overclock and played around to see where I could get the best benchmark numbers. This card is looking to be pretty impressive.

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Each card has been tested for its maximum stable clock speeds using MSI's Kombustor utility. So far my testing has shown that higher clock speeds may be stable in games where GPU usage does not reach 100%, but will crash within a few minutes using this utility. The reported clock speeds are those that proved stable over a 15-minute test at 1920 x 1200, 8x AA.

 

 

  1. Aliens vs. Predator
  2. Metro 2033
  3. Crysis Warhead
  4. HAWX 2
  5. Just Cause 2
  6. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.5
  7. Mafia II
  8. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  9. Lost Planet 2
  10. 3DMark 11
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption

Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and is a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based off the two popular sci fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species, the Alien, the Predator, and the Human Colonial Marine. The Game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine that supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. To test this game I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Well have a look here why don't you — the card sits right in on top of the pack as it should. I expect this trend to continue all the way through testing, so let's continue to see if the Matrix really is the alpha male.

Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied — in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses — chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

Here we are again, with the Matrix besting out the competition staying neck and neck with its brother. Imagine what some extreme cooling could do in combination with the awesome hardware and software controls!

Testing:

Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game. The premise is to play as one of 18 civilizations and lead the civilization from the "dawn of man" up to the space age. This latest iteration of the Civilization series uses a new game engine and massive changes to the way the AI is used throughout the game. Civilization V is developed by Firaxis Games and is published by 2K games and was released for Windows in September of 2010. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps through a series of five turns,150 turns into the game.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

That factory overclock clearly gives the Platinum an edge over the standard GTX580. If you're looking for top performance out of the gate, this is it.

Testing:

H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight game and is the sequel to H.A.W.X.. The Game is published by Ubisoft and was released in late 2010.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

I almost feel like destroying one of the benchmarks just to create some conversation, folks — this is the GTX580 to beat, performance-wise. With some extra TLC, there's no topping it!

Testing:

Published by Capcom, Lost Planet 2 is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and uses the MT Framework 2.0 engine. The storyline takes place on the fictional planet E.D.N. III some 10 years after the events of the first game. This time, the snow cover is gone and has been replaced by a tropical landscape. With this new rendition of the game comes the ability to run it using either DirectX 9 or 11. Along with this ability comes the chance to use that new DX 11 hardware to effect. DX11 features in this game include tessellation, displacement mapping on water, bosses and player characters, soft body compute shaders on “Boss” characters, and wave simulation by way of DirectCompute. This gives you smoke that is lifelike and reacts to inputs, water that looks and reacts how you would expect it to in a "real life" situation, and "Boss" characters rendered with more depth and detail. If the latest graphics quality settings are not enough, NVIDIA has included support behind this game for both 3D Vision and 3D Vision Surround, which gives you 3D effects over multiple screens. There is no better way to see how a game will perform than to test it out. Capcom has made this easy with a downloadable benchmark that we will be using to test out a cross section of today's currently available performance video cards.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Hmmm, it seems that the Matrix once again performed admirably on this benchmark as I was admiring the lighting load effects and comparing the reported voltages to the actual voltages via the onboard ProbeIt contacts. They were spot on.

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.5 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. This was the first DX 11 benchmark out to allow testing of DX 11 features. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes — Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.0. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

So the Matrix successfully rendered this virtual world at the top of its class. Hey, World of Warcraft players, can you say "overkill"? Because this card is calling your name.

Testing:

Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main story line, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to — crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The explosions flow smoother than ever — not a stutter to be found! Moving on.

Testing:

Mafia II is a third-person shooter that puts you into the shoes of a poor, Sicilian immigrant, Vito Scarletta. Vito has just returned home from serving overseas in the liberation of fascist Italy — to avoid serving his jail sentence — to find his family in debt. The debt must be repaid by the end of the week, and his childhood friend, Joe Barbaro, conveniently happens to have questionable connections that he assures will help Vito clear the debt by that time. As such, Vito is sucked into a world of quick cash. Released in North America for PC in August of 2010, the game was developed by 2K Czech published by 2K and uses the Illusion 1.3 game engine.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The boss is happy with this lean new engine behind the scenes. The game renders extremely well.

Testing:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts for Windows, PS3 and XBox. This game is part of the Battlefield franchise and uses the Frostbite 1.5 Engine, allowing for destructible environments. You can play the single player campaign or multiplayer with five different game modes. Released in March 2010, it has so far sold in excess of six million copies.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

Another great showing and another great gun fight free of stutter and faster than the rest.

Testing:

3DMark 11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies that this benchmark is for Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence, the name matches the upcoming date in number (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 is designed solely for DirectX 11 so Windows Vista or 7 are required along with a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition has unlimited free tests on performance mode whereas Vantage only allowed for a single test run. The advanced edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all of the features of the benchmark and the professional edition runs $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing, one to test for physics handling and one to combine graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still seems to be a popular choice.

With the new benchmark comes two new demos that can be watched, both based on the tests but unlike the tests, these contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and have a few vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and is similar to South American tribal ruins with statues and the occasional vehicle around. The demos are simple in that they have no story, they are really just a demonstration of what the testing will be like. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors MSI and Antec on their sides with the sponsorships helping to make the basic edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to test the performance of each card. The presets are used as they are comparable to what can be run with the free version so that results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

So the record seekers out there are wondering if this card, when coupled with its brethren and a ridiculous amount of liquid nitrogen, is worthy of scores worth their while. After talking to the guys at ASUS and seeing all the dedication put toward making this card absolutely tweaker friendly, I say take it and don't look back.

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using Crysis Warhead with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using a resolution of 1920x1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 10-run sequence to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the stock load test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for the overclocked load test. The idle test will be a 20-minute cooldown with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and bumped up to 100% when running the overclocked idle and load testing.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a DirectCU II cooling system. It is massive, it uses copper, and it even has dust-resistant technologies that keep dust from gathering on the blades and getting in to the bearings. That kind of dedication to total engineering pays off in dividends — that overclock there is running with a ridiculous amount of voltage, and I am satisfied.

Testing:

Power Consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and loaded states and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a 15-minute test and use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system. For load testing the GTX 500 series, I will once again use Crysis Warhead run at 2560x1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche benchmark scenario.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower = Better

 

In this test, we are seeing a bit of the drawback from having the lighting and the beefy fans. This is nothing close to a deal breaker though, considering the fact that the consumer demographic for this card is probably not entirely eco-conscious.

Conclusion:

What ASUS has done here is taken the enthusiasts out here under its wing and given them everything that they could possibly think of wanting in the ideal graphics card. With all the insanely tweaker-friendly MATRIX/Republic of Gamers features, the purchase of this card triggers an irrevocable mutalistic relationship between the card and the buyer. The abilities of this card go above and beyond ANYTHING that has ever been attempted in the consumer domain before. It would be a rare occasion that a consumer does not learn something new about the graphics card and how it operates if they just look at the card and play with the included utilities. Unlike most computer parts, this chip is all about the hands on, from the hardware voltage modding to the ProbeIt zone, to the individually controllable fans in the heatsink. This card gives users the ability to discover what is happening on the PCB level; to make the connection between some setting somewhere and the literal hardware it is affecting. Do not call me a fanboy, call me an enthusiast, but these kinds of connections are exactly what I would love to see make PC gaming and modding soar to the forefront of electronics, not some spray paint on an Xbox or a modified controller. Don't get me wrong, any kind of boost we get from a larger following is great, but this card drops the difficulty through the basement.

But you have to pay to play. The age old saying holds true today — while the features of this card blow it out of the water, the price anchors it right back down. Although competitive in the chip range, the entry price of this card is still too high for my hopes of a PC-elite takeover to see the light of day. For us enthusiasts out there that budget this kind of money for hardware, the offer is definitely there. You get a premium, hand-picked GPU, a brand new software suite that is full of potential, Clear CMOS-like functionality, hardware monitoring and modding, the cooling to make it happen, and the glorious silence of the huge cooler when you're not tweaking. Not to mention this thing is built like a rock — there's nothing like a premium part actually feeling, you know, premium.

Finally, I don't really feel I need to mention this, but the performance, of course, was great. Although my chip 'only' matched the other GTX580 GPU ASUS sent through OCC, the Matrix series has hit 1015MHz stable and has the potential to go even further with extreme cooling. The factory overclock pushes this card ahead of the reference GPUs, and the speed to be gained post factory clocks is all there. If I were picking out some new hardware for a serious build, consider this card on my dream team.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: