WITH THE MARGIN SQUEEZE in graphics cards, the vendors are hard pressed to churn out their own card designs with as many features as possible and add as much performance as they can within the limits of the GPU makers' specifications.
Asus, as the biggest card vendor around, has multiple iterations of enhanced GPU cards that improve on the reference design. Here we look at the Asus pre-tweaked Direct CU II series, the high-end line just one notch below its highest-end ROG Matrix graphics card range, which is a subject for yet another story.
The Direct CU II series, offered with both AMD and Nvidia high-end designs, is basically a combination of three key enhancements and is now in its second generation.
First, there's a huge, three-slots thick (yes, three slots!) dual fan cooler with five flattened direct contact copper heat pipes and a huge fin area for roughly 20 per cent cooler temperatures.
Then, improved board level 'super alloy' componentry uses a special alloy formula in critical power delivery components for a claimed 15 per cent performance boost, 35C cooler operation and 2.5 times longer lifespan.
Finally, a voltage tweak feature provides for further overclocking capability up to 50 per cent above the reference clock, if you're really keen on extreme overclocking.
While the fat three-slot cooling means you're unlikely to ever run these cards in pairs, the extra space provides plenty of cooling air vent openings as well as four display connectors. Two dual link DVI jacks, one with VGA pass-through, are accompanied by full size HDMI and Displayport connectors. Nice.