ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II OC

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The GTX 680 DirectCU II OC ships with ASUS' GPU Tweak utility which offers fan and frequency adjustments as well as monitoring functionality. It looks suspiciously like MSI's popular Afterburner application, though skinned with ASUS' red and black Republic of Gamers scheme.

GPU Tweak also includes their own version of GPU-Z with the same color motif.

MP3 Sound Recordings

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 seconds of room ambiance, followed by 5~10 seconds of the VGA test system without a video card installed, and then the actual product's noise at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.


According to credible gaming-oriented review sites like PC Perspective, HardwareCanucks and AnandTech, the GTX 680 is one of the fastest single GPU cards on the market, falling somewhere between AMD's Radeon 7970 and the overclocked 7970 GHz Edition. Both the 7970 and 680 are overpowered for gaming with a 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 display. Their benefits don't become apparent unless you use an even higher resolution or multi-monitor setup.

Given its level of performance we're stunned by the energy efficiency of the GTX 680. Sitting idle, it used less power than the older Radeon HD 6870 and HD 5870 which were once praised for their idle frugality. On load, the GTX 680 used 203W, a ~30W advantage over the HD 5870 and the GTX 560 Ti, a much slower card that can be purchased for less than half the cost. The 680 was also the most efficient of these four cards at playing high definition video.

ASUS has a created a very cool, quiet, and efficient card that's capable of some big performance numbers. The DirectCU II cooler with its dual 100 mm fans and thick, direct-touch heatpipes is a ringer, close in proficiency to the GELID Icy Vision, a US$50 third party heatsink. The automated fan control is a little aggressive but can be easily tweaked using software like MSI Afterburner or ASUS' own GPU Tweak application. With a fan speed reduction, one can attain the rare combination of superb gaming performance and very quiet operation. The heatsink is overkill considering the relatively low power requirements but this is a blessing even if you're unconcerned by noise. The extra thermal headroom allows one to take better advantage of the GTX 680's GPU Boost overclocking capability.

The only thing we don't like about the ASUS GTX 680 DirectCU II OC is the price-tag, currently US$530. If you're looking to game on a very high resolution monitor or across multiple displays, it's going to cost you, but even with such a high budget, value should still be taken into consideration. It stacks up well against more basic GTX 680s that start at US$500 but if you look across in the AMD aisle you might turn green with envy. The Radeon HD 7970 recently received a price drop making its various iterations $60~$90 cheaper than the GTX 680 DirectCU II OC. While it isn't nearly as energy efficient, the price discrepancy is substantial. A GTX 680 might be able to make up the difference in electricity savings but to do so in a relatively short time frame would require a heavy use case in a location with high utility rates.

Our thanks to AVADirect Computers for the GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II video card sample.

ASUS GTX 680 DirectCU II OC wins the SPCR Editor's Choice

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