Overclocks like crazy; super build quality; quiet and cool.
Too expensive; software is not the easiest to use.
Last month, we took a look at EVGA’s GTX 780, which sported a new, fancy-britches “ACX” cooler. This month, it’s Asus’s turn with its own redesigned and totally non-reference Asus GeForce GTX 780 DirectCU II OC 3GB . At first glance, this GPU’s most notable attribute is its redesigned cooler, which despite many changes still bears the DirectCU II moniker we’ve seen on previous models. The new design uses five direct contact (DC) copper heat pipes, one of which is a plump 10mm, along with a primary “hybrid” fan that has two sets of fan blades to blow air in two directions at once. The cooler takes up two PCIe slots, and has an aluminum backplate wrapped around it to help support the cooler and dissipate heat across the top of the card. Our favorite feature of this cooler is that it can be detached from the card with just four screws, making it easy to clean before company comes over.
The GTX 780’s all-new Cool Tech cooler contains two separate fans to move air into and across the heatsink.
Cooler aside, this is a complete Asus card from top to bottom, aside from the Nvidia GK110 GPU at the heart of it, that is. It uses a custom PCB with Asus components, including super-alloy power chokes and caps, Digi+ VRM with 10-phase power delivery, and all the other Asus buzzwords that boil down to “top-shelf hardware.” Top. Shelf. Since this is the OC version, it’s overclocked just a tiny bit over stock—26MHz to the base clock, to be exact, and no memory tweaks—but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as this card was built for overclocking. This card sells for $700, which is $50 over MSRP and makes it the most expensive GTX 780 we’ve tested yet.
To test this card, we first established an overclocking baseline and then benchmarked it. We were able to overclock it higher than any other 700-series GPU, and ran it at 1,256MHz Boost clock, 110 percent power target, and 246MHz GPU clock offset. We also were able to overclock the memory by an eye-popping 1.1GHz. When we tried to play around with the voltage, things went sideways, but Asus does include the VGA hotwire leads for those who want to get crazy.
The card took the crown as the fastest GTX 780 we’ve ever tested, but only by a very small margin over the EVGA GTX 780 SC ACX despite costing $40 more. It was also faster than the GTX Titan in some tests, as well, making it one kick-ass card. We were able to loop Heaven and Furmark overnight running at the overclocked settings above, too, and it was rock solid, hitting temps of 75 C with the fan set to “auto,” where it was barely audible. We also ran the card with the fan at its lowest setting, which is 37 percent, and it was totally silent, and ran with no issues at 79 C, but downclocked itself to 1,228MHz.
This is a great card, although it would have to be a bit faster and a bit cheaper to hit “legendary” status. We’re also not big fans of the GPU Tweak software, but you can always download EVGA’s PrecisionX.
|Asus GTX 780 DirectCU II||EVGA GTX 780 SC w/ACX||GTX 780 (Reference)||GTX Titan||PowerColor AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz|
|Driver ||320.49||320.49||320.18||320.49||13.5 Beta 2|
|3DMark Fire Strike||10,090||9,607||8,482||9,892||7,138|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0 (fps) ||42||40||35||40||24|
|Crysis 3 (fps) ||34||27||24||32||24|
|Shogun 2 (fps)||56||55||48||63||43|
|Far Cry 3 (fps)||42||42||35||42||30|
|Tomb Raider (fps)||26||25||25||25||20|
|Metro: Last Light (fps)||25||24||22||25||14|
|Battlefield 3 (fps)||58||55||53||55||41|
Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus P9X79 motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and a Thermaltake ToughPower 1,050W PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows Ultimate. All games are run at 2560x1600 with 4X AA except for the 3DMark tests.