Maybe you just happened to get the bad one from a large batch at the store? *knock on wood* but i don't think that cards just "don't work" for users if they haven't successfully updated drivers and bios (where applicable). Usually those things will fix the issue after a reboot or two, so the having to buy a new card seems like a more expensive "fix" to the OP issue.
have you checked motherboard compatibility beforehand? maybe its a bad PCi slot or a bad card? is it locking up your system whilst gaming or idling?
my most recent issues with a similar problem were with an older NVIDIA card, but the card ended up being very old, not cleaned, and used when they bought it, half the caps decided to blow out on the card, causing a similar issue than yours.
No, the card is good. I'm still using it in another computer I have, and it is working beautifully. It is ONLY this machine.
And no, it is not just that I got the bad one. Do a google search for the model number and locking up. You will see MANY posts from MANY different people, including people who got this same machine with an Nvidea card pre-installed. There IS an issue with this model and Nvidea cards. I'm not saying it is the card. In face, exactly the opposite. If it was just me, yes, I would have said the same.
The fact is, its not just me. There are literally dozens of people with the same issue turned up with a casual search.
Believe me, I was shocked also. Asus has a good name, as far as I can tell...