It's still a challenge finding one of Nvidia's Kepler infused GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards in stock and ready to ship, but one thing the new GPU series doesn't lack is third-party variation. Nvidia's GPU partners are putting their own stamp on the GTX 680 with custom coolers and, in some cases like the new DirectCU II TOP edition from Asus, custom designed PCBs as well.
Asus went above and beyond the reference blueprint with the GeForce GTX DirectCU II TOP, adding 10-phase DIGI+ VRM digitally regulated power delivery with 30 percent noise reduction. The card also features 'Super Alloy Power' components that Asus claims will last 2.5 times longer than reference parts.
As for the custom cooler, it's a dual fan design that Asus says will keep the card 20 percent chillier than the stock heatsink/fan, and will do so while running 14dB quieter. It has five copper heatpipes with a 20 percent bigger dissipation area than reference.
What it all adds up to is a card that can withstand the rigors of overclocking, and to prove it, Asus goosed the clocks at the factory. Clockspeeds are pre-configured to 1,137MHz (up from 1,006MHz) for base and 1,201MHz (up from 1,058MHz) for boost. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory was left alone and runs at 6,008MHz (effective) on a 256-bit bus.