Asus has been coming on strong in graphics cards for several years now, though it never offers quite the variety of versions as companies like XFX and EVGA. Typically, Taiwan-based Asus will ship a reference card under its main brand, and then a custom-built, high-end card under its DirectCU brand. At a later date, the company might ship a super-high-end card using the company’s Matrix or Mars sub-brands. Price differences between Asus’s high-end and standard versions are wider, too, so it’s a little easier to figure out which card really is the premium version.
Asus hasn’t built a Matrix version of the GTX 680 quite yet, but most gamers who run on a single display should be pretty happy with the standard version. Built on Nvidia’s reference design, the Asus GTX 680 delivers excellent performance at a price that’s not quite stratospheric—provided, of course, that you can actually find one. GTX 680s, it seems, are in high demand, so you’ll need to be willing to endure a backlog before you take delivery.
The Asus GTX 680 is fast, quiet, and unassuming.
It’s worth the wait. The Asus card is damned fast. It even ekes out some wins over EVGA’s card. Sure, the differences are mostly statistically insignificant. However, given Nvidia’s GPU Boost technology, you may see variance in the performance of seemingly identical cards, since no two GPU dies behave identically. In the old days, when everything ran at a single set of frequencies, similarly clocked products would behave identically, but that predictability may be a thing of the past.
Still, the differences are negligible. We’re unconcerned with minor frame-rate differences, and even the 3W-lower idle power won’t pay for a cup of coffee over a year’s time. Compared to the factory‑overclocked XFX Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition Double-D card, performance and power differences are more notable.
As with other GTX 680s, Asus’s offering supports up to four simultaneous displays with one card, provided you’ve got the right set of connectors and adapters. Like EVGA, Asus ships the card with its own performance mod software, which Asus calls GPU Tweak. GPU Tweak isn’t quite as easy to use as EVGA’s Precision, and doesn’t yet seem to support all the features of the GTX 680, like GPU Boost adjustments. But it gets the job done. The best part of GPU Tweak is its custom take on GPU-Z, an excellent tool for monitoring the state of your GPU.
Asus offers a three-year limited warranty on the card, putting it in line with most other mainstream companies. In the end, the Asus GTX 680 is one fast card, and is impressively quiet and efficient. For once, we think the reference design is good enough for most gamers.