Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP Review (OC)


Nvidia recently released their GTX670 series of graphics cards and today we are looking at the latest high end version from partner Asus. The Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP which is supplied with a dual fan metal cooler and pre-overclocked settings.
The higher powered GTX680 and GTX690 have been met with widespread critical acclaim however the GTX670 is the most interesting of the new range, because it will target the widest audience.
The reference GTX670 ships with a clock speed of 915mhz, with a turbo to 980mhz. The memory is configuration at 1,500mhz for an effective rate of 6.00ghz.
This card ships with the lovely Direct CU II metal cooler with multiple heatpipes and dual fan configuration. How does the Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP stack up?
ProductNvidia GTX670Asus GTX670 Direct CU II TOPNvidia GTX680AMD HD7970
Transistors3500m3500m3500m4310m
Core Clock915 mhz+1058 mhz+1006mhz+925mhz
Memory clock1,502mhz1,502mhz1502mhz1375mhz
Shaders1344134415362048
ROPs32323232
Memory2GB2GB2GB3GB
Memory bus width256 bit256 bit256 bit384 bit
The Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP has received a core clock increase to 1,058mhz, with an effective Core Boost Clock to 1137MHz. The memory speed hasn’t been changed over the reference card, clocked at 1,500mhz (6,000mhz effective).
Asus sell a reference clocked version of this card for £369.95 inc vat. This overclocked version has a £30 price premium, retailing for £399.95. Is it worth the high asking price?
The Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP is supplied in a dramatic box featuring a small image of the cooling solution at the left, alongside dramatic artwork which features red claws.
Asus bundle all the items inside a thin branded box. The bundle includes software discs and a power converter cable. Rather disappointing really for such a high end board.
The Asus Direct CU II Cooler is an impressive beast. The two 90mm fans blend in perfectly with the appearance, and there is also a backplate on the rear to help with cooling efficiency.
Asus have incorporated some heavy duty heatpipes on both sides of the PCB to ensure that heat is transferred as effectively as possible to the aluminum fins. This is a dual slot cooler.
The Asus GTX670 is SLI capable in two, three and four way configurations.
The card takes power from two 6 pin PCI headers.
There are two dual link DVI ports, a full sized HDMI port and a full sized DisplayPort. All of these can be used simultaneously with the latest hardware. Something AMD have offered for a very long time now.
The Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP is based around the GK104 processor, manufactured on the 28nm process. This particular ‘TOP’ model has received a core clock increase to 1,059mhz, with an effective Core Boost Clock to 1137MHz. It ships with 2GB of GDDR5 memory connected via a 256 bit interface.
On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source. You can right click and ‘save as’ to your computer to view later.
To test today we are using our long standing Core i7 970 system, which is overclocked. We have a variety of hardware benchmarked on this system this year which will make for an interesting market comparison.
Main Test System:
Processor: Core i7 970 @ 4.6ghz
Graphics
: Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP
Cooling
: Coolit Vantage
Motherboard
: MSI X58A-GD65
Chassis
: Thermaltake Level 10 GT
Power Supply
: Corsair AX1200
Memory
: 6GB ADATA @ 2133mhz 9-10-9-32
Storage
: Kingston SSDNow V+ 512GB Gen 2 SSD (Storage) / Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (OS boot)
Comparison Cards:
KFA2 Geforce GTX680 EX OC
GTX680
MSI R7970 Lightning Edition
HD7970
MSI R7950 Twin Frozr III 3GD5/OC
HD7950
Sapphire HD7870 Overclock Edition
HD7870
HD7850
HD6990 (880 core)
HD6970
HD6950
HD6870
Sapphire HD7770 Vapor X Overclock Edition
XFX HD7770 Black Edition S CFx
HD7770 CFx
HD7770
Sapphire HD7750 Ultimate Edition
HD6790
HD6770
HD6670
GTX590 SLi
GTX590
GTX580 SLi
GTX580
GTX570
Monitors: Dell U3011
Software:
Windows 7 Enterprise 64 bit
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
3DMark Vantage
3DMark 11
Fraps Professional
Steam Client
FurMark
Games:
Alien V Predator
Tom Clancy HAWX 2
Resident Evil 5
Far Cry 2
F1 2011
Total War: Shogun 2
Battlefield 3
Elder Scrolls V: SkyRim
All the latest BIOS updates and drivers are used during testing. We perform generally under real world conditions, meaning KitGuru tests games across five closely matched runs and then average out the results to get an accurate median figure. If we use scripted benchmarks, they are mentioned on the relevant page.
Some game descriptions are edited from Wikipedia.
Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.
Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.
Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:
  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures
We use the following settings: 1920×1080 resolution. Anti Aliasing off. Anisotrophy 4, Tessellation normal. Shaders High. Stereo 3D disabled. API: Direct X 11.
The overclocked Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP manages to deliver slightly more performance than the reference clocked GTX680 we reviewed a short while ago. An impressive start, thats for sure!
Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7. This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.
The Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP outperforms the reference clocked GTX680 in this Direct X 10 related benchmark, slotting in behind the MSI R7970 Lightning.
3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.
After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.
If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.
Another fantastic result, showing some incredible Direct X 11 performance. Again the overclocked ASUS GTX670 manages to slightly outperform the reference clocked GTX680. A final score of 9,433 points is fantastic. It is only around 400 points lower than the last generation dual GPU HD6990.
HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.
There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.
This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.
Read our initial analysis over here.
Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP
Dial
4
Dial with static pattern5
Gray Bars5
Violin5
Stadium 2:25
Stadium 3:25
Horizontal Text Scroll3
Vertical Text Scroll5
Transition to 3:2 Lock5
Transition to 2:2 Lock0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
5
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
5
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5
5:5 FPS Animation
5
6:4 12 FPS Animation
5
8:7 8 FPS Animation
5
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
5
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
5
Random Noise: Sailboat
5
Random Noise: Flower
5
Random Noise: Sunrise
5
Random Noise: Harbour Night
5
Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Luminance Frequency Bands
5
Chrominance Frequency Bands
5
Vanishing Text5
Resolution Enhancement
15
Theme Park
5
Driftwood5
Ferris Wheel
5
Skin Tones
5
Total192
The hardware scores 192 points out of a possible 210 which is excellent.
F1 2011 is the newest Direct X 11 racing game from industry pioneers CodeMasters. The 2011 Formula One season is the 62nd FIA Formula One season. The original calendar consisted of twenty rounds, including the inaugural running of the Indian Grand Prix before the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pirelli returns to the sport as tyre supplier for all teams, taking over from Bridgestone. Red Bull Racing are the reigning Constructor’s Champions. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is the defending Drivers’ Champion, one of five World Champions appearing on the grid.
F1 2011 is a great game to play and it looks fantastic on the Asus GTX670. The hardware averaged 87 frames per second, which is a couple of frames more than the MSI R7970 Lightning and the reference clocked GTX680.
Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.
To test the cards we used a 1080p resolution with DX11, Texture Quality Very High, MSAA Samples 1, 16 af, ambient occulsion on, shadow complexity high, motion blur on. We use this with most of our graphics card testing so cards are comparable throughout reviews.
This is an intensive Direct X 11 benchmark however we can see that the Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP manages to outperform the reference clocked GTX680 by a couple of frames per second. The minimum frame rate is slightly lower, although it is not noticeable in real world terms.
Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. After the events of the first game, the H.A.W.X squadron is sent to Middle East, where a high level of violence is being registered, and the appearance of various insurgents leaders in various hotspots. The team also has to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Russian nuclear weapons. The player will be controlling three groups: one American (Hunter), one British (Munro) and one Russian (Sokov), each with its own pilots and supporting characters. There will also be references to other characters in the Tom Clancy universe.
We are testing in full DX11 mode with all settings to maximum.
A fantastic result for the hardware, averaging 142 frames per second, a single frame faster than the reference clocked GTX680.
Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as Biohazard 5, is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Windows version of the game was released on September 15, 2009 in North America, September 17 in Japan and September 18 in Europe. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
Within its first three weeks of release, the game sold over 2 million units worldwide and became the best-selling game of the franchise in the United Kingdom. As of December, 2009, Resident Evil 5 has sold 5.3 million copies worldwide since launch, becoming the best selling Resident Evil game ever made.
This was a favourite for AMD hardware until recently. The overclocked GTX680 and GTX670 have claimed both positions at the top of the chart, above the HD6990.
Far Cry 2 (commonly abbreviated as “FC2 or “fc2″) is an open-ended first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 21, 2008 in North America and on October 23, 2008 in Europe and Australia. It was made available on Steam on October 22, 2008. Crytek, the developers of the original game, were not involved in the development of Far Cry 2.
Ubisoft has marketed Far Cry 2 as the true sequel to Far Cry, though the sequel has very few noticeable similarities to the original game. Instead, it features completely new characters and setting, as well as a new style of gameplay that allows the player greater freedom to explore different African landscapes such as deserts, jungles, and savannas. The game takes place in a modern-day East African nation in a state of anarchy and civil war. The player takes control of a mercenary on a lengthy journey to locate and assassinate “The Jackal,” a notorious arms dealer.
Far Cry 2 is still a popular game and the open world environment can be taxing on even the latest hardware available today.
Settings: 1920×1200, D3D10, Disable Artificial Intelligence(No), Full Screen, Anti-Aliasing(8x), VSync(No), Overall Quality(Ultra High), Vegetation(Very High), Shading(Ultra High), Terrain(Ultra High), Geometry(Ultra High), Post FX(High), Texture(Ultra High), Shadow(Ultra High), Ambient(High), Hdr(Yes), Bloom(Yes), Fire(Very High), Physics(Very High), RealTrees(Very High).
Again, the Asus GTX670 Direct CU II TOP manages to outperform the reference clocked GTX680, by 3 frames per second with this engine.
Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Ōnin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan. The standard edition of the game will feature a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.
The Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP slots in right below the KFA2 Geforce GTX680 EX OC, averaging 158 frames per second at 720p and 65 frames per second at 1080p. Great, smooth in game results.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Skyrim‘s main story revolves around the player character’s efforts to defeat Alduin, a Dragon god who is prophesized to destroy the world. Set two hundred years after Oblivion, the game takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim, upon the continent of Tamriel, and the planet of Nirn. The open world gameplay of the Elder Scrolls series returns in Skyrim; the player can explore the land at will and ignore or postpone the main quest indefinitely. Skyrim has received universal acclaim from critics, selling more than 3.5 million copies within the first 48 hours of release.
No problems powering Skyrim at 2560×1600, averaging 66 frames per second. The game was perfectly smooth at all times.
According to EA, Battlefield 3 garnered 3 million pre-orders by the day of its release. It is unknown at present whether these figures are worldwide or just for the US. The pre-order total makes it “the biggest first-person shooter launch in EA history”, according to the publisher. The engine is beautiful on the PC and very demanding of the partnering hardware.
One of our favourite first person shooters in recent years. Battlefield 3 runs fantastically on the high end Nvidia hardware. The overclocked Asus GTX670 Direct CU II TOP averages 93 frames per second at these high settings, maintaining a frame rate over 60 at all times.
The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 27c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.
Idle temperatures were measured after sitting at the desktop for 30 minutes. Load measurements were acquired by playing Crysis Warhead for 30 minutes and measuring the peak temperature. We also have included Furmark results, recording maximum temperatures throughout a 30 minute stress test. All fan settings were left on automatic.
The cooler is a great performer, averaging around 63-66c when gaming. Under Furmark load this rises by around 8c. Still good results.
We have changed our method of measuring noise levels. We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. We are using a heatpipe based passive power supply and an Intel SSD to keep noise levels to a minimum. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests.
Ambient noise in the room is around 20-25dBa. We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the closed chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation.
Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA - Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA - High Quality Computer fan
40dBA - A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA - Normal Conversation
60dBA - Laughter
70dBA - Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA - City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA - Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA - MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA - Orchestra
120dBA - Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA - Threshold of Pain
140dBA - Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA - Instant Perforation of eardrum
The card is relatively quiet, especially when considering the performance available. There is a minor level of noise when gaming, and the fan spins down low when idle. When watching a bluray movie for instance, you would be hard pressed to hear the fan at all.
To test power consumption today we are using a Keithley Integra unit and we measure power consumption from the VGA card inputs, not the system wide drain. We measure results while gaming in Crysis Warhead and record the results.
In such an energy aware climate, AMD are making a big deal out of their new ‘ZeroCore Power’ technology. Many solutions today use power gating, clock gating and memory compression to reduce idle power requirements, but ZeroCore power technology can completely power down the core GPU while the rest of the system remains active.
The card is surprisingly efficient demanding between 140 and 155 watts when gaming. We managed to peak at 180 watts running Furmark. These really are remarkable results for Asus.
To overclock today we are using MSI Afterburner.
There wasn’t much headroom left on the core although we managed to push the GDDR5 memory to 1806mhz (7224mhz effective), which is a whopping 20 percent increase. This begs the question, why didn’t ASUS supply the memory with a modest overclock? Even 1650mhz would clearly be safe enough.
The Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP is one of the greatest video cards we have ever tested. At the ‘out of the box’ settings it isfaster than the reference clocked GTX680, which we already know, is no slouch.
The GTX680 is a phenomenal performer so I was surprised to see that the overclocked ASUS GTX670 managed to beat it in all our benchmarks by a minor, but noticeable level.
The card is built around a custom PCB design and power efficiency and stability is first class. We pushed this card hard during our benchmarking phase and it delivered some incredible frame rates.
Performance is not the only area that needs a mention. The Direct CU II cooler maintains a 66c threshold when gaming, even more remarkable when we factor in that the fans are producing very little in the way of noise emissions.
The out of the box overclock speeds help enhance performance and we managed to squeeze 5 percent extra from the core, before instability would occur. Asus have configured this close to the limit, but left enough tolerance for minor core variances from card to card.
The GDDR5 memory could be pushed much higher on our sample, from 1,500mhz to over 1,800mhz. We aren’t quite sure why ASUS didn’t overclock to around 1,650mhz, offering enhanced performance but leaving plenty of headroom for stability.
There are two versions of the Asus GTX670 Direct CU II. One is supplied at standard clocks for £369.95 inc vat. The TOP version we reviewed has a £30 price premium, retailing for £399.95 inc vat. Both are fantastic options for a hardcore gamer.
How does this compare to the GTX680? Well the reference GTX680 is slower than the Asus Geforce GTX670 Direct CU II TOP, retailing for around £480 inc vat. So, for £80 less, you actually end up with a quieter, faster card.
It seems like a no brainer to us.
Pros:
  • faster than GTX680
  • cheaper than GTX680
  • quieter than GTX680
  • memory overclocks like crazy.
  • multiple screen support
Cons:
  • memory isn’t overclocked.
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