ASUS EAH6870 DirectCU Video Card Review

ASUS debuts a customized Radeon HD 6870 in its DirectCU line of video cards. The EAH6870 DirectCU has a custom cooling solution, enhanced power circuitry, and a GPU frequency boost. We put it to the test against a reference Radeon HD 6870 and a GeForce GTX 470.


ASUSTeK Computer Inc. is one of the largest and most successful computer hardware manufacturers in the world. A Taiwan-based company, they manufacture a wide variety of computer hardware, including motherboards, video cards, optical drives, notebooks, networking equipment, barebones desktop, and server systems, among many others. In 2008, they sold over 24 million motherboards, grossed 8.1 billion U.S., and won 3,056 awards from various enthusiasts and IT related outlets.

Today we are going to be taking a look at ASUS’s premium Radeon HD 6870 GPU based video card the: ASUS EAH6870 DirectCU.

- 915MHz Factory Overclocked edition

- Super Alloy Power technology delivers 15% performance increase, 2.5 times longer lifespan and 35C cooler operation

- 20%* Cooler with exclusive DirectCU thermal solution

- Up to 50%* faster clock speed with exclusive Voltage Tweak

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AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series

On October 21, 2010 AMD released a new generation of video cards for the midrange market. The two new video cards, the Radeon HD 6870 and 6850, are based upon an evolved version of the 5800 series. With this architecture, AMD has managed to improve performance while reducing transistor count and die size. All of this together means more performance with less heat and power.

The AMD Radeon HD 6850 is a little less powerful than the Radeon HD 6870 but at a targeted price of $179, it is also $60 less. The Radeon HD 6850 has a compute power of 1.5 (vs. 2.0 on the 6870) TFLOPs with a core clock speed of 775MHz (vs. 900MHz on the 6870) and 960 (vs. 1120 on the 6870) Stream Processors. They both have 32 ROPs and 1GB of GDDR5. The Radeon HD 6870 however has its memory clocked at 4.2GHz vs. 4GHz for the Radeon HD 6850.

ASUS EAH6870 DirectCU

The EAH6870 DirectCU is ASUS’s top of the line Radeon HD 6870 which caters to the overclocking crowd. Along with its brother the EAH6870, the EAH6870 DirectCU uses ASUS’s Voltage Tweak technology to allow the user to adjust the Vcore from inside of ASUS’s SmartDoctor utility. They both also share a slight boost to the GPU frequency (915MHz vs. reference 900MHz) but both use the reference memory frequency of 4.2GHz. The DirectCU model also has a unique cooling solution with 8mm heat-pipes and what ASUS is calling their Super Alloy Power. The Super Alloy Power technology basically means the use of higher quality capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs along with ASUS’s super hybrid engine. Altogether this should mean a better overclocking experience to the end user. Though we will have see how well it performs in our overclock, temperature, and power testing to find out if it is worth it at 219.99 after mail-in-rebate.

Box Shots

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The front of the box follows the standard practice of showing an avatar that has nothing to do with the video card. We are however happy to see that ASUS has put the GPU frequency right on front of the box for the consumer to see, even if we are disappointed in the lackluster 1.66% boosted GPU frequency that it represents. The other key thing on the front to note is the Voltage Tweak logo which is always a welcomed site for those us trying to get the highest overclock possible.

The back of the box goes over the standard rhetoric of "Powerful Features" along the top however below that are a few more interesting things worth mentioning. First on the left most side is a picture of the top of the video card and the bottom of the cooling solution along the accompanying marketing. A glimpse of the video card on the box is always appreciated though we wished it was a little bigger. The next picture goes over the Super Alloy Power technology and shows a close up shot of the video card’s power system along with each "Super Alloy" component labeled.

The Video Card Pictures

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The EAH6870 DirectCU follows the same theme as all other video cards in ASUS’s DirectCU line. It has a black plastic shroud with four red, for AMD, racing stripes. Underneath that is an aluminum heatsink. This is connected to three 8mm copper heat-pipes that directly touch the GPU. There are two issues we see. First the lack of a shroud leading to the half sized PCI slot vent means almost all of the heat will be dumped inside of your case. Second there are no heatsinks or even a heat spread on the memory chips.

The ASUS EAH6870 DerectCU is an extreme 11" long, 1.25" longer than reference, so make sure your case as enough room for it. The front of the video card has two DisplyPorts along with two DVI ports. The tail end of the video card has the two six-pin auxiliary connectors pointed straight up so as not to take any more space than it already does.

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The back of the EAH6870 DirectCU is covered with a large heatspread which provides some extra cooling. It comes with a Speed Setup Guide, a Driver and Manual CD, a DVI to D-Sub adapter, a DVI to HDMI adapter, two 2 4-pin to 6-pin power adapter, and a crossfire bridge.