ASUS EAH6950 & ENGTX570 DirectCU II Vid Card Review

ASUS has released two enthusiast friendly overclocking video cards: the EAH6950 DirectCU II and the ENGTX570 DirectCU II. The question is which one is better, and does overclocking these change the victor. We test each out of the box and overclocked in Lost Planet 2, F1 2010, Civilization V, and Battlefield Bad Company 2.

Introduction

ASUSTeK Computer Inc. is one of the largest and most successful computer hardware manufacturers in the world. A Taiwan-based company, it manufactures 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 offerings in the Radeon HD 6950 and GeForce GTX 570 categories: the ASUS EAH6950 DirectCU II and the ASUS ENGTX570 DirectCU II.

Speed up heat dissipation with 600% more airflow via exclusive DirectCU with dual fan design

Super Alloy Power technology delivers 15% Performance boost, 2.5 longer lifespan, 35C cooler operation

Crank up 50% faster clock speed with exclusive Voltage Tweak

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Comparing two custom Champions

Today we are going to directly compare two enthusiast grade video cards to each other and also compare the highest stable overclock both achieve to each other as well. Our first video card is the ASUS EAH6950 DirectCU II which is the less expensive of the two video cards at $324.99. The second video card is the ASUS ENGTX570 DirectCU II which can currently be had for $349.99. These are two video cards that are close in price range and make an excellent comparison.

Unfortunately, both only have 10MHz GPU boost compared to the stock clock speeds of each GPU, so out of the box they will be right around reference video card performance. However, they are crammed full of features that make them potential overclocking kings. With both being enhanced similarly it gives us the perfect opportunity to see which one truly comes out ahead even after we overclock them to the limit!

The ASUS EAH6950 DirectCU II and the ENGTX570 DirectCU II are both using ASUS’s new DirectCU II cooling solution which sports dual 100mm fans. Both of their power circuitry has been enhanced with what ASUS is calling "Super Alloy Power"; basically cooler running, longer lasting, and more stable power circuitry. Last but not least they are also both using ASUS’s Voltage Tweak technology which allows the enthusiast to crank up the voltage on the GPU from inside of Windows. Combing these three things can lead to a very potent combination which is why we will be testing out the box and overclocked settings in each game today.

With all that in mind we will move up the overclocking section to right after the Test Setup page. In each game page we will only be testing with two real video cards. However the third and fourth video cards on the tables and graphs will be the overclocked versions and be referred to as EAH6950 DirectCU II (Overclocked) and ENGTX570 DirectCU II (Overclocked). With such a minimal boost in GPU frequencies out of the box this will let us see how the reference video cards would perform and compare it with a highly overclocked video card. We will end it all with a head to head look at power consumption and temperatures.


ASUS EAH6950 DirectCU II

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The ASUS EAH6950 DirectCU II is a massive video card. It takes up 3 PCI slots and is just over 11.5" long. The cooling solution which makes up the bulk of the video card’s volume has two 100mm fans. The first 100mm fan is directly over the aluminum GPU heatsink. The second 100mm fan placement is a bit more interesting. Three copper heat-pipes come off of the base of the aluminum GPU heatsink and are attached to a floating aluminum heatsink hovering over the power circuitry. This cleverly allows the fan to not only provide additional cooling to the GPU but also direct airflow on the power circuitry. The downside to this complex, yet elegant cooling solution, is that the whole thing is only held on by four bolts around the GPU. This means we had to be extra careful when handling it as to not torque the monstrous cooling solution from the PCB.

With that huge cooling solution on it one would have expected ASUS to make use of it and increase the GPU frequency and memory frequency accordingly. Unfortunately ASUS has only bumped up the GPU frequency by 10MHz from a reference HD 6950 and left memory frequency alone. This gives us the disappointing frequencies of 810MHz on the GPU and 5GHz on the 2GB GDDR5 memory.

The upside is that it looks like ASUS has given us all the tools we need to get our own stellar overclock. Along with its cooling solution ASUS has also upgraded the power circuitry with what they are calling "Super Alloy Power." This means chokes run up to 35c cooler and operate noise free. It also means capacitors that have up to 2.5 times longer life spans and MOSFETs that have 30% higher voltage thresholds. ASUS has also added their Voltage Tweak technology to allow the user to adjust the Vcore from inside of ASUS’s SmartDoctor utility.

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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, in this case a mounted knight. We are however happy to see that ASUS has put the GPU frequency right on front of the box for the consumer to see. Though we find is deceptive to call it a "810MHz Overclock." Interestingly to note here is that ASUS has not put there Voltage Tweak logo on the front or the back of the box, it is on their website page for the EAH6950 DirectCU II though. They have seen it fit to include a DirectCU II, Super Alloy Power, and a 2GB GDDR5 logo.

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. In the left most two boxes are a the blown up DirectCU II and Super Alloy Power logos from the front along with short text underneath to explain the features. The third picture shows off AMD’s Eyefinity and the ability of this video card to use 6 monitors at once. The final picture goes over the ports of the video card and also very importantly shows how to switch one of the DVI ports into dual link mode and switch off one of the DisplayPort. Without this both DVI ports will be locked in single link mode and only output a resolution up to 1280x800.

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The ASUS EAH6950 DirectCU II has a black metal shroud with three red racing stripes running down it. The PCI cover haphazardly extends over the metal shroud to help fill a gap from where the metal shroud ends. This should help direct the air to the PCI cover vent to achieve proper air flow out the back of the case. It honestly though just looks ugly and sloppily done to us and we wish ASUS would have just extended the metal shroud to the PCI cover.

The front of the video card has four DisplyPort connections along with two DVI ports. Though as noted above if the second display port is in dual link mode the last DisplayPort is disabled. The tail end of the video card has the one six-pin and one eight-pin auxiliary connector pointed straight up so as not to take any more space than it already does. In the final shot above is a close-up of the DVI dual link switch that is right next to the crossfire connectors.

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The back of video card is left uncovered and you can see that only the four bolts around the GPU hold down the entire cooling solution. It comes with a Speed Setup Guide, a Driver and Manual CD, a DVI to HDMI adapter, two 2 4-pin to 6-pin power adapter, and a CrossFireX bridge.


ASUS ENGTX570 DirectCU II

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A quick glance over the ASUS ENGTX570 DirectCU II and it may appear to be the same cooling solution as the EAH6950 DirectCU II. A further inspection would note that the shrouds of each video card are even the same dimensions and have the same decoration. However what ASUS put under the shroud is different. The ENGTX570 DirectCU II uses five heat-pipes. Three of which again lead to a secondary heatsink that hovers on top of the power circuitry. The remaining two feedback up into the main GPU heatsink. The ENGTX570 DirectCU II is also .5" shorter at 11" but still takes up 3 PCI slots.

ASUS has also once again forgone any major boost in frequency. The GPU of the ENGTX570 DirectCU II is clocked at 742MHz (10MHz above reference) and the 1280MB of GDDR5 is at a reference frequency of 3.8GHz. It does however have ASUS’s "Super Alloy Power" and Voltage Tweak technology which should allow enthusiasts to max out the video cards potential themselves.

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The box the ASUS ENGTX570 DirectCU II is very similar to that of the EAH6950 DirectCU II except now the background color is green. The DirectCU II and the Super Alloy Power logos are again presents. The GPU frequency is shown and again titled as overclocked. The logo for the 1280MB of GDDR5 is also present. The back of the back is also similar except the Eyefinity panel has been switched out with a Voltage Tweak panel.

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Being .5" shorter has made a big improvement to the look of the ENGTX570 DirectCU II over that of the EAH6950 DirectCU II. The video card no longer looks like it was just thrown together with a too short heatsink shroud and a PCI cover extension. Though green racing stripes would have been better suited considering it is based on a NVIDIA GPU.

The front of the video card has a DisplayPort, a HDMI port, and two DVI ports. The tail end of the video card has the one eight-pin and one one six-pin auxiliary connector just as the EAH6950 DirectCU II did.

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The back of the video card is covered with a full video card heat spreader, through it only makes contact with a few of the power circuitry components. It comes with a Speed Setup Guide, a Driver and Manual CD, a DVI to D-Sub adapter, two 2 6-pin to 8-pin power adapter, and a SLI bridge.