ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DirectCU II TOP Video Card Review

ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DirectCU II TOP is on our test bench today, and we overclock it until it screams. We're see if this video card can match the performance of a Radeon HD 6950. Will the voltage tweaking provided by ASUS give it enough boost to make it worth the purchase? We will find out.

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, it 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 looking at one of ASUS’ DirectCU II series cards, the ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DirectCU II TOP.

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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti

On January 25th, 2011, NVIDIA launched the GeForce GTX 560 Ti video card. The "Ti" stands for "titanium," a strong and light metal often used in the aerospace industry. The GTX 560 Ti lands in NVIDIA's "sweet spot," which it say is the ~$250 USD video card market. The price of this card fluctuated a good amount as well in the couple of weeks that it took to author the review. The GPU features 384 CUDA cores clocked at 1644MHz divided into eight streaming multiprocessors, 64 texture units and 32 ROPs clocked at 822MHz configured as two graphics processing clusters. It has a 256-bit memory bus and comes equipped with 1024MB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 4008MHz. It boasts a maximum theoretical memory bandwidth of 128.3GB per second and a bilinear texture filter rate of 52.6 billion texels per second.

It was built on a 40nm process and features 1.95 billion transistors. This dual-slot video card requires the use of two 6-pin power connectors. It is designed to pull a maximum of 170 Watts of power for a thermal threshold of 100 degrees Celsius. It has two dual-link DVI-I connectors and one Mini-HDMI port standard.


ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DirectCUII TOP

The ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DirectCU II TOP consists of a factory overclocked NVIDIA GTX 560 Ti GPU. It has 1GB of GDDR5 memory. The GPU’s graphics core comes factory overclocked at 900MHz, a 78MHz increase compared to the stock NVIDIA GTX 560 Ti card’s speed of 822MHz. The memory comes overclocked at 1050MHz (or 4.2GHz DDR), a 48MHz increase over the reference card. The ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DirectCUII TOP will cost buyers $234.99 after a $10 instant rebate and a $20 mail in rebate. You can read more about the ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DCII TOP's specifications here.

ASUS brought its own innovations to the table and have re-engineering this card from the ground up. The ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DCII TOP sports ASUS' Super Alloy Power Technology. Included in this technology is the Super Hybrid Engine, which switches between high and low intensity power profiles in real time providing a 15% performance boost. The Super Alloy Chokes have a concrete core that helps keep the card cooler, but also reduces buzzing from normal operation. Last are the Super Ally Capacitors which have a 2.5X longer life span at 150,000 hours, than traditional capacitors which only have a 60,000 hour life.

Another of the ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DCII TOP video card's unique features is right in its name. The DirectCU II cooling system features three flattened pure copper heat pipes that directly contact the GPU core to effectively spread the heat. Over the GPU is a heat sink with the three copper heat pipes that lead to a second heat sink that's raised up off the board. Over each of the heat sinks are 80mm fans that are mounted on ASUS' custom fitted cooler, which they claim provides up to 600% greater airflow and 20% cooler operations that translates to an immediate performance gain.

What we're looking forward to the most though is ASUS' Voltage Tweak technology which promises to make increasing voltages easy and allowing up to 50% faster clock speeds. ASUS does warn that to reach this extraordinary mark "Extreme Cooling" would be needed.

ASUS is one of many companies of late which has adopted a 3 year limited parts and labor warranty for its customers. This is something we feel is most welcome, and are happy to see.

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One of the most noticeable things on the front of the box is "900MHz Overclocked." It is a bit misleading, as its only 78MHz overclocked, bringing its speed up to 900MHz. It also lists some of its other features such as being a GeForce series card, supporting NVIDIA's PhysX, and Microsoft's DirectX 11. The back of the box points out its three best features we talked about above, the DirectCU II cooling system, Super Alloy Power technology, and Voltage Tweak.

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Inside was a very sturdy box which contained the card and the rest of the packaging. After opening this box, there were two more boxes. The larger one on the left contained the driver installation disk and installation guide. The driver disk comes with the now outdated Forceware 266.44, Multi-Language manual, ASUS GamerOSD, and ASUS Smart Doctor. The smaller box on the right contained two 6-pin auxiliary to dual-Molex power adapters, a DVI to VGA adapter, and a mini-HDMI to HDMI gold plated adapter.

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ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DCII TOP was built on ASUS' familiar black PCB board. The custom built DirectCU II Cooling device is mounted on the front, with three red stripes running through the middle of the card. The cooling device as a whole was very sturdy and felt almost unbreakable and covers the majority of the card, but still has ample area to ventilate heat.

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On the top of the ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DCII TOP are two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors. There are two LEDs on the back of the card that show whether or not power is reaching the card. In the third picture above, with the system off, we slightly disconnected the left 6-pin PCIe power plug to show what the LED looks like without power, and left the right PCIe power plugged in correctly to show what the LED looks like with power. "Red" is no power, and "green" is powered. The end of the card has two DVI-I ports, and a mini-HDMI port. The dimensions of the ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DCII TOP are 9.75 inches in Length, 4.25 inches in Height, and 1.5 inches Wide.


The Competition

Newegg has the ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DCII TOP for $234.99 after rebates. Its primary competition near that price are other NVIDIA GeForce 560 Ti products, and AMD's Radeon HD 6950 series cards. The ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DCII TOP is currently tied, after rebates, with a few other cards for the lower price bracket on GeForce GTX 560 Ti's. A good 2GB Radeon HD 6950 goes for $244.99 USD after rebate. You can even find 1GB Radeon HD 6950's for as low as $209.99 after rebate! Therefore, the Radeon HD 6950 1GB is still less expensive, and 2GB HD 6950 video cards are right on the heels of this ASUS card. We've seen in previous evaluations that the Radeon HD 6950 beats a GTX 560 Ti in gameplay experience. With the prices in this evaluation being close and competitive, we're hoping to find something that makes this card worth the money over the rapidly dropping prices of its rival AMD cards. Perhaps with the chance for overclocking ability, we will.