ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DirectCU II Video Card Review

Today we examine ASUS' take on the GeForce GTX 970 video card. We have the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DirectCU II OC video card today, and will break down its next-gen performance against an AMD Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X. This video card features 0dB fans, and many factors that improve its chance of extreme overclocking.

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.

On our test bench today is the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DirectCU II OC (STRIX-GTX970-DC2OC-4GD5) video card.

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In today's evaluation we are looking at one of the new GeForce GTX 970 video cards from NVIDIA. This is NVIDIA's next generation Maxwell architecture, which has an MSRP of $329.

The GeForce GTX 970 is designed for 1600p gaming, and contains 1664 CUDA cores and 13 SM units. The memory consists of 4GB of 3GDDR5 modules, on a 256-bit bus that operates at 7GHz. The base clock a reference GTX 970 is 1050MHz and boost clock of 1178MHz. There are 64 ROPs on this video card, and 104 texture units. This video card has a TDP of 145W.

More specifically, we are examining the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DirectCU II OC video card. This is a custom version of the video card with improved cooling, factory overclock, a custom PCB and components. The ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC is currently available for $349 at Amazon. (Editor’s Note: This morning the price has changed a couple of times and it looks as if this card is going out of stock at other retailers.)

Since the MSRP of a GTX 970 is $329, a close competitor in price is a custom R9 290 video card. We have chosen to compare the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC with the ASUS R9 290 DirectCU II OC. This is available for $299 at Newegg before a $20 rebate card.

The price range of the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC has been fluctuating, and will most likely continue to do so over the next few months until it is more readily available. Because of this, we decided that it was a good idea to also compare it to an AMD Radeon R9 290X video card, operating at stock values. An R9 290X can be found for as cheap as $349 before rebate, with custom overclocked versions ranging between $360-$380.


ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC Video Card

Today we are evaluating the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC 4GB video card. This is the overclocked version, and wears the STRIX brand. The name is taken from the ancient Roman and Greek word for "owl." STRIX means the keenest hearing and sharpest eyesight. ASUS uses this metaphor to design its video card with killer instincts, to bring out the true hunter in us all.

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The ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC ships with a factory overclock of 75MHz on the boost clock. Its default boost clock is 1253MHz, compared to the reference speed of 1178MHz. There are 4GB of memory onboard and it runs at the default clock speed of 7GHz GDDR5. We plan to push this video cards overclock insanely high, using ASUS GPU Tweak. ASUS GPU Tweak is also configured with this video card, to allow direct and instant online streaming. This is a great utility to showcase your game to all of your friends.

In order to achieve a powerful overclock, heat cannot be a detrimental factor to the video card. The ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC is equipped with ASUS' DirectCU II cooling system, which includes 3 copper heat pipes directly contacting the GPU and transferring that heat along the heatsink. There are two, 0dB fans mounted on the video card, which only turn on when the GPU reaches 65c. This allows for true 0dB gaming while running low-intensity games. These fans kick on and operate approximately 3X cooler than the reference models fan once temperature reaches 65c.

This model also features the DIGI+ VRM from ASUS that applies a 6-phase power design to use digital voltage regulation. That ensures the video cards power lanes are operating as intended. It helps to reduce power noise by up to 30%, and enhances power efficiency by 15%. This helps improve stability and is crucial for achieving those sweet overclocks.

The ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC has a 3-year limited parts and labor warranty. You can read more about the ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC here.


ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC Pictures

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The ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC ships in a box that highlights all the above mentioned features. You can also see the STRIX is the primary art on the box. We only received a speed setup guide and driver installation CD as our accessory package.

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The ASUS GTX 970 STRIX DC II OC deviates from the standard look that ASUS was branding its video cards with during the GTX 700 series. The video card itself takes on the appearance of the STRIX, with the centers of the fans representing the eyes, and the top of the cover plate making up the eyebrow area. The entire housing and back plate are made of aluminum that is durable and ensures the board components remain safe.

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The rear I/O panel houses a dual-link DVI-I connector, a single-link DVI-D connector, a DisplayPort connector, and an HDMI connector. ASUS recommends only a 500 watt power supply to run this video card properly, and it requires a single 8-pin PCIe power connector. It measures 11 and 1/8th inches in length, 1 and 5/8th inches wide, and 5 and 1/8th inches in height.