ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC Video Card Review

Today we are taking a look at the high end of ASUS' offerings featuring the Radeon R9 380 GPU in the form of the ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB. We will pit it against the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 4G to see which card can be crowned king of the hill in the low $200 price range.

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Overclocking the ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC

Throughout this evaluation we will be using our highest stable overclock after voltage tweaking as a third video card in the evaluation, in order to express the full potential and amount of performance that the ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC Video Card has in store.

Please remember that every video card is different and the overclocks we achieve here are not necessarily what you will be able to achieve.

To overclock the ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC, we used ASUS’s GPU Tweak II.


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The first screenshot of GPU-z is the out-of-box ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC at its stock speeds and the second screenshot is of GPU Tweak at stock speeds.

A reference Radeon R9 380 has a base GPU clock of up to 970MHz and a memory frequency of 5.7GHz. The ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC ships at a factory overclocked speed of 990MHz on the GPU. There are a total of three modes that the card can operate in: Silent Mode, Gaming Mode and OC mode. Gaming mode is the speed configured for the card and is the level of performance you will receive if you do not install ASUS GPU Tweak II. Upon installing ASUS GPU Tweak II, you will be allowed to select Silent Mode (which bumps the clock speeds down to stock R9 380 levels) or OC Mode which boosts the GPU clock to 1010MHz and memory clock to an effective 5.72GHz. Below is a screenshot of OC mode enabled via GPU Tweak II.

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For our overclocking efforts we began by increasing the power limit to the maximum allowed level of 120%, and began increasing the GPU clock to see how high we could push it. While we were climbing close to 1100MHz, we had to add a bit more voltage to the equation in order to keep the clock speed climbing. We were able to stabilize at 1160MHz with the voltage maxed all the way out, however, we noticed that we were being held back by the total board power resulting in throttling which caused us to settle at 1150MHz with a little less voltage. At that point, we moved on to increasing the memory frequency. It was receptive to running faster than stock, and we were able to push it up to 1550MHz (6.2GHz effective) and maintain our solid gaming experience.

The final overclock of the ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC achieved a GPU clock increase of 160MHz over stock clocks and a memory increase of 500MHz GDDR5 effective rate.

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With the increased power limit and voltage, the card drew 74 more watts of power from the wall and generated some more heat, however, the DirectCU II cooling solution did a great job of maintaining the GPU temperature at 74 degrees Centigrade at a 39% fan level. Unfortunately, that fan level was not adequate enough to cool the PWMs, thus, we performed our testing at a manually set 60% fan level which resulted in a much cooler GPU temperature of 61 degrees Centigrade.

Below is a screenshot of ASUS’ GPU Tweak II and GPUz after achieving our maximum stable overclock, which will be used as the operating frequency through the rest of the evaluation as a third video card.

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