Date: Wednesday, June 11, 2014
We are always looking for unique, custom video cards that push the limits of innovation and engineering and offer gamer's something new and different. The video card we have evaluated for you today definitely fits in that category. It is a video card configuration that doesn't natively exist, until ASUS engineered it. It is a complete custom design based around an NVIDIA GPU.
NVIDIA does not offer this configuration, it is not part of the standard specifications for this GPU. This is ASUS bringing gamers something unique, customized and quite appealing to gamers wishing to have the best gameplay experience.
ASUS is introducing the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC Edition 6GB DirectCU II video card. The modifiers in the naming scheme may be plenty, but we will break it down for you.
ASUS is introducing a new line of video card, it is calling STRIX. In fact, right now it consists of two video cards, an AMD R9 280 GPU based STRIX and a NVIDIA GTX 780 based STRIX of which we are evaluating today. More models could follow in the future.
The ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card will have an MSRP of $579. This puts it about $100 above standard GeForce GTX 780's with 3GB of RAM.
What is STRIX?
STRIX is simply a new branding by ASUS and for video cards it will describe video cards that have its new 0dB "silent" fan technology. The video cards are engineered to run silent on idle and at small load capacities. The fans do not spin up until the GPU reaches 65c. That means, at idle, and in low load situations that are not taxing the GPU much the fans are turned off; these do not spin at all. This means that under 65c, the STRIX video cards are passively cooled only with the DirectCU II heatsink. Light gaming, or web based gaming, or movie watching, the solution should run silent.
Once the temperature of the GPU exceeds 65c the fans turn on. However, these spin up slowly, with the lowest RPM level at only 300 RPM. The fans will ramp up beyond that in direct relation to any increasing temperature. Because the fans gradually ramp up, and start off slow, the fans do not become an annoyance to the gamer since the ramping up in RPM is not perceived.
ASUS notes ambient temperature around the video cards definitely affects the effectiveness of this technology. If you have a very cool environment, with very well configured case cooling, the GPUs won't hit 65c as fast, and the fans won't need to spin as fast. If though you are in a hot region, or have inadequate case cooling the fans will kick in sooner and may ramp up faster as needed to keep the GPU cool enough.
Beyond cooling, the STRIX GTX 780 model has an added advantage of being equipped with double the VRAM of standard GTX 780 video cards. The ASUS STRIX GTX 780 has 6GB of VRAM on board for a truly large amount of RAM capacity for next generation games and gaming in SLI at 4K and NV Surround.
We probably won't see these advantages on a single display, except for in the new game Watch Dogs. However, we should see the advantages come into play when we test SLI at 4K and NV Surround resolutions in following STRIX reviews. We will be doing a full evaluation of ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB SLI in the future with 4K and NV Surround tested, so stay tuned.
Both current ASUS STRIX line of video cards use a 10-phase Super Alloy Power configuration. A reference GeForce GTX 780 has a 6 phase with analog IC GPU PWM design. The ASU STRIX GTX 780 uses an 8 phase with digital IC GPU PWM design. Both use two phase for the memory configuration. ASUS DIGI+ VRM is in use for digital voltage regulation for precision overclocking abilities. POSCAPs are used and capacitor buzzing is eliminated using concrete alloy chokes. These enhancements allow for 30% higher voltage threshold and reduce power noise by 30% and increases efficiency by 15%.
ASUS is using its DirectCU II thermal design which includes 10mm direct-contact copper heatpipes and an improved dissipation area. The dissipation area is more than 2x that of the reference GTX 780. This means the heatsink is bigger than the overall PCB and will extend upwards, beyond the edges as we will show below. A backplate is also used which adds PCB protection and passive cooling.
The ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB is based on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 GPU, not the faster GeForce GTX 780 Ti. That means our STRIX card has 2,304 CUDA cores, 192 texture units, 48 ROPs and a 384-bit memory bus.
The ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB is an "OC Edition" model. It comes with a factory overclock out of the box. Reference GeForce GTX 780 calls for a specification of a 863MHz base clock and a 900MHz boost clock. In our testing, using our reference GeForce GTX 780 this translated into a real-world frequency of 1006MHz while gaming.
The ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB is clocked at 889MHz base clock and 941MHz boost clock. In our testing this translated into a real-world frequency of 1058MHz while gaming. That means it was 52MHz faster than the reference video card.
Making this video card very unique is that it has 6GB of GDDR5 memory on board versus 3GB on standard GeForce GTX 780 video cards. The memory runs at 6GHz on a 384-bit memory bus, which is the same speed as reference GTX 780.
There is a dual-link DVI-I and dual-link DVI-D port on board with HDMI and DisplayPort. This video card does support SLI. In fact, ASUS had to add extra PCB material to keep the SLI connectors above the added area of the heatsink.
The video card measures 11.3" x 5.8" x 1.7."
On the front of the box you will note the 6GB GDDR5 Memory label, 0dB Fan Silent Gaming label, DIGI+ VRM and GPU Tweak. The new ASUS STRIX logo has a menacing owl like eyes and brow. This makes sense because "Strix" is a genus of owls....without "ears." Yes, we see what you did there ASUS.
In the pictures above you can see how high the heatsink rises above the PCB itself. You will want to make sure you have plenty of room between the card and the side panel of your case. Due to the heatsink surface area being so large, ASUS had to reposition the SLI connectors. Two of these video cards together will share the same SLI height for the bridge. However, if you try to SLI this video card with a different card, the height will be different, you will want a long flexible bridge connector.
ASUS is one of the only manufacturers that pays attention to the orientation of the power connectors. ASUS has rightly turned the power connectors around so that the clips are on the outside. This makes it easy to connect and disconnect the power cables from the video card without having to bend the heatsink to squeeze a finger in there to release the PCIe power connector. This has been a big problem on other video cards, but ASUS has specifically paid attention to this detail. There are also LEDs on the back of the connectors that light up white if power is connected correctly, or red if it is not.
On the next page you will find the entire press presentation posted for your detailed reading pleasure.