ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC Video Card Review

Author:David Schroth

Editor:Brent Justice

Date: Monday , January 18, 2016

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.


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.

On our test bench today is the ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB video card.

Radeon R9 380

The Radeon R9 380 was launched on June 18th, 2015 and represented a rebranding of the first Tonga based GPU, the R9 285. Our first review of a 380 card was the XFX R9 380 Double Dissipation 4GB where you will see our take on the overall performance and positioning of the GPU.

At a high level, the R9 380 is packing either 2GB or 4GB of GDDR 5 memory depending on the price point that the manufacturer is targeting. That memory is also running at an effective 5.5 GHz clock for the 2GB versions and an effective 5.7GHz clock for the 4GB versions providing either 176GB/sec to 182.4GB/sec over a 256-bit bus. The GPU clocks in at up to 970Mhz.


ASUS currently offers four cards sporting the R9 380 GPU. It offers a stock model with 2GB and 4GB of GDDR5 memory as well as a factory overclocked model sporting either 2GB or 4GB of GDDR5 memory. Our review bench today is hosting the most powerful variant, the factory overclocked model sporting 4GB of GDDR5 memory.

The ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB comes equipped with a GPU clock of up to 990MHz and features ASUS’s DirectCU II cooling system. As we’ve mentioned in prior evaluations, the DirectCU II cooling system varies from card to card and is more of a brand name for a cooling solution than it is a specific GPU cooler. The DirectCU II cooling solution for the ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB utilizes three heat pipes and two fans. Looking more closely at the cooling solution, it only touches the GPU and does not make contact with the memory or power regulation components.

The card is also equipped with a backplate that gives it the heft that is typically reserved for cards that carry a price tag that’s two to three times higher. ASUS has also equipped the card with "8-phase super allow power II" which claims to use aerospace-grade power components for "unsurpassed quality and reliability" as well as "Wing-blade 0db fan technology." As a member of the STRIX family, the fans will stay off until the GPU reaches a pre-set threshold, and in the case of the R9 380, that is about 65 degrees Centigrade.

ASUS has also mimicked MSI’s GAMING series functionality with this card by offering three separate modes that can be activated through the GPU Tweak II application. The three selections are "OC Mode," "Gaming Mode," and "Silent Mode." If you plug in the card and start gaming without touching anything, it defaults to the "Gaming Mode" profile, which sports an up to 990MHz GPU clock (which is a 20MHz increase over the stock R9 380 GPU) and an effective 5.7GHz GDDR5 clock for memory (which matches the stock R9 380GPU).

If you install GPU Tweak II and select "OC Mode," it further boosts the clocks to up to 1010MHz for the GPU and an effective 5.72GHz GDDR5 rate. It is sporting one DVI-D, one DVI-I, one HDMI v1.4a and one DisplayPort connector.

The ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB comes with a 3 year factory warranty and is currently available in etail for $229.99 before a $20 mail in rebate.

ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB Images

The ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB is packaged in a black box that features a humanoid shaped creature wearing full body armor that has a head that resembles an owl that’s often captioned with "O RLY?". The box also mentions that the card operates 20% cooler, offers 0dB gaming and that it is part of the "best-selling and most award-winning graphics card brand". The back of the box highlights the features of ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB video card, the DirectCU II cooling system, the 0dB fan functionality, Auto-extreme technology with Super Alloy Power II and GPU Tweak II.

The front of the ASUS STRIX R9 380 DirectCU II OC 4GB features a black metallic fan shroud that serves to house the fan and direct airflow away from the GPU. The cooling solution utilizes three curved heat pipes to pull heat way from the GPU to where it can be cooled by the two fans. The PCI-e power connector is located on the back corner of the card and has been rotated 180 degrees from the typical orientation, allowing for an easy release of the cable.

On the I/O panel there are four ports. These include one DP port, one DVI-D port, one DVI-I port and one HDMI connector. The power connector is on top of the video card and requires a single 8-pin PCI-e power connection. The video card’s measurements are 10.5 inches in Length, 1.5 inches Wide, and 5.5 inches in height.