First up, we’ve got a couple of GeForce GTX 680 cards to show you, the EVGA GeForce GTX 680 SC (Super Clocked) Edition and the gargantuan Asus GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP.
Physically, the EVGA GeForce GTX 680 SC is essentially identical to NVIDIA’s reference design. The cards use the same PCB and dual-slot cooler, and have the same output configuration. EVGA, however, has incorporated a few customizations. The EVGA GeForce GTX 680 SC sports a custom backplate to add rigidity and enhance cooling performance, it sports some custom decals on its fan shroud, and its GPU and memory clocks have been goosed a bit. Whereas stock GeForce GTX 680 cards have base / boost GPU clocks of 1006MHz and 1058MHz, the EVGA GeForce GTX 680 SC has base / boost GPU clocks of 1058MHz and 1124MHz. EVGA’s card also has higher clocked memory, 1552MHz (6208MHz effective) versus 1502MHz (6008MHz effective).
Other than its clocks, the EVGA GeForce GTX 680 SC’s features and specifications are similar to the reference design. This particular card has 2GB of GDDR5 RAM (4GB versions are also available or coming) and its outputs consist of the same dual DVI connectors, and HDMI and DP connectors. The EVGA GeForce GTX 680 SC only requires two 6-pin supplemental power connectors as well.
EVGA’s bundle with the GeForce GTX 680 SC includes a couple of cool “Enthusiast Built” stickers, a large EVGA Gaming poster, a quick installation guide and a driver / utility disc, which includes a copy of EVGA’s excellent Precision X overclocking / monitoring utility. In addition, a couple of dual-peripheral to 6-pin power adapters and a DVI to VGA adapters are included.
Here we have the big-boy of the group, Asus’ GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP. The Asus GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP is a custom card through and through. It features a unique PCB design, with a beefed up digital / programmable VRM, and a massive triple-slot / dual-fan cooling solution equipped with a dust-proof fan design. The fans used in the cooler have additional ridges in the bearing design, which prevent dust from entering.
The custom VRM on the Asus GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP is designed to provide more stable power than reference solutions under load and the card also sports Asus' VGA Hotwire feature. VGA Hotwire works with Asus' Extreme Series motherboards and allows for voltage control through the motherboard's UEFI. The Asus GeForce GTX 680 Direct CU II also features Asus’ “Super Alloy Power” technology. According to Asus, the Super Alloy components on the card are reinforced with special alloy formula and manufactured under high temperature and pressure to provide more stable power and noise-free operation. The super allow caps on the card will reportedly last much longer than standard capacitors too.
The large cooler on the card, which has multiple copper heat-pipes and myriad aluminum fins, is designed to more efficiently and more quietly cool the card’s GPU and memory. The result is a gigantic, triple-slot GeForce GTX 680 that’s clocked higher than any other we tested, but is also relatively quiet and cooling, and quiet overclockable.
The Asus GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP’s base and boost GPU clocks are the highest of the bunch, at 1137MHz and 1202MHz, respectively. Although, the card’s memory frequency is the same as reference models—1502MHz (6008MHz effective). Asus also saw fit to incorporate 8-pin and 6-pin power connectors n the card, to provide more juice when necessary.
Included with our particular card was a basic manual and a driver / utility disc, but cards in full retail trim should also include some adapters and additional goodies. We should mention that Asus includes their GPU Tweak utility with the GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP, for easy hardware monitoring and overclocking.