Asus DirectCU NVIDIA and AMD Graphics Round-Up

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Is there anything sexy about PC components? For about 99% of the population, the answer is probably no. But since you're reading this, chances are that you've fallen in love with the design of a component at least once. Maybe the draw was strong enough to reel you into the world of enthusiast computing, where the skill of overclocking is revered, cable management is a compulsion, and upgraded cooling is not just an option, it's a necessity.


For sure, we've seen our fair share of hot deigns throughout the years, but few have spoken to our inner enthusiast quite like the DirectCU II product line from industry heavyweight, Asus. At first glance, you can tell these cards were spawned specifically for discriminating users who appreciate the finer details that make one product stand out from another. Aggressive design? Check. Black PCB? Yup. Red racing stripes? Yes they did. Triple slot cooler? Whoa.

Today, we're looking at five DirectCU graphics cards from Asus: the GTX 580, GTX 570, HD 6970, HD 6950, and HD 6870. They span the high-end and mid-range spectrum within the GPU market, with representatives from both NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon product lines. Of course, all come factory overclocked while sporting massive coolers with redesigned PCBs and enhanced components. If you're into enthusiast level hardware, especially graphics cards, you don't want to miss this article. Read on to find out what DirectCU is all about and if one of these cards has what it takes to be your next upgrade...

Asus DirectCU Graphics Card Round-up
Bigger, Cooler, Faster

Asus DirectCU II GTX 580
782 MHz Core / 1002 MHz Memory
Asus DirectCU II GTX 570
742 MHz Core / 950 MHz Memory
Asus DirectCU II HD 6970
890 MHz Core / 1375 MHz Memory

Asus DirectCU II HD 6950
810 MHz Core / 1250 MHz Memory 
Asus DirectCU HD 6870
915 MHz Core / 1050 MHz Memory 
                 * Current street pricing

Dig the look of these cards? Well, we bet you'll like their price tags even more. Generally speaking, overclocked models of video cards, or any PC component, usually command significantly higher prices due to their improved features and performance. But here, Asus has bucked that trend and set their entire DirectCU line at or close to the cost of stock cards. For example, re-badged reference design GTX 580s go for $499 online. The Asus DirectCU II GTX 580 also sells for the same price, but includes several enhanced features including higher clock speeds and and upgraded cooling solution. Let's take a closer look at these features and how well they perform in various benchmarks.

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ThunderBird 3 years ago

Nice review Marco!!!!

rapid1 3 years ago

That GTX 580 is huge and 115 more than a 6970. I have really been thinking about grabbing an Nvidia Physx card lately. Of course that would require me to get a new motherboard as well because my main GPU is an AMD card. Of course the cards I am looking at are not listed here either as they are lower price units which will or would be running Physx only as well as other GPU processing tasks.

omegadraco 3 years ago

Nice overview of ASUS GPU products. What is really interesting is that the 6970 is the fastest card on the market and costs significantly less than the GTX 580

Drake_McNasty 3 years ago

Good review Mathew or Marco, not really sure which one did it, I like the in depth review of one product line. I think you should do the same with MSI's Frozr III lineup coming out, I'd like to see how it stacks up against the DirectCU.

marco c 3 years ago

Mat wrote it, I just posted the notification in the news...

@Omegaraco - What makes you say the 6970 is the fastest? The GTX 580 outpaces the 6970 across the board.

omegadraco 3 years ago

Bah... confusing it with the 6990 makes sense now why its cheaper.

AKwyn 3 years ago

Man, I'm wondering how you guys manage to get 1GHz constantly on 580 cards when overclocking them for reviews.

SammyHayabuza 3 years ago

Props to Mathew for the review. I see you updated the graph system (From Top Performance to lower performance ) ..about time.

This review already confirms my love for the Direct CU II , especially the 580.  I don't mind that its triple slot, the cooling performance is awesome, the extra voltage protection and dust protection is great and it cost less than the reference models.  Another great thing is that Adobe Premiere pro 5.5 officially supports the 580 and the 570...Freaking great news for me, cause I'm saving up for the either one of these Asus Nvidia cards.  I still got the 6870, which is great and a Zotac GTS 450 AMP is on the way to hold on until I get one of these.

I like to point out that an important factor was left out , Noise levels. both @stock and full load. Also, it will be great when the MSI GTX 580 Lighting with the Twin Frozr III arrives for a review and gets compared to the Asus Direct CU II GTX 580. 

SammyHayabuza 3 years ago

[quote user="SammyHayabuza"]Props to Mathew for the review. I see you updated the graph system (From Top Performance to lower performance ) ..about time.[/quote]

Whoops...My badd, Mathew..I was looking @ the Overclocked NVIDIA GTX 580 Round Up Articles for some comparisons, and I noticed  that, actually , your graphs are in order, its Marco's Graphs that are messy ..LOL..

marco c 3 years ago

@Sammy - Thanks for the kind words...geez. I like to have the featured product in a review at the top of the graph at all times, with the rest separated by brand in descending order. It's not complicated. Well, maybe for some people it is, I guess.

SammyHayabuza 3 years ago

LOL..Sorry Bud

But Mathew's graphs are easier on the eyes and less "complicated".

lifeskills 3 years ago

Brian from ASUS demo'd the 580 direct CU at the last PDXLAN. What an enormous card. Thats interesting with Adobe officially supporting these cards with 5.5, however, if you only have cs5 you can always do the cuda hack. Just google Premiere Cuda hack.

SammyHayabuza 3 years ago

[quote user="lifeskills"]Thats interesting with Adobe officially supporting these cards with 5.5, however, if you only have cs5 you can always do the cuda hack. Just google Premiere Cuda hack.[/quote]

Yeah!! A friend of mine who has a GTX 460, has it enabled in his PC using the hack. He gets things done quicker and he's able to be more productive thanks to Premiere Pro CS5 and the Mercury Playback engine. His Q9650 is good , but was unable to keep up once you put in a couple of video tracks, effects and color correction on Vegas Pro, but he now he's flying high in PP.The Rendering time has been dropped dramatically.


lifeskills 3 years ago

Good to know.  Have not been able to try it yet myself, as I'm on cs4, but its awesome that there are workarounds to avoid paying Adobe's premiums.

inspector 3 years ago

Nice round up, it was a nice long read :D.

Nvidia FTW? :D

AKwyn 3 years ago

[quote user="Inspector"]Nvidia FTW? :D[/quote]

Well they do have the best overclockibility. I mean with 1GHz you can really feel the power of this thing.

Anyways, Sammy is right. You should include Noise Levels in future reviews. Even if it's the same as other review sites, we want to know how loud it is.

gdhart 3 years ago

Great job on the article. The improved cooling on these cards makes it worth losing the 3rd slot.

LBowen 3 years ago

Good lord that graphics card is huge on that motherboard. Makes me wonder how SLI would do with these cards.

rrplay 3 years ago

A Very nice review a lot of work and effort goes into one like this and it shows so thanks

I was a bit surprised about how effective the twin fan cooler is under load .especially that the GTX 580 having the lowest temps. really did not expect to be with the noticeably higher power draw.What's also great is the the advanced cooling features quality heatsink and sealed fan bearings ..small details yielding some big dividends in OC headroom and coolness.I suppose a fan noise issue would vary from different chassis to be noticeable & simple to find an appropriate fan profile in a short amount of time if desired.

Taking up an extra slot would be a reasonable compromise for the performance at hand.

ERegalado 3 years ago

I'm curious how you hit those OC speeds with SmartDoctor, as from what I've seen and experienced (also confirmed by other sources), the bios and utility are capped at 1.1v. The most I could squeeze out of my 570 at that voltage was 900mhz core and 4100mhz memory. If you used a modded bios, please mention that, if not, then those are extremely impressive numbers at that voltage.

everdark44 3 years ago

This is definitely a beautiful card well done on the 1ghz overclock have you looked at the 570 TF III I would like to see how it compares to the Direct CU II

ruzveh 3 years ago

Wow... its awesome to see the results specially in temperature department. It would be nice to compare the card with their original models to see how well they perform. Anwyays its also nice to see dust filter on them as they will keep my PC clean and running :)

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