ASUS has put outs its variation of the new GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost with the DirectCU II cooler and SAP components. Let’s see what exactly this model has to offer to make it worth your cash.[review_ad]
Introduction – ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II
ASUS as always has its own special way of doing things when it comes to GPUs and when we heard of the 650 Ti Boost model we knew it wouldn’t be long until we received one sporting the SAP components and DirectCU II cooling. From what we can tell ASUS did not put a TOP model card out for the 650 Ti Boost but then again it seems like they have tried to keep that shored up into the higher end models which leaves us with a standard model and a OC part.
The ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost models are presently available at Newegg as only the OC sku at a street price of $174.99 This places it at the lower middle range of the other 650 Ti Boost offerings and about even with what you would expect in relation to the level of overclock. One thing that did surprise us is that ASUS normally launches with the highest clock from the factory on their model cards but vendors such as EVGA have definitely set their sights here as they offer their superclock card with a base clock almost as high as ASUS’ boost clock which leads me to believe that EVGA has sat back long enough and may want to start nipping the crown with the top out of the box clocks with such aggressive clock settings.
SAP (Super Alloy Power)
ASUS has great pride in the components they infuse into their graphics offerings, very much like the motherboards we have covered previously. ASUS has what’s called a SAP or Super Alloy Power, which covers the components in the very VRM we are discussing. The components are hand picked for quality and performance based around not only power delivery but efficiency as well. The components in the SAP solution are super durable for a rated lifespan of up to 2.5x what reference cards would offer.
Here we see a short detailing of the SAP components and some short informational quips about how they help make for a better card. One thing here is that this is only the surface of what it is truly, as the SAP solution is a complete package of all of these components designed to work together giving not just higher power delivery than reference but also better voltage accuracy and efficiency through the digital voltage control and component selection and design.
Here we have some good detailing directly from ASUS, showing the improvement of the SAP choke component and how it is superior to other designs implemented presently. Other model chokes can make a whine or screeching sound due to the coil vibration, something we’re sure many enthusiasts and overclockers have heard before. The ASUS design has a sealed/filled core to inhibit vibration, which means noise free operation under extreme loading conditions. Another thing to remember is movement makes heat and friction, so less movement will mean cooler running components.
Here ASUS shows off its SAP selection for MOSFET components. These are designed to not only be more efficient but also have a higher power handling capability, which allows them to have extra head room for overclocking, should you really want to push the limit. Also note, the small package design of the SAP component as it is much smaller than the standard or generic MOSFET used on some standard or reference model cards. This allows for a larger VRM design to fit into a smaller space so that you can pack more punch without effecting the tight real estate within the chassis.
The SAP Solid state cap selection are Japanese units with a much higher MTBF than what you may see on other designs. These units are designed to have a very high expected lifetime, which allows users to rest assured that in their gaming rig with these components should have a nice happy life with a very low chance of failure for quite a long time (up to 2.5x as longer than competing components). For those of us that like to throttle our cards and really put the squeeze on them, this means we have the capability built in as the components are solid and reliable and ready to take a pounding.
DCII (Direct CU II)
ASUS DirectCU II coolers are the ASUS way of saying maximum cooling and plenty of quiet with one naming scheme. DirectCU II coolers are direct touch heatpipes to the GPU surface, ensuring the heat is wicked away from the GPU and up into the cooling fin array as quickly as possible. From there, the custom shrouded dual fans push air through the fins effectively but most important quietly to keep the GPU as cool as possible so hopefully it will never hit a temp to need a higher or noisier fan speed. The air pushing through the fin array also helps cool board components and the VRM as well, which is a nice little added bonus to this style cooler since we all know cooler components tend to run stronger, longer and with better efficiency.
As you see above the heatpipes on this cooler come directly to the GPU and pull the heat to the large aluminum fin area where it can be dissipated to the outside air. One thing worth noting is taht chassis airflow to some degree si needed to pull the air exhausted by this card out since it does exhaust most of its expelled heat into the chassis directly..
Dust proof Fan Technology
You would think that by now everyone would know that one of the number one killer of a fan is the dirt and dust it comes into contact with. Many fans simply are not sealed in such a way that it can keep dust out and in many cases they are not sealed at all, and you can see the sensitive winding area clearly exposed just by looking at the gap.
Here you can see that the ASUS solution is not just sealing the hub from dust but having 2 levels of sealing which means that over the lifespan of the cooler you can expect a much lower likelihood that you will get the grinding or simply the failing that you normally get from the unprotected fan as seen above.
We cannot count how many times we have had a perfectly good card or cooler just to have it become useless because the fan died.
ASUS offers its own software utility and its functionality has grown with generations just like the cards it supports. Of course the card can be overclocked but also voltages can be tweaked and within the GPU Tweak app, we can even launch the GPU info utility which is a full custom version of GPUz. This is a really cool feature and a benefit especially to benchmarkers, who we can definitely see using this card with some of the awesome tweaks we will discuss in the card overview.
There are many tools within the GPU Tweak menus some a little more hidden than others. First off directly form the GPU Tweak utility itself you can check for BIOS updates and even update from within the program. For anyone who’s ever updated a vBIOS before knows that having a tool that can do this in a mere few clicks is really handy.
The charts besides offering real time monitoring can also be setup to log thermals, voltages and clocks so that after benchmark or gaming runs you can see if there was any thermal issues or throttling that may have affected performance.
Nvidia implemented the GPU Boost feature on the new Nvidia GeForce 6 series GPU’s of the Kepler Architecture. This allows the card to have a base clock and it adjusts dynamically or overclocks to a speed of up to a certain amount depending upon the thermal and power envelope. This makes Overclocking these cards a bit different as you now are overclocking with a boost clock and by offsets from the out of the box clocks. We will discuss more of the overclocking aspects in the overclocking section but it does need to be noted. The voltage envelope can be adjusted as well with another offset setting. This will raise the ceiling in most cases for more overclocking headroom pending temps are within check which with this cooler should not be much of an issue.
Nvidia also included another feature as of recent called “Adaptive V-Sync” which allows for better performance while also stutter free gameplay by actively enabling and disabling V-Sync depending upon gaming situation and FPS all without any intervention from the user.
PCI-E Power LEDs
One really cool feature is that there are status LED’s on each PCI-E connector and these help you recognize that power is actively being sent to each connector of the card. (Note: picture is for reference purposes only as the care reviewed today employs only a single PCIe connector and single red and green LEDs)
The dual greens seen above indicate everything is working well. However if the PCI-E cable is not active or is not installed at all, it will give you the red light which tells you something is wrong. We could definitely see some value in this when diagnosing multi card setups or even single card issues. A dead PCI-E power cable could cause you to pull your hair out without these kinds of indicators.
PCI Express Gen 3 Capable
ASUS wants to ensure everyone is aware that PCI-E 3.0 is here and ASUS is ready with not only cards such as this but boards to support it as well.
Overview of the ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II
This packaging is something we have seen on many cards now from the GTX600 series lineup. The gray metallic looking finish with tearing claw marks represents something powerful inside trying to claw its way out. This may actually be the perfect representation for this card as it is a decent mid range performance model that looks to have some real promise at a good value. The front is similar to what we have seen before with some simple wordage covering a few key features and a small breakdown image of the DirectCU II thermal design. The rear covers many details about specifications, including an IO shot showing the connectivity of the card and what features it supports. Also included here are some key words about the SAP Component solution and even the GPU Tweak utility.
Upon opening the box we find the card packaged much like the higher end cards in a foam enclosure which was quite surprising as we were expecting the multifold/plastic swap combo i saw before on the more mainstream models.
Here is what you get in the accessories folder..
- Installation Disc
- Instruction Manual
- dual 4 pin PATA to single 6 pin PCIe adapter
- DVI>VGA Adapter
The accessory package is basic and covers connection to pretty much anything from legacy to newer displays.
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Here is the card unboxed and ready to shine. it is a dual slot design which means that it will fit in most all motherboards without worry of multi card fitment or any other issues. The top shows off two heat pipes protruding through emphasizing that this cooler means business. The dual fans work in tandem to ensure that things stay nice and cool and operate in such a way that you can barely hear them if at all even under load.
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The I/O side has enough connectors to allow for the full 4 displays as supported with the following connections:
Popping the Top
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The heatsink comes off easily as it is held on with 4 screw surrounding the GPU. once removed the GPU and VRM is exposed for our viewing. The VRM and layout looks pretty standard from what I have seen before especially on ASUS cards with the all SAP components which make for a clean and neat looking but powerful VRM.
The cooler has 2 heatpipes all coming across the GPU directly to allow fast pickup of heat and quick transfer to the cooling fin array for maximum cooling capability of the GPU. Do note that the standard fin array has been replaced with a much more solid aluminum heastsink style setup which means that not as much air will reach the board level components but so far from testing it does not seem to be an issue as the SAP components stay well within reasonable temps during operation and loading.
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Here you can see the VRM components neatly laid out and ready for some extreme loading. This may be a standard clock card but it still carries the same VRM components just minus the higher screened GPU so it is built and ready for some overclocking and heavy loading action.
The DIGI+ controller we are all familiar with and it allows full precise digital VRM control. Besides being precise the DIGI+ controller also offers very efficient operation which allows for much cooler operating performance, along with heavier loading conditions with better performance.
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The power being fed to the card is simple with a single 6 pin (Up to 150W PCIe slot/6pin) which means even some of the most basic supplies will have no issue feeding this card and also means this card is quite efficient for the performance you get.
The card employs a single SLI connector for up to 2 Way SLI unlike the standard Ti Version which did not support SLI at all so this can be doubled up for a very competent gaming rig.
Testing & Methodology
We’ve expanded our testing suite considerably since the X79 chipset release, and will continue to use the same methods for most of the motherboards and CPU’s we test. In the interests of thoroughness and accurate results, we run each test at least three times, and some tests more than that. We average the total of all the tests from each benchmark then report the average here.
The OS we use is Windows 7 Pro 64bit with all patches and updates applied. We also use the latest drivers available for the motherboard and any devices attached to the computer. We do not disable background tasks or tweak the OS or system in any way. We turn off drive indexing and daily defragging. We also turn off Prefetch and Superfetch. This is not an attempt to produce bigger benchmark numbers. Drive indexing and defragging can interfere with testing and produce confusing numbers. If a test were to be run while a drive was being indexed or defragged, and then the same test was later run when these processes were off, the two results would be contradictory and erroneous. As we cannot control when defragging and indexing occur precisely enough to guarantee that they won’t interfere with testing, we opt to disable the features entirely.
Prefetch tries to predict what users will load the next time they boot the machine by caching the relevant files and storing them for later use. We want to learn how the program runs without any of the files being cached, and we disable it so that each test run we do not have to clear Prefetch to get accurate numbers. Lastly we disable Superfetch. Superfetch loads often-used programs into the memory. It is one of the reasons that Windows occupies so much memory. Vista fills the memory in an attempt to predict what users will load. Having one test run with files cached, and another test run with the files un-cached would result in inaccurate numbers. Again, since we can’t control its timings so precisely, it we turn it off. Because these four features can potentially interfere with benchmarking, and and are out of our control, we disable them. We do not disable anything else.
We are revamping our testing method in order to better represent motherboard performance and offering to the consumer. Also we want to make it an easier read for you without miles of endless charts. We ask that you provide feedback in an effort to help us deliver better reviews for you.
|Case||Thermaltake Level 10 GT|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-3770K|
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus V Gene
|Ram||16GbpsB Patriot Viper Xtreme 2400MHz +|
|CPU Cooler||Swiftech H20-220 Edge|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB|
|SSD||Intel 510 series SATA III 120GB|
|GPU||ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II|
|PSU||Thermaltake Toughpower XT 1275W Platinum|
|Mouse||Tt eSPORTS Black gaming mouse|
|Keyboard||Tt eSPORTS Meka G1 mechanical gaming keyboard|
We will use the following applications to test the performance of the graphics card.
Synthetic Benchmarks & Games
|Heaven Benchmark 3.0|
|Batman: Arkham City|
|Just Cause 2|
|Lost Planet 2|
The ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost card employs a excellent mix of SAP components as always which means excellent power delivery and stability for some fun overclocking runs.
We were able to get the core to a max clock of 1112MHz which is not bad at all. With a bit more voltage, you can easily go higher, as there is great thermal headroom available.
The memory was similar as default is already past 6GHz frequency but the card easily clocked past 6900MHz to a final stable frequency of 6960MHz which is a sizable 16% overclock.
These overclocks are completely stable across game testing and benchmarks and while the card may pull a little further for short benchmark runs this is the max we could get to be considered fully stable. This could easily enable a few extra frames and give a much smoother gameplay for a gamer who might have been on the edge previously. This and the fact that I’ve never been one to complain about free performance so we’re not gonna start now.
|Clock||Stock Frequency|| Max stable MHz
|GPU Base clock||1020MHz||1112MHz||9%|
|Memory clock||1502MHz (6008MHz)||1740MHz (6960MHz)||16%|
In order to ensure no system bottleneck we clocked the CPU to 4.6GHz to ensure there is no reason the system will slow down the cards performance at all.
Some may ask why we chose the mainstream Z77 system, and we can explain. Up until recent the X79 enthusiasts platform did not really support PCI-E Gen 3 on the Nvidia 600 series GPU’s. Because of the inherent instability many have seen with the X79 platform with Gen 3 products, Nvidia has been hesitant to enable it, and now there is a workaround via registry to get it working. However, in order to ensure the most consistent testing possible, we have stuck to the natively supported Z77 platform.
Important note: Overclocking can cause component failure. Please exercise caution when attempting any level of overclock on system components.
The temperatures were recorded with full loaded Heaven benchmark looping for over 30 minutes or longer depending how long it took for the card to level out in temps and sat at a plateau for more than 10 minutes.
|GPU Temperatures||Temperature (Idle/Load)|
|ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC||30C/62C|
|ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II||30C/57C|
The DirectCU II cooler worked excellently as the fans stayed nice and quiet throughout the runs and even when overclocked it swallowed up the heat and kept chugging along without issue.
Real world/Gaming Benchmarks
3DMark 11 is the newest in Futuremark’s suite of benchmarking utilities. Its a fully capable DirectX11 benchmark which also stresses and analyzes the system performance as a whole to simulate a heavy rendering environment such as a high end game or other app the end user may run. This benchmark was run with Performance settings 5 times and all runs were averaged for the result below.
3DMark 11 shows where the ASUS card falls in line with the standard NV Reference model. As you can see it jumps ahead a bit due to the higher clock, on both the extreme and performance presets
Unigine Heaven 3.0
Unigine Heaven is a benchmark program based on Unigine Corp’s latest engine, Unigine. The engine features DirectX 11, Hardware tessellation, DirectCompute, and Shader Model 5.0. All of these new technologies combined with the ability to run each card through the same exact test means this benchmark should be in our arsenal for a long time.
Here we see the ASUS model gains a full FPS on heaven which may into seem like much but heaven is a very stressful app.
Metro 2033 has always been extraordinarily stressful for GPU’s, and this has not changed with time. Here you can see the ASUS 650 Ti Boost offers an average of over 30 FPS which means for the most part it should be relatively playable at full settings at HD resolutions although we think most would tweak the eye candy down just a bit in order to get more consistent minimum FPS which means less stuttering or jumpiness.
Lost Planet 2
Lost Planet 2 shows also very nice framerates and even the dips were not bad as the card pulled at max settings very respectable performance. It makes me wonder how well two of them would do when paired up.
Batman: Arkham City
We tested Batman Arkham City and the 650 ti Boost bested the previous generation flagship GTX 580 which is saying something since this card is about 25% the cost of a 580 at launch.
Just Cause 2
We just had to test Just cause 2 as it is an awesome game with some very good visuals. The 650 Ti Boost here pulls very playable framerates averaging over 60 which means we are talking optimal gameplay with likely no stuttering or jumpiness at all.
Dirt 3 is a great game for visuals and yet pulls very reasonable framerates on most cards so the 650 Ti Boost pulls over 60 easily. With that its at the heels of the 7870 and even the upper level GTX 660 model which is very good for a card of this level.
The ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti DirectCU II is a surprising and powerful card. At less than 180 dollars which is very cheap and in a very nice sweet spot for most gamers on a budget. Add to this the fact that most gamers are a generation or two back and this card can easily blow away the flagship card from two generations back, so anyone looking for an upgrade would be well served with this card as an upgrade.
The performance of this model is very good and its short size means that fitment in all but the smallest cases should not be an issue whatsoever.
The GPU Tweak app helps to unlock the full potential of the card quickly and easily with easy and intuitive interface.
Anyone looking to upgrade and looking to not break the bank should have no issue picking up one or even two of these cards for still less than the top end GTX 680 and getting commanding performance from their gaming rig!
|OUR VERDICT: ASUS GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II|
|Summary: The ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II offers an excellent upgrade path for users looking to breathe a little life into their gaming rig. For this it receives the Bjorn3D Golden Bear Award.|