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ASUS Matrix GTX580 Platinum - Over the Top

By Vincent Chang - 18 Jun 2011
Launch SRP: S$809

The Most Powerful Matrix Yet

The Most Powerful Matrix Yet

Ever since it started the Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand, ASUS has always saved its best for the products in this series, knowing fully that this brand attracts the most demanding of enthusiasts and gamers. You can read more about the ASUS ROG brand in this interview with ASUS' Jackie Hsu, but the short story is if you can afford its premium, ROG products generally perform up to expectations. Whether you really need all the extra features is debatable, but that's not the focus of today's review.

For what we have here today is none other than the latest ROG graphics card that was previewed weeks ago at Computex. The ASUS Matrix GTX 580 Platinum uses NVIDIA's fastest single GPU now, the GF110 found on its GeForce GTX 580 that comes with the full 512 CUDA cores of NVIDIA's Fermi GPU architecture. Inevitably, it's overclocked, but the main attraction isn't its clock speeds or even the huge triple-slot DirectCU II cooler onboard. The reason it's generating quite a lot of online buzz lies in a number of features that encourage serious tweaking.

ASUS has also released a brand new GPU Tweak utility along with this Matrix that will work across all graphics cards, regardless of brand or GPU. It's similar in many ways to what MSI did with its Afterburner utility (which we use for our own overclocking tests) and ASUS is probably hoping that enthusiasts will adopt its new software tool. You can get the free GPU Tweak utility here.

With a core clock speed of 816MHz, the ASUS Matrix GTX 580 boasts a clock frequency that's just a bit higher than the reference 772MHz. The 1536MB of memory is clocked at 4008MHz DDR, which is the same as the standard GTX 580. And that on paper is the difference between this Matrix GTX 580 and the reference NVIDIA GTX 580.

Physically, the ASUS card eschews NVIDIA's vapor chamber technology cooler for its own DirectCU II heatsink. It's significantly bigger than the standard GTX 580 and comes with two cooling fans. At its default settings, these two fans barely make any noise and we definitely rate it quieter than the reference design.

ASUS' DirectCU II isn't exactly new to us and with its copper heatpipes, twin cooling fans and that massive heatsink, it's claimed to improve operating temperatures by 20% over the standard design.

Nothing less than three, free expansion slots is required to fit this monster of a card, though ASUS calls it 2.6 slots in its specifications.

There are four display outputs on this GTX 580. Two dual-link DVI ports, a DisplayPort (not mini-DisplayPort like other NVIDIA cards) and an HDMI port. There's also the special Safe Mode button that will restore the BIOS to the default settings, giving enthusiasts the peace of mind to overclock. Despite the number of ports, like the standard GTX 580, this graphics card only supports dual monitors.

An extra backplate not only helps with the heat dissipation, but keeps the card rigid and stable in the face of its huge heatsink. If you're wondering why the name appears the wrong way up from this point of view, that's because it was designed to be easily readable from within a windowed casing  to proudly display the card's label. It's a small but thoughtful design aspect.

NEC/TOKIN Proadlizer appears to be the standard for high-end graphics cards to provide stable power. It's also used by MSI for its Lightning series.

Users can find out the load on the GPU at a glance with this LED Load indicator. There are five colors, with green being Safe Mode, light blue representing light loads and red the heaviest. This is a feature that has been present on ASUS' Matrix cards for a while now.

The two 8-pin power connectors have LED indicators that turn green if the power cables are plugged in properly.  

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  • Performance 9
  • Features 9
  • Value 8.5
The Good
The DirectCU II cooler is excellent - quiet and effective
Safe Mode button to restore BIOS
ROG features useful for extreme overclockers
GPU Tweak utility makes tweaking the GPU easy and convenient
The Bad
Default clock speeds are too conservative
Takes up three expansion slots
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