Without a doubt, the much-publicized memory addressing issue in the NVIDIA GTX 970 put a couple of dents its sales. Even so, the somewhat-flawed GTX 970 remains excellent value for the PC-everygamer.Part of the reason is that the vast majority of GTX 970 products on the market are not made by NVIDIA; rather, Add-in Board (AIB) partners alter the reference design to add features or reduce cost.ASUS’ approach in the past, was to rework the thermals and market it under the “DirectCU II” banner. This time around, for the STRIX range, the DirectCU II heat-sink is part of the deal, but other performance-oriented features are also present.
The packaging feels a class below what one would expect from ASUS’ flagship ROG range, with an owl as the chosen mascot. The same theme repeats itself on the actual product: The owl outline is supposed to manifest itself on the heat-sink air-guide (Harry Potter will be pleased).
All the relevant outputs are provided; they include: DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI 2.0, and DisplayPort 1.2.
The VRM design is where most of the differences are between various AIBs. This STRIX uses a DIGI+ ASP1212 controller with MOSFET drivers from International Rectifier (IR3598) and MOSFETs from UBIQ (M3054 and M3056) for core power.Capacitors used are from APAQ and FPCAP. The uP1541 controller is used on the memory buck regulator; and Texas Instruments secures the current-sensing socket with their INA3221.
The heat-sink uses two 8mm heat-pipes sandwiching a 10mm one, so that the completed heat-sink assembly interfaces to the complete area of the GM204-200 dice via the heat-pipes only.Re-flow is employed to produce the heat-pipe heat-sink assembly, and the quality of the joints, being free of voids and sputters, are most agreeable.
The only questionable part is that the owl-shaped air-guide is not secured to the actual heat-sink, leaving the whole shebang feeling a little wobbly. At present we’re corresponding with ASUS to decide whether this was a design decision (stress relief) or just plain oversight.
We began testing with GPU Tweak disabled. At 100% Target Power, the STRIX GTX 970 power table sets total power at 163.46W. The 100% rail setting has a table entry for 150W and the 100% slot power has an entry for 66W.For temperature tests, the Furmark thermal virus is used at 0xAA. Metro: Last Light at 8xAA is our realistic load.
The Gaming Mode option in GPU Tweak raises the Power Target to 110%, boosting performance by raising the time-average clock frequency.
The figures reveal the STRIX GTX 970 thermals to be up-to-mark for all our tests. The better part is that the “0dB” marketing moniker translates into – acoustically – an unobtrusive operation.
All in all, the STRIX GTX 970 package possesses a value far exceeding what could be had for the same money in recent history. Until our qualms about looses heat-sink fixtures are are addressed, the ASUS STRIX GTX 970 gets our Silver Award.