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Asus GTX 670 Direct CU Mini review

The only thing miniature about this card is the small form factor

Our Verdict

For

  • Faster and cooler than reference GTX 670
  • Impressive engineering
  • Perfect for very tight mini-ITX cases

Against

  • Pricey
  • Most mini-ITX cases will accept full length cards

With the new Xbox being touted as simply a small form factor Win8 device, and the rise and rise of ever-smaller components in computing generally, it really was only a matter of time before we started to see the graphics card manufacturers getting in on the miniaturisation game.

This is also the first high-end graphics card we've come across that's been designed from the ground up for the small form factor, mini-ITX crowd and it's an impressive thing to behold.

When we first saw the GTX 670 in reference trim from Nvidia itself, the size of the PCB, compared to the size of the cooling, instantly jumped out at us. The 173mm circuit board only took up just under three quarters of the length of the card as a whole, with the extra length catering for the reference cooling solution needed to keep the GK104 GPU honest.

The real surprise though, is the fact it's taken this long to get to a stage where we're seeing card manufacturers coming out with their own cooling arrays based on the size of the PCB, rather than just the size of standard cards.

Quality cooling

The issue has possibly been one of ensuring you get enough heat dissipation in a smaller cooling setup, to ensure the GPU can carry on operating at the sorts of speeds something like a GTX 670 needs to.

Impressively, Asus's GTX 670 Mini more than manages this feat. This is no reference-clocked card: this is a proper overclocked SKU. The chunky DirectCU cooling makes the GTX 670 Mini a hefty ol' card, and that weight really does make it feel like quality engineering at its best. And the fact it can run so comfortably at the speeds it does is admirable.

This Asus card runs at quicker, cooler and quieter than the reference card from Nvidia and in a much smaller form factor. So, in engineering terms at least, the GTX 670 Mini is an absolute winner.

Benchmarks

DirectX 11 tessellation performance
Heaven 4.0: Frames per second: Higher is better

ASUS GTX 670 DIRECTCU MINI: 21.6
GTX 670 REFERENCE: 20.6

DirectX11 gaming performance
Batman: Arkham City: Frames per second: Higher is better

ASUS GTX 670 DIRECTCU MINI: 66
GTX 670 REFERENCE: 62

GPU cooling performance
100% load: Degrees centigrade: Lower is better

ASUS GTX 670 DIRECTCU MINI: 74
GTX 670 REFERENCE: 76

Sadly, that's not the only way you should think about this card. As much as it's a niche product, with a niche audience - and that always incurs a price premium - at nearly £400, this is an incredibly expensive graphics card. You've really got to desperately want this form factor to part with this much cash for it, because the simple fact is, you don't need to.

Because of the rise in performance from mini-ITX components, chassis manufacturers - such as Cooler Master and Bitfenix - have managed to figure out how to get full-size cards into mini-ITX boxes. And if you want to go for cases smaller than the Elite 120 or Prodigy, the length of your GPU isn't the barrier to squeezing it in - it's the height and the power demands.

Verdict

As much as the GTX 670 Mini is an impressive feat of engineering, that doesn't mean it's worth your money. You can already pick up faster, cheaper cards such as the top-end Sapphire HD 7970 GHz, and drop them straight into a funky mini-ITX form factor - just like that. It's admirable but ultimately inessential.

Tech Specs

Product TypeGraphic Card
Chipset ManufacturerNVIDIA
Chipset ModelGTX 670
HDMIYes
Chipset LineGeForce
Chipset SeriesGTX 600
DisplayPortYes
Maximum Resolution2560 x 1600
Brand NameAsus
Standard Memory2 GB
Host InterfacePCI Express 3.0
HDCP SupportedYes
Bus Width256 bit
Multi-GPU TechnologySLI
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS
Analog SignalYes
Digital SignalYes
DVIYes
Number of DisplayPort Outputs1
Number of DVI Outputs2
Number of HDMI Outputs1
Height121.9 mm
Cooler TypeFan Cooler
Memory TechnologyGDDR5 SDRAM
Form FactorPlug-in Card
Length170.2 mm
ManufacturerASUS Computer International
Memory Speed6008 MHz
Product ModelGTX670-DCMOC-2GD5
Product NameGTX670-DCMOC-2GD5 GeForce GTX 670 Graphic Card
Manufacturer Part Number90YV03X1-M0NA00
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://uk.asus.com
Marketing Information
  • World's first and only small form factor GeForce® GTX 670 graphics card for ITX/mATX gaming PCs
  • DirectCU with vapor chamber offers 20%(7.5ºC) cooler and 3X quieter performance
  • New and advanced CoolTech Fan drives wider airflow to keep critical components cool
  • Direct Power technology provides high quality and reliable power delivery to the GPU, whether for gaming or overclocking
  • Super Alloy Power components increase product longevity by up to 2.5X compared to reference
  • GPU Tweak helps you modify clock speeds, voltages, fan performance and more via an intuitive interface
Package Contents
  • GTX670-DCMOC-2GD5 GeForce GTX 670 Graphic Card
  • 1 x Power Cable
Thickness40.6 mm
API SupportedDirectX 11.1