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ASUS GTX 670 DirectCU Mini: Small without compromise?

ASUS GTX 670 DirectCU Mini: Small without compromise?

ASUS GTX 670 DirectCU Mini: Small without compromise?

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Asus has unveiled their latest effort to squeeze performance components into a tiny form factor. The tiny GTX 670 DirectCU Mini just sat on my desk, and what they say is true; size doesn’t matter.

This card is a full-fledged GTX 670 card, measuring just 170mm from end to end, compared to less than 250mm for the reference version. But to squeeze that performance into a tiny card, there’s no sign of compromise: In fact, Asus managed to overclock the DirectCU Mini as well.

The GK104 GPU at the heart of the card runs at a decent 928MHz base clock, with a typical boost clock of over 1GHz. Compared to the reference card which didn’t get a huge boost – up from 915MHz – it did show off some impressive ASUS cooling. The fact that you can easily cram it into a mini ITX case with plenty of room makes the DirectCU Mini a pretty interesting little figure.

Asus has really squeezed this high-end technology into a smaller space before, with its excellent P8Z77-I Deluxe bringing an overclocked Ivy Bridge motherboard into the mini-ITX space. This board is the perfect companion for this tiny graphics card.

However, DirectCU Mini has some surprises. The first is that it ditched the standard GTX 670 variant’s dual 6-pin PCIe power connectors and opted for a single 8-pin connector. Asus includes an adapter in the package so you can convert the power from a pair of 6-pins to power.

Another surprise is that it took someone so long to make it. The PCB size of the original GTX 670 reference card was about 175mm, and the reference cooling solution took up the extra length. I find it odd that with some pretty impressive third-party cooling arrays — from MSI and Gigabyte as well as Asus — no one else has tried to put one of these little versions on the shelves.

The sticking point with this new card is the price. Asus’ overclocked GTX 670 DirectCU II retails for over $400/£300, and I don’t think the slower version will be much cheaper than that. When modern mini-ITX chassis (like the excellent Bitfenix Prodigy) can accommodate standard length graphics cards, do you really have to pay extra for a specially designed graphics card?

There’s another question mark on the card: if you want to fit the card into a small box, reducing the length of the card doesn’t reduce the height as useful. Mini-ITX gaming cases are your only option for installing full-height cards in a small case, and often these designs will also fit the length of your standard cards. For a smaller case, you’ll need a half-height card if you want to install any discrete graphics in it. So while the tiny GTX 670 DirectCU Mini is an impressive feat of GPU engineering, is it really necessary for the mini-ITX gaming crowd? I’m not sure.

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Wilbert Wood
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