Pulling the card out of the box and looking at it head on doesn't really give us the best idea of just how big the card is. It's big, though, taking up three slots and carrying with it two extra-large 100mm fans.
As we move around the card, we've got some familiar sights. Up the back we've got two power connectors. In this case, though, they're in the form of two 8-Pin which is something we're seeing with these more modified GTX 580s. Closer to the front we've also got two SLI connectors which means we could have up to four cards running. Because of the triple slot design, though, we don't like your chances of making use of that many.
If we turn the card over, we've got a massive back plate that covers the entire card. Towards the middle, though, you can see a little chip visible. This NEC chip provides power to the GPU and what ASUS has done is place it directly behind the GPU. What this means is that the amount of distance that the power has to travel is so minimal that it means less power loss is seen and will overall make for a more stable card at higher clock speeds.
Around the back if we look at the top right corner you will see eight little dots. If you're a power user who's looking at going down the LN2 path to break some records, with soldering equipment you're able to solder these points together to unlock even more overclocking features. This is something for the most hardcore of overclockers, though, and while you're able to do this kind of stuff on other GTX 580s, the way ASUS has done it by making it extremely easy to access, it can be done a lot easier.
If we move around the card a bit more, we can start to see some of the other features that are available on the card. Moving back around to where the power connectors are, you can see we've got three buttons here.
The plus and minus button relates to voltage adjustment. While in the ASUS overclocking software we're able to adjust the voltage to 1.150v, using the buttons we're able to push voltage above 1.25v. If you're going to go that high, though, we wouldn't recommend doing so without hitting the red button which will instantly push your fan speed to 100% and remove the need to do it via software.
Originally I found myself thinking that this was a bit pointless, but having played around with the card a bit now, it's actually quite handy. If you want to do some higher voltage overclocking so you can play around with 3DMark 11 benching or something like that, you can get your fan up to 100% at a touch of a button instead of having to mess around with fan profiles. You can leave it at 100% after your benchmark has ran so the core temp drops back down and then with a touch of a button it's back in AUTO mode.
Just above the 100% Fan button we've got six little voltage points. This is for the Probelt feature that we've seen from ASUS before. We're able to grab the actual voltage that's running on the GPU, Memory and PLL which is what we see on the MSI Lightning cards. ASUS also give us the ability to grab the PCI-E voltage as well. Like the ROG motherboards, this isn't a feature a lot of people use, but for the hardcore overclocker it's something that's appreciated.
Across the top of the card like you saw in our intro picture and again above, the MATRIX logo lights up. There isn't just one color for this; instead there are five and all colors represent a different state of load.
You can see in the above image the five different colors and the amount of load they represent. It looks pretty funky and as you make the card work harder, you can see it via the change of colors on the MATRIX logo.
Before we move onto the connection side of things, something else present on the card is a couple of LEDs around the power connectors. This just lets you know if your power connectors are in properly or at all. As you can see above, we've got a red LED for the closest connector to us which doesn't have anything in it and a green LED for the other plug letting us know we're all hooked up perfectly.
Finally, we move to the I/O side of things. Here we've got two Dual-Link DVI connectors, a full size DisplayPort and a HDMI port. Also present is a little Safe Mode button. In the event you go a bit crazy with the card and you need everything reset to default, you can use this button and all should be right again.
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