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ASUS Radeon HD 7790 DirectCU II OC Overclocked Video Card Review

ASUS Radeon HD 7790 DirectCU II OC Overclocked Video Card Review

It's been a long time since we've seen a video card from ASUS, but today we check out the new HD 7790 DirectCU II OC, and see how it performs.

@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Tue, Apr 9 2013 5:31 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 33 IMAGES

While ASUS is a name we hear quite a bit here at TweakTown, it's been a while since the name has been used in reference to a video card. That changes today with the new ASUS HD 7790 DirectCU II OC that we have on hand. With AMD and NVIDIA both releasing new mid-range models that are really heating up that mid-$100 range, we're seeing a bunch of new mid-range offerings in for testing.

While from the AMD side we've already looked at retail versions of the new HD 7790 from Sapphire and GIGABYTE models, we've only looked at the GTX 650 Ti Boost in its reference form.

We've got some retail offerings of the GTX 650 Ti Boost in for testing, but today we're going to be looking at the ASUS HD 7790 DirectCU II OC. The formula as always will be very standard with us starting with the package. Once we've done that we'll move onto the card itself.

From the card we'll move onto the specifications side of things, and like the GIGABYTE card we looked at the other day, we've again decided to overclock this ASUS offering due to the fact that the out of the box clock speeds are very similar to that of the Sapphire model we reviewed earlier. We'll quickly cover the testbed, the cards that are in our graphs today and then get stuck straight into the performance to see just what we're able to get out of the ASUS HD 7790 DirectCU II OC.

Package

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Checking out the front of the box you can see the main information you'd expect with the model, amount of memory, the fact it's an OC model and some information about the cooler.

The back of the box expands on some of the main features, which includes the DirectCU II cooler. On the left hand side you can also see a picture of the card and a rundown of the connectivity.

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Moving inside there's not a whole lot to the bundle. We've got the standard setup guide along with a CD which includes the driver and the GPU Tweak software. You can also see we've got a DVI to VGA connector and a CrossFire bridge to round things out.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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We've got an attractive looking dual fan setup and you can see both the heatsink and heat pipe setup behind those fans. One thing we do love, and while subtle, is the black PCB that ASUS is using.

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Having a look around you can see when it comes to the power we've got a single 6-pin PCIe power connector. Moving across the top you can also see the standard single CrossFire connector.

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Looking at the connectivity side of things we've got two Dual-Link DVI ports - one is a DVI-D, while the other is DVI-I. Along with the two DVI ports you can see we've also got a HDMI and DisplayPort to round off the connectivity options.

Specifications

When it comes to the out of the box clock speeds the ASUS offering is in line with the Sapphire model, which means the core comes in at 1075MHz, and the 1GB of GDDR5 comes in at 6400MHz QDR. This compares to the GIGABYTE which carries the same core clock speed, but the reference 6000MHz QDR memory clock speed.

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Since the clocks were the same as the Sapphire model we reviewed earlier, we decided to get into some overclocking. We managed to push the core up to 1230MHz, while the 1GB of GDDR5 was pushed just slightly up to 6560MHz QDR.

We'll find out what exactly this does for performance over the following pages.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS and Corsair.

Alongside the overclocked ASUS HD 7790 DirectCU II today we've got the lower end HD 7750 and HD 7770 from HIS along with the Sapphire HD 7790 Dual-X. The last of the AMD cards come from HIS with the HD 7850 IceQ 2GB.

On the NVIDIA side we've got the GTX 650 Ti Boost at both stock and overclocked speeds, along with the MSI GTX 660 HAWK.

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Why are some graphs incomplete?

Adding new game benchmarks is a long, tedious and time consuming task as every video card has to be re-tested in those new benchmarks. Because of that reason we have always just evaluated our benchmark line up every six months. To stay up to date and current with the latest benchmarks and games available, we've changed our approach to adding new benchmarks.

Our benchmark line up will progress and be updated as newer more intensive games with benchmarks comes to light. While this will mean that initially you may only see a single video card in those particular graphs, as the weeks go on and we test more and more video cards, the results will grow quickly. This will help keep our benchmark line up as up to date as possible as we introduce and remove games on a constant basis.

Benchmarks - 3DMark 11

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Starting with 3DMark 11 we see a nice boost in performance which equates to around 10%. Compared to the competition, you can see we're ahead of the overclocked GTX 650 Ti Boost in the performance preset, but trailing in the higher resolution Extreme test.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 3

Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com

Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Heaven also sees an increase of around 10% when we've overclocked the card. We're behind the NVIDIA offerings, though, which doesn't come as a huge surprise due to the strong tessellation performance offered by them.

Benchmarks - Phantasy Star Online 2

Phantasy Star Online 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.sega.com/?t=EnglishUSA

Product Homepage: http://www.pso2.com/us/html/index.html

Play Phantasy Star Online 2 and experience revolutionary combat in an action-driven, free-to-play multiplayer online RPG from SEGA. Take a journey into an immersive sci-fi fantasy narrative and explore mysterious worlds to unravel their secrets. Join fellow adventurers and fight against the legions of darkness to banish them from the galaxy.

Score explanation: Less than 2000: Please adjust your game settings because the processing load is quite heavy.

2000 through 5000: The game runs fine at the setting, if you have room, you can adjust some settings.

5001+: The game works wonderfully at this setting.

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We continue this trend of gains of around 10%. Overall performance sits on the lower end of that 2000 - 5000 rating. Of course it's always worth remembering that we're benching at 2560 x 1600 here so we've got plenty of headroom when it comes to changing the resolution.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1

Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Lost Planet 2 sees nice little gains across the board, but you can see we're still below the 60 FPS number at all resolutions, including falling just shy at 1680 x 1050 with a 57 FPS average.

Again due to the strong tessellation performance you can see the NVIDIA options come out ahead here.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

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Just Cause 2 continues with some nice gains in performance and you can see overall the performance is very similar to the GTX 650 Ti Boost when overclocked. This means we've got playable numbers at both 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200, but fall short at 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - F1 2012

F1 2012

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com

In F1 2012 players will feel the unparalleled thrill of becoming a FORMULA ONE driver with a host of new features, wide-ranging technical and gameplay advancements and extensive competitive and co-operative multiplayer components. F1 2012 will feature all of the official teams, drivers and circuits from the 2012 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, including the debut of the 2012 FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX at Austin, Texas and the return of Germany's famous Hockenheim circuit to the calendar.

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F1 2012 performance looks good with playable numbers at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200. You can see that the GTX 650 Ti Boost, though, is able to offer stronger numbers, but more importantly playable numbers at 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Metro 2033 doesn't look bad at 1680 x 1050 with some extra breathing room, but after that, you can see the performance is just too low to be able to provide a solid gaming experience.

You can see the overclocked GTX 650 Ti Boost manages to sneak in a playable 61 FPS at 1920 x 1200.

Benchmarks - Dirt Showdown

Dirt Showdown

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/uk/dirtshowdown/360/

DiRT Showdown is the new arcade racing game from the team that brought you the award-winning DiRT series, uncaged in 2012. Pick up and play controls combine with electrifying events, frenzied crowds and stunning graphics to deliver high octane, dive in and drive thrills from event one.

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You can see that the overclock helps push us into playable 1680 x 1050 numbers, which is something that the GTX 650 Ti Boost isn't able to do. The overclock also helps at 1920 x 1200, but you can see we're just a couple of FPS shy of that 60 FPS number we want at that resolution.

Benchmarks - Nexuiz

Nexuiz

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.alientrap.org/

Product Homepage: http://www.nexuiz.com/

Nexuiz is an Arena First Person shooter coming soon to consoles. Nexuiz is fast paced with extremely competitive game play. IllFonic brings Alientrap Software's Nexuiz to next-gen gaming consoles around the world while staying true to the game play refined over the years through development. IllFonic introduces a new Victorian influenced art style that is simultaneously futuristic and sophisticated. Nexuiz for consoles is powered by CryENGINE 3.

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Nexuiz performance really doesn't change too much and you can see even if it doubled, we'd still be below the 60 FPS number we want.

Benchmarks - Sniper Elite V2

Sniper Elite V2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://sniperelitev2.com/us/age.html

Sniper Elite V2 features detailed sniping simulation with advanced ballistics, taking into account gravity, wind, velocity, bullet penetration, aim stability and more. Guaranteed to provide players with the most realistic simulation of military sharpshooting yet available.

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While Sniper Elite V2 sees a boost in performance, you can see we're still shy of the 60 FPS mark at every resolution. The GTX 650 Ti Boost on the other hand manages to sneak some playable numbers in at the lower 1680 x 1050 resolution.

Benchmarks - Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://eu.square-enix.com/en

Product Homepage: http://www.sleepingdogs.net/

The core gameplay of Sleeping Dogs consists of giving the player an open world environment in which to move around freely. Sleeping Dogs is played as an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective action-adventure game with role-playing elements. The player controls Wei Shen, a Chinese-American police officer, as he goes undercover to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triad organization. On foot, the player character has the ability to walk, run, jump, climb over obstacles and swim, as well as use weapons and martial arts in combat. Players also drive a variety of vehicles including cars, boats, and motorcycles.

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Sleeping Dogs performance is strong with a nice increase and good numbers at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050. Like all the other cards here, though, when we move to 2560 x 1600, the numbers drop below the 60 FPS mark.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01

Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/

Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Far Cry 2 sees a boost in performance across the board and overall we've got very good numbers.

Benchmarks - Hitman Absolution

Hitman Absolution

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.ioi.dk/

Product Homepage: http://hitman.com/

Hitman: Absolution is an action-adventure stealth game developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix. It is the fifth entry in the Hitman game series, and runs on IO Interactive's proprietary Glacier 2 game engine. Before release, the developers stated that Absolution would be easier to play and more accessible, while still retaining hardcore aspects of the franchise. The game was released on 20 November 2012, which is in the 47th week of the year (in reference to the protagonist, Agent 47).

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While overclocking doesn't do much to the minimum numbers, we see a bit of a jump in the averages. Our numbers on a whole are quite similar to the GTX 650 Ti Boost in this case.

Benchmarks - Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.nixxes.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.tombraider.com/us/base/agegate?refer=184&

Tomb Raider is an action-adventure platform video game. Published by Square Enix, Tomb Raider is the fifth title developed by Crystal Dynamics in the Tomb Raider franchise. As the first entry in a new Tomb Raider continuity, the game is a reboot that emphasizes the reconstructed origins of the culturally influential lead character Lara Croft. Tomb Raider was released on 5 March 2013 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows to universal critical acclaim.

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Tomb Raider sees some strong gains, but performance is still too low. You can also see we're a decent way behind the GTX 650 TI when it comes to the averages at the lowest resolution.

Benchmarks - BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://irrationalgames.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.bioshockinfinite.com

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game and the third installment in the BioShock series. Previously known as "Project Icarus", it is being developed by Irrational Games and was released worldwide on the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 platforms on March 26, 2013. BioShock Infinite is not part of the storyline of previous BioShock games but features similar gameplay concepts and themes.

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This is the first time we've tested the HD 7790 under BioShock Infinite and you can see when overclocked, it's sitting in line with the reference clocked GTX 650 Ti Boost.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

While we test all our games with maximum in-game settings, turning on Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Antistrophic Filtering (AF) helps take the intensity of our testing to another level.

Here we see video cards go from playable FPS to an unplayable FPS and the real power houses continue to help break that 60 FPS mark we always aim for to provide a smooth gaming experience.

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Overclocking helps boost the 1920 x 1200 performance up to playable levels, but 2560 x 1600 remains out of reach.

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While across the board we do see gains in most areas, these settings are just too intensive for a mid-range single GPU setup like this one.

Temperature Test

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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Looking at the heat side of things, you can see this ASUS offerings sits fairly close to the middle of the pack.

Sound Test

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Noise numbers aren't too bad either, and you can see we're clearly in the bottom half of the pack here, which is a good place to be for this test.

Power Consumption Test

Using our PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power consumption on the model is also strong with it sitting towards the bottom of our graph.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

Coming in at $149.99 the ASUS HD 7790 DirectCU II sits right in the middle of the mid $100 price bracket. With a free copy of the new BioShock Infinite also included in the bundle, the value of this video card really does increase by a decent margin, in my opinion.

This compares to the ASUS version of the GTX 650 TI Boost which comes in at $174.99 and doesn't carry a full version game. We know that at times the GTX 650 Ti Boost is faster, but at times it's also slightly slower, and quite often we see performance that is similar between both models.

I think what really stands out for AMD at the moment is the inclusion of BioShock Infinite. We've always been a little skeptical on the inclusion of games in bundles because most the time they're crap, to be honest. But here we're talking about a game that has a Metacritic rating of 95 with 57 positive critic reviews and zero mixed and negative reviews.

The inclusion of such an attractive game has to come into play here and the $59.99 value of it needs to be taken into consideration as well when looking at the overall $149.99 price tag of the ASUS HD 7790 DirectCU II.

As for the performance of the model itself, it comes in just as expected. Compared to the overclocked Sapphire offering, the overclock brings with it about a 10% increase in performance, under most tests. The performance of the cooler is pretty strong as well with it sitting towards the middle of the pack under both noise and temperature tests.

ASUS has put together a solid HD 7790 with the addition of a black PCB that makes the card look really great. Throw in the copy of BioShock Infinite, with the $149.99 price tag, and you've got yourself a really strong product that hits at an excellent price point, and is well worth your consideration.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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