The first thing you notice about the Asus board is its unique cooler. In almost every aspect it is different to the AMD reference design. So, rather than a single fan which sucks air in from the front of the card, across the heatsinks that cover the circuitry below, and out the back of the card, it uses two fans that blow directly onto the heatsinks and the air is left to just float around the inside of your case. Suffice to say, you’ll need a well ventilated case to disperse all this heat.
If we look a little closer you can see that the heatsinks themselves are quite different as well. Rather than using large blocks of metal like in the reference design, Asus has been a bit more sophisticated and incorporated four heatpipes to draw heat away from the chips’ surface and up to the radiator fins above. As well as this, the black metal plate that covered the back of the card has been removed (making you wonder if it was ever needed at all) and as a result the Asus card is much lighter than the reference design. Not that this has made it exactly lightweight, with it still coming in at 806g, but at least it’s a start.
We subjectively tested the effectiveness of the cooler while it was running our tests and we can report that it performed very well, keeping the card cooler than the reference design while keeping noise to a minimum. However, we wouldn’t recommend you buy the card on the merits of its cooler alone, because we still prefer the way the reference design gets rid of the hot air. No, the reason for getting this card would have to be its four, count ’em four, DVI connectors.
Yes, the big selling point of this card is that it can be used with up to four monitors simultaneously, which is something that’s generally been limited to dual card configurations. There’s been no compromises in features either as all four are dual-link so can be used with 30in monitors and they’re all HDCP compliant as well. So, no matter which monitor you choose to watch your HD movies on, you can be gauranteed it will work.