AMD Radeon HD 6870 Roundup

Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: February 13th, 2012

ASUS 6870 DirectCU

The ASUS HD 6870 DirectCU has presence. Imposing large packaging, with a great sense of occasion once opened thanks to black cardboard with gold lettering and smart compartments containing the card, accessories and cables. Included in the box is a long CrossFire bridge, driver and manual CDs, quick setup guide and a dual 4-pin molex to 6-pin PCIe power adapter. A DVI to HDMI and DVI to VGA adapter are also included.

The first glance at the ASUS HD 6870 DirectCU shows it is special, from the smart axial fan made of transluscent plastic to the svelte shroud with speed stripes and embossed ASUS logo. The heatsink protrudes from both the top and back of the card, extending past the PCB with it's long fin array and large anodized heat pipes.

The rear of the card is covered with a large aluminum heatspreader, mounted to the back of the GPU core and covering any easily dislodged surface mount components.

The PCB is very custom designed, a little longer than standard HD 6870's and with power circuitry beefed up at the front of the board. A large screw mounted aluminum heatsink is mounted to the VRM's with thermal adhesive pads as T.I.M. (thermal interface material). The rear heatspreader is similarly mounted to the components mounted behind the GPU core, to prevent conduction and aid heat transfer.

The heatsink itself features three large diameter heatpipes, one routed to the front of the aluminum fin array and two to the rear. The heatpipes here are direct contact, as the name suggests, and are made of copper - hence DirectCU. Air seems easily able to get to the VRM heatspreader as well as four of the eight memory chips.

Pulling this card out of the box ought to put a smile on your face, especially given the included Smart Doctor software to increase clocks and voltages much higher than other cards are typically able. This card is mildly overclocked compared to others here, but ASUS has taken great pains to prepare the board for enthusiast overclocker use - upgraded power circuitry, increased cooling capacity, and attention to detail like cooling the rear of the card.