the top edition seems to have a lot of problems from what i have read on customer reviews so ill be going with the non OC edition so i can do my own minor OC, both seem to be the same but the top edition seems like its $10 more for nothing but a factory OC
i am choosing asus because of the directcu ii cooling, it seems to be superior to other cooling solutions when it comes to noise, i currently have 480 and it is audible at any setting over 50% noticably audible the more you turn it up. i also like the back plate included, feels more premium in a way.
the wind force seems my other alternative but from what i have read the wind force doesnt always cool as well as it claims, especially if there is an obstruction in the way. my other option seems to be the evga ftw edition. i cant seem to find any ftw edition reviews to see the temps and noise, but i assuming both will be higher that the asus because of its design
i have 2 other asus cards and both are still working fine, selling my asus 480 in a few hours with a crucial m4, going to upgrade my ssd to 128gig sandisk [most likely, havent decided yet]
The assumption that you can do the same thing "yourself" with a reference card as you can with a factory overclocked card is, most often, completely false. In general, the differences between factory OC'd and non factory OC'd can range among the following:
1. Absolutely nothing but a factory OC.
2. An improved cooler.
3. A greatly improved cooler.
4. "Binned" GPU's
5. Beefed up PCB's with more robust components and improved voltage control.
6. Beefed up VRM's with more phases.
7. Backplates and heat sinks on VRM's and other PCB components.
I have not heavily researched the differences between Asus 670 DCII and DCII TOP mainly because, with a $10 difference, it wasn't worth my T&E.... to my knowledge, and I am basing that on published data rather than assumptions posted in forums, the only "apparent " difference I see is that Asus uses (or at least claims to use) "binned" GPU's for the TOP series.
Through the other manufacturer's lines, there is a wide variation on how many of the above items are included in their factory OC'd models. The EVGA Classified and MSI Hawk / Lighting series generally hit all of the above. The EVGA SC and FTW series doesn't go very far and the MSI Twin Frozr is somewhere in the middle.
I'd still get the top version. Why? because it's been handpicked by the engineers and has a lot more overclock potential than the normal version. I paid about $40 more for my gtx 670 direct cu top and it was working fine until I installed asus gpu tweak, and then I had the red screen of death. The good news is, this issue has been resolved about 4 weeks ago with the release of gpu tweak 2.1.5. Its safe to say that the top card has no more issues. Now what makes the top card really good is its auto boost feature. Even though it should have a factory oc boost clock of 1167mhz according to the specs summary, in real life it goes as high as 1313mhz according to msi afterburner. In 3dmark and heaven 3d, the top card scores about 200-1000 points higher than the other gtx 670 and even higher than the gtx 680s. And the best thing is you don't even need to overclock it. It automatically hits the 1300+ mark. Just overclock the memory clock to 7000mhz and leave the core clock the way it is. If you can get the top model for only $10 extra, it'd be very unwise of you not to get one.