NEW: Asus ROG Strix GTX 1070
Asus uses its ROG Strix brand to denote the high-end solutions in its portfolio. But where does the ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 land in comparison to other companies with premium models?
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Exterior & Interfaces
The cooler cover is made of anthracite-colored matte plastic. This does look a bit boring, and it doesn't feel particularly inspiring in-hand, either. Perhaps the card's strengths lie elsewhere.
Weighing in at 1048 grams, Asus' board lands in the heavyweight category. You shouldn't have any trouble securing it into your case, though. A little more critical is its 30cm length. The card's height of 12.5cm is rather average, and its 3.5cm width is typical of all dual-slot designs. A total of three 90mm fans ensure the right amount of airflow and pressure cool the heat sink underneath.
The back of the board is covered by a single-piece plate made of what looks like anodized aluminum. Asus calls this its Aura RGB Lighting Backplate, and it's adorned with a back-lit ROG logo. This backplate makes it necessary to plan for an extra 5mm of clearance behind the card, which may be relevant in multi-GPU configurations.
The card's top sports a Republic of Gamers label with LED background lighting and an eight-pin power connector.
A peek at the end and bottom of the ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 reveals that its fins are oriented vertically. They won't allow any waste heat to exhaust out the back. Instead, hot air is pushed from the top and bottom, warming up other components in your case, along with your motherboard underneath. As such, this design decision is rather counterproductive.
The slot plate features five display outputs, of which a maximum of four can be used simultaneously in a multi-monitor setup. In addition to one dual-link DVI-D connector, the bracket also hosts two HDMI 2.0b ports and two DisplayPort 1.4-capable interfaces. No doubt, this is a nod to Rift and Vive owners who need at least one HDMI output for their HMD. The rest of the slot plate is dotted with openings for airflow, though they're not functional due to Asus' fin design.
Board & Components
Asus uses its own circuit board for the ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070. As far as we can tell, the company doesn't make any concessions in its layout or component choice. However, we also don't see any exclusive traits that'd set this configuration apart.
This card uses eight Samsung K4G80325FB-HC25 modules with a capacity of 8Gb (32x 256Mb). Each chip operates at voltages between 1.305 and 1.597V, depending on the selected clock frequency.
But let's get back to the PCB and power supply. Asus employs an almost oversized 6+1-phase design, wherein the six GPU phases are supplied by uPI Group's uP9511 eight-phase buck controller. The GPU's voltage regulation is implemented using one IR3555 PowIRstage per phase. This chip includes a gate driver, control and synchronous MOSFETs, and a Schottky diode, saving a lot of board space.
The memory's one phase is provided by a uP1666 2/1-phase synchronous buck controller. This phase takes quite a bit of load, so to help it out, Asus' card utilizes two UBIQ Semiconductor QM3054M6 N-channel MOSFETs in parallel on the high side and two QM3056M6 N-channel MOSFETs on the low side.
Asus relies on its homegrown "Super Alloy Power" chokes, which the company says guarantee a particularly stable power supply. What Asus refers to as its SAP technology, MSI calls Military Class. In the end, both are meant to ensure increased durability and longer life expectancy for capacitors. Of course, there is no way for us to verify that claim in a review, but it certainly sounds good.
Asus' ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 uses an ITE 8915FN to monitor and control the current. Two familiar capacitors are installed right below the GPU to absorb and equalize voltage peaks.
Before we look at power consumption, we should talk about the correlation between GPU Boost frequency and core voltage, which are so similar that we decided to put their graphs one on top of the other. This also shows that both curves drop as the GPU's temperature rises. Asus imposes a relatively low power target of approximately 170W, which in turn causes a relatively frenetic GPU Boost frequency that's primarily limited by the power consumption cap.
After a warm-up run through our variable gaming load, the card's GPU Boost clock rate settles at an average 1946 MHz, down from a starting point of 2015 MHz. Under a more constant load, it falls to an average of 1734 MHz.
The voltage measurements look similar. Readings around 1.062V drop to 1.025V as the board's frequency slides.
Combining the measured voltages and currents allows us to derive a total power consumption we can easily confirm with our instrumentation by taking readings at the card's power connectors.
As a result of restrictions imposed by Nvidia, whereby the lowest attainable frequencies are sacrificed to hit higher GPU Boost clock rates, the power consumption of many factory-overclocked cards is disproportionately high when they're idle. This one can only go as low as 291 MHz. The following table shows what impact that has on our measurements:
|Gaming (Metro Last Light 4K)||165W|
These charts go into more detail on power consumption at idle, during 4K gaming, and under the effects of our stress test. The graphs show how load is distributed between each voltage and supply rail, providing a bird's eye view of load variations and peaks.
The 5.1A we measure provides a comfortable margin below the PCI-SIG's 5.5A maximum for a PCIe slot, especially if you're using this card on an older motherboard. Asus only feeds the memory and one GPU phase through the PCIe slot; the other five phases are powered through the auxiliary eight-pin connector.
Asus' backplate doesn't play an active role in cooling the ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070. It's mostly aesthetic, though the plate does contribute to the card's structural rigidity.
The ROG logo's back-lighting is achieved using a simple scattering film with an embedded LED. This diode is then plugged into a socket on the card's PCB.
A basic frame on the front cools most of the memory modules, though its shape could be better. While three of the ICs receive some extra cooling thanks to a thermal pad connecting them to the cooler's heat sink, there is one module that gets almost no cooling at all.
The sink employs a classic heat pipe direct touch design using flattened and sanded pipes. There are four 8mm heat pipes and one 6mm pipe. To dissipate up to 170W, this configuration is more than sufficient.
Reaching temperatures of up to 144°F (62°C), Asus' ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 is still in the green. It's running cool enough to ensure the highest possible GPU Boost frequencies allowed by the low power target.
One look at an infrared image of the board reveals the impact of a well-designed cooler on voltage regulation circuitry. As a result of Asus' work, the PCB endures very little thermal stress.
The same holds true when we run our stress test and observe the temperature rising only marginally. This cooler is absolutely sufficient for what it's being asked to do.
Hysteresis is perfectly implemented, allowing the fan curve to leave a positive impression throughout its range. Even after an hour, the three fans spin at less than 1600 RPM.
Registering 37 dB(A) under full load, Asus' card lands in the middle of our pack for noise. But a closer analysis of the frequency spectrum sheds more light on where that reading's peaks appear. Although the three fans do generate some bearing noise, the sound is balanced well. At a purely subjective level, this is less annoying to listen to than the deeper tones produced by other cards with nominally lower dB(A) values.
There's also some electrical noise caused by the voltage converters. But it's in the high-frequency range that most enthusiasts won't be able to perceive.
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