|ASUS ENGTX260 Matrix GeForce GTX 260 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Bruce Normann - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 14 May 2009|
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Closer Look: ENGTX260 Matrix
The dual fans on the face of the ASUS ENGTX260 Matrix give away the game right away. This card is meant to run way above stock speeds and voltages. Although it isn't set that way when it comes out of the box, unlike the "TOP" models in the ASUS product line, it definitely looks like it has the extra cooling capacity to get there safely. We'll take a look at that later in the testing session, when we run the card in both stock and overclocked mode.
The Matrix is definitely a dual-slot device, as the following image shows. The full width adapter plate at the rear is slotted to allow some of the heat to escape from the case. Because of the open design of the fan shroud, not a lot of airflow is going to get pushed out here from the fans on the video card. If you have a case with positive pressure, like the SilverStone Fortress FT01B, there's a better chance that some air will get pushed through the fins on the rear of the card and out the back. Alternatively, if your case has significant negative pressure, air will be pulled in through the slots, and pass through those same fins, which are connected to one of four heatpipes passing over the GPU.
The cooling system is fairly complex, in design, execution, and operation. There are four separate heatpipes funneling heat to three different fin assemblies. There are two fans, which are controlled independently, forcing air through the two circular fin sets. The third fin set is cooled passively, and/or hopefully by the action of air making its way through the case, by way of case fans. Here's an interior shot of the full set of cooling components.
The circular format heatsinks are more complex to build, but they have the advantage of maximizing the useful output of the fan. In this instance, two fans are used, of slightly differing sizes. One has a maximum current draw of 0.34 amps; the smaller, 0.30. The larger one sits over the GPU and memory chips, the smaller one over the power regulation components. The power MOSFETs are not fitted with their own heatsinks, as there is enough airflow from the fan to keep all the power components cool enough. This can be confirmed with the iTracker software, as the temperature of the power area is independently monitored and displayed. More on that later...
The power section provides 4-phase power to the GPU and 2-phase power to the GDDR3 memory. It's becoming more common place to modulate multiple power phases to achieve better voltage regulation, improve efficiency, and reduce heat. The ASUS ENGTX260 Matrix offers the same capability as some high-end motherboards in this regard, and given the power density in video cards these days, it's a welcome feature.
The design of the PCB makes good use of the back side of the board. There are hundreds of small, surface mount resistors and capacitors located there, along with a couple small MOSFETs and logic chips. It's the perfect place for all those low profile components. I have to remark on the extremely high level of build quality I saw on the PCB. I always get out my 10X loupe to inspect the minute details, and what I see doesn't always impress me. The precision shown in component placement and consistency of the solder joints on this board is truly world class.