The GTX 580 is Nvidia's flagship single-GPU graphics card, capable of playing virtually any game on any single monitor at high frame rates, and critics report that the Asus ENGTX580 DirectCU II is the best of the bunch. Experts say the card's slight overclock doesn't add much to the graphical performance, but tests show that Asus' DirectCU II custom cooling solution runs much quieter than normal -- even quieter than a GTX 560 Ti, in fact -- and keeps the card about 5 degrees Celsius cooler than stock GTX 580s. The downsides to all that quiet power are the card's high price and the gargantuan size of its cooling system; the Asus takes up three PCI-E slots, and critics say you should leave a fourth open to give the fans room to shed hot air. If you're looking for even better graphical chops and power/thermal levels in a two-slot package, experts recommend the XFX R7950 Double Dissipation Black Edition (*Est. $500) instead.
Asus assists troubled customers via chat, email or phone, but customers report that the service is lacking. To be fair, all graphics card manufacturers have the same problem. One bright side is the warranty, which covers video cards for three years from the date of manufacture based on its serial number, so you aren't in trouble if you lose your store receipt.
A number of sources cover stock GTX 580 graphics cards, but only XBitLabs.com, HardOCP.com and TechPowerUp.com evaluate the Asus ENGTX580 DirectCU II specifically. All three reviews are lengthy and full of benchmark tests, providing plenty of information about the card's capabilities.
XBitLabs.com reviews the Asus ENGTX580 DirectCU II as part of a larger roundup comparing video cards from several GPU lines. The site singles out the Asus card as an exceptional product. "It combines high quality with high performance," Alexey Stepin writes. "The single downside we can note about it is the large dimensions of its cooler."
Review: GeForce GTX 580 SLI vs. GeForce GTX 590 and Radeon HD 6990, Alexey Stepin, Yaroslav Lyssenko, May 11, 2011
TechPowerUp.com covers all the bases and then some in its 28-page review of the Asus ENGTX580 DirectCU II, finding the card to excel in gaming performance, power consumption and heat output. The card earns an Editor's Choice award, even though the reviewer wishes it had a larger overclock and didn't take up quite as much space.
Review: Asus GeForce GTX 580 Direct CU II, "W1zzard", Feb. 10, 2011
HardOCP.com's Mark Warner examines high-end DirectCU II cards based around both Nvidia and AMD GPUs, and gives both an Editor's Choice Gold Award. He calls the Asus ENGTX580 DirectCU II "a powerful performer," adding that "it has a great cooling device that removes heat effectively and keeps the GPU cool." The card's high overclocking potential is also praised.
Review: Asus ENGTX580 and EAH6970 DirectCU II Review, Mark Warner, March 14, 2011