To many, the GTX 680’s birth has been a troubled one from its first day on the market. Even though it was able to thoroughly trounce the competition in nearly every category from power consumption to price to performance, widespread availability seemed to be a bridge too far. Some claimed popularity was the root cause of NVIDIA’s misfortunes while others shouted the words “manufacturing issues!” from atop their cardboard boxes. Regardless of the underlying reasons, the end result remained the same: until recently, GTX 680 backorder lists were long and getting your hands on one of these cards required patience rather than cold hard cash.
In some respects, the GTX 680’s situation has improved and some reference version cars are now readily available but this is mostly due to the GTX 670 taking a good amount of heat off its bigger brother. This acts as a double edged sword since some GTX 670s can run even with a GTX 680 while retailing for about $100 less so one shouldn’t wonder why the higher end Kepler GPUs are now regularly in-stock items. Unfortunately, high demand, custom cards have been announced and seem to be trickling into retailers’ warehouses but they’re rare at best and paper launches at worst.
This long lead-up brings us to the situation we find ourselves in with the ASUS GTX 680 2GB DirectCU II TOP. Since it was first announced this has been one of the most highly anticipated and sought after GTX 680 cards on the market but it is nearly impossible to find. So you may wonder why it is actually being reviewed here. Well, we’re eternal optimists here at Hardware Canucks so we’re willing to bet the DirectCU II TOP should eventually be available in larger quantities. Hopefully.