Asus Poseidon GTX 780 review

Flexible cooling options and a nearly silent fan give this card an edge, but the GPU itself is slightly underwhelming.

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Asus’ new Poseidon GTX 780 offers gamers a choice: air cooled or a mix of liquid and air cooling?

Asus’ latest entry in its Republic of Gamers video card line is an innovative take on the GTX 780 largely because of the DirectCU H2O radiator, the successor to the DirectCU radiator. Should a gamer choose to use the standard air cooling, the card is silent while its hyper efficient cooler keeps the GPU chilled at around 70 degrees Celsius with the two 90mm fans feeding a 8+6+6 heat pipe set up. Alternatively, the gamer could opt to use the liquid cooling system in conjunction with the air cooler to push the GPU’s temperature down even further and open up opportunities for overclocking.

The only downside is the board uses the slightly dated GTX 780 GPU, as opposed to the new 780 Ti. This isn’t exactly the fault of Asus, as Poseidon is a new project thus it will use the older GTX 780 first before moving on to the Ti with a later model.

Below are some close up shots of the card’s cooling system and radiator:

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As you can see the Poseidon GTX 780 shares the same 10-phase power design as well as DirectCU II DIGI and VRM chips as the Asus GeForce GTX 780:

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Benchmarking

In the VR-Zone labs we tested the card with an Intel Core i7-4960X at 4.5GHz, a Asus Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard, G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB x 8 DDR3 2400MHz RAM, and a Intel DC3500 SSD 400GB.

Below are the results from our tests:

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Using the GeForce 331.93 Beta drivers, the card gets a 4929 on 3D Mark 11 Extreme and a 4780 on 3D Mark Fire Strike Extreme.

For temperature testing we tested the card under both air and water cooling modes with the help of Furmark.

With air cooling and the fan maintaining full speed at 2341 RPM the temperature hovered around 76 degrees. During testing with the air cooler we noticed that the card’s clock speed dipped slightly to 1084MHz from 1097MHz.

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During the mixed air cooling and water cooling mode the temperature dropped to 51 degrees with fan speed at 1397 RPM. Standby temperature was around 31 degrees.

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It should be noted that while the card offers liquid cooling in conjunction with air cooling, it’s impossible to run the card only in liquid cooling mode.

Conclusion: Innovation but not perfection

Asus’ Poseidon GTX 780 is an extraordinarily ambitious effort that falls just a few points short of perfection.

It seems that Asus has taken the “good enough” approach to water cooling with the card, as while the DirectCU H2O radiator is highly efficient it isn’t a pure water cooling solution. However, not being a pure water cooling solution does come with its own advantages particularly saving VGA blocks space. Most users will not want to commit to a full water cooling system, so having the best of both worlds with the Poseidon GTX 780 will be fine for most.

As an aside, it doesn’t look like the Poseidon brand will be coming to Asus’ AMD Radeon line up.

We would also have like to seen the 780 Ti in this card, but due to timing issues that wasn’t a possibility. The GTX 780 is solid, but it’s underwhelming compared to the 780 Ti.

While most hard-core case modders and gamers will opt for an aftermarket pure water cooling system, the built in coolers Asus providers with the Poseidon GTX 780 do a good enough job for most gamers and even those who want to overclock. For this innovation, the card gets VR-Zone’s innovation award on top of a score of 8.5 points.

Benchmarking completed by the Chinese VR-Zone team.

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Sam Reynolds is a Canadian technology journalist based in Taipei. His interest is the intersection between politics, business and technology.