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Hardware.Info Taiwan Tour 2013: ASUS

Plans for Radeon R9 290X, Rampage IV Black Edition preview and more

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Introduction

Hardware.Info recently took a trip to Taiwan and visited the major hardware manufacturers on the island. The coming days we will share our observations and what we learned from the various conversations we had with industry people on location. Today it's time for ASUS.


In the very imposing ASUS headquarters in the northern Beitou district of Taipei, where about 3,000 employees earn their living, we spoke to David Yang, senior product manager of ASUS’ graphics card division. Product manager Yenting Chen and associate director Andrew Wu from the RoG motherboard division showed us the new Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard.


The ASUS HQ in Taipei

Interview with David Yang, product manager graphics cards

Hardware.Info: “Recently ASUS used a newly-designed DirectCU cooler for a number of cards, including the GeForce GTX 780 and the Radeon R9 280X. Can you tell us more about the new cooler?”

Yang: “The new cooler is designed to provide a combination of better cooling and less noise. It has two unique aspects, the special CoolTech fan and the 10mm heatpipe. The rest of the design is also completely new, with thicker fins for example.

The 10mm heatpipe is more innovative that you'd think at first. The thicker a heatpipe, the more heat it can transport. At the same time, it increases the chance during manufacturing that the heatpipe collapses or folds. Don't forget that heatpipes are put copper and therefore very soft. The thicker the heatpipe, the more challenging it is to work with it.”

ASUS R9 280X-DC2T-3GD5
The new DirectCU cooler used on the ASUS' Radeon R9 280X.

Hardware.Info: “Why is only one of the fans a CoolTech fan?”

Yang: “There's a simple reason for this. The CoolTech fan is combination of a blower and a conventional fan, which means it blows downwards and to the sides. This causes an optimal distribution of air over the heatsink. On the first prototypes of the new cooler we had two CoolTech fans next to each other. The result was that they worked against each other, so we made the decision to only use one CoolTech fan, the one closest to the outside of the card.”

Hardware.Info: “The new DirectCU cooler is two slots wide, while the old one took up three slots. Why?”

Yang: “That's true, and it was indeed a serious challenge to design a better cooler that took up less space. Fortunately we were successful. The main reason for going back to a two-slot design for our cooler is that we expect PCI-Express SSDs to gain a real foothold in the near future. Three-slot coolers can potentially form an obstacle for accessing the expansion slots you need for this, especially with SLI or Crossfire configurations.”

Hardware.Info: “Are ASUS coolers developed entirely in-house? If so, how long does that take on average?”

Yang: “Yes, the entire design of coolers is done in-house. The production of the coolers is done by third parties. But my colleagues are indeed working on the development and optimisation of cooling solutions. Designing a new cooler takes an average of about nine months.”

Hardware.Info: “How much notice do you get prior to the launch of a new graphics card from AMD or Nvidia?”

Yang: “Usually three months or so, and that's certainly not enough time for developing an entirely new cooler. That's why for the first cards we use existing AMD coolers, or if that's not possible, the reference cooler. At a later point we can add a different cooler. The same is true for improving the PCB, we also need more than three months for that.

With AMD’s Radeon R9 280X it was easy for us. Since that card is based on the Radeon HD 7970 we were able to use our existing PCB and cooler design.”


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