A Closer Look
The new ASUS DirectCU cooler isn't really "DirectCU" in the sense that we expected, since it uses a vapor chamber baseplate. The Direct CU naming has traditionally been reserved for coolers with milled down heatpipes for direct contact with the GPU (without the baseplate). ASUS argues that DirectCU could also mean "Direct" contact using a "Copper" surface. Either way, the cooler looks well designed and includes cooling for memory chips and VRM circuitry.
ASUS installed a "DirectPower" thingie on the back of the card, which is just a piece of copper that's connected to GPU voltage (~1.1 V). The GPU needs operating voltage supplied on both "sides", so the piece of copper is used to provide a shortcut, which avoids routing GPU voltage around the GPU. While in theory I could imagine it provides some measurable benefit, I'm not convinced at all, that it provides an effect that the user would perceive in any way. If you look closely, you can also see that the construction consists of two stacked pieces; the upper piece acts as insulator to protect against short circuits.
The card requires a single 8-pin PCI-Express power cable for operation. This power configuration is good for up to 300 W of power draw. A highlight here is that a single 8-pin power connector is used instead of two 6-pin ones. This saves space and probably lowers cost—a good choice.
Unlike the NVIDIA reference design, ASUS uses a Richtek RT8867A voltage controller on their card. It is functionally very similar to the OnSemi NCP5395 on the reference design—neither offers I2C voltage control or advanced monitoring, but both are cost effective solutions.
The GDDR5 memory chips are made by Hynix and carry the model number H5GQ2H24AFR-R0C. They are specified to run at 1500 MHz (6000 MHz GDDR5 effective).
NVIDIA's GK104 graphics processor introduced the company's brand-new Kepler architecture. It is NVIDIA's first chip to be produced on a 28 nm process at TSMC, Taiwan. The transistor count is 3.54 billion.