ASUS iTracker Software
ASUS calls their Matrix line of video cards the ďworldís most intelligent graphics cardsĒ. This is accomplished not only due to the exceptional hardware, but just as importantly, its software.
At the heart of the Matrix cardís intelligence is their iTracker software. iTracker is a hardware monitoring utility that can be used for watching GPU /memory clock speeds, GPU/memory voltage, GPU loading, GPU/memory temperature, active number of power phases, and fan speed.
iTracker ships with four preset profiles: Gamer, Power Saving, Default, and User Defined. Under the power saving profile, iTracker automatically undervolts the RV770 GPU to 1.275V and graphics memory to save power. In addition, the number of active power phases for the GPU and memory drops to just 1-phase power. As a result of these changes, GPU power draw drops to just 25W under this mode as measured by iTracker! Under gaming, the opposite occurs, with the GPU running at 1.318V and power consumption spiking to 50W. For added performance the gamer profile also clocks the 4870 Matrix to run at 800MHz GPU/950MHz memory, a slight OC over the stock speeds (under the gamer profile the 4850 Matrix is OCíed to 660MHz, the memory speed sits unchanged at 993MHz).
Meanwhile, with iTracker installed, Hybrid Cooler kicks in, shutting off the fan(s) completely as long as the temps remain within a certain threshold.
As a result, the card frequently generates no noise when running at the Windows desktop.
We noticed that the fan profiles adjust based on your profile; in gaming the temp range topped out at 74 degrees Celsius, at this point iTracker would turn on the fan until the GPU cooled to 44 degrees. Under the default mode, the temp threshold was higher, topping out at 76 degrees, and finally, under power saving mode the fan didnít kick in until the GPU hit 80 degrees Celsius.
Because of the nature of the Matrix cards, manual fan control isnít provided in ATIís Catalyst Control Center. Fortunately though if you set iTracker to user defined, you can manually control RPMs to your heartís content. You can even manually adjust the temperature thresholds for when the fan(s) will kick in to cool the card.
In user defined mode you can also adjust your graphics core and memory clock speeds, as well as their voltages. Itís the voltage adjustment in particular that sets the ASUS Matrix cards apart from other Radeon 4800 series cards, the vast majority which lack this feature (Palitís 4850 Sonic is the only other card weíre aware of with voltage adjustment).
ASUS provides voltages settings up to 1.581V/1.929V respectively on the GPU and GDDR3 memory for the Matrix 4850 and 1.581V/1.540V on the GPU and GDDR5 memory for the 4870 Matrix. We cranked both of our boards up to these limits when OCíing them so we could get the max OCíing potential out of the cards.
Another bonus iTracker provides is the ability to set much higher clocks when overclocking. By default, the slider for a normal Radeon 4870 card maxes out at 800MHz on the GPU. With iTracker however you can go up to 950MHz. Memory speeds top out at 1200MHz (4.8GHz effective). Meanwhile, GPU clock speeds up to 800MHz are available for the 4850 Matrix (regular Radeon 4850 cards top out at 700MHz) while memory speeds max out at 1100MHz (2200MHz effective).
The final feature ASUS provides inside iTracker is profiles. Say for instance you want an HTPC profile, a desktop profile, and a gaming profile, or you want to setup profiles for 3 different games. Even 2D or 3D mode operation. Itís all possible with iTracker.
Our only gripe with iTracker is its user interface. Itís pretty clunky. You have to scroll back and forth to monitor GPU temps and voltages versus the boardís memory temps and voltages. Fortunately all the adjustments in the user defined mode can be found on one page, but thatís located in a separate section of iTracker too! Itís a bit of a jumbled mess that needs to be completely reworked in our opinion.