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    ASUS EN7600GT Silent 256MB Review
    By Vince Freeman :  August 11, 2006

    Introduction

    The mainstream graphics market is where buyers usually go to get the best value for their gaming buck, as this is where you will find the top combination of features, performance and price. This is what really drives mainstream graphics, and these cards can pump out the needed framerates, all without putting too big a dent in your wallet. Another interesting facet of the performance mainstream is the emergence of specialized designs and cooling formats, which is due to the lower heat and power requirements of models like the Radeon X1600 XT and GeForce 7600 GT. This allows companies like ASUS to utilize a silent cooling design with the EN7600GT Silent 256MB, all without losing anything in terms of performance or overclocking.

    The ASUS EN7600GT Silent 256MB Card

    The ASUS EN7600GT Silent 256MB card features the GeForce 7600 GT graphic processing unit, which is a very popular choice among mainstream gamers. The GPU is a 90nm part running at 560 MHz, with 12 pixel pipelines, 12 pixel shader processors, 12 texture units, and 5 vertex pipelines. These specifications all translate into a well-balanced, cool-running GPU, with an excellent mix of clock speed and performance architecture. The fill rate of the GeForce 7600 GT is 6.72 Gigatexel/s, which is exceptional for a mainstream card. But where NVIDIA toned things back a bit was in the memory interface, where a 128-bit link is employed, rather than the 256-bit interface that most high-end cards use. The 256MB of onboard GDDR3 memory is clocked at an effective clock speed of 1.4 GHz, resulting in a memory bandwidth of 22.4 GB/s.

    That gives us the basics on the GeForce 7600 GT, but the design of the ASUS EN7600GT Silent 256MB card is quite a bit different from a standard reference card. ASUS has utilized SilentCool 2 Technology to turn the card fanless, and as just like its name, this ensures 100% silent operation. One of the best features of this cooling design is that it allows the ASUS EN7600GT Silent 256MB to be a single-slot design, and along with providing better cooling, can allow a card in the slot below - if pressed for space.

    The SilentCool 2 Technology offers a high-performance fanless cooling subsystem, while still delivering on the default core and memory speeds of the GeForce 7600 GT. It consists of a main heatsink on the GPU, which is attached to a heatpipe, and then to a secondary heatsink that sits on the backside of the card. A second heatpipe is linked to the GPU heatsink, and this travels to a large heatsink that sits on the side of the card. This last piece is very interesting, as it can be used in its standard position, or swiveled 90 degrees up, and away from the card and GPU. This gives the ASUS EN7600GT Silent card some added flexibility, in terms of both optimal placement and the initial install. We had no problem installing and using the ASUS EN7600GT Silent 256MB card in any of our configurations, but those with smaller or cramped case designs may want to investigate this further.

    The rest of the card features are standard, and because of the die shrink to 90nm, there is no need for an external power connector. The card's backplate features dual DVI-I outputs, along with S-Video output that doubles as an HDTV output through the bundled breakout cable. The retail bundle for the ASUS EN7600GT Silent also includes a user manual, two DVI-to-VGA dongles, a CD carrying case, and a software bundle including drivers and the King Kong game. The ASUS EN7600GT Silent 256MB supports the latest SM 3.0, as well as a host of NVIDIA features and options. These include the CineFX 4.0 engine, IntelliSample 4.0, UltraShadow II, NVIDIA PureVideo, NVIDIA SLI, and nView, among others.

    To give a better idea of the architecture of the various mainstream and high-end cards we see competing directly against the GeForce 7600 GT, here is a small chart outlining the key performance features of each GPU:

    Graphics Processor Pixel Pipes Pixel Shaders Texture Units Vertex Shaders ROPs
    GeForce 7600 GT 12 12 12 5 8
    Radeon X700 Pro 8 8 8 6 8
    Radeon X1600 XT 4 12 4 5 4
    GeForce 6600 GT 8 8 8 3 4
    GeForce 6800 GS 12 12 12 5 8
    GeForce 6800 Ultra 16 16 16 6 16
    Radeon X1800 GTO 12 12 12 8 8
    Radeon X1800 XL 16 16 16 8 16
    GeForce 7800 GT 20 20 20 7 16

    Keep in mind that as many graphics designs have taken a more modular view of the architecture, so too does the entire picture of the GPU need to be taken into consideration. No more is performance relegated to the number of pixel pipelines or texel processing, but pixel and vertex shaders need to be taken into account, as does the number of ROPs (or Render Output units). Of course, the best performance metric is real-world testing, and we've assembled a wide range of game benchmarks in the next section.


  • Page 1 The ASUS EN7600GT Silent 256MB Card
    Page 2 Test Setup and Benchmark Software
    Page 3 Quake 3 and Halo: Combat Evolved Performance
    Page 4 Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004 Performance
    Page 5 DOOM 3 and Half-Life 2 Performance
    Page 6 FarCry and Quake 4 Performance
    Page 7 Chronicles of Riddick and F.E.A.R. Performance
    Page 8 3DMark06 Advanced Standard & Feature Performance
    Page 9 Overclock Testing and Performance
    Page 10 Benchmark Analysis, Value and Conclusion

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