Fanless PCIe Graphics Cards from Asus and Aopen

Graphics Cards
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ATI's X1600XT series has been largely ignored by the gaming market thanks to its sub-par performance in its price bracket. Its saving grace is that it supports video in as well as video out, meaning that it can operate as a TV capture card. Like AOpen's low profile card, it will probably find its biggest market in the HTPC market, where 3D performance is not that important, and the additional cost over a low budget card can be justified by not needing to buy a TV capture card. From this perspective, Asus' decision to use a passive cooler makes good sense, since the home theater market is more sensitive to noise.

Full video in and out is supported for Composite and S-Video signals.

Unlike the AOpen card, Asus' cooler only uses a single heatsink on the rear side of the card. Two heatpipes transfer the heat to the heatsink around the back of the card. The heatpipes are considerably thicker than those used by AOpen. As mentioned, there are no heatsinks for the RAM chips or the Rage Theater chip that enables the video capture capabilities of the card.

No heatsink fins here. Just a cooling block with two heatpipes coming out.

The heatsink does not make contact with the PCB, but hangs about half a centimeter above it, allowing air to flow freely underneath it. The fins are individual pieces of aluminum press-fitted on to the heatpipes. The heatsink is quite light, yet does not sacrifice cooling surface area. In fact, the surface area of the Asus heatsink is probably greater than both of the AOpen heatsinks combined.

The heatsink is also elevated above the base of the card to keep incompatibilities to a minimum. It is quite tall though, so it may cause issues with large CPU coolers if the CPU socket is located too close to the expansion slots.

The rear heatsink.

Heatpipes wrap around the tail end of the card...

...and spread out so that one heatpipe runs down each side of the heatsink.

SPECIFICATIONS: Asus EAX1600XT Silent/TVD/256M (from Asus' web site)

Graphics Engine

ATI Radeon X1600XT

Video Memory

256 MB DDR3
Engine Clock 590 MHz
Memory Clock 1.38 GHz (690 MHz DDR3)
Bus Standard 16 Lanes PCI Express
Memory Interface 128 bit
Max Resolution 2048x1536
TV Output Yes
Video Input Yes
VGA Output Standard 15-pin D-Sub
DVI Output DVI-I
2nd VGA Output Yes, via DVI-to-VGA Adaptor
Adaptor/Cable Bundled 9-pin VIVO dongle
DVI-to-2nd VGA adaptor
3D Game Bundle Gamepack2 & Xpand Rally

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