Asus EN8600GT OC GEAR graphics card

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VIDEO PLAYBACK TEST RESULTS

CPU Usage & Power Consumption
Video Clip
Mean CPU Usage
System Power
Consumption (AC)
Core 0
Core 1
Average
720p H.264
26%
6%
16%
~120W
1080p H.264
48%
25%
36.5%
~132W
WMV3 VC-1
53%
8%
30.5%
~133W
WVC1 VC-1
59%
47%
53%
~144W

The EN8600GT blew through this section as well, with minimal CPU assistance until our most demanding test clip. No freezing or stuttering was observed. The 720p H264 and WMV3 clip barely used the second core at all. After some investigation we found that this behavior, the favoring of one core over another during playback, was evident in one of our Intel Core 2 Duo based systems as well, so it seems to be a quirk with Intel dual core processors. On AMD 64 X2 systems, the load on the cores seems more balanced while playing these clips.

NOISE RECORDINGS IN MP3 FORMAT

These recording starts with 4~10 seconds of "silence" to let you hear the ambient sound of the room, followed by 10 seconds of the test system noise. The recording of the Asus video card has its fan at three settings: Minimum, default, and maximum fan speeds. There's a few seconds of "silence" inserted between each 10 second stretch of noise to help you remember the reference ambient.

HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review. Two recordings of each noise level were made, one from a distance of one meter, and another from one foot away.

The one meter recording is intended to give you an idea of how the subject of this review sound in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. For best results, set your volume control so that the ambient noise is just barely audible. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The one foot recording is designed to bring out the fine details of the noise. Use this recording with caution! Although more detailed, it may not represent how the subject sounds in actual use. It is best to listen to this recording after you have listened to the one meter recording.

More details about how we make these recordings can be found in our short article: Audio Recording Methods Revised.

CONCLUSIONS

After all our testing, we have mixed feelings about the Asus EN8600GT OC GEAR.

The actual graphics card itself is an exellent product, having modest power requirement and impressive high definition playback ability in a compact form. With an above-average cooler and low temperatures, there is obviously a lot of headroom if you're looking to squeeze better gaming performance out of the card via overclocking. Gaming is an aspect we are not qualified to discuss nor much interested in. Gaming performance analyses of the EN8600GT OC GEAR can be found at a variety of other sites such as Legion Hardware, HardwareZone and AMDZone.

The fan is a little too noisy for our liking, though it performs well. It's obvious from our tests that a slower, quieter fan would've done just fine. There's also the matter of the extra expense added of the OC Gear unit. It's hard to justify the additional cost when for the same price, you can purchase the next highest model, the 8600GTS. It's not a particularly useful piece of hardware, as much of its functionality can be reproduced with various software programs. Fan speed control can be customized and overclocking done on the fly from the desktop with very little interaction by the user, and frame-rate can be displayed on-screen in almost all modern games. It'd be a lot more useful if all the information was displayed numerically, or if you could set dynamic fan/overclocking settings using the panel. Reaching for the dial and adjusting each setting is tedious and not knowing exactly how high or low you're adjusting them is unsettling.

We applaud the innovation shown by Asus, but it's clear that improvements can definitely be made to the OC Gear module to make it more functional and worthwhile. It would also be advisable to bundle it with a high-end card instead, as the price difference wouldn't be as glaring and perspective buyers would be more willing to spend a bit more.

Many thanks to ASUSTeK for the sample of the EN8600GT OC GEAR/HTDP/256M

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Sytrin KuFormula VF1 Plus graphics card cooler
Fanless PCIe Graphics Cards from Asus and Aopen
Gigabyte GV-N66256DP Fanless AGP video card
VGA Cooler Roundup: A Thermalright, two Zalmans, and an Arctic Cooling

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