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THE CARD AND HEATSINK
This 8600GT is essentially identical electronically to the OC Gear version
we reviewed previously, except the amount of video memory has been doubled and
the heatsink replaced with a passive solution. The core and memory run at the
The EN8600GT Silent edition. A plastic shroud covers the rear portion
of the body direct airflow to/from the rear vent.
The heatsink's fins are very thick and spaced widely apart. A shroud helps
focus air current over the heatsink. It's doubtful this will be useful without
appreciable airflow. It's notable that unlike some other passively cooled graphics
cards from Asus, (such as the EN7600GT
SILENT, or the EN8600GTS
SILENT) the heatsink does not extend to the backside of the board. Presumably,
this has to do with the actual cooling requirements of the different GPUs on
these graphics cards.
The cooler is mounted via four screws on the back of the card.
The heatsink viewed from the side.
The bulk of the cooler appears to be comprised of aluminum but a different
story emerges when viewed from the side. The actual GPU core contacts a thin
copper base plate. Just above it, a single solitary copper heatpipe curves out
the opposite side and transfers heat to the rest of the heatsink. A small section
of the heatpipe is visible on the top side of the cooler the shroud obscures
the rest from view.
The fin layout of the heatsink.
The fin layout of the heatsink is puzzling. Instead of a symmetrical array,
the fins are broken into sections. The middle portion is curved and the section
at the top of the PCB is arranged at a steep angle.
The rear grill.
From the design it appears that Asus intends warm air to exit via the vent
and out of the case, but we're not sure exactly how this can be accomplished
without any direct airflow. Ultimately whether air enters or exits this grill
will be determined by the internal case pressure. The "dorsal" fins
(on the left side of the above picture) are almost perpendicular to the center
fins. It seems all they do is get in the way of any air that may be flowing
down the length of the PCB. A more uniform design with a higher quantity of
thinner fins to maximize the amount of surface area exposed would serve better
in a low airflow environment.
The EN8600GT Silent installed in our test system.
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