Asus EN8600GT Silent/HTDP/512M Graphics Card

Graphics Cards
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Our old modified LX-6A19 (D8000) case from Cool Cases became our test system housing.

Our first test procedure is an in-system test designed to determine the card's power consumption, and whether the card is capable of being adequately cooled in a low-noise system. By adequately cooled, we mean cooled well enough so that no misbehavior related to thermal overload is exhibited. Thermal misbehavior in a graphics card can show up in a variety of ways, including...

  • Sudden system shutdown or reboot without warning.
  • Jaggies and other visual artifacts on the screen.
  • Motion slowing and/or screen freezing.

Any of these misbehaviors are annoying at best and dangerous at worst - dangerous to the health and lifespan of the graphics card, and sometimes to the system OS.

Test Platform

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • CPUBurn processor stress software
  • ATITool v0.26 artifact scanner to stress the GPU.
  • RTHDRIBL as an alternate tool for stressing the GPU.
  • SpeedFan version 4.33 to show CPU and GPU temperature.
  • Seasonic Power Angel AC power meter, used to measure the power consumption of the system.
  • A custom-built variable DC power supply to power the system fan.

System airflow is quite good, allowing the CPU and system fans to run at close to inaudible speeds without compromising system cooling. The intake is about the size of a 120mm fan. The only restriction is an air filter. A much more restrictive cover for the filter was removed because it impeded the airflow too much.

The one and only intake...

...and the same view, with the bezel removed.

There is only one point of exhaust: The Nexus 120mm case fan which will be run at a number of different speeds. The 80mm fan in the Neo HE power supply was taken out of the picture by using a custom-built duct to ensure that the fan never ramped up. The amount of airflow through the system can be controlled by adjusting the speed of the case fan, thereby giving us a way of controlling how difficult the thermal environment inside the case is.

A fresh air duct isolates the power supply from the rest of the system.

Only one possible points of exhaust: The orange case fan.
The fan in the power supply draws its air from a duct that does not interact with the rest of the system airflow.

The airflow in our test rig is typical of an ATX case. Air flows in through the intake near the bottom of the front panel, and is pulled up to the top rear corner. Most of this air will bypass the expansion cards altogether, but a small amount will be pulled across the rear of the card as it is pulled towards the CPU heatsink and the case fan. All of the air will exit the case via the exhaust fan.

The air will flow from the lower right to the upper left, drawing a small amount of air across the VGA card.

Testing was conducted initially with the system fan at 12V with the system idle, and running two instances of CPUBurn. Then ATITool's artifact scanner was run in conjunction with two instances of CPUBurn to generate as much heat and power draw as possible from both the CPU and GPU. During this portion of testing the system fan voltage was slowly turned down to see what thermal consequences arose from limiting the amount of system airflow provided.

SpeedFan and was used to measure CPU and GPU temperature, and the results were recorded after the GPU temperature stabilized. After the final, most demanding test with the system fan running at 7V, ATITool was left running for 30 minutes and then replaced by RTHDRIBL for 30 minutes after that. Throughout this step we watched the screen for visual artifacts that might indicate overheating. If either ATITool or RTHDRIBL detected artifacts in this minimum airflow and maximum heat test situation, the card would be retested for artifacts with the system fan at 9V and 12V to determine whether system airflow was a contributing factor to failure.

The card is determined to have passed our testing if it managed to survive the duration of testing without ATITool or RTHDRIBL detecting any artifacts.

AC system power consumption was measured from the outlet using a Seasonic Power Angel and actual DC power use was estimated/extrapolated using the efficiency figures deduced from our Antec Neo HE 430 review: 67% at 62W, 76% at 85W, 76% at 119W, 79% at 190W (all wattages are AC).

During testing the ambient temperature was 21°C and the noise level was approximately 18 dBA.

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