Asus EN8600GT Silent/HTDP/512M Graphics Card

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VIDEO PLAYBACK TEST

Our second test procedure is designed to determine the card's proficiency at playing back high definition videos encoded with the popular H.264 and the up-and-coming VC-1 codecs. We used the same test platform as our thermal and power test with the Intel Pentium D 930 Presler processor. It's a fairly low-end dual core CPU by modern standards, so the difference in the amount of assistance it lent to the GPU between the different test videos would be more easily distinguishable.

The clips were played with Windows Media Player 11 and a CPU usage graph was created by the Windows Task Manger for analysis to determine the mean and average CPU use. The higher the CPU usage, the lower the video card's decoding ability. If CPU usage reached extremely high levels and the video skipped or froze, we concluded the video card failed to adequately decompress the clip. System power consumption was also recorded.

For complete details of the video clips used, please see page 5 of the Asus EN8600GT OC GEAR graphics card review.

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
27%
6%
16.5%
~117W
1080p H.264
44%
28%
36.0%
~131W
WMV3 VC-1
39%
22%
30.5%
~131W
WVC1 VC-1
56%
46%
51.0%
~144W

Graphics Card Video Playback Comparison:
Asus EN8600GT Silent vs. EN8600GT OC Gear
Video Clip
EN8600GT Silent
EN8600GT OC Gear
Average CPU Usage
System AC Power
Average CPU Usage
System AC Power
720p H.264
16.5%
~117W
16.0%
~120W
1080p H.264
36.0%
~131W
36.5%
~132W
WMV3 VC-1
30.5%
~131W
30.5%
~133W
WVC1 VC-1
51.0%
~144W
53.0%
~144W

Playback results were excellent and consistent with the EN8600GT OC Gear, as expected. This test was more of a formality than anything else. Interestingly, the Silent model demanded slightly less power, but the difference was not nearly as big as during the maximum load testing.

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 Asus EN8600GT Silent does not produce any noise). The recording of the Asus EN8600GT OC Gear 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

We cannot confirm nor deny the claim made by Asus that the EN8600GT Silent is "7°C cooler than generic boards." The use of the word "generic" really makes this statement ambiguous. Does it mean other passively cooled 8600GTs or are they are referring to 8600GTs that use the nVidia reference cooler? If it's the former, it's quite possible. If it's the latter, we seriously doubt it. It is unlikely that an actively-cooled 8600GT would ever hit over 100°C in our test system. If the EN8600GT OC Gear is any indication, a fan at any speed would improve cooling by leaps and bounds.

For a graphics card that occupies two slots, we were expecting better thermal results — Asus' heatsink design could use some improvement. We simply don't have information to know what is a safe long term operating temperature limit, but the >100°C reached at the lowest system fan setting seems too high.

You will want to design more directed airflow for the graphics card (or more overall case airflow) than we have in our test setup when the Nexus case fan is running at 7V; this is about as little airflow as any hot system should ever have. It's likely that the Asus folks did not intend this graphics card to be used in a case with so little airflow.

The cooler worked well enough even under such tough thermal conditions to keep the card operating without any anomalies, so despite the high GPU temperatures, we give this card a cautious recommendation along with a caveat to ensure good case cooling. As for the other criteria we consider important — silence, power consumption, and video playback ability — the Asus EN8600GT Silent is a slam dunk.

Many thanks to ASUSTeK for the sample of the Asus EN8600GT Silent/HTDP/512M

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
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Fanless PCIe Graphics Cards from Asus and Aopen
Gigabyte GV-N66256DP Fanless AGP video card

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