Asus ENGTX260: A Quiet Graphics Card for Gamers?

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These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, 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.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds 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. 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 recording starts with 10 seconds of room ambience, followed by 10 seconds of the VGA test system without a video card installed, and then 10 seconds each of the actual product's noise at idle and load levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.


Gaming: This is not our forté, so for an overall sense of how well the GTX 260 performs in games, check out the reviews at The Guru of 3D, Anandtech, techPowerUp, and HardwareCanucks. The general consensus is that the GTX 260 offers performance similar to the Radeon HD4870, with the edge of one over the other varying with the game used for testing. The extra memory on the GTX 260, gives it a definite advantage at higher resolutions. It is a good "budget" choice for 1920x1200 gaming, though it plays games much more smoothly at lower resolutions.

Video Playback: Video playback was excellent as the GTX 260 uses the same decoding hardware as the Geforce 9 series. CPU usage was very low.

Cooling: The stock cooler was suprisingly quiet and effective. At idle, even in a quiet room it would barely be audible, if at all. When stressed the GPU's fan does not ramp up very much, and the amount of extra noise it generates is minimal and easily drowned out by in-game sound effects and music. Rarely are we satisfied with stock VGA heatsinks, but the ENGTX260 cooler was an exception. It is quiet enough to make all but the most picky of silent PC users happy.

Power Consumption: By our estimates, the ENGTX260 requires approximately 35W minimum and up to 122W when stressed to the limit. It is a lot, but when you consider the amount of 3D performance the GTX 260 provides, it's not unreasonable. While we prefer cards with low power consumption, but if you love PC games, higher energy consumption is still one of the prices.

Overall, the Asus ENGTX260 is an excellent high-end gaming card. It's power consumption is fairly high, but not out of line for the performance it provides. It is a very large card physically, as the PCB is an inch wider than most ATX motherboards. In a cramped mid-tower case, it could cut off the circulation between the top and bottom halves of the case. Luckily, the stock cooler, the ENGTX260's biggest strength in our opinion, keeps the GPU at very reasonable temperatures, directing most of the heat out the back. It is also quiet enough to be usable in most silent PCs, which is quite an accomplishment. The GTX 260's are priced similarly to the HD 4870, but the surprisingly quiet cooler, at least on the Asus version, tips the scales in our opinion.

Asus ENGTX260/HTDP/896M

* Effective, quiet stock cooler
* Excellent 3D performance
* Excellent HD playback

* Long PCB
* High power consumption

Our thanks to ASUSTeK for the video card sample.

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ATI HD 3850 & HD 3870: Improved Acoustics & Power Efficiency
Updated VGA Card/Cooler Test Platform

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