ASUS EN8600GTS Silent Graphics Card Review
Reviewed by: Mussicho
Reviewed on: September 16, 2007
: GF City Computers
Price: 200.00 US
Today, I'll be reviewing a "high end" entry level graphics card - the ASUS EN8600GTS Silent 256MB DDR3 graphics card, which features SilentCool Technology. What is this you ask? Well, according to ASUS, "this technology allows for a fan-less, noiseless, cooling solution for high performance graphics cards," which results in a quieter computer since the graphics card operates at 0 decibels. ASUS also incorporates another patented technology called the swivel joint. Essentially, this unique feature allows the user to swivel the cooling fins 90 degrees so that it is situated over top the CPU fan, which takes away heat from the graphics card and allows for cooler operation.
So, just who is ASUS anyway? ASUS is a popular and well-known technology-based company that has been around for many years. ASUS produces many consumer products, including, but not limited to, graphics cards. So, without any further ado, let's get this show on the road.
For me personally, when I am about to purchase anything of value, packaging is always my least consideration. I have to admit, the cooler the packaging looks, the more I am likely to at least give it a look. However, it is always my practice that I will spend some time researching an item before I dole out any money for it. My father always said, "never judge a book by it's cover" and in my humble opinion, if you purchase anything because the box looks cool, you are likely to be disappointed more times than not. But for those who enjoy the artwork of packaging, the ASUS EN8600GTS Silent box has average looks at best.
As you can see, the box is mainly black and green with a warrior princess on the front. With the exception of a glimpse of the graphics card on the front, the consumer doesn't really get a good idea of what the graphics card actually looks like. The back of the box is standard, as it sets out all the features that one can expect. Lastly, the cover slides off to reveal a white box inside.
When the contents box is opened, everything you need is there, including a media holder for your software. The ASUS EN8600GTS is well protected. It comes wrapped with the standard anti-static wrap that is placed in foam padding to protect it from external damage.
The graphics card is neat looking. As you can see, the card has large cooling fins. As stated earlier, the ASUS EN8600GTS Silent employs patented SilentCool Technology, which means there is no fan or heatsink on this model; making for a very quiet computer.
Furthermore, as you can see in this photo, the cooling fins swivel 90 degrees. When installed in the motherboard, it will sit over top the CPU fan. This position allows for better heat removal away from the graphics card. However, that being said, the cooling fins are not required to be turned, as the graphics card will still function if the fins are left in their original position.
The ASUS EN8600GTS Silent utilizes a PCI Express slot and has two DVI outputs and one S-video connection. Because of the thickness, you will have to open the expansion slot next to the PCI-E slot to accommodate the graphics card, which contains an air vent. The ASUS EN8600GTS Silent also requires a minimum 400W external power source.
Now you should have a pretty good feel as to what the ASUS EN8600GTS Silent looks like, so let's install it.
As with any graphics card installation, no special tools are required. Depending on your case, the only tool you may need is a Phillips screw driver. If your case utilizes tool-less technology, then obviously you won't need any tools. For me personally, I always secure my add ons with screws, as this ensures a solid connection. The first thing you will want to do is unplug your computer from your surge protector or duplex wall plug. After that, pull off the case side, disconnect the external power cord (if it has one) from the old graphics card, and pull it out of its slot. Next you will want to find the PCI-E slot and open an extra expansion slot below the PCI-E, since the graphics card is quite thick. Next, plug the ASUS EN8600GTS Silent into the vacant PCI-E slot and carefully snap it into place and secure it in. Now, this is where you will want to turn the cooling fins 90 degrees up so that it sits above the CPU fan (only if you want to). It is quite firm to turn so be sure to hold the card tightly while you carefully turn it upwards. Before you put your case side back on, don't forget to plug the power connector (usually labeled PCI-E) into the graphics card. Lastly, connect your monitor to the DVI outlet at the back of your case.
So now that we have the ASUS EN8600GTS Silent firmly in place, it's time to install the software.
Installing the drivers is easy. Turn your computer on and place the VGA Driver CD that came with the graphics card into the CD-ROM drive. After a few seconds, the main menu appears and simply follow the on-screen instructions.
Click on "VGA drivers" and the next screen you will see is the InstallShield Wizard screen - click "next." Then select typical installation and click "next." Don't worry about the next screen you see. What it's saying is that Windows XP is not sure if it is compatible with the operating system (it is). Click "Continue Anyway".
Alright, the next screen you will see is the DirectX screen asking you if you would like to install DirectX 9.0c. If you already have it, select "I don't accept accept the agreement." If you choose to accept the agreement and click "Next," another window pops up. Select "Next" again and DirectX 9.0c will install. Finally, you will be prompted to restart your computer - do so and click "Finish".
Once your computer restarts, go into "My Computer" and double-click NVIDIA Control Panel and select the standard option and click "OK." The next screen you will see is NVIDIA advising you of your monitor's recommended resolution. In this case, click "Yes" for now and the resolution adjusts. You can later go back in and change your resolution to your liking. NVIDIA will then display another screen of choices where you can adjust the settings. Close this screen. Again, you can go into this at a later time and play with the settings.
You will then see the main screen again. You can install the ASUS Utilities, which are not required, but if you want them, click "next". The next screen prompts you to select either the complete installation or a custom one. If you are not sure which to select, I recommend the complete installation. The next screen will be the Windows XP compatibility screen; click "Continue Anyway." Finally, restart your computer so that the installation can complete itself.
When your computer finishes restarting, the ASUS Game Face application starts. Unless you do online gaming, just turn this feature off. However, if you do game online, take sometime and explore what this utility lets you do. Essentially, this program permits ASUS graphics card users to see their opponents when gaming online, so long as they are utilizing the Game Face feature as well.
Last but not least, go to ASUS's website and grab the latest video drivers for the EN8600GTS Silent. Finding it is simple. Look up EN8600 GTS Silent and you will see an option at the product review called "Download." This is where you will find the latest drivers and once you've downloaded them, install them. This is pretty straight forward.
Alright, so now that we have the ASUS EN8600GTS Silent installed, let's take a look at its specifications and features.
2GHz (1000MHz DDR3)
Up to 3840 x 2400
PCI Express X16
YES, via DVI to VGA Adapter
YES, via HDTV Out Cable
YES, via S-Video to Composite
Dual DVI Output
DVI to VGA Adapter
ASUS Utilities & Driver
- Superior Cooling Efficiency - 5°C cooler than reference design boards!
- 0 dB: super Quiet heat sink design
- Built for Microsoft® Windows Vista™
- ASUS Splendid
- Watching movies on PC is as good as on Top-of-the-line consumer television (under WinXP/2000)
- ASUS Video Security Online
- Keep an eye on your home at all times no matter where you are
- ASUS Gamer OSD
- Chat and overclocking during games
- ASUS GameFace Messenger
- Easy instant massager and live game conference in any PC games
- Graphics GPU Features
- NVIDIA® GeForce 8600GTS
- Built for Microsoft® Windows Vista™
- NVIDIA SLI™ Technology ready
- Full support for Microsoft DirectX10 and Shader Model 4.0 enables stunning and complex special effects
- OpenGL®2.0 support
- NVIDIA Quantum Technology - Advanced Shader Processors architected for physics computation
- Single dual-link DVI outputs support 3840 x 2400 at 30Hz resolution displays
- I/O Specifications:
- Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E6600 CPU
- Asus P5B motherboard
- 2 x 1GB Mushkin XP2-9200 ram
- ASUS EN8600GTS Silent (nVidia)
- Sapphire HD2400XT (ATi)
- Sapphire HD2600XT (ATi)
- Sapphire X1950 Pro (ATi)
- Mushkin Enhanced 650w PSU
- Samsung SyncMaster 710T Monitor
- Windows XP Pro SP2
- DirectX 9.0c
- All Video Drivers are the most up to date at time of benchmarks
- Far Cry: Hardware OC (Ubisoft Volcano)
- F.E.A.R. (Performance test)
- Call of Duty 2: Stalingrad (FRAPS)
- Quake 4: Hardware OC
- Need For Speed Most Wanted (FRAPS)
- Microsoft Flight Simulator X
Benchmark: Far Cry:
To keep things simple, I will benchmark the games in the order presented above.
Far Cry is a first-person shooter computer game developed by Crytek Studios from Germany and was published by Ubisoft on March 23, 2004 for Windows. Far Cry sold 730,000 units within four months of release.
- Maximum quality option, Direct3D renderer
- Level: Volcano, demo: Volcano.tmd
- Pixel shader: model 2.0b
- Antialising: 4×
- Anisotropic filtering: 8×
- HDR: disabled
- Geometry Instancing: disabled
- Normal-maps compression: disabled
F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon is a first-person shooter developed by Monolith Productions and published by Vivendi. It was released on October 18, 2005, for Windows.
- FSAA: 4x
- Anisotropic: 16x
- Effects: Max
- Computer: High
- Soft Shadow: Off
Benchmark: Call of Duty 2:
Call of Duty 2 is a first-person shooter and is the sequel to the critically acclaimed game, Call of Duty, also developed by Infinity Ward. Call of Duty 2 was released by Activision on October 25, 2005, for Windows.
- Anti-aliasing: 4x
- Texture Filter: Trilinear
Benchmark: Quake 4:
Quake 4 is the fourth title in the series of Quake FPS computer games. It was developed by Raven Software and distributed by Activision. Quake 4 was released October 18, 2005, for the PC.
- Demo: Hardware OC
- Quality: High
- Aspect Ratio: [4:3]
- Antialiasing: 4x
- Anisotropic filtering: 4x
- Symmetric MultiProcessing (SMP) enabled
Benchmark: NFS: Most Wanted:
Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a multi-platform racing game, developed by EA Black Box and first released by Electronic Arts in the U.S.A. on November 15, 2005.
- Track: Diamond and Union
- All basic video settings set to ¾ on scroll bar
- All geometric features: High
- Vsync: Off
Benchmark: Microsoft FSX:
Microsoft Flight Simulator X, also known as FSX, is the latest version of Microsoft's Flight Simulator, after Flight Simulator 2004. It was officially released in the U.S.A. on October 17, 2006.
I will be flying the same flight path throughout all the resolutions, from the same airport, and under the same conditions to keep the benchmarking consistent.
- Target Frame rate to unlimited
- Anisotropic filtering
- All other settings to Medium high
Benchmark: 3D Mark 06:
For the time being, default settings will be used while benchmarking 3D Mark 06 Professional.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: CPU1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
RyderMark is a new benchmark developed by Candella Software. There are many options that can be changed in the benchmark; I played with different settings, different shaders, and more, and hopefully have come up with a good combination. The benchmark is themed in Venice Italy during a speed boat race. Please check back for a full review on this new benchmark.
- Default 3.0
- Resolutions 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024
- AA 4x Quality 8
- AF 16x
- 64-Bit Shader
- Memory set to video card level
Overall, I was fairly pleased with the results of the EN8600GTS Silent. Although not an extreme card, most average users would be more than satisfied. The only real competition the EN8600GTS Silent faced during this review, was with the X1950Pro. Out of 24 runs, the EN8600GTS Silent beat the X1950 Pro 14 times while the X1950 Pro beat the EN8600GTS Silent 10 times. According to price grabber, the EN8600GTS Silent can be had for approximately $200.00 US, which won't break the bank; although, you can get the X1950 Pro for a little less.
What I liked most about the EN8600GTS Silent was the actual silence of it. At 0 decibels, I could barely hear my computer running. This alone would make for a much more enjoyable playing experience. And, the large passive cooling fins (besides being cool looking) actually work. Although, I did not utilize an infrared device, I did feel the graphics card from time to time and even though there was some heat (which is to be expected) I could actually hold my hand there without it becoming too discomforting.
What I didn't like about the EN8600GTS Silent was the swivel joint. When I was trying to turn it 90 degrees, I actually thought it was going to break as it was extremely stiff. In fact, had I not been extra careful, there is no doubt that it would have broke. If you do utilize the swivel joint technology, I would recommend turning it before installing it. The other thing that could be annoying is that the EN8600GTS Silent is a space hog. Not that that's too big of a deal, it just makes swapping out parts a little trickier. All in all, I would recommend it.
- 0 decibel noise thanks to SilentCool technology
- 3 large heatpipes for cool operation
- Resolutions up to 3840 x 2400
- HDCP compliant
- DirectX 10 support
- Low Power Consumption
- Swivel joint is very difficult to turn
- Requires a lot of space
- Requires an extra power source