ASUS ENGT430 Reviewccokeman - October 11, 2010
Category: Video Cards
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Not everyone has an up-to-date, flavor of the week gaming rig. In fact, when you compare the amount of gaming rigs to those used on a daily basis for surfing the web, editing or viewing digital content (be it photos or video, etc), the more pedestrian machines outnumber the gaming rigs by more than a two to one ratio. So what that means is as a company, you go where the fish are and with the right bait to entice the fish to bite. A larger pool means more bites. Seems simple, right? NVIDIA must think so as it has now adapted their Fermi architecture to start filling all the price and performance points that ATI has previously filled with their latest DX 11 capable cards. NVIDIA has worked from the top down with their GF 100, GF 104, GF 106 and now their GF 108 GPU's. This latest revision is meant to tackle the Digital Media PC and HTPC markets that fill up a significant portion of the discrete GPU market. The GF 108 based GT430 is the card that is meant to fulfill this purpose in NVIDIA's product stack and is the replacement for the GT220. The GT430 is built using the same 40nm build process and comes with a single GPC, two Streaming Multi processors (SMs), two frame buffer partitions (FBs) and one half ROP partition (four ROP units). The 1GB of GDDR3 memory interface runs through dual 64bit memory controllers. Now as a card destined for the HTPC market, you have to wonder just what it will do in the casual gaming arena as well as how it handles the latest Blu-ray or high definition media content. Things we shall find out after testing this example from ASUS. The ENGT430 from ASUS is a non-reference design that incorporates ASUS's latest design features to deliver a card that runs cooler and lasts longer. Let's see just how much of an increase in performance we get from this card and compare that performance to that of its predecessor and also offerings from ATI.
When this package arrived, I knew it would be on the small size but did not realize just how small it would be! This card from ASUS comes in a box that is similar in size to the box of the card it is replacing (NVIDIA's GT220). The front panel has a picture that looks like something right out of the works of Frank Frazzetta with a warrior on his trusty mount. Prominently featured is a picture of the fan used on the ENGT430. This fan is a dust proof design that ASUS illustrates as improving the fan's lifespan by 25%. As we all know, having the fan fail is a recipe for disaster on cards not equipped with massive passive heatsinks. Along the bottom, you have the name of the this Fermi based card as well as descriptions about the amount and type of Vram, the full DirectX 11 support and both a standard and low profile bracket to allow use in a low profile HTPC chassis. The back side of this package lists the minimum system specs in text small enough that even with glasses I had a hard time reading it! Again, the dust proof fan is mentioned with its benefits of extended card life, "Fuse Protection" that offers twice the over current protection and "GPU Guard" that increases structural rigidity to keep the GF 108 core from cracking.
Pop the lid on the box and you are greeted with the ENGT430 from ASUS inside a static free bag. Underneath, you get the accessory bundle that consists of the low profile brackets, manual and driver disk. A slim set of accessories for sure, but with the on-board connectivity, consideration for the target market and the desired price point, this is to be expected.
Let's dig into this little gem and see what it has under the hood.