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Asus EAX1600XT SILENT passively-cooled graphics card

Gaming performance without the noise?

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Review These days there isn’t much difference between one manufacturer’s graphics card and another’s, mainly because the standard reference designs from ATI and Nvidia work just fine. That leaves card makers scrambling around for differentiators, and with ever increasing concerns about noise, some manufacturers are trying to figure out how to make their cards more quiet than their rivals...

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Asus is one of many manufacturers that have produced a passively cooled card - its version is the EAX1600XT SILENT/TVD/256M. As the name suggests, it's based on the ATI X1600XT GPU and 256MB of (GDDR 3) graphics memory. The GPU is clocked at 590MHz while the memory comes in at 690MHz – effectively 1.38GHz. The memory bus is only 128 bits wide which limits the memory performance when compared to higher-end cards which use a 256-bit bus to double the rate at which data can be passed between the GPU and the memory.

The EAX1600XT also features ATI's Avivo system, with video in and out supported through either S-Video or composite video, the latter via a breakout cable. Oddly enough, there’s no component video-out cable supplied even though it should be part of the Avivo feature set.

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The Asus-designed heatsink uses twin heatpipes that wrap around the card. As a result, the front of the card is unusually clutter-free. The GPU is covered by a small metal plate with a copper inlay into which the heatpipes are connected. At the rear of the card is a rather large heatsink which dissipates the heat from the two heatpipes. It’s worth checking that you have enough room above the PCI Express slot in your system before you go out and get one of these cards due to the unusual construction, especially if you’re using a small form-factor or Micro ATX system.

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