ASUS EN8600 GT

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ASUS EN8600 GT
  • ASUS EN8600 GT
  • ASUS EN8600 GT
  • ASUS EN8600 GT

Pros

  • Comes with a large aluminium-based cooler

Cons

  • Isn't overclocked, Sluggish performance in DirectX 9-based games, Slightly overpriced

Bottom Line

While the cooler on this card differs from the norm, nothing else really separates it from the crowd. Its default clock speeds are slow for the price, so if you're looking for an inexpensive gaming card, you'll have to look elsewhere.

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This mid-range card from ASUS is based on the NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT GPU (graphics processing unit), and it runs at stock-standard speeds. It isn't the fastest card we've seen, but it runs quietly and can be used to play current DirectX 9-based games.

ASUS has deviated from the beaten path for this card's cooler, which is a fancy-looking gold-painted aluminium heat sink with a fan attached. It sits on the GPU and rises about 3.5cm high off the circuit, showcasing a sparsely populated circuit board around it. It's meant to keep the GPU 14 degrees cooler than a stock-standard cooler, which should make it easier to boost the GPU's frequency slightly. The GPU runs at the default speed for an 8600 GT chip (540MHz), so any extra speed out of this chip would be welcomed. It has 256MB of GDDR3 memory, which also runs at the default speed for an 8600 GT chip (2GHz).

Running F.E.A.R at a resolution of 1280x960 and with 4x anti-aliasing enabled, the card averaged 30fps (frames per second) which isn't enough for consistently-smooth gameplay at this resolution. At 1024x768, the card averaged 46fp, which is a more respectable result and means that many DirectX 9-based games can be played smoothly at this resolution with anti-aliasing enabled. It's a slower average than MSI's NX8600GT card (which averaged 54fps in the same test), but this was expected as the MSI has higher default clock speeds. That being said, the MSI card also costs less.

To test its DirectX 10 performance, we ran the in-built benchmark from the game demonstration of Lost Planet. At a resolution of 1024x768, with 4x anti-aliasing and with medium image detail, the card averaged 20fps. This indicates that DirectX 10-based games won't be comfortably playable at this resolution unless the image detail is turned down.

Like all 8600-based cards, the EN8600GT features NVIDIA's PureVideo HD, which can hardware-accelerate Blu-ray and HD-DVD content. The high definition outputs available on this card are two DVI ports and a Component output. ASUS supplies a break-out cable, which features the ports for a Component connection.

Physically, the card will only take up one slot in a PC, but its tall cooler will come close to any expansion cards that are installed in the adjacent slot, so it's best to give it room. It ran fairly quietly during our tests and shouldn't be distracting for gamers. The EN8600GT has an SLI connector, so if you have an SLI-capable motherboard, you can install two of these cards in order achieve frame rates better than you would get with a single 8600 GTS-based card (if you're using Vista, you'll have to wait until SLI drivers become reliable).

While the cooler on this card differs from the norm, nothing else really separates it from the crowd. Its default clock speeds are slow for the price, so if you're looking for an inexpensive gaming card, you'll have to look elsewhere.

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