ASUS EN8600GTS TOP
- Fast performance, Doesn't take up two expansion slots, DirectX 10-capable, runs quietly
- Doesn't come with a DVI-HDMI adapter, Produced slow frame rates in the Lost Planet DirectX 10 demonstration
Despite its slow showing in the Lost Planet DirectX 10 demonstration, it's still unclear how well this card will be able to handle DirectX 10-based games. But, for current DirectX 9-based games, this card will perform well and its price, along with its game bundle, make it an attractive mid-range option for any Vista-based PC.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
To date, this is the fastest mid-range card we've tested, and that's not surprising considering the card's specifications. It's based on NVIDIA's latest mid-range GPU (graphics processing unit) - the GeForce 8600 GTS - which is DirectX 10-capable and is a perfect addition to any Windows Vista-based mid-range PC.
The standard specifications of the GeForce 8600 GTS are a clock speed of 675MHz for the GPU itself and 2GHz for the memory. ASUS' EN8600GTS TOP, however, runs the GPU at a default speed of 745MHz and it's 256MB of GDDR3 memory at 2.29GHz. Indeed, the 'TOP' in the model name stands for top overclocking performance.
We tested the card on an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700-based PC with 1GB of DDR2 800MHz RAM, a 650W Seasonic power supply a 150GB Western Digital Raptor hard drive. The card was run under Windows Vista Ultimate, using the latest Forceware drivers from NVIDIA's Web site at the time of writing (158.18).
In F.E.A.R, at a resolution of 1280x960 with 16x anisotropic filtering and 4x antialiasing enabled, the card recorded 47fps (frames per second), which is a playable result. Using the same image-quality settings, but turning the resolution down to 1024x768, the card produced a silky-smooth 70fps.
F.E.A.R is a DirectX 9-based game and currently one of the most taxing on the market, so it's a good indication on how this card will handle other DirectX 9-based games. To test the card's DirectX 10 capabilities, we used the in-built benchmark in the Lost Planet game demonstration. Lost Planet is a popular Xbox 360 game that has been converted to PC format and it incorporates some of the features of DirectX 10.
While it's still early days for this game, and DirectX 10 in particular, the performance results we observed aren't heartening for those of us with mid-range budgets. Using medium image quality, medium HDR, 16x anisotropic filtering and 4x antialiasing, the card scored 28fps at a resolution of 1024x768.
This result doesn't translate to smooth game play, especially if there's a lot of action on the screen, and means that a huge sacrifice is gong to have to be made in the image quality department if this card is going to produce a playable frame rate. If you're curious as to how the card performed when we turned the image quality to high, well, it barely averaged more than 2fps. Curiously, we were also able to run a DirectX 9 version of the same Lost Planet demonstration, where the card scored 35fps. The developer of Lost Planet claims that DirectX 10 is favoured over DirectX 9 due to the better processing speed it can provide (DirectX 10 is designed to take advantage of the unified shader architecture of the 8600 GTS GPU), so plenty of optimisations are going to have to be made if that performance benefit is to be realised.
The unified shader architecture allows any of the GeForce 8600 GTS' 32 parallel pipelines to work on any type of graphics data, be it vertex or pixel information, without having to use a specific pipeline. The data can be processed in any of the pipelines, at any time. The previous-generation mid-range GeForce GPU - the GeForce 7600 - had 12 pixel pipelines, 12 vertex pipelines and five shader pipelines. Only pixel data could enter the pixel pipelines, only vertex data could enter the vertex pipelines and only shader data could enter the shader pipelines. With the unified architecture, vertex, pixel and shader data can be processed in any of the 32 pipelines.
Gaming aside, the EN8600GTS TOP is HDCP compliant and has the ability to hardware-decode Blu-ray and HD-DVD high definition formats using NVIDIA's PureVideo HD technology. This means that a large load of processing will be taken off your CPU while watching these types of movies. ASUS supplies a breakout Component cable so you can access analogue high definition signals, but a DVI-HDMI adapter is not supplied.
As for its gaming bundle, the EN8600GTS TOP comes with the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R, which on its own costs about $90. Considering the retail price of the card, this is good value, especially if you've been considering buying this game anyway and are in the market for a new graphics card, too.
Physically, the card will only take up one expansion slot in the PC due to its thin heat sink and fan-based cooler and it wasn't loud at all during our tests. The card will require a supplemental PCI Express power cable to be plugged into it, so your power supply will need to have one of these, or at least two free hard drive-style Molex connectors if the supplied adapter is to be used.
Despite its slow showing in the Lost Planet DirectX 10 demonstration, it's still unclear how well this card will be able to handle DirectX 10-based games. But, for current DirectX 9-based games, this card will perform well and its price, along with its game bundle, makes it an attractive mid-range option for any Vista-based PC.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Smart LED Bulb LB130
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Acer Swift 7
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® Portable SSD
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Surface Pro 4
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
- 5 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
Latest News Articles
- Intel Coffee Lake 8th-gen Core processors release date rumours
- Intel's mobile future is in blazing modems as it buries Atom failure
- PC prices will continue to go up due to shortage of components
- Radeon Vega vs. GeForce GTX 1080 Ti? AMD, Nvidia announce dueling events at GDC 2017
- Toshiba's in chaos, but not quitting PCs -- yet
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTFinancial ERP Customer SME / Solution Consultant / System AccountantNSW
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- TPWinforms DevelopersWA
- TPIT Project Manager - Office relocationVIC
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Manufacturing and Trade & Logistics Modules)VIC
- TPBusiness AnalystNSW
- CCProgram ManagerVIC
- FTDynamics AX Functional ConsultantQLD
- FTLevel 3 EngineerNSW
- TPSolution Architect - Transport DomainVIC
- FTOracle Forms PL/SQL Analyst ProgrammerQLD
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer -NetApp & TSMNSW
- CCBusiness Test Lead - BRT/UATNSW
- TPBusiness Intelligence Program ManagerVIC
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Manufacturing and Trade & Logistics Modules)QLD
- FTJunior Software Engineer - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)VIC
- FTSenior C++ EngineerACT
- FTSenior Software EngineerVIC
- TPTechnical WriterVIC
- CCCA ITCM / ITCA EngineerNSW
- FTSenior Business Project ManagerNSW
- CCProject Manager (Event Management)NSW
- FTFront-End DevOps Developer/Consultant - IT Services - SydneyNSW
- FTMonitoring Tools Support l NimSoft , SMARTS, ehealth, TivoliNSW
- CCSenior Technical Business Analyst - ITMSP - Melbourne CBDVIC