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ASUS EN8800GTS 640
- Comes with a good games bundle; was reliable in our tests
- Performance was slightly slower than what we expected; its packaging is large
We don't like the EN8800GTS' large packaging, but it's a reliable card, with a good games bundle and a competitive asking price.
Price$ 629.00 (AUD)
If you're looking for a new-generation graphics card on which to play the latest games at high resolutions, then the ASUS EN8800GTS is worth considering. It's a 640MB card that uses NVIDIA's GeForce 8800GTS GPU (graphics processing unit) and it is DirectX 10-capable, which means it should be able to play hotly anticipated gaming titles, such as Crysis, in all their splendour.
More than just a graphics card, however, the EN8800GTS is a gaming package. It comes bundled with the full version games Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, and GTI Racing, which together are probably worth around $100. ASUS also provides a full version of 3DMark06, for benchmarking your gaming rig, and also includes a couple of handy utilities for recording MPEG4 clips of your game-play (GameReplay) and for quickly changing display settings without leaving a game (OnScreenDisplay).
NVIDIA's nTune reported the GeForce 8800GTS GPU to be running at a stock speed of 513MHz, with its 640MB of GDDR3 memory running at 1584MHz. This memory speed is 16MHz slower than the 1600MHz we were expecting to see, and the GPU speed is actually 14MHz higher than the 500MHz speed that is standard for 8800GTS GPUs.
It didn't bring the house down during our performance tests, but it produced reliable results and, most importantly, playable frame rates. We tested it under Windows Vista Ultimate on a PC with an ASUS P5B Premium motherboard, a Core 2 Quad QX6700 CPU and 1GB of DDR2 RAM, while using the latest drivers from NVIDIA's Web site at the time of writing (ForceWare 158.18). In 3DMark06, at the default resolution and detail setting (1280x1024 with no anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering enabled), the card scored 9309, which is about 100 points less than what we were expecting. In FEAR, at a resolution of 1280x960 and with 4xAA (anti aliasing) and 16xAF (anisotropic filtering) enabled, the card scored 83 frames per second (fps). This result ensures smooth game-play with the best image quality that the game offers. At the higher resolution of 1400x1050 with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled, the card barely flinched: it recorded 75fps.
Physically, the card is 22.9cm long and has a double-width bracket to accommodate its large cooler. The cooler consists of a fan and a heat sink atop the GPU and the memory chips, and the fan pushes air through the heat sink fins towards the rear of the case, where it is then extracted through a vent. It's a quiet card when idle, and even when it's processing a full 3-D load, so it probably won't drive you nuts if your gaming system is in your bedroom and always switched on. It requires one supplemental PCIe power connection, so you will need a power supply with at least two free Molex power connectors, or a single dedicated PCIe power connector
We have recently begun to take into consideration the environmental impact of the products we test, though luckily for Asus it has not yet begun to affect our scoring. In the case of the Asus EN8800GTS' packaging, we think it's a little extreme. As we become more environmentally conscious, packaging may well become a determining factor in our purchasing decision. Indeed, some of us here at PC World prefer to buy equally good products in packaging that's more environmentally friendly. The EN8800GTS comes in a cardboard box that is 30cm wide and around 46cm long. Not only that, but it has a cardboard flap attached, which opens up to reveal more marketing information that most of us probably don't read anyway. Granted, the box does include the graphics card, a plastic-wrapped PCIe power adapter, a plastic-wrapped Component breakout cable, a plastic-wrapped DVI adapter, driver and games discs and a disc wallet, but we do think the packaging can be more compact and less wasteful. It's an area we'd like all tech companies to address.
With that little rant aside, the EN8800GTS is actually a solid graphics card, but it was a slight under-performer. Its gaming bundle is sweet and its 640MB capacity means you will be able to play the latest games at very high resolutions and with all visual details turned way up.
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