Introduction

Every so often we come across graphics solutions that are somewhat specialized and are designed differently than the average card. These are often times made to fit a certain niche within the hardware community, such as space-saving designs or alternative cooling methods. We like looking at these because these cards often yield very different or interesting results from your average graphics card.

Though the average gamer might not care about how cool their GPU runs or how much power the card draws from his system, there are those out there who are interested in such topics, and they want to find a graphics card to fit a certain need. One good example of this would be people looking for cooler-running GPUs to use in hot or desert climates. In these areas, the outside temperatures can cause computer hardware to run excessively hot, and cards with greater-than-usual cooling methods are needed.

One of the most popular and useful design types we've looked at in graphics cards before are those modified for silent or near-silent operation. Quiet systems would be important to many users, for example those who use their computer for audio recording in a home or commercial studio. In the past, we've looked at cards like the NVIDIA 6600 GT Silent, which while modest in performance, had a brilliant and completely silent heat sink design. Today we will be looking at two NVIDIA cards with silent heat sink designs, the ASUS EN7800 GT TOP Silent, and the ASUS 7600 GS Silent.

In one of our more recent video articles, we looked at a water-cooled solution from Sapphire (Blizzard X1900 XTX) which was very intricate and somewhat bulky, but performed on par with the other X1900 XTXs with slightly lower noise. With these two completely silent NVIDIA cards from ASUS, however, the designs are much more simple and effective at reducing noise while still saving space in your computer case. Of course, these two cards aren't looking to offer the same performance as the Blizzard X1900 XTX.

We've not looked much at overclocking silent cards before, but we will be for this article, as well as our usual performance breakdowns for these cards. With some of the recent monster GPUs from ATI and NVIDIA making so much racket, it's refreshing to see cards that make no noise at all, especially with the kind of performance you get with a 7800 GT. Now without further ado, let's take a look at the cards.

The Cards
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  • Seer - Friday, May 12, 2006 - link

    This review is so messed up that it's not even funny. Okay, maybe it is funny to laugh at how pathetic it is. Let me start:

    1) The 7800GT Top Silent isn't available anymore. It was a limited edition run. GJ guys, there goes half of your article. (You even state this at the end that its not available. WTF dudes, what are you smoking?)

    2) Extremely inaccurate test results. The O/Ced version of the 7600 GS is repeatedly listed as performing WORSE than the non O/Ced version. Niiiice. Also, performance for the 7600 GS INCREASES when going from a lower resolution to a higher one. Rofl.

    3) Averaging core and memory % o/c's in a 50/50 weighted ratio gives the 7600GS an o/c os 9.9% avg, and the 7800GT TS a 9.25% avg. Yet you claim it overclocks better. Oh, right, you must have said that because the O/C version was performing worse. (I realize that the 7800GT TS is already factory o/c'ed. However, this means that you are guaranteed that stock clock. A real, consumer overclock is raising the clock to a speed that the chip [I}is not rated at. )

    4) Hardly any mention of the EXTREME heat these cards put out. Into the air that should be going into your CPU, nonetheless. (Pointed out in an earlier comment). In fact, "the heatsink appears to be very affective at keeping the GPU cool" 95 C. Right, cool. In fact, if you understand the relationship between Heat and Temperature (two different things, people), you would understand that the 7800GT TS is in fact much worse for your case's ambient temps than the 7600GS, despite this articles claims to the contrary.


    GJ guys, pat yourself on the back and go buy a few beers! You really deserve it! *rolls eyes*
    Reply
  • Guuts - Friday, May 12, 2006 - link

    Also, on page 5, the author writes: "What is even more nice..." More nice?! I hate to be the grammar police here, but I think what he's looking for here is "nicer". Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 12, 2006 - link

    Fixed, thanks. Reply
  • Seer - Friday, May 12, 2006 - link

    I forgot to mention why I think this shitty article came out: Asus paid them to do it. It's just like those shitty articles on Daily Tech about seemingly random product releases that are nothing other than shameless plugs. Reply
  • poohbear - Friday, May 12, 2006 - link

    please tell your mom to stuff feeding u cocoa puffs for breakfast. they have TOO MUCH sugar for u. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 12, 2006 - link

    Actually, the 7600 GS Silent was released and they sent it to us for review (the same way we get nearly all products). Since it was a silent card and we hadn't looked at the 7800 GT yet, it was included as well as something of a reference point. Some people are interested in silence and don't care all that much about performance past a certain point, and that's where the 7600 GS fits in nicely.

    As for the other comments above, the results in the 1600x1200 graphs look like they were reversed, and in fact all of the results look odd. I'm checking with Josh to verify, but it could be the OC'ed 7600 is throttling down due to heat. I'm not sure about the stability of the 7600 OC'ed either - Josh mentions artifacts, so I'm not sure if the final results he posted are "clean" or not. A 9% OC shouldn't give you 35=65% more performance, or cut performance a lot.

    Other than that anamoly, the 7800 GT overclocks "more" because averaging RAM and GPU OCs is not normally an accurate way of quantifying performance. Most modern games are hitting the GPU harder than the RAM bandwidth (unless you have really slow RAM), so 15% is more than 11%. Honestly, I wouldn't even think about OC'ing a silent card, though. Maybe if you want to add a low RPM fan to it?

    Temperatures are GPU core AFAIK, so 95C is not the surface HSF temperature. Remember that these cards aren't actually generating more heat than any other card based off of the same graphics chips; the only difference is that they're not dissipating heat as quickly because they don't have fans. Unless you are using a graphics card that expels heat outside of the case, these cards aren't actually increasing the ambient case temperature.
    Reply
  • Seer - Saturday, May 13, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the response. I admit it was a bit of a troll. I was just disappointed with this article because I know AT can do so much better (IMO). Hopefully I elicited some motivation for improvement. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Monday, May 15, 2006 - link

    Troll? More like a tool.

    If you're disappointed, there are professional ways to respond that don't make you look like a pathetic whiny git.
    Reply
  • Seer - Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - link

    Sorry for not blindly supporting any article put out by your favorite site D: Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - link

    I've disagreed many times here; if you read regularly, you'd have seen them, and you'll see them again. I just choose to do so in a manner that doesn't make me look like a 15-year old who's flunking 8th grade for the second time. Constructive criticism is one thing you apparently don't know how to do. Reply

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