We start our silent card roundup by looking at some cards by ASUS, a company that has impressed us with its quality in the past. For this roundup, ASUS has submitted four silent NVIDIA cards and a silent ATI card.

First we have the ASUS NVIDIA GeForce EN7800 GT Top Silent, a powerful card considering its silent design. As its name implies, the EN7800GT uses NVIDIA's 7800 GT GPU. This is an interesting card because, aside from its high performance GPU, its heatsink is designed with an arm extending from the side of the card that has the ability to swivel out 90 degrees so that air being pulled from the CPU fan can provide extra cooling. The arm can also remain closed if space is an issue, and the card still works fine. This is also the most powerful silent card we have for this review, and it comes with a slightly higher factory clock than a standard 7800 GT (420MHz/1.24GHz).

Second, we have the ASUS NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GS Silent 512. As the name suggests, this card has 512 MB memory instead of the standard 256 MB and is based on NVIDIA's 7600 GS GPU. However, the memory clock speed is set significantly lower than the standard 256 MB 7600 GS (540MHz vs. the standard 800MHz). This card as well as the 256 MB version have metal heat sinks that cover the front of the card, and curl over the top and down the back about an inch.

The ASUS NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GS Silent is the 256MB version of the above card. It's factory clocked the same as a standard 7600 GS, with a 400MHz core and an 800MHz memory clock speed. Both the 512 MB and 256 MB versions of this card look exactly the same. It is possible that when Windows Vista becomes available, the added memory of the 512MB version will prove useful, but at present there's little reason to recommend having additional RAM at a slower clock speed.

The ASUS EN6600 GT Silencer is very similar in design to the EN7800 GT Top Silent, with a rotating-arm heat sink that extends from the side of the card. The EN6600 GT's heat sink is a bit smaller and lighter than the EN7800 GT, which makes sense given the 6600's smaller size. Also similarly to the EN7800 GT Top Silent, this is the only card of its kind (6600 GT) in this review. On the NVIDIA side, our main focus will be on 7600 and 7300 cards, and for ATI the X1300 and X1600 offerings.

And lastly, we have an ATI offering by ASUS: the Radeon EAX1600 XT Silent. This is our most powerful ATI card for this review, and this particular X1600 XT has an interesting heat sink design. There is a small black heat sink on the face of the card just covering the processor, and two metal heatpipes extend around the end and to the back of the card, which holds a much larger heat sink. We will list the current prices for these as well as the rest of our cards in the "Cards Summary and Prices" section later on.

Index Gigabyte


View All Comments

  • Josh Venning - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    I also forgot to mention that some people use their pcs in home theater systems as well. This would be another case when you want as little noise from your computer as possible. Reply
  • imaheadcase - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    That was not always the case, my 9700 Pro i still use when fan went out a year ago, works like a charm without it on. It was in its time the high end card, lets hope those days come buy again :D Reply
  • eckre - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    What a great review, when tom did their silent VC review, they included a grand total of three cards...pfft. nice job anand.

    I have the 7600GT, very sweet and 0dB is oh so nice.
  • Josh Venning - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    We just wanted to say thanks all for your comments and we are still trying to make sure we've caught any errors. (there are actually only 20 cards in the roundup and not 21) As Derek said, these cards were included in the article because we requested any and all silent cards that any of the manufacturers were willing to give us to review. That's also why we have more cards from ASUS and Gigabyte than the others. Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link


    If a general purpose CPU can offer a 40% improvement over its predecessor (Pentium D) while consuming 40% less power on average, why can't a GPU revolution accomplish the same thing?

    Because the videocard industry hasn't introduced such a bad design as the netburst architecture.
  • epsilonparadox - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    No they've introduced worse. When they recommend a second PS just for grafx or even a 1Kw single PS, they've taken intel's lack of thermal control to a whole new level. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    graphics cards use much much less power in 2d mode than in 3d mode -- and even their 3d power saving capabilities are really good.

    this is especially true when you consider the ammount of processing power a GPU delivers compared to a CPU.

    Theoretical peak performance of a current desktop CPU is in the 10-15 GFLOPS range at best. For a GPU, theoretical peak performance is at least one order of magnitude larger reaching up over 200 GFLOPS in high end cases.

    I'm not saying we can reach these theoretical peak rates on either a CPU or a GPU, but a GPU is doing much much more work under load than a CPU possibly could.

    Keep in mind we aren't even up to GHz on GPU cores. On the CPU front, Intel just shortened the pipeline and decreased clock speeds to save power -- doing more work in one cycle. This is absolutely what a GPU does.

    And the icing on the cake is the sheer options on the silent GPU front. Neither AMD nor Intel make a fast desktop CPU that can be (easily) passively cooled. These parts are a testiment to the efficiency of the GPU.

    On the flip side, ATI and NVIDIA push their high end parts way up in clock speed and power consumption trying as hard as possible to gain the performance crown.

    There are plenty of reasons GPUs draw more power than a CPU under load, but a lack of thermal control or inefficient desing is not one of them. It's about die size, transistor count, and total ammount of work being done.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 2, 2006 - link

    I disagree with Derek, at least in some regards. The budget and midrange GPUs generally do a good job at throttling down power requirements in 2D mode. The high-end parts fail miserably in my experience. Sure, they consume a lot less power than they do in 3D mode, but all you have to do is look at the difference between using a Radeon Mobility X1400 and a GeForce Go 7800 in the Dell laptops to">see the difference in battery life.

    In 2D mode, graphics chips still consume a ton of power relatively speaking -- probably a lot of that going to the memory as well. A lot of this can be blamed on transistor counts and die size, but I certainly think that NVIDIA and ATI could reduce power more. The problem right now is that power use is a secondary consideration, and ATI and NVIDIA both need to have a paradigm shift similar to what Intel had with the Pentium M. If they could put a lot of resources into designing a fast but much less power-hungry GPU, I'm sure they could cut power draw quite a bit in both idle and load situations.

    That's really the crux of the problem though: resources. Neither company has anywhere near the resources that AMD has, let alone the resources that Intel has. Process technology is at least a year behind Intel if not more, chip layouts are mostly computer generated as opposed to being tweaked manually (I think), and none of the companies have really started at square one trying to create a power efficient design; that always seems to be tacked on after-the-fact.

    GPUs definitely do a lot of work, although GFLOPS is a terrible measure performance. The highly parallel nature of 3D rendering does allow you to scale performance very easily, but power requirements also scale almost linearly with performance when using the same architecture. It would be nice to see some balance between performance scaling and power requirements... I am gravely concerned about what Windows Vista is going to do for battery life on laptops, at least if you enable the Aero Glass interface. Faster switching to low-power states (for both memory and GPU) ought to be high on the list for next-generation GPUs.
  • DaveLessnau - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    I'm wondering why Anandtech tested Asus' EN7800 GT card instead of their EN7600 GT. That card would be more in line with Gigabyte's 7600 GT version and, I believe, is more available than the 7800 version. In the near future, I'd like to buy one of these silent 7600GTs and was hoping this review would help. Oh, well. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    you can get a really good idea of how it would perform by looking at Gigabyte's card.

    as I mentioned elsewhere in the comments, we requested all the silent cards manufacturers could provide. if we don't have it, it is likely because they were unable to get us the card in time for inclusion in this review.

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