When we first reviewed the GeForce 8600 GTS two months ago there were a few things that became apparent almost right away! First and foremost the 8600 GTS lacked real performance and at $200 US it was hardly cheap given what it offered. Another serious blow to the 8600 GTS was the Nvidia reference design that featured a little heatsink and fan combo that makes more noise than a light air-craft. Thankfully today we have a new ASUS version of the GeForce 8600 GTS that at least addresses this issue.
Silent graphics boards aren't such a rarity these days, with a number of AIB partners offering passively cooled parts to differentiate themselves from the crowd. However, to move into the higher echelons of performance while still offering passive cooling requires a lot more engineering and design work, and thus as you move towards the top of the mid-range and into high-end boards the number of silent cooling solutions on current cards thins out to almost nothing.
Today, I'll be reviewing a "high end" entry level graphics card - the ASUS EN8600GTS Silent 256MB DDR3 graphics card, which features SilentCool Technology. What is this you ask? Well, according to ASUS, "this technology allows for a fan-less, noiseless, cooling solution for high performance graphics cards," which results in a quieter computer since the graphics card operates at 0 decibels. ASUS also incorporates another patented technology called the swivel joint. Essentially, this unique feature allows the user to swivel the cooling fins 90 degrees so that it is situated over top the CPU fan, which takes away heat from the graphics card and allows for cooler operation.
Even though NVIDIA’s recent 8800GT has rolled out, there’s still plenty of folks out there who want a more affordable solution and for that the 8600-series provides a full-featured Dx10 video card. ASUS has met the challenge of bringing one of these cards in complete silence head-on with its “Silent’ edition. Using a large passive cooling system allows this card to run well within its normal operating temperatures while have zero audio emissions.