Today we will be reviewing one of ASUS' graphics cards, the EAX1600XT SILENT/TVD/256M. This card uses the ATI RADEON X1600XT chipset, which is for users that aren't into power hungry gaming, but instead want a low noise, home theatre solution. Nowadays, most of the high-end or mid-level cards are a little noisy, due to the high speed cooling fan systems they are equipped with. However, this card is fan-less and uses the passive cooling system producing completely silent operation.
-Features and specs according to ASUS
ATI Radeon X1600XT
16 lanes PCI Express
2048 X 1536
||Standard 15-pin D-sub
|2nd VGA Output
Yes, via DVI-to-VGA adaptor
||9-pin VIVO dongle
DVI-to-2nd VGA adaptor
3D game bundle
Gamepack (Savage, BillyBlade, Mashed) & Xpand Rally
Since the EAX1600XT SILENT/TVD/256M VGA card uses the passive cooling system, we don't expect it to be stock over-clocked. Also, at the time of the review, the EAX1600XT SILENT, as well as the EAX1300PRO SILENT, were the only silent models released by ASUS. All higher range models (e.g. X1800, X1900) are equipped with a fan cooling system.
- Radeon® X1600 - Overview, as seen on the ATI website
Radeon® X1600 Series — Outstanding Digital Entertainment and 3D Graphics
The Radeon® X1600 series is designed to deliver outstanding digital entertainment and 3D graphics through its unique ultra-threaded architecture and Avivo™ video and display technology. The X1600 is CrossFire™ Ready to deliver the ultimate gaming performance.
ATI’s new Radeon X1600 series transforms your PC with astonishing graphics performance and visual quality, creating a lifelike High Definition (HD) viewing experience with 3D games, DVD movies, and digital photography and video.
Radeon X1600 is an ideal product for the working demands and entertainment pleasures of tomorrow.
ATI’s Avivo- Video & Display Perfection
Connect your Radeon X1600 with your home entertainment devices for high definition convergence, enhanced with ATI’s revolutionary new Avivo video and display technology platform. Avivo technology creates vibrant colors, ultra sharp images, true-to-life image reproduction, and the smoothest HD video playback ever offered by ATI.
Avivo redefines the ultimate visual experience for today’s PCs, and sets the stage for tomorrow’s exciting possibilities. Check your board for specific support of Avivo features.
- Sharp video and photos
- True-to-Life Image Reproduction
- Smooth Video Playback
- Universal Display Connectivity
State-of-the-Art 3D Performance Technology
Experience state-of-the-art graphics technology and enjoy unparalleled gaming with the most advanced 3D performance technology including a new ultra-threaded 3D architecture, a 256-bit ring-bus memory controller, support for up to 512 MB RAM and Shader Model 3.0 done right. All delivered using the most advance 90 nanometer GPU process.
- Radeon X1600 Series excels with Shader Model 3.0, HDR and adaptive anti-aliasing
CrossFire: Multiply and Conquer with Multi-GPU Performance
Designed from the ground up with GPU sharing in mind, the Radeon X1600 series allows you to get incredible gaming performance by adding a second Radeon® X1600 graphics card for ultra fast performance that works with all games, all the time.
To achieve optimal enthusiast-class performance from your Radeon X1600 CrossFire platform, combine two Radeon X1600 graphics cards with a motherboard based on ATI's CrossFire Xpress™ 3200 chipset.
- Supertiling for optimized gaming performance
- CrossFire boosts image quality
- Upgradeable components and web support
Catalyst Software: Customizable Performance, Control and Support
Control your Radeon X1600 with ATI’s Catalyst Control Center, the award-winning feature-rich 3D software application. Catalyst automatically configures optimal settings for your system, and is packed with features that go far beyond traditional driver configuration software.
- Experiment with display settings hassle-free
- Support and updates for optimal performance and protection
The retail box is nothing extraordinary. The games included are old and there are no extra applications, such as DVD playback for instance.
Found in the retail box:
- Quick Installation Guide
- CD multi-language manual
- CD Leather Wallet
- VIVO cable
- DVI-to-VGA adaptor
- Games: Xpand Rally, Gamepack (including Savage, BillyBlade and Mashed)
- CD VGA Driver (including WDM Driver, DirectX 9.0c, NET Framework 1.1, ASUS Enhanced Driver, ASUS Video Security Online, ASUS GameLiveShow and ASUS GameFace Messenger)
- and the Silent EAX1600XT card of course... :-)
|Quick Installation Guide...
|DVI 2 VGA adaptor...
Now that we have covered the card's features, let's move on to the next page in order to have a closer look.
2. A Closer Look
|Click on the image for a larger photograph
|Click on the image for a larger photograph
As we previously said, the EAX 1600XT is silent due to the passive cooling system, which carries the heat away from the GPU, through the heat pipes to the aluminium fin arrangement, located on the rear of the card.
|A closer look at the aluminum fin arrangement.
|Closer look at the heat pipes.
The Asus EAX1600XT SILENT is equipped with two monitor outputs, a DVI and a VGA, as well as a VID Output to connect with the VIVO cable.
On the Vivo cable, you will find the S-Video in/out and the Composite in/out connections.
OK, let's move on to the tests and testbed system.
3. Test System - Configuration
For our review, we used the following testbed:
- Processor: AMD64 3500+ NewCastle (939 socket)
- Case: Antec 1080AMG
- Motherboard: A8N-SLI Deluxe
- Memory: 2x512MB Corsair XMS TWINX1024-3200XL Memory
- Hard Disk Drive: WD800JD 80GB 7200RPM
- DVD Burner: Pioneer DVR-A08XLA
- Power Supply: EzCool 550Watt
- OS: Microsoft WindowsXP Pro SP2
- DirectX: v9.0c
- ATI Catalyst & Control Center: 6.4
- ATI Tool 0.24 Beta 10
- Codecreatures Benchmark Pro
- AquaMark3 v3.0
- Half Life 2
- Quake 4
- Ground Control II
- Need For Speed: Most Wanted
For comparison, we will be posting the results of the EAX1600XT SILENT/TVD/256M along with the results of the ASUS EAX1300PRO, XFX 6800GS and ASUS N6600GT.
With 3DMark05, Futuremark continues the tradition in its benchmarking software by providing a state-of-the-art Microsoft ® DirectX ® 9 3D performance benchmark.
3DMark05 is an all new 3DMark version making the most of Microsoft's DirectX 9. The previous version 3DMark03, did a nice introduction into this level of technology. However, 3DMark03 used DirectX 9 specific features in a limited manner, because fully supporting hardware was rare at the time of its launch. In contrast, 3DMark05 requires DirectX 9 hardware with full support for at least Shader Model 2, and takes shader usage to never before seen levels.
Just like its predecessors, 3DMark05's point system is set so that at the moment of release, the high-end VGA cards available in stores can only score around 5000 3DMarks, whereas the worst card that meets the programs requirements yields a score of 1000.
Game Test 1 -Return to Proxycon
Being the sequel to the "Battle of Proxycon" from 3DMark03, in "Return to Proxycon" we're once again set in space and the battle continues as space pirates invade a cargo ship in order to take control of its valuable cargo.
This test, tries to simulate a future first-person shooter game with all the high details that entails. The dynamic shadows, high-detailed environment and advanced lighting techniques ensure that under normal circumstances, no recent card can run it with decent frame rates.
Game Test 2 - Firefly Forest
A forest gets filled with magic fireflies in the night. The moon is nearly full, illuminating the forest with a bluish faint light. The magic fireflies have flickering bright green lights that playfully move around the forest.
This scene is a nice example of a smaller scale outdoor scene with rich vegetation. Immediate visibility is not so far, and there is a skybox surrounding the whole scene.
A large number of trees with their branches swinging separately, and dense vegetation being dynamically distributed according to the camera movements, make this test the most demanding of the three.
Game Test 3 - Canyon Flight
A Jules Verne type airship flies through a canyon guarded by a dangerous sea monster. The airmen defend their ship using heavy cannons, but these seem to have no effect on the huge sea monster. Finally the crew manages a narrow escape using the "last resort" afterburners of the airship.
This scene is fairly complex with large areas of water reflecting the high canyon walls. The water actually is one of the key points of interest in this scene. The water not only does realistic looking reflections and refractions, it has a depth fog, making the sea monster swimming under the airship actually look deep down in the water. The air in this scene also uses a volumetric fog, making distant cliffs of the canyon really look far away.
The EAX1600XT reported good results in comparison to the previous generation graphics cards (EAX1300PRO, N6600GT) and similar performance with the XFX 6800GS.
3DMarks on 3DMark05 are now calculated by the following formula:
(Game Test 1 * Game Test 2 * Game Test 3)^0.33 * 250
This is basically the geometric mean of the total frames in each game multiplied by 250. This means that all game tests are now equal.
The final score however, places the XFX6800GS on top, with the EAX1600XT following close behind.
3D Mark is a widely used and accepted benchmark that stresses the DirectX performance of a VGA card. A very strong point of 3DMark is that it's VGA card measuring is does not require any CPU power. So the resulting fps are a good reference a VGA card's rendering performance. For testing the performance of each card we used the 4 game benchmarks 3DMark has.
3Dmark03 also includes sound and CPU tests as well as some other feature tests.
- Game Test 1 - Wings of Fury (DX7)
This test is a combat flight simulator written for older hardware (DirectX 7). Particles are used a lot in this test - smoke and vapor trails, flak and gunfire, and explosions are produced using point sprites and quads.
- Game Test 2 - Battle of Proxycon (DX8)
This test is a simulation of first person shooter game types. 1.1 and 1.4 Vertex shaders are widely used since all character models are skinned using vertex shaders.This makes this test a good vertex shader comparison for VGA cards.
- Game Test 3 - Trolls' Lair (DX8)
This test should be the favorite of all RPG lovers. It is a cut scene of a female warrior facing two malicious trolls. Again the same vertex and pixel processing is used as in game test 2.
This test also uses post-processing effects, such as Depth of Field and Bloom effects which are widely used in today's game cut scene sequences.
- Game Test 4 - Mother Nature (DX9)
Mother nature represents the level of effects and realism that are possible using 2.0 vertex and pixel shaders, plus some other features that DirectX 9 offers.
The scene is completely different here. In 3D Mark05, the EAX1600XT had similar performance with the XFX 6800GS, but in 3D Mark03, the XFX6800GS shows its real power and reports higher fps in all tests.
- 3DMark Official score
If you test your machine with 3DMark, you can post the results at 3DMark's online result browser. For more information visit futuremark.com.
In the final 3DMark03 score, the EAX1600XT is just above the N6600GT with a respectable score, but a good deal behind the XFX 6800GS, which is way in front with the highest score.
CodeCreatures is a synthetic 3D benchmark that is a good reference for VGA performance comparison. This is a high-end 3D benchmark that also requires DirectX 8 hardware, making a good tool for measuring the potential of DirectX 8 game performance.
The Codecreatures benchmark is written with Microsoft's DirectX 8.1 API and incorporates the use of Vertex and PixelShaders popular on next generation 3D accelerators.
The benchmark plays a photo-realistic nature scene and calculates the performance of the graphics adapter by measuring the fps that it can display at 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 resolutions.
The codecreatures number is the resulting score of the total benchmarking process and is basically the geometric mean of the three frame rates multiplied by 100.
In the Codecreatures benchmark, we again find the XFX 6800GS way in front. The EAX1600XT is next, trailing behind by 2000 3DMarks and slightly higher than the N6600GT.
7. Aquamark - 3DMark01
Since the majority of today's applications and games are compatible with DirectX 9, the need of benchmark applications that use DX 9 has been brought up. The benchmark uses the 3D engine (Krass engine) of the Aquanox game.
The Aquamark Triscore comprises 3 values: the overall system performance, the performance of the graphics system and the CPU performance. Keep in mind that this is not the total result of the tests, but the result of the whole benchmark process including all 9 chapters.
Unfortunately, as it happened with the EAX1800XT, we couldn't run the Aquamark 3 benchmark. The program either ended with an error or the PC froze up with a 'black screen'. This is an old benchmark and is not supported any more.
is the predecessor to 3DMark03. It's mainly a directx8.1 benchmark and the score depends a lot on the CPU power of your computer. However for reference use only we decided it'd be best to just leave it in our benchmark list so you can compare the next generation cards with the possibly outdated you have at home.
Once again, the XFX 6800GS is on top, while the EAX1600XT was marginally better than the N6600GT.
8. Half Life 2
Half life 2 is without doubt the most anticipated PC game of all times.
Characters - Advanced facial animation system delivers the most sophisticated in-game characters ever seen. With 40 distinct facial "muscles," human characters convey the full array of human emotion, and respond to the player with fluidity and intelligence.
Physics - From pebbles to water to 2-ton trucks respond as expected, as they obey the laws of mass, friction, gravity, and buoyancy.
Graphics - Source's shader-based renderer, like the one used at Pixar to create movies such as Toy Story® and Monster's, Inc.®, creates the most beautiful and realistic environments ever seen in a video game.
AI - Neither friends nor enemies charge blindly into the fray. They can assess threats, navigate tricky terrain, and fashion weapons from whatever is at hand.
To measure performance we used the Video Stress Test(VST) that is available in the CounterStrike:Source beta available through Steam. We set all the details to the highest level and each time changed the resolution from 800x600 up to 1600x1200.
Since the game is very CPU dependent, the results at 800x600 and 1024x768 resolutions don't really test the graphics cards. The true value of a VGA card is best seen at the higher resolutions with HL2. That is, at 1280x1024 and at 1600x1200 gaming resolutions. The results from the 3D Mark03,01 and codecreatures benchmarks are confirmed here, with the EAX1600XT reporting slightly higher fps than the N6600GT. In this game, the XFX 6800GS had significantly higher framerates at all resolutions.
Enabling AA and AF, the performance drops to around half at the higher resolutions, although the game remains playable with the EAX1600XT even at 1600x1200. However, the XFX 6800GS is the best card again.
9. Ground Control II
Ground Control 2 is an action-oriented game of tactics and warfare. As Captain Jacob Angelus of the Northern Star Alliance, you will command squads of infantry, artillery, and air power against the might of the Empire of Terra. Base building and resource-collecting are replaced with unit control and combat tactics where your knowledge of the battlefield maneuvers will make the difference in your fight against a ruthless enemy. Position your troops on hilltops for better aim or inside buildings and forests for protection as you'll need to use every inch of terrain to your advantage.
For our benchmarks, we used the highest possible settings on the first mission of the single player game and moved around the camera to get an average frame rate using fraps.
Ground Control II offers really impressive graphics without requiring much GPU power.
Once again, the framerates produced by the EAX1600XT are more or less the same as the N6600GT.
With AA and AF enabled, the performance from the EAX1600XT is severely reduced and at 1600x1200, the game cannot run smoothly. Also, this time, the framerates for the EAX1600XT were two to five frames lower than the N6600GT.
10. Quake 4
In a desperate war for Earth's survival, against an unrelenting alien enemy, the only way to defeat them is to become one of them. Armed with advanced weaponry and vehicles and aided by an elite squad of marines, you take the battle to the heart of the Strogg home planet and become Earth's only hope for victory.
Quake 4 is a First Person Shooter developed by Ravensoft, based on the Doom 3 engine, and the graphics and gameplay certainly reflect that fact. For those who really hated the one-way corridors of Doom 3, new outdoor areas have been added to the game. The feeling however, still remains the same as these areas are quite small-scale, contrary to what other games have to offer.
- Benchmark Settings
As Quake 4 includes no default benchmark, we decided to go with another publicly available demo to measure performance. What we chose is a demo from HWSpirit, which involves a small outdoor scene followed by a long indoor combat. As preloading the stage fails miserably and the average framerate varies a lot, we ran it twice every time, restarting the game, and measured only the second run.
The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance with and without Anti-aliasing.
Quake4 uses the Doom3 engine, and since we already know that Doom3 prefers nVidia based cards, we expected to see the 6800GS and the N6600GT cards in first place.
However, when AA and AF are enabled, the scene clears up... and this time the EAX1600XT reports higher framerates in comparison with the N6600GT.
11. Need For Speed - Most Wanted
Wake up to the smell of burnt rubber as the thrill of illicit street racing permeates into the air.
Combining illicit street racing and tuner customization with the intensity of strategic police pursuit that surpasses any Hollywood-style chase scene, Need for Speed Most Wanted will be on every gamer's 'must-have' list this holiday season. Out-race rivals, evade cops and exploit hundreds of miles of open road as gamers make their way up the Blacklist.
To become the most wanted racer, players must build up their street cred and Rap Sheet with gripping, white knuckle, head-to-head races with the top drivers on the streets, as well as pull daring, evasive moves to out-run and out-fox the cops that patrol the open road. Players can manage their heat or utilize a number of strategic tactics to keep the cops off their tails as they leave their rivals behind to suck their exhaust fumes.
- Benchmark Settings
NFS Most Wanted does not include a default benchmark. To measure the card's performance, we've chosen to record the framerate at the start of a circuit race with end-game cars. The starting point tends to be one of the most graphically demanding sections because of the smoke created by spinning wheels added to the rest of the game's visual effects. If a card can pass this stage with an acceptable framerate, it is a guarantee that it will face no problems with the rest of the game.
The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance at the lowest and highest possible settings.
In NFS Most Wanted, the EAX1600XT up to 1280x1024 with low settings, managed to surpass the 6800GS, but could not maintain this at 1600x1200 where the 6800GS proved more consistent.
With AA and AF enabled, the EAX1600XT drops its performance by about half and at 1600x1200, the game is jerky. Even the game's menu is slow. The 6800GS is the best performer again, at all resolutions.
You aren't a soldier. You are a weapon. A paramilitary force infiltrates a multi billion dollar aerospace compound taking hostages, but issuing no demands.
The government responds by sending in its best special operations teams, only to have them obliterated. Live footage of the massacre is cut short by an unexpected wave of destruction that leaves military leaders stunned and in disbelief.
First Encounter Assault Recon (F.E.A.R.) is one of the new-generation FPS. The graphics are really stunning, the plot behind the whole shooting successfully keeps it interesting and even the A.I. seems to work well.
F.E.A.R. offers a lot to the First Person Shooter world. The graphics are very clear with excellent textures, great new effects that will stress your graphics card and rag-doll physics that are waiting to be exploited as you progress through the game.
- Benchmark Settings
F.E.A.R. allows you to test the video settings with a mini-benchmark involving a lot of weapon firing, explosions and several other effects. After the benchmark is run, you're presented with a screen showing your minimum, average and maximum framerates and also percentages of how often the framerate was below 25fps, between 25 and 40, and finally above 40. For presentation reasons, we're just sticking to the minimum and average framerates.
The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance with high and highest details.
In F.E.A.R., the performance from the EAX1600XT is low at high resolutions and the reported framerates are more or less the same as the N6600GT.
With the Highest settings enabled, the EAX1600XT cannot perform adequately at resolutions beyond 1024x768.
The XFX 6800GS is the winner again at all resolutions and with the Highest settings.
No matter your graphics card, there comes a time in your computer's life when it can no longer cope with the latest technological demands the ever so popular games impose. This is one of the main reasons for overclocking your graphics card. Gamers are always looking forward to a little extra boost in terms of framerate. Even though most of the time the boost is far from noticeable, overclocking remains the last resort when you can't afford to buy a brand new VGA card.
The stock clock speeds for the ASUS EAX1600XT card that we received, were 588MHz for the core and 693MHz for the memory.
After a bit of tweaking and messing around with the core and memory clocks, we settled at a core speed of 650 and 738 for the memory. The overclocking speeds are very high for this type of card, especially if we consider that this card uses a passive cooling system. However, we believe that if the card was equipped with a fan cooling system, then we could have pushed it even further, especially since ATI chipsets are known for their high overclocking potential.
Overclocking is all well and good, but does it provide any gain. Let's see if we achieved any difference in performance.
Significant increase in 3D Marks was archived after overclocking.
The performance increase in NFS MW after overclocking, was at times more than 2 fps up.
But unfortunately, in F.E.A.R, the card disappointed us and reported lower framerates than when at the default clock speeds. This could have been due to the fact that card was overheating during the benchmark.
If you are looking for a high-end card, then this card is probably not for you. It is a mid-range card for not so demanding gamers, with a passive cooling system for completely silent operation, so it is the ideal card for home-theater PCs.
The gaming performances that we saw with the X1600XT card simply confirms that this really isn't suited to gaming. In most of the tests, it performed like an N6600GT card. However, in most cases the games are still playable, even at high resolutions and with AA and AF enabled. The only exceptions are NFS MW and F.E.A.R.
The performances produced with the test games were confirmed by the benchmarking software, 3D Mark03,01 & Codecreatures, which placed the EAX1600XT SILENT at about the same levels as the N6600GT. However, 3D Mark05 had a different opinion and placed the card close to the 6800GS series, which is something that wasn't confirmed by the games.
Overclocking is not advised with this card, because of the passive cooling system. However, we managed to overclock the card and the scores that we got after overclocking, were higher in 3D Marks, while also higher framerates were reported in MFS MW. Unfortunately, in F.E.A.R., the framerates dropped compared to the default clock speeds.
The retail package from ASUS is complete, but without any admirable extras. It includes the usual ASUS CD Leather Wallet, old games, CD Drivers and cables. There aren't any extra applications such as a DVD player though.
At the time of this review, the ASUS EAX1600XT SILENT was priced at US$165.36 from newegg.com, which we think is quite reasonable for a mid-range card.
- Silent operation
- Passive cooling
- Low performances at high resolutions with AA and AF enabled.
- No extra software
Value for money: