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» Channels :: Graphics Card
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Monday, 10th January, 2005
Rating : 4 out of 5 stars  

Designed To Be Different

From hardware to software, ASUS has always engineered their best products to stand out from the rest. On this page we'll deal with the hardware first, which is of course the ASUS Extreme AX600XT/HDTV graphics card. Built using their custom PCB, it sports a ducted cooling system to keep the operating temperatures of its RADEON X600 XT VPU in check. The same cooler also regulates the forward memory chips, but the rear chips are left bare. Integrated on the PCB is an ATI Rage Theater chip that enables video capturing capabilities on the card in addition to the VPU's own TV-output feature. Sounds like a normal graphics card? Well at least till this point, it does. The rear I/O panel is where things look quite unexpected.

Here is the front view of the ASUS Extreme AX600XT/HDTV PCI Express graphics card.

And this is the rear of the neat graphics card. No passive cooling was used on the rear RAM chips, but it wasn't really hot to warrant the need in our tests.

The rear I/O panel is rather unusual. Starting from the left, there is a new HDTV output connector, a 9-pin mini-DIN connector and DVI-I connector.

Unlike most graphics cards that have an analog VGA and a DVI-I connector or dual DVI-I connectors, this ASUS card had a new combination of a HDTV output and a DVI-I connector instead. The HDTV output is no way equivalent or related to the brand new HDMI connector standard for digital transmission of video and audio signals between high-end home consumer products. This new HDTV connector is designed to overcome space requirements on the rear I/O faceplate where little space is available for direct Component output connections to your television. Make no mistake, it does not carry digital signals and it is still the same analog Component signals conveyed on a slightly different interface on one end.

Component output requires three separate RCA connections to carry the RGB signal from the source to its destination. With this HDTV output connector, one end of a cable has a HDTV connector while the opposite end splits off into the three separate RCA connectors. It basically streamlines the connectivity on one of the sides. The HDTV output connector is neither a proprietary connection nor really a standard, but it is in limited use among a small circle of graphics cards. For your information, as of this point of writing there are no consumer goods that utilize this HDTV-output connector and it is to mainly facilitate a simpler rear I/O faceplate on graphics cards catering to Component output.

This is the HDTV adaptor cable with normal Component connections on the other end.

This cable with a VIVO breakout box on its end connects to the 9-pin mini-DIN connection on the graphics card. On the breakout box, you'll find S-Video input, Composite input, S-Video output and Composite output connections (as lined up on the photo respectively). However, Composite and S-Video extension cables are not provided.

The ATI Rage Theater chip enables video capture ability on this card.

To complement the features of the card, a rather nice bundle of software was also tagged with the graphics card and these are in addition to the proprietary ASUS utilities that we discuss on another page. Neatly tucked into a CD holder, you'll find the following CD titles:-
  • CyberLink Media Show 2.0
  • CyberLink PowerDirector 3DE
  • Ulead Cool 3D SE 3.0
  • Ulead Photo Express SE 4.0
  • Dues Ex: Invisible War (full game - 2 full CDs)

    The software CDs are neatly put to together in separate sleeves within the ASUS CD Suite holder.
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