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ASUS EN8600GT OC Gear 256MB DDR3 review

ASUS EN8600GT OC Gear 256MB DDR3

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The ASUS EN8600GT OC Gear 256MB DDR3

The ASUS EN8600GT OC Gear 256MB DDR3

Based on the mid-range NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT, this ASUS card is modest in length and height. The fan however is a two-slot version that will take up an extra expansion slot. It is rather quiet with a low, faint hum when running and that too at its maximum speed. Like other GeForce 8600 GT cards, no power connector is needed as the card takes all it requires through the PCIe bus. The clock and memory speeds are at the standard frequencies of 540MHz and 1400MHz respectively. However, we got slightly higher numbers than expected in our benchmarks and a check of its BIOS revealed that the 32 stream processors are running at 1296MHz, roughly 100MHz higher than usual. This probably accounted for the performance that we noticed.

The OC Gear Module

As for the OC Gear module, it fits snugly into any 5.25-inch drive bay on the chassis and screws are required to mount it securely. A spare 4-pin USB header on the motherboard is required for it to work as a connecting cable is provided to connect the module to the motherboard. It is through this avenue that the OC Gear gets its power and real time system information. Users can even adjust how often they want the module to poll the system for information like temperature and frame rate through the included SmartDoc utility. Extra drivers are needed for this module and supporting tools like SmartDoc and GamerOSD must be installed to get full functionality.

The module will only start up after Windows is loaded (the LED display won't work before that) and we doubt that it will work in other operating systems at the moment (Vista beta drivers are available though). It will however work with other ASUS graphics cards, though some functions like fan speed control may not be present, depending on whether the graphics cards has such a feature in the first place. With the OC Gear, users can monitor and adjust these settings without exiting their applications. The only downside we found is that the memory speeds cannot be tweaked in this fashion as the knob only controls the core clock. For the memory clock, you'll have to rely on the SmartDoc utility or NVIDIA Control Panel. Also, while we appreciate that too many numbers will clutter the display, the lack of any solid numbers may not fully convey the information, especially crucial ones like temperature and clock speeds. One thing to note that any changes done via the OC Gear module are affective in real time and you can check that against the SmartDoc utility or NVIDIA's Control Panel.

Here is the full list of the items found in our package:

  • 1 x DVI-to-VGA adaptor
  • 1 x 9-pin mini-DIN to Component dongle
  • User Manual (CD format)
  • Utilities and Driver CD
  • OC Gear module
  • Leather CD wallet