iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail

Platform

Video

Multimedia

Mobile

Other

ASUS Extreme AX700 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
ASUS Extreme AX800 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E
ASUS Extreme AX1800XL 256MB PCI-E
ASUS Extreme AX1800XT TOP 512MB PCI-E

February 10, 2006








TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results
  5. Conclusions



Winter is in full swing, Central Russia suffers from severe frosts, people dream of spring - when will it come? Bit it's February now and we can only hope for warm March.

New Year's holidays are already over, ATI and NVIDIA are busy arranging new roadmaps with the recent announcements. Having accounted for Middle and Low-End solutions back in Autumn 2005, ATI announced a top product, which is intended to replace the X1800 series (of course, they will coexist for some time). But NVIDIA started the year contrariwise, with Low-End cards of the GeForce 7300 series, which are little different from the popular GeForce 6200, only its chips are manufactured by 0.09-micron process technology. Hence the increased frequencies.

More powerful cards are planned by the end of February - beginning of March.

But we shall not tell you everything about it today :). Announcements aside, more and more new products based on well-known GPUs appear on the market. Perhaps some of the five cards to be reviewed today are not actually new. They may be manufactured some time ago and find their way to our test lab only now. First of all, it's RADEON X800. As far as we know, this chip is already discontinued. If some manufacturers still produce cards on this chip, they use leftovers or chips from the so-called gray market.

But all the five accelerators are still very interesting. Three of them are notable for their fanless cooling systems. One of them is a top product operating at increased frequencies. But after January 24, 2006 it belongs to the past generation.

All these video cards are manufactured by ASUSTeK. Our reader polls have been showing for years that ASUS accelerators are always held in colossal esteem and authority. But ASUS does not rest on its oars and sometimes designs very interesting solutions.

Today we shall examine some of its new products.

Video Cards



ASUS Extreme AX700 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X700

Interface: PCI-Express x16

Frequencies (chip/memory — physical (memory — effective):: 400/250 (500) MHz (nominal - 400/350 (700) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 4

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Number of texture processors: 8

Number of ROPs: 8

Dimensions: 160x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: VGA, DVI, TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




ASUS Extreme AX800 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X800

Interface: PCI-Express x16

Frequencies (chip/memory — physical (memory — effective):: 400/350 (700) MHz (the same nominal values)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 6

Number of pixel pipelines: 12

Number of texture processors: 12

Number of ROPs: 12

Dimensions: 190x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: orange.

Output connectors: 2xDVI, TV-Out.

VIVO: available (RAGE Theater)

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E
GPU: GeForce 7800 GT

Interface: PCI-Express x16

Frequencies (ROP/Shader/Geometry unit/memory - physical (memory - effective): 420/420/460/620 (1240) MHz (nominal — 400/400/440/500 (1000) MHz)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 8

Number of pixel pipelines: 20

Number of texture processors: 20

Number of ROPs: 16

Dimensions: 200x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: blue.

Output connectors: 2xDVI, TV-Out.

VIVO: available (Philips 7115)

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




ASUS Extreme AX1800XL 256MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1800 XL

Interface: PCI-Express x16

Frequencies (chip/memory — physical (memory — effective):: 500/500 (1000) MHz (the same nominal values)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 8

Number of pixel pipelines: 16

Number of texture processors: 16

Number of ROPs: 16

Dimensions: 205x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: 2x DVI, TV-Out.

VIVO: available (RAGE Theater)

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




ASUS Extreme AX1800XT TOP 512MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1800 XT

Interface: PCI-Express x16

Frequencies (chip/memory — physical (memory — effective):: 700/800 (1600) MHz (nominal - 625/750 (1500) MHz)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 8

Number of pixel pipelines: 16

Number of texture processors: 16

Number of ROPs: 16

Dimensions: 205x100x31mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: 2x DVI, TV-Out.

VIVO: available (RAGE Theater)

TV-out: integrated into GPU.






ASUS Extreme AX700 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
The video card has 256 MB of DDR SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front and back sides of the PCB.

Hynix memory chips (DDR). 4.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 250 (500) MHz.




ASUS Extreme AX800 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
The video card has 256 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front and back sides of the PCB.

Infineon memory chips (GDDR3). 2.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz.




ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E
The cards have 256 MB GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 8 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 1.6ns memory access time, which corresponds to 625 (1250) MHz.




ASUS Extreme AX1800XL 256MB PCI-E
The cards have 256 MB GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 8 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 1.4ns memory access time, which corresponds to 700 (1400) MHz.




ASUS Extreme AX1800XT TOP 512MB PCI-E
The video card has 512 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 1.26ns memory access time, which corresponds to 800 (1600) MHz.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
ASUS Extreme AX700 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X700
ASUS Extreme AX800 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X800 PCI-E
ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT
ASUS Extreme AX1800XL 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1800 XL PCI-E
ASUS Extreme AX1800XT TOP 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1800 XT PCI-E


Comparison with the reference design, back view
ASUS Extreme AX700 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X700
ASUS Extreme AX800 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X800 PCI-E
ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT
ASUS Extreme AX1800XL 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1800 XL PCI-E
ASUS Extreme AX1800XT TOP 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1800 XT PCI-E


It's quite clear, I guess, that the X1800XL/XT is just a reference card, manufactured for ATI (ASUS has nothing to do with their manufacturing). While the X1800 XT has a different cooling system and power supply, the X1800XL is a complete copy of the reference design, just a label is from ASUS.

But the other three products are fully manufactured by ASUS. The X700 is very original: GPU is on the back side of the card (I have seen it for the first time!) to improve heat exchange and cooling. It's no secret that air flows inside a PC case are always ABOVE a video card, not UNDER it. That's why you should either install a cooler with a fan, or, as PowerColor or Gigabyte often do, a passive cooling system is divided into two parts, the massive part being at the back side of the card (right OVER the PCB, when a card is installed in a computer). The heat is channeled from one part to the other via heat pipes.

But ASUS took the other route: it did everything vice versa. Perhaps it's cheaper than equipping a card with a complex cooler. But as you'll see later, the cooler is not that simple. But the main drawback of the card is its very slow memory! Regular X700 cards must be equipped with 2.8ns memory operating at standard 350 (700) MHz instead of 250 (500) MHz, as we can see in this card. In fact it's a X700LE. But ASUS traditionally offers slowed-down cards without noting it in titles or on the boxes (on PCB).

The remaining two cards are based on the reference design, but with original coolers. Let's review them.

We shall not review the X1800 XL cooler, as it's a copy of the reference design, reviewed many times already.

ASUS Extreme AX700 Silencer 256MB PCI-E

The cooling system is an unfolding heatsink at the back of a card on the GPU. Memory chips operating at their standard frequency do not need cooling, that's why the plate on the front side of the PCB is just for mounting the back heatsink and for decoration. It does not touch the memory chips.

There are heat pipes in the back heatsink to improve heat removal.

That's too much for the X700, I should say. This chip does well with simpler coolers. There is no need in overhauling the card and equipping it with an expensive unfolding heatsink. Besides, the card is equipped with very slow memory (regular X700 cards come with 2.8ns BGA memory instead of 4ns TSOP, as in this case), which generally reduces PCB temperature.




ASUS Extreme AX800 Silencer 256MB PCI-E

It's a very complex and intricate device on the face of it. However, all this multitude of screws, nuts, angle pieces hides an interesting system: the card is equipped with a large heatsink, which uses a heat pipe to channel the heat to the second pin-fin copper heatsink. We have already come across this many times, the second heatsink mounted at the back of the card and the heat pipe bending around the card on top or at the side. We also saw this device working well in this case by the example of the X800 from Gigabyte.

However, the main disadvantage of that cooling system with two heatsinks is insufficient cooling for the second heatsink. When it's pressed to the PCB, it blocks the cool air flow from PC case fans.

Lifting this heatsink ABOVE the card provides a good cooling effect and the rotation capacity allows flexibility in arranging the heatsink inside a PC case (for example, the air usually flows past a CPU cooler, so placing a copper pin-fin heatsink of the video card on this way is very useful; besides, the hot air is driven out of a PC case).

Of course, some users will find this cooling system clumsy, ridiculous, and even impeding (there exist different PC cases). I just agree that this cooler is not very graceful. It looks as though it's assembled from improvised angle pieces and other materials. But I repeat that it's truly efficient, the engineers did a good job. Well, the design may be disputable, though all you will be able to see from a window at the side of your PC case (if there is a window at all) is the top copper heatsink, which looks good.










ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E

The same cooling device is used here.

But in this case the heat load on the cooler is much higher, as the heat dissipation of GeForce 7800GT at increased frequencies is much higher than in RADEON X800 or GeForce 6600GT.

That's why we are going to scrutinize heat monitoring.










ASUS Extreme AX1800XT TOP 512MB PCI-E

We have come across a X1800-series card with a non-standard cooler for the first time. Even HIS, which equipped all Hi-End cards with very efficient devices from Arctic Cooling, didn't dare to change the cooling system here.

But ASUS found it necessary to change the cooler for its own device, probably on the ground of increased operating frequencies. The reference device would have coped well with this load, as it blows the hot air out of a PC case. But the ASUS device does not do it and the hot air remains inside. So if your PC case is not well-ventilated, the consequences may be dire (by the way, it can be said about all Hi-End cards, which do not blow the hot air out of a PC case).

It's a bulky closed heatsink with a turbine that drives air through its fins - that is nothing new actually. The only impressive thing is the cooler dimensions. However, it's the turbine that differs this device from GeForce FX 5900 Ultra. It's similar to the one used by Arctic Cooling in its famous devices. That's why the cooling system is generally very quiet and efficient.




Bundle

ASUS Extreme AX700 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
User's guide, CD with drivers, CD with a manual in many languages; DVI-to-d-Sub and S-Video-to-RCA adapters. A very unassuming bundle.


ASUS Extreme AX800 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
User's guide, CD with drivers, ASUSDVD, CD with a manual in many languages, Virtual Drive 9, a set of old games, VIVO software; DVI-to-d-Sub and VIVO/HDTV adapters.





ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E
User's guide, CD with drivers, ASUSDVD, CD with a manual in many languages, a set of more interesting newer games, including King-Kong, VIVO software; DVI-to-d-Sub, VIVO/HDTV adapters, external power adapter, stylish leather CD case.





ASUS Extreme AX1800XL 256MB PCI-E
The same bundle, plus TV-cables, minus King-Kong game.





ASUS Extreme AX1800XT TOP 512MB PCI-E
And in this case King-Kong is included into the bundle. The other components are the same.







Packages.

ASUS Extreme AX700 Silencer 256MB PCI-E

Elongated box, made of thick cardboard. The style keeps pace with the time - the box depicts girls and boys. All components are arranged into paper sections inside, but they are not fastened, so the card and other components may dangle during transportation.




ASUS Extreme AX800 Silencer 256MB PCI-E

This box is of a more traditional ASUS design - a huge box :-). A bright jacket covers a white cardboard box with a handle. Everything is arranged into sections inside, the card is secured in foamed polyurethane.

Unfortunately, the company decided to give up box windows. That's a pity. The box dimensions are still large, the empty room is just wasted.




ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E

It's a similar box, where a girl turned into a sullen warrior man (designers' associations with ATI and NVIDIA, I wonder?)




ASUS Extreme AX1800XL 256MB PCI-E

My assumption was wrong. Everything is worse in this case: the warrior changed his countenance, race, and got fantastic weapons. However, there is nothing surprising about it, considering that 80% of 3D games are shooters.




ASUS Extreme AX1800XT TOP 512MB PCI-E

The same box.






Installation and Drivers

Testbed configuration:

  • Athlon 64 (939Socket) based computer
    • CPU: AMD Athlon 4000+ (2400MHz) (L2=1024K)
    • Motherboard: ASUS A8N32 SLI Deluxe on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16
    • RAM: 2 GB DDR SDRAM 400MHz (CAS (tCL)=2.5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=3; Row Precharge (tRP)=3; tRAS=6)
    • HDD: WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2 DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitors: ViewSonic P810 (21") and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (21").
  • ATI Drivers (PCI-E video cards) CATALYST 5.13; NVIDIA drivers 81.98.

VSync is disabled.

Here is the situation with overclocking:

  • ASUS Extreme AX700 Silencer 256MB PCI-E - 420/530 MHz
  • ASUS Extreme AX800 Silencer 256MB PCI-E - 425/1090 MHz
  • ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E - 459/1300 MHz (higher frequencies are impossible, the temperature is already unbearable)
  • ASUS Extreme AX1800XL 256MB PCI-E - 550/1400 MHz (I have already explained why the core cannot operate at frequencies above 550 MHz)
  • ASUS Extreme AX1800XT TOP 512MB PCI-E - 720/1650 MHz.

You should be reminded that the last of the above-mentioned cards initially operates at increased frequencies (relative to the X1800 XT nominal):




Having tested the system for a minute, the automatic overclocking system in the drivers




raised the frequencies only insignificantly, so I didn't use it anymore.

As is well known, RivaTuner (written by A.Nikolaychuk AKA Unwinder) can control the rotational speed of coolers on X1800-series cards.




The cooler is not very noisy even under a heavy load, but it still raises its rotational speed. If we limit its rotational speed to 25% of the maximum value (the quietest mode), we'll get the following situation under load:

The first vertical mark on the left shows the peak core temperature at minimum rotational speed of the cooler, it exceeds 100°C! After we set the rotational speed to 100%, even the heaviest 3D load on the card did not raise the core temperature above 70°C. So it was decided to set the rotational speed to 60% - the core temperature does not exceed 75°C and the cooler is very quiet.

Now we'd like to watch monitoring results of the GeForce 7800GT, as this card is equipped with a passive cooling system! As in the previous case, all the readings were taken in a closed Chieftec PC case with standard cooling inside.




As we can see, the card get extremely hot! Up to 100°C on the core! But we still had no gripes with the operating stability. Yet! That's why we can recommend using this card only in PC cases with very good additional fans inside, the top heatsink of the card should be on the way of air flows.

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Splinter Cell Chaos of Theory v.1.04 (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, shaders 3.0 (for NVIDIA cards)/shaders 2.0 (for ATI cards); HDR OFF!

  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, demo (ixbt01 . The tests were carried out with maximum quality, option -dxlevel 90, presets for video card types are removed from dxsupport.cfg.

  • FarCry 1.33 (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, demo from the Research level (-DEVMODE startup option), Very High test settings.

  • DOOM III (id Software/Activision) — OpenGL, multitexturing, test settings — High Quality (ANIS8x), demo ixbt1 (33MB!). We have a sample batch file to start the game automatically with increased speed and reduced jerking (precaching) d3auto.rar. (DO NOT BE AFRAID of the black screen after the first menu, that's how it should be! It will last 5-10 seconds and then the demo should start)

  • 3DMark05 1.20 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings — trilinear,

  • The Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay 1.10 (Starbreeze/Vivendi) — OpenGL, multitexturing, maximum texture quality, Shader 2.0, demo 44.

    I wish to thank Rinat Dosayev (AKA 4uckall) and Alexei Ostrovski (AKA Ducche), who have created a demo for this game. I also want to thank Alexei Berillo AKA Somebody Else for his help.

  • F.E.A.R. v.1.02 (Multiplayer) (Monolith/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, Soft shadows disabled.

  • Call Of Duty 2 DEMO (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings — maximum, shaders 2.0, tested in Benchemall, demo and a startup script, readme contains necessary instructions



Summary performance diagrams



You can find our comments in the conclusions.


Conclusions

  1. ASUS Extreme AX700 Silencer 256MB PCI-E is an interesting but ambiguous product. On one hand, an interesting solution to place GPU at the back side of the PCB for more efficient cooling as well as a bulky folding heatsink; on the other hand, the card is equipped with too slow memory for X700, which actually turns the card into X700LE. But the card is sold as X700. Isn't it too high a price for noiseless operation, while we already came across sterling X700 cards with passive cooling systems? But if the card price is adequate to its performance characteristics, the product will be very interesting, especially for small computers such as barebone-kits. The card was stable, we had no gripes with it. Good 2D quality.

  2. ASUS Extreme AX800 Silencer 256MB PCI-E is a good Middle-End product. Its passive cooling system fits well in this case. That's the best X800 modification at a good price (besides, this card has VIVO). Excellent 2D quality, no gripes with its operation.

  3. ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E is a very interesting solution - a very powerful accelerator with a noiseless cooling system, but with some core overheating problems. The heat problem is critical, not for the card itself or for the chip, but for the components around the card inside a PC case - the heatsink heats to 80-90°C. That's why such a card can be installed only into PC cases with good additional cooling! Excellent 2D quality, no gripes with its operation (even at such high temperatures). We should note once again a special feature of the card - increased operating frequencies, which distinguish it from the other 7800GT cards.

  4. ASUS Extreme AX1800XL 256MB PCI-E is a regular standard product, a reference card actually, so there is nothing to write about it. If its price is competitive versus 7800GT, X1800XL will have good prospects for success :).

  5. ASUS Extreme AX1800XT TOP 512MB PCI-E is no less interesting than ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E. In terms of efficiency and performance, this card would have been the most powerful single accelerator before the X1900 series. But even with the X1900, the interest to the X1800 XT should not die, as they will coexist for some time and the price is already dropping. Excellent 2D quality, no gripes with its operation. We should also note an important feature - the card can use its own external power supply unit instead of a system PSU. It will be good news for owners of Middle-End super PSUs, who will be able to power up even this powerful card with its own PSU.

You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.










The following cards get the Original Design award






(February 2006):

  1. ASUS Extreme AX700 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
  2. ASUS Extreme AX800 Silencer 256MB PCI-E
  3. ASUS Extreme N7800GT TOP Silent 256MB PCI-E
  4. ASUS Extreme AX1800XT TOP 512MB PCI-E



Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards, which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON X800 (R420)/X850 (R480)/X700 (RV410) and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (NV40/45)/6600 (NV43)



We express our thanks to
ASUSTeK Russia
for the provided video cards.





Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

10.02.2006



Write a comment below. No registration needed!


Article navigation:



blog comments powered by Disqus

  Most Popular Reviews More    RSS  

AMD Phenom II X4 955, Phenom II X4 960T, Phenom II X6 1075T, and Intel Pentium G2120, Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 Processors

Comparing old, cheap solutions from AMD with new, budget offerings from Intel.
February 1, 2013 · Processor Roundups

Inno3D GeForce GTX 670 iChill, Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards

A couple of mid-range adapters with original cooling systems.
January 30, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1

An external X-Fi solution in tests.
September 9, 2008 · Sound Cards

AMD FX-8350 Processor

The first worthwhile Piledriver CPU.
September 11, 2012 · Processors: AMD

Consumed Power, Energy Consumption: Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge

Trying out the new method.
September 18, 2012 · Processors: Intel
  Latest Reviews More    RSS  

i3DSpeed, September 2013

Retested all graphics cards with the new drivers.
Oct 18, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, August 2013

Added new benchmarks: BioShock Infinite and Metro: Last Light.
Sep 06, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, July 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 and AMD Radeon HD 7730.
Aug 05, 2013 · 3Digests

Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB Golden Sample Graphics Card

An excellent hybrid of GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GeForce GTX 660.
Jun 24, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

i3DSpeed, May 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770/780.
Jun 03, 2013 · 3Digests
  Latest News More    RSS  

Platform  ·  Video  ·  Multimedia  ·  Mobile  ·  Other  ||  About us & Privacy policy  ·  Twitter  ·  Facebook


Copyright © Byrds Research & Publishing, Ltd., 1997–2011. All rights reserved.