ASUS EN9800GT 512mb PCI-E
Packaging and Appearance
Similar to most Asus' mid-range cards, the package is attractive yet basic looking by design. A green and black outer sleeve with a short run down of features sits on the front along with a picture of the Asus Exclusive 'Glaciator' cooler. The rear of the package goes on to describe the features, Asus exclusive innovations and the requirements to run the card (400w PSU- 26A).
The inner box is solid by construction and should be enough to prevent damage to the card which itself is set in an anti-static bag, eliminating the possibilities of damaging the card through not following static precautions. The contents as per usual from Asus, are both thorough and complete. An HDMI-DVI adapter; VGA-DVI adapter, as well as an S-Video cable and Molex to PCI-e 6-pin adapter are present. The manuals and driver disks complete the accessory list but sadly there is no game included
The card itself is very pleasing to the eye. The dominating Glaciator cooler taking pride of place on the card, along with a matching VRM cooler. In testing we found the cooler to be virtually silent but users should be aware that even though this card has a single backplate, the height of the cooler puts it into the 'dual slot' category. To the rear of the card we see that both the cooler and the VRM heatsink are attached to the PCB via screws. I do like it when manufacturers' consider the end user who might wish to use their own cooling solution. The spring loaded screws should also create an even mount - effectively increasing the cooling properties of the cooler even further.
To the rear of the card, we can see the 6-pin PCI-e power requirement. And at the backplate end of the card please take note of the connectivity. The orange DVI connector is actually the HDMI port which Asus have kindly provided a DVI to HDMI adapter for. The other slot is for DVI connections but again Asus have included a DVI-VGA connector should your monitor not support DVI. The remaining connector is for S-Video. Note the two SLI tabs available on the 9800GT. NVidia have seen fit to make the 9800GT TRI-SLI compatible should your motherboard support this feature.
This is the jewel in the EN9800GT's crown - its cooling capacity. Not only have Asus implemented the Glaciator cooler, but they have also decided to cool the VRM's with a matching heatsink. On test, the cooler was inaudible and managed to keep temperatures well within the realms of safety regardless of what benchmark we threw at it. The memory has no cooling but that did not appear to affect the running of the card, even when overclocked.
Stripping the card of its cooling, we get to see the actual core and memory as well as the Mosfets. Taking the cooler off was a simple affair with just four screws holding it in place. The Thermal Interface Material used was typical Asus gunk and acted more like glue than thermal paste. Removing the cooler screws was easy, however, removing the cooler from the core was an altogether different matter. This stuff was like cement! The actual contact area was good and the mount was near perfect but I would prefer to have seen a little less paste. A thermal pad sits beneath the VRM cooler which is sufficient enough to allow for imperfections in Mosfet height but looking at the imprints left on the tape, some of the Mosfets were only half covered.
All in all a nice looking card with some awesome cooling power. Gigabyte owners will rejoice at the choice of colour for the PCB as it matches the standard Gigabyte boards perfectly. Personally, I prefer black PCB's but then Asus have at least shown a little originality here.