With both power and frame rates flying through the roof over the past couple of years, cards have given games programmers the means to conjure up some fairly death-defying graphics.

But progress has not been to everyone's liking. Many a user has found themselves irked by the noise levels pumped out by certain graphics chips. All that power generates extra heat, and hotter PCs demand extra cooling, so onboard fans and cooling systems have, in some cases, become very noisy indeed.

For those who feel they deserve to use their PCs in relative peace, the EN7600GS will come as a pleasant surprise. It is fitted with what is considered to be a silent heatsink – while it doesn't render the card totally noiseless, it comes close.

The 7600 GS is the cut-down version of the GT, and Asus has tweaked some of the specifications. There are still 12 pixel shaders and a 128bit memory interface, but core and memory clock speeds have been dramatically upped – from 400MHz to 550MHz and 475MHz respectively. These are sizeable differences: the Asus can now increase memory bandwidth from 12.8GBps (gigabytes per second) to 15.2GBps.

This is the fastest 7600 GS we've seen yet. Tested across a range of titles – Fear, Quake 4, Halo and Far Cry among them – it outdid the MSI version by 4-5fps (frames per second). This still doesn't allow it to catch up with cards such as the GT, but the gap is pretty small when you consider the £30-£40 price difference.

Asus EN7600GS Top Silent: Specs

  • nVidia GeForce 7600 GS graphics processor
  • 512MB DDR2 RAM
  • core clock 550MHz
  • memory clock 475MHz (950MHz DDR effective)
  • manufacturing process 0.09-micron
  • 12 pixel shader processors
  • 128bit memory interface
  • PCI Express interface
  • DirectX 9.0 support
  • DVI
  • video-out
  • nVidia GeForce 7600 GS graphics processor
  • 512MB DDR2 RAM
  • core clock 550MHz
  • memory clock 475MHz (950MHz DDR effective)
  • manufacturing process 0.09-micron
  • 12 pixel shader processors
  • 128bit memory interface
  • PCI Express interface
  • DirectX 9.0 support
  • DVI
  • video-out

OUR VERDICT

Thanks to the 128bit memory interface, the 7600 GS isn't a particularly fast card, but this is the fastest GS we've seen. The Asus EN7600GS Top Silent is also fairly good value for money and, if silence is a yearning of yours, this card will take care of your needs.

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