ASUS GeForce 7800GT TOP - Silent but Violent

Next on the list today is the ASUS 7800GT TOP Silent graphics cards which offers high-end performance without the noise!

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, Feb 20 2006 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction







Heat pipe graphics cards have never really seemed to kick in the market. The main reason is probably due to the fact that they have been more concentrated on mid-range cards that generally generate less heat and can run well under a heat pipe situation.

Today we will be looking at the highest-end heat pipe graphics card we have seen before, the GeForce 7800GT, but not only that we have got ourselves a pair to see just what happens we put them together in SLI mode.

ASUS have stepped outside the square and gone for what looks like a really efficient heat pipe setup. It's the type of setup that could (and probably will) give those people who want silent systems, the frame rates they thought they would never get. We also hope to find out if we can overclock at all or is stock speeds maxing out the powerful 7800GT core for all its worth with silent cooling.

Let's begin and take a close look!

The Package




For a while now we have found that the higher-end ASUS graphics cards come with these massive boxes which hold an absolute bucket load of information.



The front of the box gives us our normal run of the mill details like main features and some of the awards ASUS have one, we can also see that since these cards are part of the "Silent" line up they output a total noise level of 0dB. We can also clearly see that the 7800GT TOP Silent is SLI ready.



Opening the box up like a book we can see a wealth of information with the most interesting revolving around the SilentCool technology ASUS have used on the 7800GTs we are looking at today.



Moving onto the back of the box we have what is included, a list of awards and extended specs on the card along with some of the software that included.



With the massive box out the way we can move onto the package, included is a DVI to VGA connector and an S-Video like connector that comes out to a little box with a whole lot of little connectors.



Having a closer look at the box we can see all our important connections, the HDTV out connectors, the video in connectors and the video out connectors. Making it into a little box like this is a lot neater and saves you having a load of cables coming straight out the back of your PC.



Paperwork wise there is your normal VGA manual and a driver and utilities installation guide. We would be a bit worried if you were reading them but if you need some light reading on the way back from your computer shop, they may come in handy.



This is where the premium for a card like the ASUS 7800GT TOP Silent comes in; we see cool little extras like this CD wallet which we don't see from other card makers.



Moving onto the more exciting software side of things we have a huge amount of CDs included in the package. We have got two game packs which offer three games each but also the recently released Peter Jackson's King Kong game based off the movie.



We also have a load of other software included like Medi@Show, ASUSDVD, PowerDirector along with our driver CD.

The bundle for the 7800GT TOP Silent is excellent and it's been a while since we have seen such a strong package for a graphics card. The big bundle helps justify the higher cost that comes with buying an ASUS graphics card.

The Card




Moving onto the card, the first thing we notice is just how stylish looking the cooler looks on the 7800GT. It's big and mean looking which gives off a good impression that it is going to be effective.



Laying the card down we can see the way the cooling works. As the GPU heats up, the air rises through the heat pipes seen towards the top of the card and then feeds its way into the little fins where it then escapes.





As the card is a 7800GT we can see that the extra 6 Pin power connector is needed to give the card enough power.





Turning the card over there isn't much more then a bracket to help keep the heatsink on the front in place, because both the GPU and all the memory is located on the front of the card there is no reason to add anything to the back of the card making it quite bare.



The top part of the heat pipe can be moved to different angles depending on your case and how much room you have. We had to have both running straight across the top of the card which let them sit very snug in the ASUS A8N32-SLI motherboard. If your motherboard doesn't have the extra wide PCI Express slots you will run into trouble getting these cards in together.





Moving to the IO side we can see that we have Dual DVI like all 7800GT's and our TV-Out connector which goes into the little box that we looked at earlier which offers us HDTV Out along with Video In/Video Out.



ASUS have taken it a step further with not only offering a silent solution but one that is also overclocked. Moving from 400MHz on the core to 420MHz we have a small overclock but by using the 1.6ns memory instead of the standard 2.0ns ASUS have increased the memory speed from a cool 1000MHz to a hot 1240MHz.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark03


Test System Setup

Processor(s): AMD Athlon X2 3800+
Motherboard(s): ASUS A8N32-SLI (Supplied by ASUS)
Memory: 2 X 1GB Corsair PC3500LL PRO DDR (Supplied by Corsair Micro)
Hard Disk(s): WD Raptor 74GB 10,000RPM SATA (Supplied by Western Digital)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2
Drivers: nVidia Forceware 81.98 and DX9c


We will be looking at just the two ASUS 7800GT TOP Silent cards running in SLI and on its own at their stock overclocked speeds (Core/Memory 420MHz/1240MHz). With the cards being heat pipe we will run our overclocking tests to see if we can get any more out of the memory and the core but we wouldn't be surprised if ASUS have already milked the card for everything its worth.

Nothing out of the ordinary on our normal benchmark run which of course includes some high quality tests utilizing AA and AF at 1600 x 1200 along with our CPU and VGA overclocking tests.


3DMark03

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 360
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark03/
Buy It Here




By combining full DX8 and partial DX9 support with completely new tests and graphics over the previous version, 3DMark03 continues the legacy of being the industry standard 3D benchmark.

Please Note: Due to recent events with the 3DMark03 series, we are adding results purely for those who are still in favor of 3DMark03. These results should not be taken too seriously and are only added for interest sakes.




Straight off the bat we see the silent GT's show very nice scores in SLI with big improvements seen at both resolutions.

Benchmarks - 3DMark05


3DMark05

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 120
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/
Buy It Here




3DMark05 is the second latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and higher.

For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here.




Moving to 3DMark05 we see SLI again offer excellent performance at both resolutions with it showing its power at the higher resolution.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 102
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here




3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.

3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.




The latest 3DMark shows some very weird results with scores close together at the higher resolution and the single card being slightly faster at the lower resolution.

Benchmarks - Far Cry


Far Cry

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.3
Timedemo or Level Used: PC Games Hardware Demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com
Product Homepage: http://www.farcrygame.com
Buy It Here




There is no denying that Far Cry is currently one of the most graphic intensive games on the market, utilizing PS2.0 technology (the latest versions support Shader Model 3.0 with DX9c) and offering an exceptional visual experience there is no denying that even some of the faster graphics cards struggle.




Far Cry like 3DMark05 shows us that the single card solution is slightly quicker then the SLI setup.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2


Half Life 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Time demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.com
Buy It Here




By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism and responsiveness, Half-Life 2 opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.

We benchmark Half Life 2 with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.




While again at the lower resolution we can see that the single card is just ahead at the higher resolution we can see that SLI fixes up and gives us the lead over the single card.

Benchmarks - Doom 3


Doom 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Time demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.doom3.com
Buy It Here




Doom 3 is the latest game to hit our test lab and is one of the most intensive games to dates. With our own custom time demo we are able to give a realistic rating on what kind of FPS you will be achieving.

For more information on benchmarking Doom 3 we recommend you check out our extensive article regarding it here.




Not until we bump up the resolution to 1600 x 1200 does the SLI solution sneak ahead of the single card.

Benchmarks - Quake 4


Quake 4

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.quake4game.com
Buy It Here




Quake 4 is one of the latest new games to be added to our benchmark suite. It is based off the popular Doom 3 engine and as a result uses many of the features seen in Doom. However, Quake 4 graphics are more intensive than Doom 3 and should put more strain on different parts of the system.




Quake 4 also shows us that performance at the lower resolution is slower while the higher resolution is quicker.

Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.


F.E.A.R.

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
href="https://www.tweaktown.com/files/x.zip">download here)
Developer Homepage: http://www.vugames.com
Product Homepage: http://www.whatisfear.com/us/
Buy It Here




F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) is an intense combat experience with rich atmosphere and a deeply intense paranormal storyline presented entirely in first person. Be the hero in your own spine-tingling epic of action, tension, and terror...and discover the true meaning of F.E.A.R.






F.E.A.R. of course sees SLI offer HUGE performance increases over a single card solution with a 100% increase at both resolutions.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

In our High Quality tests we bump the Antialiasing (AA) and Anisotropic Filtering (AF) up causing the card(s) to be put under more load.

This usually helps us remove the CPU limitation. In this article since we are using higher performance (and more expensive) systems, we have used 4 x AA and 16 x AF at a resolution of 1600 x 1200 to try and stress the graphics cards more.




Once we turn on the AA and AF the SLI setup again flies ahead of the single 7800GT.




While our non AA and AF tests showed Half Life 2 performance similar when we do up the ante its clear that SLI offers a benefit.




We again see in our HQ tests that the SLI 7800GT setup offers exceptional performance.

Benchmarks - CPU Overclocking


CPU Overclocking

Even with the power of the AMD Athlon X2 and Intel Extreme Edition processors, we still find ourselves hitting a CPU limitation in a lot of our benchmarks. That is, the graphics cards have more performance to give but the processor is letting the team down.

By overclocking the processor we can see what kind of a performance increase we get. When something isn't CPU limited the performance increase isn't all that major but when we do have a CPU bottleneck, every MHz extra we can get can show us an excellent jump in performance.

The Athlon X2 3800+ was increased from 2GHz to 2.2GHz with a slight increase in the front side bus utilizing the stock X2 heatsink fan.




On both setups we see small increases at 1024 x 768 but greater increases at 1600 x 1200.




We see minor increases in both setups at both resolutions.




SLI shows a superior increase in performance once overclocked with it standing out from the rest of the results.

Benchmarks - Graphics Card Overclocking


Graphics Card Overclocking

Thanks to motherboard and VGA manufactures, overclocking has become such an effortless task, giving literally anyone the chance to overclock their components with very little risk.

When it comes to overclocking graphics card we use and recommend two program - for ATI cards you can't go past ATI Tool and if you're on the other side of the fence and using an nVidia card the Coolbits 2 registry hack is it. Both programs offer an Auto Overclock feature which is what we use.

The standard clock on the ASUS 7800GT TOP is 420MHz core and 620MHz on the memory. We managed to achieve a surprising 458MHz on the core and 660MHz on the memory without the use of any fans. With some good yet quiet airflow in your case we would not be surprised if you could get a little bit more.




When it came to VGA overclocking, the performance jump on both the single 7800GT and dual 7800GT were very visible.




Doom 3 sees a small increase when it came to overclocking the graphics card with nothing to get excited about.




Performance on both setups seemed to take a slight dive when it came to overclocking the graphics cards.

Final Thoughts




The 7800GT TOP Silence graphics cards from ASUS were quite surprising. You have two cards that came pre-overclocked on a heatsink with no fan but not only that thanks to the faster memory used, you have even more head room for overclocking as we saw today.

The package was also one of the best we have seen in a while with a very recent game like King Kong being included, more often then not we get these powerful graphics cards and a copy of Counter Strike or something else that can barley push the power of the cards inside. ASUS have done a TOP job all round from bundle to overclocking to quality.

It is nice to know though that if you don't want a noisy case, you can have the performance that you want with an SLI setup and not a 6600GT either... we are talking about two of the highest-end available graphics cards. There is no doubt that silence enthusiasts while be rejoicing over the release of the 7800GT heat pipe version, let's hope that we see ASUS carry this technology onto some of the other higher-end cards including the X1900XTX which is very noisy.

If you're looking for a silent but fast VGA solution, there is no doubt that you cannot look past these cards. You're not going to get anything faster with these noise levels unless you get into some custom modding and want to take the risk of voiding your warranty.


- Pros
Completely silent
Fantastic bundle
Pre-overclocked
Even more overclocking headroom
High quality heatsink
1.6ns memory as opposed to 2.0ns
A justified premium

- Cons
SLI requires extra room due to heatsink


Rating - 9.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Editors Choice Award


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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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