Noise and 2D Quality
The cooling system on the ASUS graphics card behaves in an expectable way. In other words, it works exactly like the cooling system of the ATI Radeon X1900 XTX reference card the ASUS EAX1900XTX is an exact copy of. When you turn the computer on, the fan works at the maximum speed, producing unbearable noise, but then its speed goes down in a step-like manner and the fan becomes almost silent. The fan speed management system seems to be ready to react to an increase in the GPU temperature, but the level of noise always remains in a comfortable range even though it has that irritating “plastic” twang in it. Some people may also find it discomforting that the card begins to “play” with the fan speed under high computational loads, increasing and decreasing it, and thus changing the tonality of the noise, all the time.
As we wrote in the previous section, we checked the overclocking potential of the ASUS EAX1900XTX at the maximum speed of its fan. Using a sound-level meter Velleman DVM1326 we can now provide you with an objective estimate of the amount of noise produced by a particular graphics card (the measurement methodology was described in our article called Brother Against Brother: Gigabyte GV-RX19X512VB Vs. GV-NX79X512DB).
The level of background noise in our test room was 36dBA. At a distance of 1 meter from the working testbed with a passively cooled graphics card installed our sound-level meter showed 40dBA. We measured the level of noise produced by the cards in three modes: 2D, 3D typical and 3D maximum (the maximum level of noise with the automatic fan-speed adjustment enabled). The noise is measured at a distance of 1m and 5cm from the working testbed assembled in a Chieftec LBX-01 system case with the side panel removed. Here are the results:
The speed of ASUS’ cooler was set manually, so the results are identical in all the modes. The decibel is a logarithmic rather than linear measurement unit, so an increase in the sound level by 3dB corresponds to a twofold increase in the sound intensity. However, because of the non-linearity of the human hearing it is assumed that the perception of a sound source having become two times louder corresponds to a sound level increase by 10dB.
We increased the GPU and memory voltages when overclocking the ASUS EAX1900XTX, so we decided to check the card’s cooler at the maximum speed and at 75% of the max speed. One look at the results is enough to make it clear that the reference cooler installed on Radeon X1900 XT/XTX is not at all suitable for extreme overclocking. When its fan speed is the highest or near highest, it can of course cool the card, but it produces a tremendous 70dBA of noise! You won’t be pleased to be near this graphics card for long!
So, if you are into extreme overclocking and want to experiment with an ASUS EAX1900XTX, the first thing you should do is to get rid of the reference cooler. It’s up to you to decide on the replacement, basing on your tastes and financial capabilities. You may want to use a high-quality air cooler from Zalman or Arctic Cooling, a water-based solution or even a phase-change cooling system.
This graphics card provides a very high image quality in 2D applications, including 1800x1440@75Hz and 1600x1200@85Hz modes. The ASUS EAX1900XTX/2DHTV/512M delivers a sharp picture without fuzziness or shadowing which you can sometimes see on cheap graphics cards with non-standard PCBs and inexpensive components.