The most dramatic improvement evident in the ASUS EAX1600XT Silent was the complete silence that greeted us when we powered up the card. Obviously, we know that this is a major draw of a passively cooled card but compared to the incessant and disturbing whine of the reference Radeon X1600 XT, it was a welcome relief. The reference card is one of the nosiest cards in recent times, even when compared to other notable noisemakers like the Radeon X1800 XT, so eliminating this undesirable aspect is certainly worth a couple of points in our book.
The passive cooling works through the usual heat pipes and radiator arrangement, with the pipes carrying heat from the GPU to the radiator located at the back of the card. We are glad to report that the aluminum radiator is raised enough such that it did not interfere with any of our test system's motherboard components. Unlike some of ASUS' other passive coolers, the radiator cannot be adjusted so it is important that there be sufficient allowance. Still, don't be too nonchalant of its raised rear radiator profile as we did encounter conflicts with certain motherboards (like the MSI K8N Diamond Plus) that had a more elaborate and large Northbridge chip cooler. It would be wise for you to take down measurements if you intend to purchase this particular graphics card model. Predictably for a passively cooled card, the clock speeds of the GPU core and memory chips stick to the reference standard, which is 590MHz for the core and 1380MHz DDR for the memory.
Additionally, there is a Rage Theatre ASIC found on the ASUS EAX1600XT Silent. This gifts the card with VIVO (Video-In, Video-Out) capabilities that should complement the Avivo features present. Together with the passive cooling, it does make the ASUS a perfect candidate for a HTPC system, where quiet performance and multimedia versatility is prized. On our reference card from ATI, this ASIC is not found and presumably left to the discretion of the various vendors to implement.
ASUS has been known for extravagant bundles but that practice is reserved for its high-end products. For its EAX1600XT Silent, it is downright ordinary. Besides a leather CD holder, we found the usual drivers, along with ASUS' own in-house applications. The lack of a DVD playback application is a glaring omission. Then there is the aging Xpand Rally game, which has been a staple in graphics card bundles for what seems like an eternity. ASUS has been featuring King Kong in its bundles recently, so it is quite disappointing to find an older game instead. Here are the few accessories and applications found in the package: