Review When Nvidia launched the GeForce 7800 GTX in June 2005 it broke with tradition by not releasing a mid-range GeForce 7600 and a budget GeForce 7200, which is what we'd expected after the precedent set by the GeForce FX5200/5600/5800 launch and followed by the GeForce 6200/6600/6800 roll-out. Instead, Nvidia demoted the GeForce 6800 chip to the upper mid-range, leaving the GeForce 6600 in the mid-range and the GeForce 6200 as a budget product...
This was an unusual move but it made sense: the GeForce 6xxx series supports DirectX 9.0c while the ATI products of the time were DirectX 9.0b part and, let's face it, the Radeon X300 and X700 weren't very impressive.
The situation changed with the release of Radeon X1300, X1600 and X1800 in November 2005 and then the X1900 earlier this year, as it meant that every current graphics card (that we care about) is now fully DirectX 9.0c compliant, and now Nvidia has slotted the GeForce 7600 into the mid-range.
The 7600 uses half of the hardware that you find inside the GeForce 7900 GTX so you get 12 pixel pipelines, eight Raster Operations Units (ROPs), five pixel shaders, a 128-bit memory controller with support for up to 256MB of memory. The GPU comes in two versions: the GS has a core speed of 400MHz and 256MB of DDR 2 memory that runs at an effective 800MHz, and which is intended to be used with a passive cooler to give silent running. The performance option is the GeForce 7600 GT which has a 560MHz core and uses GDDR 3 memory with an effective speed of 1.4GHz, which is exactly what you'll find in the Asus EN7600GT.
As far as we can see the only thing that distinguishes the Asus from Nvidia's reference design is the Asus sticker on the cooling fan so it's fair to expect that its performance will be typical of the breed. The 7600 GT doesn't have any new headline features to offer over the 6600 GT as both chips support DirectX 9.0c with Shader Model 3 and are native PCI Express parts. However, the move to a 90nm manufacturing process brings some benefits as it allows the new chip to run both faster and cooler, so the heatsink/fan unit is the same size as the type that you find on a 6600 GT. Having said that we found that the fan was annoyingly noisy when it ran at full speed during 3D work as it makes a penetrating whining noise.