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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [05.24.05]
Manufactured by: Gigabyte
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Silence Kills

For all those who complain about the noise generated by today's fastest video cards, Gigabyte has a gift for you. Not content to simply use a reference design and slapping a logo on the heatsink, Gigabyte is one of the few companies attempting to offer something across nearly their entire lineup of video card products: Silence.

And we're not just talking about the GeForce 6200 or Radeon X300 here; Gigabyte has introduced completely fanless coolers to the X800 series.

Employing fanless heatpipe coolers designed by Zalman, the GV-RX80256D (X800) and GV-RX80L256V (X800XL) cards are among very few mid-to-high range video cards offering complete and utter silent operation. The X800 version even has a trick up its sleeve...

Obviously these cards are physically identical, so from here on out, we'll just be looking at one of them:

Unlike other Zalman products, this heatsink was never intended to be installed by the end user. Therefore, it is a more slim design than we're used to seeing from Zalman. There are no screws or bolts poking out anywhere.

The larger of the two heatsinks is actually on the reverse side of the card, making it a 'single slot' design. However, this may present problems to unusually designed motherboards, such as Shuttle XPC's, which place expansion slots 'above' the PCI-E slot, in order to allow for dual slot video cards. The design may also pose a problem on dual video slot motherboards.

However, when installed on a standard ATX motherboard, the heatsink presents no problems, even with this Intel 955X board, which has the biggest Northbridge heatsink I've ever seen.

HDTV Ready

ATI video cards above the X700 model support native HDTV resolutions via Component RGB connection. This is a great feature on older HDTV displays without digital input. However, don't expect to be able to enjoy the higher quality component output on a standard definition TV; it is intended to output HD resolutions only. I did get 480i mode working on my Sony Wega 27" TV, and while the picture was definitely more clear than the S-Video output, there was an excessive amount of flickering, and the screen was overdrawn by quite a bit.

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