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Asus EN7600GT: HDMI/HDCP graphics card

Asus' new graphics card has an HDMI port and HDCP compliance -- essential for movie buffs wanting to switch to high-definition

Our friends at Asus popped by the offices last Friday to show us its latest graphics card. It's the Asus EN7600GT, and it's the first Nvidia-based card we've seen that features an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) port with HDCP (high-bandwidth digital content protection).

It's bad news for the acronym-ically challenged, but great news for anyone who plans on upgrading to Windows Vista or taking advantage of high-definition Blu-ray or HD DVD movies. Why? Because Blu-ray Disc (BD) and HD DVD drives will only play movies at standard DVD resolution (or not at all) without HDCP.

The card also has a standard DVI port that supports HDCP, but the HDMI connection's far more interesting -- it supports video and audio over the same cable, it's easier to connect, and is more robust thanks to a lack of exposed pins. Both ports are paired with a SPDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format) audio port, which you'll need to connect to your PC's sound card using an external cable. If you don't do this you may not be able to play protected audio via HDMI. All very straightforward then.

The EN7600GT comes with 256MB of memory running at 1,400MHz and a graphics processor running at 560MHz. It's by no means the fastest graphics card on the market, but it'll run most games as long as you aren't interested in running at resolutions above 1,600x1,200 pixels, or in enhanced-image quality via full-screen anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering.

The EN7600GT is available now for £135. See the Asus Web site for more information. -RR