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Computer Accessories

Hands-on with the Asus EN9800 GX2: Faster than death

Want twin graphics cards but your motherboard only has one PCI Express slot? We think we may have found the solution

Want twin graphics cards, but your motherboard only has one PCI Express slot? We think we may have found the solution. We've just been playing with the Asus EN9800 GX2, a graphics adaptor that combines two separate graphics processing units in a single... box thingy. Think dual-core, but for 3D games.

The first thing we noticed about the card was that it's absolutely immense. It's bigger than any other graphics card we can remember and resembles a miniature metallic coffin. It's gorgeous, though -- we actually had people gathering round gawking at its sturdy metallic frame and drooling on the artwork.

Specs-wise, the EN9800 GX2 packs a huge number of transistors: 1.508 billion, to be exact. Considering Intel's dual-core chips pack around 400 million, that's impressive. The core clock speed is 'only' 600MHz and you 'only' get 256 stream processors (ATI's flagship Radeon HD 3870 X has 320 per chip) but you get a phat 1GB of RAM running at 1GHz.

What this means is that it's quick. It racked up a stunning 14,846 in 3DMark 2006 at the default 1,024x768 resolution, and only dropped to 12,730 when we applied 8x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering -- two processor-intensive effects that make graphics look prettier. Then we ran some actual gaming tests. It played Unreal Tournament at 174 frames per second at 1,600x1,200 pixels with 4x anti-aliasing and maximum quality. Next up was Call of Duty 4, which played at 72 frames per second -- even at 2,048x1,536 pixels.

The only drawback is that the EN9800 GX2 retails for around £420 -- which is considerably more than a PlayStation 3. As a result, we can only really recommend it for kids with popstar parents or anyone that's recently robbed a liquor store. Props to Nvidia's chipset though -- this thing's a monster. -Rory Reid