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Asus' EAH3870 and EN8800GT TOP
TOP of the class?

Industry heavyweight Asus makes just about everything, so it's no surprise to find a couple of the company's graphics cards in this round-up. Asus offers a full range of cards based on the GeForce 8800 GT and Radeon HD 3800 series, including the EN8800GT and EAH3870 TOP models we've included today. TOP designates factory-overclocked cards, and in this case, both share the same Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts game bundle, cable payload, and three-year warranty. The cards also come with a cheesy CD wallet that I suppose one could use to store Company of Heroes, since it only comes in a paper slipcase.

Beyond higher clock speeds and a CoH sticker that dominates its dual-slot cooler, the EAH3870 appears to be identical to AMD's reference design for the Radeon HD 3870. That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course. The 3870's dual-slot cooler may eat an extra slot, but it also exhausts warm air out of the case, which should make for lower system temperatures. The additional surface area should allow for lower—and more importantly quieter—fan speeds than single-slot designs.

Asus gets creative with the cooler for its EN8800GT TOP, ditching the GT's single-slot shroud in favor of a circular heatsink that sits atop the graphics chip. This cooler is tall enough to take up a second slot, but it doesn't stretch the length of the card, leaving the memory chips exposed. Additional cooling for the card's voltage regularly circuitry is provided by a smaller passive heatsink.

When they're done right, beefier cooling solutions can add a lot of value to a graphics card. With a dual-slot cooler, the EN8800GT is off to a bit of a rough start, especially since this cooler won't direct warm air out of the back of the system. We'll have to see how noise levels and temperatures shake out before passing final judgment on the cooler, though.

HIS's IceQ3 Radeons
HIS and hers

Otherwise known as Hightech Information System Limited, HIS isn't a big name in North America. Despite this relative obscurity, the company's latest Radeons are among only a few that are currently in stock at major etailers like Newegg and TigerDirect. There is a catch, though, and it's a big one. HIS's warranty term is just a single year—a tough sell for cards in this price range, where three years of coverage is about the norm. The little screwdriver/flashlight/level that HIS throws into the box with its cards doesn't quite make up for it, either.

HIS at least deserves some props for spicing things up. What looks like a blue Radeon HD 3870 reference design is in fact a 3850—the IceQ3 TurboX version, to be exact—with a custom dual-slot cooler. The cooler looks similar to AMD's reference heatsink for the 3870, but it employs more isolated memory heatsinks and a different blower design. The basic idea remains the same, with warm air piped outside the case through a set of exhaust vents.

And here we have the IceQ3 Turbo 3870, which for whatever reason didn't quite make the grade for TurboX status. I'm not quite sure why, because the card appears to be all but identical to the 3850 TurboX. HIS uses the same cooler here as it does on the 3850. Cooling is particularly important for these cards since both boast higher-than-stock clock speeds.