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BFG Technologies' Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB
The GeForce FX 5600 should be a popular mid-range graphics product among NVIDIA's graphics partners, so consumers will likely see a lot of different incarnations of the card on store shelves. Since all GeForce FX 5600 cards will share the same graphics chip and general feature list, it will be up to third-party board manufacturers to come up with attractive features to woo potential buyers to their brands. How does BFG Technologies differentiate its Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB? Let's have a peek.

At first glance, the Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB looks like just about every other graphics card on the market. The card is dressed up on a blue board with silver trim, which isn't terribly daring or wild these days, but should match the myriad of blue components currently on the market.

As its name implies, the Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB sports 256MB of memory, but it's hard to tell by just looking at the card. The Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB's memory chips are spread over both sides of the card, but with only eight memory chips in total, the board looks deceptively pedestrian.

A closer examination of the Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB's TSOP memory chips reveals 32MB chips that are rated for operation at speeds as high as 250MHz (500MHz DDR). Since the card's default memory clock speed is 500MHz DDR, there's no "free" overclocking headroom that would keep the memory chips running within their specifications.

The TSOP memory chips used on the Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB tend to run hotter than newer and more expensive BGA memory chips, but given the card's opulent memory spec, it's easy to see why BFG Technologies opted for cheaper chips this time around.

Unlike the vast majority of graphics cards that get by with only video output support, the Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB supports video input via Philips' SAA7114H PAL/NTSC/SECAM video decoder chip. The Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB is essentially a VIVO (video in, video out) product, but it doesn't go quite as far as NVIDIA's Personal Cinema or ATI's All-in-Wonder when it comes to extra multimedia features.

The high-end GeForce FX 5800 Ultra was blasted for its loud Dustbuster cooling apparatus, but the Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB uses a much more conventional heat sink/fan combo to keep the GPU cool. In fact, the Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB's cooler is almost identical to the cooler on Sapphire's Radeon 9500 Pro. That's a good thing, since the cooler is easy to pop off and about as quiet as they come. BFG Technologies did a good job using just the right amount of thermal compound between the heat sink and GPU, too.

A standard array of output ports graces the Asylum GeForce FX 5600 256MB, and BFG Technologies also throws in a VIVO dongle and DVI-to-VGA adapter. No video cables were included in the box, but the VIVO dongle does have composite and S-Video input and output ports.

Bundle-wise, there's not much to talk about. A copy of Ulead's Video Studio 6 SE is included with the card, which complements its VIVO capabilities nicely, and there's also a copy of NVIDIA's own NVDVD software in the box. As far as DVD playback software goes, NVDVD is pretty good, but it's not going to be vastly superior to PowerDVD or WinDVD for most users.