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The world’s number one officially ranked gamer Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel has for some time put his name to a range of motherboards and graphics cards from Abit. Recently though, a collaboration to design a new series of graphics cards with XFX was announced. Whilst most people would expect the first fruits of this partnership to be an all conquering high-end card, instead it’s actually a mainstream card, based on an nVidia 7600 GT GPU. Although this seems strange at first glance, it makes financial sense as the midrange market is much more lucrative than that of the bleeding-edge consumer.
The addition of the Fatal1ty name to this card is not just about kudos. The card is pre-overclocked to such an extent that XFX claims that this is the fastest 7600 GT available. Not only that, but it also uses a passive cooling solution, making it completely silent. All this comes with a minimal increase in price (£5-£10) over standard spec cards, which certainly looks like a winning combination.
The card itself is dominated by its intriguing looking cooler. A core of copper is covered by a black aluminium heatsink, which also covers the surrounding memory chips. Two heatpipes run from within the heatsink to a large set of aluminium cooling fins which sit atop and round the back of the card. Although the cooler is not technically a single slot solution, having the cooling fins on the reverse means that if two cards are used in SLI it frees up more expansion slots – at least on most SLI motherboards. Even though the cooler is large it didn't interfere with anything on our test bed, however the extra height may be a problem for smaller cases. Performance wise the cooler couldn't be faulted, though you will of course need to ensure your case has good ventilation/airflow.
Even though I would never recommend a card based on its looks alone, a special mention has to be made for this card. The PCB, heatsink, back plate, and support bracket (for the cooling fins) have a matt black finish that looks great. This look is perfectly complemented by the polished aluminium cooling fins. Other details like the UV reactive green DVI connectors and the Fatal1ty symbol on the heatsink might be less universally appealing but they certainly set this card apart from the competition.
The retail bundle reflects the cards midrange stance including only a driver CD and no other software. Only one DVI to VGA adapter is included – even though both outputs are DVI. A decent quality S-Video cable is also included.
As mentioned above, the card is based on an overclocked GeForce 7600 GT. These chips are built on a 90 micron process and incorporate 12 pixel pipelines, eight pixel output engines and five vertex shaders. Standard clock speeds are 560MHz core and 700MHz (1.4GHz effective) memory, whereas the Fatal1ty comes in at 650MHz core and 800MHz (1.6GHz effective) memory. This is a substantial overclock for a retail product and actually makes it the highest clocked card on the market. As such, I would hope to see a noticeable performance improvement.