The Asus V9560 Video Suite FX5600 card starts a bit of a trend in this group test. Itâ€™s one of six cards that use the S-Video port for Video In as well as Video Out, so you'll see the acronym VIVO cropping up quite often from now on. The surprising thing is that all six VIVO cards use an nVidia GPU, although in fairness to ATi we have reviewed its All-in-Wonder products separately to this group test.
The V9560 Video Suite is a conventional GeForce FX5600 card, however it has one unique feature in this group in that it has two DVI-I ports and no VGA output. We're all in favour of a digital connection wherever possible as you can always use a VGA adapter for an older monitor, but if you have two new TFTs on your desktop you need dual DVI to get the best possible picture.
Cosmetically the card is attractive with a gold coloured PCB and what appears to be a copper heatsink. There are gold coloured heatsinks on the memory chips on the front of the card, but the four chips on the back of the card are bare, but this isn't really a graphics card for the overclockers. The extensive software package includes the Asus Smart Doctor tweak utility, which has limited function. It only allows the core speed to be overclocked by 50MHz, and the memory speed can't be changed at all. The boost in core speed raised our 3DMark03 score from 2,575 to 2,678, a gain of four percent which is quite poor compared to, say, the Albatron.
As we've said before, there is little to choose between an FX5600 and Radeon 9600, and both chips are just about capable of playing the latest games.
Dwelling on pure speed would be to miss the point of the Asus. The S-Video cable ends in an adapter that carries four ports to give you the choice of S-Video in and out, and coaxial in and out. Of course those connections would be of little use without an appropriate software package, and Asus has that covered nicely. In addition to the Asus drivers and utilities, you get Asus Digital VCR, Asus Power Director 2.5 ME, AsusDVD, Asus Medi@Show SE 2.0 plus a selection of games. They are Elder Scrolls III Morrowind, Tom Clancyâ€™s Rainbow Six Rogue Spear Black Thorn and Worms Blast.
The real surprise is that Asus only charges a list price of Â£140 for this card and we have found it on sale for less that Â£130 in the UK. That means you're paying about Â£40 for the VIVO function and all that software, and we consider that to be a real bargain.
With dual DVI outputs, Video In and a strong software package the Asus offers great value. It may not be the fastest card but its low price and full feature set help it walk away with a Recommended award.