Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 45nm @3.0gHz
Asus Striker II NSE nVidia 790i mobo
Kingston HyperX DDR3-1625 2 gig kit
Nesteq EECS 7001 700 Watt PSU
Thermaltake M9 midtower
Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
Physically installing the card is a matter of placing it in the PCI-E slot, using a screw or tool-free case solution, and plugging in the power cables. As I mentioned, there is a 6-pin and an 8-pin connector. To my understanding, two 6-pin cables are fine unless you are using Crossfire or overclocking, then you need to use the 8-pin. My PSU has special combination PCI-E connectors that accommodate both 6- and 8-pin, so I used the 8-pin.
Installing the Catalyst drivers with Vista is a different story. Vista always wants to install drivers, and it usually works with nVidia drivers. But Vista obviously doesn't understand the Catalyst system, and it is a pain. Regardless of how I do it, I usually end up having to install the Catalyst Suite more than once. I guess that the problem is that you have to install the Catalyst Install Manager before installing the drivers, and Vista just isn't that patient.
To make an extremely long story short, I have found that the best bet is downloading both the standalone Catalyst drivers AND the Catalyst Suite. Install the drivers first, and once they are installed, then install the Suite.
By this time, your ears are hurting from the loud pair of fans. No worry, install the Asus Utility Installer from the driver CD, and Asus Smart Doctor will be installed. The fan speed is controlled by Smart Doctor, and once it is launched, the fans quieten down to near silence. Use the Fan Control Settings in Smart Doctor for complete control over fan speed. When starting the system, the fans are pretty loud until Smart Doctor is launched, unlike my nVidia 9800GTX and 9600GT, which both drop to silence as Vista is launched.
The EAH3850 X2 idled at 42C. I set the lower speed at 50C, the second speed at 60C, and the third speed at 65C. I found later that the card spent most of its time at around 60C, and occasionally climbed to 65C-67C, so while gaming and benchmarking, the fans were audible.
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