Card appearance and thoughts
The cooler is unnecessarily noisy, as its fan speed remains at 100 per cent at all times. This is despite the fact that the cooler doesn't actually cool the memory chips. Nice brushed metal Asus fascia, though.
Despite its mid-range targeting, the Asus EAX1650XT has a 6-pin PCI Express power connector, and you must connect this or the system will complain. Even HIS's overclocked X1650XT didn't have this requirement, so we have no idea why Asus's reference version does.
And so we come to the back of the card. Removing the cooler won't be hard. The two internal connectors for CrossFire can be seen on the top right, both of which are required for a dual-card setup.
Both the Dual-Link DVI connections support HDCP. Although ATi has been making a song and dance about its HDCP support, this doesn't mean every ATi-based card is compatible, as the adapter itself requires the necessary features as well as the GPU. But Asus has sensibly made its EAX1650XT fully HDCP-compliant, so you can use it to display protected High Definition content - as long as your monitor's DVI link supports HDCP as well.
Asus also sent us a second card so we could try the EAX1650XT out in CrossFire mode. You can see that this now uses internal connections as with Nvidia's SLI, rather than an external dongle or the PCI Express bus on its own.
However, in order to get hold of the internal connectors, you still need to buy a special CrossFire Edition bundle, even if the card itself is identical. This is slightly more expensive than the basic card (around £4), and not as widely available. However, Asus did say it was considering supplying the cables directly if the CrossFire Edition was too hard to obtain.