Created by AMD’s graphics department to conquer the mainstream sector, the ATI Radeon HD 2600 (RV630) processor proved to be an ambiguous product. Although endowed with good technical characteristics, this GPU is not really brilliant in gaming applications.
Our tests showed that the Radeon HD 2600 XT GDDR4, the senior RV630-based graphics card model, did not have an overwhelming advantage over its market opponent Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT despite being closer to the more advanced GeForce 8600 GTS in its specs. Why? Because the RV630 core has only four rasterization subunits and the drivers are not yet quite polished off.
On the other hand, the ATI Radeon HD 2600 is beyond competition when it comes to playing video. Thanks to its dedicated decoder with full hardware support of such HD formats as H.264 and VC-1, including support for entropy encoding (CABAC and CAVLC), and to high image quality, RV630-based graphics cards are surely the best choice for a multimedia PC. That could be the factor to boost the popularity of the ATI Radeon HD 2600 series.
But besides playing video of various formats, a graphics card for multimedia PCs has to comply with other requirements. It must be compact, quiet, and economical. While it’s all right with the power consumption of the Radeon HD 2600 XT GDDR4, the card proved to be far from compact. Its reference PCB is large. Today we will discuss the less advanced version of ATI Radeon HD 2600. It has a Pro suffix in its name and should be free from the mentioned drawback.
We know that graphics cards of the Radeon HD 2600 class do not have to follow the reference design. Will the ASUS EAH2600PRO/HDTI/256M card we are going to test today prove a unique product? Let’s find out right now.