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Conclusion

The PowerColor HD 2600 Pro 512MB DDR2 is a nice product overall, but we should point out some of its drawbacks, particularly not very rich accessories and a rather noisy cooler.

The accessories do not include an adapter to connect HDTV devices via YPbPr and a DVI → HDMI adapter, although the Radeon HD 2600 series is often bought for use in a multimedia PC which would require the unique adapter from ATI.

The card is not quiet. Although it has a low power draw, its small fan has to work at high speed to cool its very modest heatsink. This is not a big problem as the level of noise is low and you can barely distinguish the card amidst the noise from the other system components. But if you’ve got a multimedia system equipped with a silent PSU and a low-noise cooling system, the PowerColor HD 2600 Pro 512MB may prove unpleasantly loud in it, spoiling one of the main advantages of this kind of PC systems.

The PowerColor card has no significant advantage in games from having as much as 512 of graphics memory. In some tests it had the same speed as the ordinary ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro and in others it would be from 3% to 8-10% slower due to the lower memory frequency (400 (800) MHz instead of 500 (1000) MHz). It’s only in two 3DMark tests, which are in fact variations of the same test, that the PowerColor was better than the reference card, but this achievement has no practical value.

Anyway, the performance of graphics cards on the ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro class is just too low for modern games. It is in few cases that they can deliver an acceptable speed, usually in resolutions not higher than 1280x1024, so larger amounts of graphics memory are not indeed called for. However, the PowerColor HD 2600 Pro 512MB DDR2 doesn’t look any slower than the 256MB version. It copes with HD video decoding just as easily and behaves in games in the same manner, so the customer’s choice should be determined by the price factor alone. If the PowerColor costs no more than those versions of ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro that have a memory frequency of 500 (1000) MHz, the described card can be your choice. Also note that the card is unlikely to overclock well due to the use of slow GDDR2 memory chips with an access time of 2.5 nanoseconds.

Highs:

  • Full support of hardware HD-video decoding;
  • DirectX 10 support;
  • Low power consumption;
  • Compact size;
  • Low price.

Lows:

  • Not very high performance in contemporary games;
  • Relatively loud noise from the cooling system;
  • Slow memory chips;
  • Not very rich accessories bundle;
  • No HDMI and YPbP2 adapters included.
 
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