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Conclusion

We have tested AMD’s new mainstream graphics card with the Radeon HD 2000 architecture and its performance is neither impressive nor depressing,

Despite the similarity of technical characteristics we did not suppose the Radeon HD 2600 XT GDDR4 would be similar to the Nvidia GeForce 8600 GTS in terms of performance. The different pricing of the new card would not make such a comparison correct. However, the new card didn’t show quite well even against the modest GeForce 8600 GT, which has a lower core frequency and lower memory bandwidth than the AMD card.

Yes, the developers from the former ATI Technologies created an inexpensive mainstream 65nm GPU that can work at 800MHz and has a serious computing capability, but this was done by means of cutting down the texture and raster processors of the chip. The chip has only 8 TMUs and 4 ROPs as a result. Perhaps this was necessary to keep the amount of transistors, the level of heat dissipation and power consumption of the RV630 within reasonable limits, but this compromise affected the performance of the Radeon HD 2600 XT even in its GDDR4 version.

As a consequence, the Radeon HD 2600 XT GDDR4 is slower than the GeForce 8600 GT in a significant amount out of 20 tests. In about 7 tests (depending how to count, see the table below), not including the overall 3DMark scores, it beats the opponent and in some other tests, counting Far Cry in HDR mode as a separate test, the two match one another’s performance. This is not impressive for a 2007 product with a unified architecture and DirectX 10 support, and with GDDR4 memory clocked at over 1GHz. We should acknowledge that the Radeon HD 2600 XT performs well in applications that focus on math1ematics-heavy special effects and can even challenge the GeForce 8600 GTS that feels a lack of computing power then. Call of Juarez and Splinter Cell: Double Agent are examples of such games.

The ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT GDDR4 does somewhat better in DirectX 10 applications that require a lot of computing power, but its speed is so low that it doesn’t really matter that the opponents are even slower.

Generally speaking, the performance level of solutions of the class the Radeon HD 2600 XT and GeForce 8600 GT belongs to is low. Earlier we recommended owners of Radeon X1950 Pro and GeForce 8600 GTS to disable FSAA and transparency antialiasing and now we recommend doing the same to owners of Radeon HD 2600 XT GDDR4 or GeForce 8600 GT cards. In some games you may even have to reduce the level of detail or switch into 1024x768 resolution.

On the other hand, if you are seeking a graphics card for multimedia applications, the Radeon HD 2600 XT will be the best choice due to its full hardware support for decoding both H.264 and VC-1 as well as for audio-over-HDMI feature. Nvidia’s solutions can’t offer this.

ATI Radeon 2600 XT: Highs and Lows

Highs:

  • DirectX 10 support
  • Full hardware HD-video decoding
  • Unified architecture (120 shader processors)
  • Efficient and silent cooling system
  • HDMI support with audio
  • Low power consumption
  • Good overclocking potential

Lows:

  • Yields to ATI Radeon X1950 Pro and Nvidia GeForce 8600 GS in some tests
  • Longer PCB
 
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