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Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2010 orks, a business unit of Nuevvo Webware Ltd.
Thursday, 27 September 2007 12:32

Sapphire HD2400 XT and HD2600 XT play games

Written by Fudzilla staff
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Review: eXTraordinary value for money


After testing a couple of HD2400/2600 PRO series ATI cards, we thought it would be nice do dissect some XT cards too. Unlike their cheaper Pro siblings, which use GDDR2 memory, Sapphire's XT cards use GDDR3, and the HD2600XT is also available with fast GDDR4 memory.

It will be interesting to compare the performance of these two series. The XT cards are mid range and low end products, as you probably know by now, HD 2400 cards have a 64 bit memory bus, which brings about some performance limitations, especially if you want to use Antialiasing.

On the other hand, all HD 2600 cards use a 128 bit memory bus, but as we've already said, they ship in three different memory flavors.

We will compare the XT performance to Club3D's PRO series, and in case you missed that review, you can catch up here.

Let's get back to Sapphire for now. Both cards come with 256MB GDDR3 memory, and both work at 1400MHz. The HD2600XT has a 128 memory bus, while the HD2400XT is stuck with 64 bits. The HD2600XT is based around the RV630 GPU, the HD2400XT uses the RV610.

Both cards utilize a Unified Shader architecture and are fully DX10 compatible. Compared to DirectX 9 cards, the new stream processor architecture gets us better and faster shader effects, Shader Model 4.0 support and numerous processing advantages and new capabilities.



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Supplied by: Ingel Tuzla

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One of the most interesting features is the HDMI support and integrated UVD. All HD2400/2600 series cards support 1080p HD video and HD sound. This, combined with the built in UVD, makes these cards an interesting choice for all consumers who see multimedia capabilities as their priority. The cards are HDCP compatible, so you should have no trouble watching HD DVD and Blu-Ray discs.


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Inside the box, you'll find a driver DVD, one DVI dongle, one HDMI adapter, one S video cable and the Valve voucher.


Radeon HD2400XT

The HD2400XT is passively cooled, the GPU is clocked at 700MHz, and the memory at 1400MHz. Having in mind the 64 bit bus, the faster memory should get this card better performance compared to the PRO version with DDR2 memory.


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A massive aluminum heatsink stretches almost the entire length of the card, and it looks pretty good too.

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Of course, as with all passive cards, a good case airflow is a must

Radeon HD2600XT

The RV630 GPU is clocked at 800MHz, while the memory works at 1400MHz, and the card uses a 128 bit memory bus.

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The Radeon HD2600XT is a single slot card, and it shouldn't be a hassle to install in most machines.




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The card's cooler is pretty quiet, and encased in plastic, of course in Sapphire's trademark colors.

Testbed:

Motherboard: Foxconn C51XEM2AA-8EKRS2H
Processor: AMD Athlon 3800+ X2
Memory: DDR2 2x 1GB OCZ Platinum PC6400 800MHz 4-5-4-15
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 250GB SATA II 7200.10
PSU: Fortron BlueStorm 400W

 

Graphics cards:

Sapphire ATI Radeon HD2600XT 256MB GDDR3;
Transisor count: 390 miliona
GPU: 800MHz
Memory clock: 1400 MHz
Memory bus: 128 bitna
Memory type: GDDR3
Cooling: active
DirectX support:  DX10 – SM4.0
Video support: MPEG-2; MPEG-4; DivX; WMV9; VC-1; H.264
 
Sapphire ATI Radeon HD2400XT 256MB GDDR3;
Transisor count:  180 miliona
GPU: 700MHz
Memory clock: 1400 MHz
Memory bus: 64 bitna
Memory type: GDDR3
Cooling: passive
DirectX support:  DX10 – SM4.0
Video support: MPEG-2; MPEG-4; DivX; WMV9; VC-1; H.264



 
Testing


For all game tests we set the graphics detail settings to the highest available settings, in 3Dmark benchmarks we stuck to default settings.

For comparison purposes we included the scores achieved by Club3D's 2400/2600 cards in our charts.

We overclocked the HD 2600 XT, but just slightly, and ended up at 860/1700MHz. The reference clocks are 800/1400MHz. Although overclocked, the card never exceeded 55 °C under load, which is impressive. In idle, the card was much cooler and we measured 35 °C. We overclocked the card using ATI Overdrive, included in the ATI Catalyst center.

 

3DMark 03:

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The 3Dmark 03 tests were surprising, at least when the Sapphire HD 2600 XT is concerned. With 7223 marks the XT falls behind the Pro version, which scores 8394.

When overclocked, the situation changes drastically, with the overclocked scores 91% better than on stock clocks. As you can see, the overclocked score is 13878.

The HD 2400 XT is 55% faster than the HD 2400 PRO.

Of course, this was expected, since the XT cards use GDDR3 memory. The HD 2400 XT uses a 64 bit bus, but the GPU clock is 175MHz higher than on the Pro version, and the memory is also much faster, which allows it to outperform the Pro by a significant margin.
 

3DMark 05:

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The Sapphire Radeon HD 2600 XT is 22% faster than the Pro version, while the HD 2400 XT is almost 40% faster than its Pro cousin.


3dmark 06:

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The HD 2600 XT is the only card to achieve a noteworthy score. Both XT cards are about 45% faster than the Pro versions. In 3DMark 06 the 2600 XT is 105% faster than the 2400 XT.

 

Games

 

Company of Heroes

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At 1024x786 without antialiasing and aniso filters all cards churn out a playable framerate.The  HD 2600 XT is 89.7% faster than the 2400XT.

At 1600x1200, also without AA or AF, the gap widens, with the 2600 XT outperforming the 2400 XT by 158.8%. The 2400 shows its bus limitations, and gets us just 17 FPS.


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When we turn on 2xAA and 8xAF at 1280x1024, the 2600 XT performance drops significantly. It still outperforms the 2400 XT by 140%. The 2600 PRO keeps up and gets us a playable framerate, but just barely.


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Company of Heroes at 1600x1200 is too much even for the HD 2600 XT. To get a playable framerate you have to lower the detail levels.

F.E.A.R.

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In FEAR, 1024x768 without AA/AF, the 2600 XT is scores 64% more than the 2400 XT. On 1600x1200, no AA/AF, the 2600 XT is still faster than the 2400 XT by 125%.

Interestingly, we can see that the HD 2400 XT performance is on par with the 2600 Pro, it even beats it at 1600X1200, albeit by just one FPS.



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However, with 2xAA and 8xAF the 2600 Pro shows its teeth and outperforms the 2400 XT. The 2600 XT gets us a playable 30 FPS, while the overclocked 2600 XT does even better, with 36 FPS, thanks to a 300MHz memory clock boost.



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Wit 4xAA and 16xAF only the overclocked HD 2600 XT gets us a playable framerate with 25 FPS.

Oblivion

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As expected, the Sapphire HD 2600 XT is the best card on the test. The HD 2400 Pro is simply not an option for Oblivion. The HD 2400 XT is somewhat better and provides a playable framerate at the lowest tested resolution.

The HD 2600 Pro exhibits a performance penalty when using AA and AF, due to its DDR2 memory.


Serious Sam 2

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Serious Sam 2, being the least demanding of all tested games, is playable with all cards.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

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In S.T.A.L.K.E.R. the 2600 XT does great, and show it has enough power to take anything you can throw at it. The slight performance difference between the 2600 Pro and 2400 XT shows that the cheaper card is not to be discounted either.





Conclusion

On all resolutions the HD 2600 XT shows that it's an excellent card. When you go for AA and AF, the performance drops, but if you're not too demanding when it comes to eye candy, you'll be well off with it. Thanks to the UVD and HDMI capabilities all HD2000 series cards can turn your PC into a media center. Although the 2600XT falls into the Geforce 8600GT price range, we can recommend it to all consumers looking for a card to provide them with good gaming performance as well as multimedia capabilities. It's cool even when overclocked, the cooler is quiet, and it gets you excellent value for money.

It's available for as little as €85 on the European market, and in our opinion it's a much better choice than the 2600 Pro. Sapphire's 2600 Pro is around €15 cheaper, but if you go for the XT, we think it will be money well spent. A GDDR4 version is also available, but it retails at a much higher €117. You can also get a passively cooled GDDR3 version for €99.

The HD 2400 XT didn't fair well in games, but at lower resolutions and with lower detail levels it can still let you play some games. The card is passive, so you'll need good airflow in your machine, but in return you will get a silent and affordable DX 10 card. Although it's not a good choice for gamers it still packs a punch, and it will suffice for casual gamers and users who consider low noise as their priority.

It's a good choice for Home Theatre PCs, but in that market it faces strong "in house" competition in the form of silent and super cheap HD 2400 Pro cards. Sapphire's passive 2400 XT will set you back around €60 in Europe, while the Pro version retails at a obscenely cheap €40.

Reviewed by Sanjin Sejdinovic

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Last modified on Thursday, 27 September 2007 21:43
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