Review: Affordable DX10 for the working man
Club3D are newcomers to our lab, and they offer quite affordable ATI Radeon HD2400Pro and HD2600Pro cards. The cards have 256MB GDDR2 graphics memory running at 400/600MHz. HD 2400 series has a 64 bit, and HD 2600Pro has 128 bit memory bus.
The HD2600Pro card features ATI RV630Pro chip running at 600MHz, while HD2400Pro features an ATI RV610 chip running at 525MHz. We know that many enthusiasts frown upon the idea of DDR2 memory coupled with a 64 bit bus, but the good side is a very low price for all HD 2400Pro cards.
We've waited a long time on these cards, but those who wanted multimedia will definitely be happy with what they have to offer. With HD2000 cards, ATI improved the old characteristics and added many new features.
The most important detail is the DirectX 10 architecture, thanks to which the limits have been pushed way further. Unified shader architecture comes with all ATI’s newest cards, and it enables for more freedom in programming. Beside the vertex and pixel shaders, there are also geometry shaders, and the whole pipeline is such that you can process the data no matter the type.
ATI keeps improving the features such as antialiasing and texture filtering, and it’s important to know that HD2600 and HD2400 cards feature UVD (Unified Video Decoder) technology. UVD is an integrated chip that will take care of HD video decoding (Blu-Ray or HD DVD) and takes some workload off the main processor (CPU).
These cards offer HDMI 5.1 surround support over Dual Link DVI. Whether it’s H.264 or VC-1 coded content, it’s not going to be a problem for the new ATI cards. When it comes to HD video, it’s important that the card has HDCP (copy protection), and it’s integrated in the chip so you don’t have to worry when buying a card. If you opt for Nvidia cards you should pay attention, because most cheap cards don’t offer HDCP nor integrated audio support. With ATI, any newer card can help you transfer multimedia content, including video and audio, trough a single HDMI cable connected to a HDMI and HDCP compatible TV.
Two actively cooled cards, HD2400Pro and HD2600Pro
The fan on the smaller, HD2400Pro, card is sufficient for the tiny RV610 chip, and thanks to the low-profile dimensions, the card will fit in any case, which is one of the good features. It’s aimed at multimedia and affordability, and it seems as a good choice for home cinema or HTPC. If you want gaming, HD2600Pro will be a way better choice.
A tiny cooler on the HD2400Pro card using Qimonda memory
HD2600Pro uses Hynix memory chips
The HD 2400Pro PCB looks a bit “empty”, although it’s a small low-profile card
ATI Radeon HD2600Pro looks a bit more serious than the low profile card.
Small reference coolers take care of cooling, but although they’re small they do the job well and they’re surprisingly quiet. Cooling is not a problem on 65nm cards in this class. Thanks to the 65 nm process, power consumption is also low, so the cards don’t require additional power.
Standard “outs” in this class of cards. One VGA and one DVI out. For HDMI you need a DVI to HDMI dongle which is not included in the box. Radeon HD2600Pro has two DVI outs, and for those that use VGA monitors, there’s a VGA to DVI dongle included in the box.
In the HD2400Pro box you’ll find spare back-panel plates that will enable you to use the card in small, low-profile, cases. You’ll get the installation DVD, one DVI adapter and one cinch adapter for video.
What you get with the HD2600Pro card.
What you get with the HD2600Pro card.
The boxes are small and elegant, and you've already seen the contents
Club3D HD2400Pro passive card
Up until now we’ve been speaking of HD2400Pro low-profile card, but Club3D offers a bit more expensive passively cooled HD 2400Pro card. Same PCB, but it uses a fan less heatpipe cooler. The memory runs at 400/800MHz, the core at 525MHz.
The cooler is a mixture of copper and aluminum. Heat-pipe routes the heat from the core to the cooler placed on top of the card. It’s small enough not to get in the way when used in smaller cases. If you’re choosing the cheapest and weakest ATI graphics card, you might as well opt for passive card which is noise free.