Review: The affordable side of speed
After a rough period, ATI got a lucky break in the low end market so we can finally test more Radeon cards. This time around we're dissecting Jetway's Radeon HD 2600 cards. Jetway is not that well known in many markets, but the low price of these cards, coupled with HD2000 series multimedia capabilities, should easily attract customers. The mid range and low end markets are the ones that provide most of the profit for a company, so this offer from Jetway should be of interest for many users.
This time around we got two ATI HD 2600 cards based on the RV630 GPU for testing. Both of the cards look identical and use the same red PCB, same heatsink, and at first glance it 's impossible to tell which is which. We are talking about HD 2600XT (designated X26XTEN256LI), while the other is named X26PREN256L, or simply HD 2600Pro.
Jetway HD 2600 cards
As you can see from the above picture, it is hard to tell them apart, except for the little model label on top of the card. Jetway even used the same memory modules on both cards. Jetway decided to go with Samsung's GDDR3 memory that works at 700/1400MHz with 128bit memory interface.
Neither one of these cards has a power connector, but both can be used as decent multimedia cards. The UVD is a part of both cards and it will help with encoding and decoding HD video content, thus easing the burden on the CPU.
With its HD series, ATI has targeted a wider population, those users that will appreciate the multimedia capabilities of these cards. Performance is a bit weaker if you compare them to Nvidia based cards, but if you consider the possibility of "full" HDTV option and modest prices we think that ATI is a better choice for "non-gamers" or so called casual gamers.
The HD 5.1 audio controller enables high quality sound, which is transferred to the HDTV output signal. The only thing that ruins the almost perfect solution is the DVI-HDMI dongle which is used to get the audio signal to HD capable screen. But once you hook it up and take a look at an HD movie you will certainly forget all the concerns you had with the dongle.
HDCP is supported, because without it you wouldn't be able to watch HD content from the HD DVD or Blu-Ray media. If you want to watch it on your screen, it also has to be HDCP compliant.
It is important to see if the HDMI adapter is included with the card. Jetway confirmed that you get the HDMI adapter with these cards, but most partners decide not to include it since it helps them save money if they don't include it. Without the adapter you can easily erase the HD part in the card's name.
Jetway HD 2600 Pro 256MB GDDR3 HDTV
The heatsink sports a picture of ATI's beloved star Ruby. Jetway likes it , since it hasn't even changed the ATI logo on the small fan. You are looking at the full ATI card without a single Jetway sign. The heatsink isn't based on the reference design and it's the same on both cards. The fan isn't loud in idle mode but can spin up to high RPM count while under load, but even then the noise stays at acceptable levels. The most important thing is that it does a good job cooling the RV630 GPU and we even got a nice overclocking result.
We already said that the memory clock is identical on both cards and that only difference is the GPU clock. The HD 2600 XT works at reference 800MHz, so nothing new there.
The HD 2600 Pro remains on the reference 600MHz as well, but with some overclocking, it was easy to reach the 800MHz XT clock.
HD 2600 I/O, for HDTV you need the DVI/HDMI adapter
Both of these are Vista ready cards with OpenGL 2.0 and DirectX 10 support. Both also come with a Shader Model 4.0 support. The HD 2600 series has 120 stream processors and 390 million transistors made in 65nm manufacturing process. Both cards are capable of Crossfire.
Cards are packed in simple and small boxes. Boxes are labeled with basic information, PCI-e, DVI-I, HDTV, HDMI, 256MB 128-bit DDR3 and HDCP. Card comes bundled with users manual, drivers CD, DVI, HDMI and S-video dongle.
EVGA 680i SLI (Supplied by EVGA)
Intel Core 2 Duo 6800 Extreme edition (Supplied by Intel)
OCZ FlexXLC PC2 9200 5-5-5-18 (Supplied by OCZ)
na testu CL5-5-5-15-CR2T 1066MHz na 2.2V
Jetway HD 2600 XT, Jetway HD 2600 Pro
HIS HD 2600XT IceQ Turbo
Zotac Geforce 8500GT AMP, 8600GT Zone Edition
OCZ Silencer 750 Quad Black (Supplied by OCZ)
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 80GB SATA (Supplied by Seagate)
Freezer 7 Pro (Supplied by Artic Cooling)
Artic Cooling - Artic Fan 12 PWM