Sapphire Radeon HD2600 XT
- UVD (Universal Video Decode) video decoder for HD video, 65nm fabrication process
- Average performance in 3-D applications
While it's not the best performer, the HD 2600 XT is reasonably priced. It doesn't quite stand up to cards that use NVIDIA's 8600 GTS chip, but it outperforms the 8600 GT-based cards that we've tested thus far.
Price$ 219.00 (AUD)
At last we're taking a look at another of ATI's HD 2000-series DirectX 10 graphics chips, thanks to Sapphire's HD 2600 XT. The 2600 XT is a step down from ATI's current flagship chip, the Radeon HD2900XT, but it's aimed at mid-range users who want an affordable solution for everyday graphics and a little bit of gaming.
The HD 2600 XT GPU is manufactured using a 65nm fabrication process, unlike NVIDIA's chip or ATI's high-end chip, allowing it to run cooler and with lower energy consumption. Sapphire's HD 2600 XT is also the first DirectX 10 card we've tested that uses GDDR4 memory as opposed to GDDR3, so not everything is a step down from the high-end HD 2900 XT model.
ATI first implemented GDDR4 in its Radeon X1950 XTX DirectX 9 card and has now brought the technology to its HD 2000-series chips, while NVIDIA continues to run on the tried and tested GDDR3. GDDR4 memory offers a fixed burst length of 8-bits rather than 4-bits in GDDR3, so it can produce the same throughput while using half the frequency of a GDDR3 chip. GDDR4 also has a lower power requirement than GDDR3.
Still, it's hardly revolutionary technology and it will only go so far to improve the performance of the card. In the case of the Sapphire HD 2600 XT we have no direct GDDR3 comparison from ATI. If the HD 2600 XT is aimed at the NVIDIA 8600 GT-based (GDDR3) cards, then it's performance is all right for its target market. However, even with GDDR4, it's still not as fast as cards based on NVIDIA's 8600 GTS chip.
The Sapphire uses 256MB of GDDR4 memory with an effective memory clock speed of 2200MHz, while the core clock speed of the graphics chip is 800Mhz. Both these speeds are higher than the HD 2900 XT, but the HD 2600 XT is restricted to 120 stream processors, rather than 320, and the memory bus is 128-bit, unlike the 512-bit memory bus found on the HD 2900 XT.
The Sapphire HD 2600 XT isn't a high-end performer for 3-D applications, but it does hold its own and it offers other benefits, such as a dedicated video decoder called UVD, which helps take the strain off the CPU when decoding video. This feature is especially useful in PCs that don't have a high-end CPU. In 3DMark06, at default setting (1280x1024, no antialiasing or anisotropic filtering) it scored 5107 while the MSI NX8600 GT scored 4495 and the Gigabyte 8600GTS scored 5703, placing it firmly in the middle. At a resolution of 1680x1050, with antialiasing cranked up to 8x and anisotropic filtering at 16x, it scored a lowly 1719.
In F.E.A.R, we ran it at 1280x960 using maximum quality settings, including 4x antialiasing and 16x anisotropic filtering, which turned in a poor 25 frames per second. Clearly if you're after a high-end gaming experience, even on a 19in monitor, you'll need to go for one of the more powerful cards.
If you're after a performance boost down the track, it's worth noting that the card supports native CrossFire mode and Sapphire has included a bridging cable in the box. The rear bracket has two DVI outputs and a TV-out port. The box includes two DVI to D-Sub adapters and a component adapter cable, as well as a DVI to HDMI cable with native audio support.
The card operates without excessive noise and, unlike the HD 2900 XT, takes up just one expansion slot with its cooler, rather than imposing on the adjacent slot. No power cable is required as it draws all its power through the PCI Express slot.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Lexar® Portable SSD
Acer Swift 7
Huawei Mate 9
Google Daydream VR headset
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Surface Pro 4
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 2 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 3 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 4 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 5 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
Latest News Articles
- Future Intel CPUs could be cobbled together using different parts
- Intel digs deep to keep Moore's Law alive
- MIT researchers set out to create self-assembling chips
- Micron to ship Intel Optane competitor later this year
- Intel Optane Memory has a mission: Make hard drives faster than SSDs
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG G6 phone: full, in-depth review
- Subaru XV 2017 review
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTCisco Network Engineer (FIFO)WA
- FTICT Account Manager / ICT Client Services ManagerQLD
- TPAPS6 Java DeveloperACT
- FTContracts ManagerNSW
- FTKey Account ManagerVIC
- FTDevops EngineerVIC
- FTSenior Technical Consultant - Microsoft / VMWareVIC
- FTInfrastructure Analyst - Storage & Backup SystemsNSW
- CCDevops Consultant - 12 month contractVIC
- FTWeb BA LeadQLD
- FTDrupal Developer - Senior or Mid levelQLD
- FTSenior Java EngineerACT
- FTJunior Network EngineerNSW
- CCPeoplesoft ConsultantNSW
- FTSolution Architect - SecurityVIC
- FTNV1 Cleared Software Engineer - Defence Projects - North Ryde areaNSW
- FTSenior Performance AnalystQLD
- CCICT Strategist and AdvisorNSW
- FTJunior-Mid Level Implementation CoordinatorQLD
- CCSenior Test Analyst-InfrastructureNSW
- FTDigital Content Specialist/ Content DesignerNSW
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistNSW
- FTData Analyst LeadSA
- CCTSM SpecialistNSW