Introduction

We've known about the basic architecture of AMD's lower end DX10 hardware ever since mid May, but retail product hasn't made its way out the door until now. Finally launching today, and available within the next two weeks (says AMD), the Radeon HD 2400 XT and Pro and the Radeon HD 2600 XT and Pro will serve to bring competition to the $50 - $150 DX10 graphics card market. These are the cards that most people will actually end up purchasing, so both AMD and NVIDIA would like to come out on top in this market.

But even before we begin, we have to go back to the 8800 GTS 320 and talk about what a terrific value it is for people who want great performance and don't need ultra high resolutions with AA cranked up. If $300 is in the budget for graphics, this is the way to spend it. We would really love to offer more flexibility in our recommendation, but both NVIDIA and AMD have seen fit to leave a huge gap in performance between their lower high end part and upper low end parts. We saw this with the 8600 GTS falling way short of the 8800 series, and we will see it again with the HD 2600 XT not even getting close to the 2900 XT.

AMD's price gap will be even larger than NVIDIA's, leaving a hole between $150 and $400 with nothing to fill it. This seems quite a bit excessive with no other real product lines hinted at until we see a product refresh down the line. When the 8600 series launched, we were quite disappointed with the performance of the part and hoped that AMD would step up to the plate and offer a real challenger that could fill the needs of midrange graphics hardware buyers everywhere. Now we are left with a sense of desolation and a feeling that neither AMD nor NVIDIA know how to properly target the $200 - $300 price range. We would go so far as to say that neither camp offers top-to-bottom DX10, but something more along the lines of top and bottom end solutions.

But regardless of what is lacking in their lineup, the new Radeon HD cards are aimed at filling a specific need. We will talk about what they bring to the table and how they manage to do the job AMD has designed them to perform. First up is a brief look back at what's actually inside these GPUs.

UPDATE: In going back to add power tests, we discovered that the GeForce 8600 GTS we used had a slight overclock over the stock version. We have gone back and rerun our tests with the GeForce 8600 GTS at stock clock speeds and our current graphs reflect the new data. The changes, generally on the order of 5%, did not have a significant impact on the overall outcome of the article. There are a couple cases where the performance gap narrows, but the fact remains that the 8600 GTS is under powered and the 2600 XT is generally more so.

We do apologize for the initial testing error, and we will certainly do everything we can to avoid such problems in the future.


A Closer Look at RV610 and RV630
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  • Spoelie - Thursday, June 28, 2007 - link

    think about the fact that the x1950xt has less transistors then a HD2600xt, and this is even more disappointing Reply
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, June 28, 2007 - link

    There just wasn't much choice, 390 Million for a midrange part on ATi's side that performs worse then Nvidia's 289 Million part, is quite a sorry state of affairs.

    It's too bad this generation was so expensive on the feature front that barely any transistor budget was left for implementing performance and were left with hardware that only performs marginally faster if that then the previous generation products.

    I am quite disappointed that ATi parts are currently slower despite having a larger transistor budget and higher core clock.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Thursday, June 28, 2007 - link

    Maybe because they weren't designed for DX9 performance, to state the obvious. They are DX10 parts, and should be judged on how well they perform on that. Reply
  • Shintai - Thursday, June 28, 2007 - link

    DX10 sucks on both 8600GT/S and 2600XT, unless playing at 5-8FPS is you.

    2900XT/8800GTS/X is needed for DX10. And better yet, SLI/CF or the next generation.

    DX10 on these midrange nVidia and AMD GPUs is 100% useless.

    And for what reason do you think they will perform magically better in DX10? 2900XT didnt over 8800. And there is no reason on why it should be better.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Thursday, June 28, 2007 - link

    Another person that can't read.

    I didn't say it would perform better, or worse. We'll see how well it performs when they do the proper tests. Until then, stop the whining. Afterwards, if it sucks, I'll whine with you.
    Reply
  • Shintai - Thursday, June 28, 2007 - link

    Just read some of the other sites that tested DX10. Reply
  • Le Québécois - Thursday, June 28, 2007 - link

    From what I know, all DX10 games or applications out there right now were developed for DX9 and received DX10 feature as an after thought. For REAL DX10 we will have to wait for Crysis. Reply
  • titan7 - Saturday, June 30, 2007 - link

    Company of Heroes was designed for d3d10 from the start. It's as much a real d3d10 game as crysis will be. Reply
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, June 28, 2007 - link

    There won't be any "REAL" DX10 for sometime to come, oit takes ages to develop native API games. Reply
  • swaaye - Thursday, June 28, 2007 - link

    I've seen Crysis on a 8800GTX. Don't expect to play it well on less, unless the game devs perform some serious miracles. And I wouldn't bet one that. :) Reply

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