Mainstream GPU Performance

For gamers out there who play on a 1280x1024 panel, there is hardware to be had that doesn't cost a lot of money but will provide good performance at this very common resolution. The 2600 XT and 8600 GTS are the parts that we can really start getting interested in. Of course, making the jump up from this price point to the next leaves much to be desired: currently the $200 - $300 price segment is a bit lacking.

Again we've included older hardware for reference and we are also leaving the 8600 GT and the 2600 Pro. These parts really span the gap between the low end and mainstream price points. It's a shame we have so many offerings between $50 and $150 and so little up until we hit $300. But let's get to the benchmarks.

Unreal Tournament 3 Performance

The 2600 XT, while less expensive than the 8600 GTS, manages to lead the pack here. Another win for AMD shows promise for their architecture in anticipation of the next gen titles looming in the distance. Does R6xx have some fight left in it? Will newer titles continue this trend, or is this a one time fluke that can be attributed to beta code? We really will have to wait and see on this one.

The X1950 Pro, HD 2600 XT, and 8600 GTS perform very similarly across most resolutions tested. The exception is 800x600 where the NVIDIA part leads the way. Of course, the card to pick is the 2600 XT, as it's cheaper than the 8600 GTS.

Low End GPU Performance Bringing it all Together
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  • Ecmaster76 - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    I bet all those people who bought x1k cards are feeling pretty good right now. Once again, the radeon has shown in the long haul its superior longevity compared to the Geforce (assuming that future UT3 verions and drivers dont change the results significantly.
  • legoman666 - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    I'm still running with my x1800xt. The problem is, I never see benchmarks for it for new games. I can't really compare it to the x1950xt either, since they're different cores. Is there any way future reviews (or maybe this reviewcould be updated?) could have the x1800xt benchmarks included?

    That being said, I can run all of the Orange Box games at 1280x1024, 4xAA, 8xAF, all max details with vsync on and still get 38fps (75hz/2). As long as UT3 isn't much more demanding than the source engine, I will probably be fine. Now that I typed that, I remember that Bioshock uses the UT3 engine. Bioshock also runs great on my machine with all the max details.

    I guess a good thing about having a compariatively small monitor (1280x1024 instead of one the larger wide screens) is that I still get decent frame rates since the newer monitors are designed for those huge screens and I'm still using my "tiny" screen. hopefully my monitor is the next thing that gets upgraded.
  • Spoelie - Friday, October 19, 2007 - link

    x1800xt is somewhat comparable to the x1950pro

    it has less shading power but more pixel pushing power, so in shader heavy games like this its general performance will be slightly less than the x1950pro, but it will cope better with stuff like anti-aliasing, upping the resolution & anisotropic filtering.
  • johnsonx - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    I'm personally not too sure about my 1950Pro AGP. I don't seem to be getting such great performance.

    My system specs out far better than my son's (me=X2@2.5Ghz, 1GB, X1950Pro AGP, Vista) (son=A64-3500, 2GB, 7900GS PCIe, XP Pro), yet he appears to get better performance in UT3. I haven't benchmarked it, but he has all detail levels turned up to max while I run mine with the details one tick above minimum, yet his seems smoother than mine.

    Between my slightly faster dual core vs. his single core, and my more powerful video card, I ought to be able to run max detail (we both run 1280x1024 LCD's, which should be a walk in the park for my rig).

    His system has only one thing better than mine, which is he has 2GB of ram while I have 1GB... but I haven't noted any swapping, and the game still loads pretty fast so it doesn't seem memory constrained.

    I know there are many variables here (Vista vs XP, 1Gb vs 2Gb, AGP vs PCIe), but none of those AFAIK should make all that much difference today (obviously the Vista vs XP thing was a big deal 6 months ago, but the drivers have largely reached performance parity haven't they?). I guess I need to figure out how to run the benchmarks Derek did and see what's what.
  • Spoelie - Friday, October 19, 2007 - link

    it's not the fact that you have 1gig or the fact you have vista, but the combination of those 2 make it really a sub-par gaming machine. You really ought to double the ram if you want to game in vista, and even then the same config will get a bit better performance if it was running xp.

    Also "seems choppy": do you have an lcd screen? v-sync on then.
  • mcnabney - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    You are running Vista, your son is running XP. Vista cripples gaming performance across the board.
  • ChronoReverse - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    Yeah, I have an x1950 and I'm feeling pretty plucky indeed =D
  • MrKaz - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    Why do you put the 2600XT in the same bag of the 8600GTS.
    The price difference is huge.

    I can buy one good 2600XT for 100€ and one good 8600GTS for 190€.

    The more correct comparison is (I think)
    19x0XT = 8600GTS
    2600XT = 8600GT
    2600PRO = 8500GT
    2400PRO/XT = 8400GS
  • dm0r - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    I compared in performance, not price...anyway looks like 2600xt is getting mature with new drivers.

    I would like to see power consumption tests please
  • cmdrdredd - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    power consumption is covered elsewhere. Game performance reviews/previews/guides are for PERFORMANCE based comparisons.

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