The Contenders!

IMG 0091 Sapphire, PowerColor HD2600XT & Xpertvision HD2600Pro

We have with us 3 candidates equipped with the Radeon HD 2600 graphics core, and our intention is to see whether they are able to provide some serious competition to the dominating rivals in the market – the Geforce 8500 and 8600 series.

 The Sapphire HD 2600 XT (GDDR3)

IMG 0086 Sapphire, PowerColor HD2600XT & Xpertvision HD2600Pro

Sapphire, a discrete ATI graphics card manufacturer, has always made it a point to make their cards utilizing only blue PCBs, and that makes them stand out from the rest of the ATI card manufacturers. Sporting a slim cooler that covers nearly the entire length of the card, cooling a core engine that runs at 800 MHz & packing 256mb of GDDR3 memory running at 1400 MHz. Closer inspection beneath the cooler reveals 1.4ns rams. There’s been a release of a GDDR4 version too.

2 Sapphire, PowerColor HD2600XT & Xpertvision HD2600Pro

The card features standard dual DVI link connectors and an S-video output terminal. There is no need for a 6pin PCI-E power connector, as the card utilizes the 75W of power available directly via the PCI-express slot.

 The Powercolor HD 2600 XT (GDDR3)

IMG 0084 Sapphire, PowerColor HD2600XT & Xpertvision HD2600Pro

Decked out with a thicker heatsink and red PCB, in comes the Powercolor offering of the 2600XT. Like its comrade’ the sapphire, this card also has a core engine of 800 MHz, and 1.4ns memory chips, running at 1400 MHz. Because of its thicker cooler, it might be a tad too dangerous to put a PCI card directly adjacent to it, given the danger of the heat getting radiated off onto any neighbouring cards.

1 Sapphire, PowerColor HD2600XT & Xpertvision HD2600Pro

Again we have a nearly uniformed design of a single S-video/component terminal flanked by two DVI outputs!

 The Xpertvision HD 2600 Pro (GDDR3)

IMG 0087 Sapphire, PowerColor HD2600XT & Xpertvision HD2600Pro

Xpertvision has produced this card in a DDR3 variant. It comes loaded with 256mb of DDR3 memory, instead of the usual DDR2 memory found in other HD2600 pro cards. It also has a shorter card length than the two other HD 2600XT cards. Could this be a winning factor in the performance section? Let’s find out later in the benches!  The only downside is that this card has no Crossfire connectors! Now what is just so special about this card?

3 Sapphire, PowerColor HD2600XT & Xpertvision HD2600Pro

The reason, ladies & gentlemen - a direct HDMI connector! Xpertvision drops an S-video terminal in order to fit it in. It is accompanied by VGA and DVI outputs, one of each. Connectivity-wise, it’s a very flexible card.