The box in which the card arrived was completely white, with no print whatsoever, which clearly states that this is a test sample. All we could find inside were the card and the newest “beta” drivers. Still, we used the latest publicly available Catalyst 7.6 drivers for comparison. The PCB of the graphics card turned out to be significantly smaller than the one with the GDDR4 chips onboard. This PowerColor HD 2600XT also has a couple of CrossFire tabs on the upper side, so you can easily pair a couple of these cards up.
The production is top-quality, spirals are “armoured”, and the card is dominated by the large active cooler which irresistibly reminds us of Zalman models. It does its job perfectly, and the GPU temperature does not rise over 37 degrees in idle mode and 60 degrees in full load mode. Also, the card does not possess additional power connectors (i.e. is fully supplied with power form the PCI-Express port), which is also praiseworthy, since the overall power consumption is rather small.
The card's fan is completely inaudible even at maximum RPM, but occupies the neighbouring slot, which might be a drawback for some. The GPU used herein is a RV630 which possesses 120 stream processors, grouped in 5 units, while the ROP number is 8. What spoils the final impression with AMD's mainstream cards is a small number of TMUs. Their number is only 4, and we consider it a major bottleneck. This can be surpassed to a certain extent by optimising the drivers, so we can probably expect a jumpy performance rise with new driver versions. This small card has 2 DVI outputs and 1 S-Video, and we got no DVI-to-HDMI converter with this card, but we believe that it will be bundled when the card hits the market, as it is the manufacturer's call.
Speaking about that converter, as it is not a simple one, be careful not to lose it, as they are not freely available on the market at the moment. As far as video reproduction is concerned, all is as promised and expected – perfect. The card has a UVD technology which decreases processor usage. Alongside that, these cards have two HDCP keys, in order to enable 1080p video material reproduction. The RV630 which is situated on this PowerColor Radeon HD 2600 XT is the A15 revision and works at 1.2 V. The GPU clock is 800 MHz, just like the stronger model, whereas memory operates at a lower clock. Although an entire 800 MHz slower, it works at 1400 MHz. It was demonstrated that the difference in performance is not proportional.
2x1GB TwinMos DDR800, Catalyst 7.6, Win XP SP2
What's more, this card performed fantastically compared to its elder brother. If the information we have is correct, i.e. that this card will be in the 100 € price range, it would certainly be a pleasant surprise. The memory manufacturer is Hynix, and the chips have a response time of 1.4 ns and are passively cooled. We are quite confident that the cooler does most of the work, as the air which flows through the fins carries away all of the heat.
When its price is taken into consideration, this product is of excellent performance. The difference between this and the DDR4 memory model are not as huge as the clock difference. When the very small PCB is considered, together with small power consumption, we have to admit that this is a very well measured, accessible and high-quality product. All we can say is that we are sorry not to have had two of these, so that we can try them in CrossFire, because we strongly believe that it would be a fantastic solution within the 200 € price range.