AMD launches Radeon HD 2600, 2400 graphics cards

As expected, AMD has finally introduced mainstream derivatives of its flagship Radeon HD 2900 XT graphics card. These derivatives include Radeon HD 2600 XT, Radeon HD 2600 Pro, Radeon HD 2400 XT, and Radeon HD 2400 Pro models. The 2600-series cards are based on the 65nm RV630 graphics processor, while the 2400-series models are based on the 65nm RV610. Their specifications look like so:


Stream Processors

Core speed (MHz)

Memory capacity (MB)

Memory Speed (MHz)

Memory type

Memory bus width

Radeon HD 2600 XT

120 800 128-512 1100 GDDR4 128-bit

Radeon HD 2600 XT

120 800 128-512 800 GDDR3 128-bit

Radeon HD 2600 Pro

120 600 128-512 500 GDDR2 128-bit

Radeon HD 2400 XT

40 700 128-256 800 GDDR3 64-bit

Radeon HD 2400 Pro

40 525 128-256 400 GDDR2 64-bit
Asus, Club 3D, Diamond, GeCube, Gigabyte, HIS, MSI, Palit, PowerColor, Sapphire, and VisionTek should all have cards available starting in early July.

We have been hard at work preparing a review of these cards, but a little incident in Damage Labs involving the release of magic smoke from a motherboard, power supply, hard drive, and DVD drive has delayed us a little bit. On top of that, we simply haven't had the cards very long, and we tend to like to do in-depth testing, as you may have noticed.

I haven't put together a complete assessment of these cards in my mind just yet, but I'll share some key inputs that have shaped my thinking to date. One is the way AMD has essentially bid down the prices for its own products as their arrival has approached. At the Radeon HD series press event, AMD told us to expect the Radeon HD 2600 series to range from $99 to $199, with the 2600 XT sitting at the top of the heap, where it would presumably compete with the GeForce 8600 GTS. Now, the 2600 XT's starting price is between $119 and $149, where it will compete with the GeForce 8600 GT. The 2600 Pro, meanwhile, will initially sell for between $89 and $99. That puts the Radeon HD 2600 series in an $89 to $149 price range—overall, a substantial drop from the original plan, in my view, even though AMD gave itself some leeway. AMD says prices will range from $50 to $85 for the Radeon HD 2400 models, not $99 and below as first planned. No doubt that's a means of making room for the 2600 Pro at $89-99.

This is probably sensible positioning given the performance of the products, but unfortunately, it means the 2600 XT won't be the sort of tasty DX10 morsel enthusiasts were hoping to see at $199. It also leaves AMD without an attractive DX10 offering at any price between $149 and $399, raising echoes of the past troubles it's had in the mid-range of the graphics market with products like the Radeon X1600 XT, which simply promised more than it could deliver. I can't quit thinking that the problem this time around is related to the entire Radeon HD line's lack of MSAA resolve hardware in the ROPs; that work must be done in the shader core. More on this later.

At present, the one real advantage I see for Radeon HD 2400 and 2600 cards is their support for audio output over HDMI and their built-in crypto keys for HDCP over dual-link DVI. Those features give these cards an edge over competing GeForce 8500 and 8600 cards for for use in home theater PCs and the like.

Anyhow, now that I've given away the game, I'll go back to testing. We should have a full-blown review next week.

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