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Abit's RX600XT-PCIE
Manufacturer Abit
Model RX600XT-PCIE
Price (street) $181
Availability Now
A few extra MHz never hurt anyone

Back in the day, Abit video cards sported graphics chips from NVIDIA. Abit hopped the fence last year, though, and they've been churning out Radeon-based graphics cards ever since. The company currently has a packed lineup of no fewer than six Radeon graphics cards for PCI Express, from the high-end Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition down to affordable Radeon X300-based cards. Today we'll be looking at a sample from the middle of Abit's PCI Express lineup, the Radeon X600 XT-based RX600XT-PCIE.

Like Abit's recent motherboards, this graphics card is dressed in a distinctive shade of not quite red, but not really orange. The card's color nicely matches Abit's PCI Express-equipped motherboards, and so far, the unique shade hasn't been copied.

Speaking of copying, the Abit X600 XT isn't a standard cookie-cutter reference card. Some of its surface-mounted components differ from what you'll find on both Gigabyte's Radeon X600 XT and ATI's own Radeon X600 reference card.

Oh, and Abit's cooler definitely isn't stock, either.

Funky, but maybe not functional. For starters, the cooler's exquisitely-detailed fan guard is an air flow nightmare. The shroud will no doubt prevent probing fingers from making contact with the fan, but how often are you actually poking around the graphics card fan while the system is running? Not often, if ever. Fortunately, the shroud can be removed with a screwdriver, improving air flow and potentially lowering noise levels by eliminating turbulence.

My other issue with this cooler is its integrated memory heat sinks, which seem to be more about cosmetic appeal than functionality. I don't dispute that heat sinks can help keep memory chips cool, but the card has memory chips on both sides. The cooler's memory heat sinks aren't doing anything to help cool the bare memory chips mounted on the bottom of the card.

The Abit X600 XT is populated with eight Hynix HY5DU283222AF-25 memory chips for a total of 128MB. The chips are rated for operation at speeds of 400MHz (an effective 800MHz if we take into account DDR's clock-doubling effect,) but they're only running at an effective speed of 742MHz on the card. The 742MHz effective memory clock is a sneaky 2MHz above the Radeon X600 XT's stock 740MHz memory speed, but it's only a couple of MHz. The Gigabyte Radeon X600 XT also has an effective 742MHz memory clock.

This Abit card has a real clock speed trick up its sleeve, though. While stock Radeon X600 cards run with a 500MHz core clock speed, the RX600XT-PCIE's core clock is 513MHz. This minor clock speed boost probably won't make much of a difference in the real world, but it's worth noting. Abit's warranty covers the card at this speed, and as you'll see in a moment, we were able to get it running even faster in our overclocking tests.

While I'd normally whine about the lack of dual DVI connectors, the Abit X600 XT's sub-$200 price tag make it easy to excuse the card's standard array of video output ports. It would be nice to see dual DVI pop up on mid-range and low-end cards, but at this price, I don't feel ripped off by having only single VGA, DVI, and S-Video outputs.

Abit augments the RX600XT-PCIE's output capabilities with a cable bundle that includes a DVI-to-VGA adapter, an S-Video-to-composite video adapter, and composite and S-Video cables. A copy of PowerDVD 5 is also included in the box, but no game bundle. At the very least, Abit isn't trying to dress up the card with a dated game bundle or filler discs packed with publicly-available game demos.

Abit's warranty is perhaps the most complicated of the lot. The card is covered for three years, but parts and labor are only free for the first 15 months. For the final 21 months of the warranty period, Abit charges a flat $25 fee for labor. 15 months of full coverage isn't great, especially compared with other cards in this comparison. However, Abit's eRMA service is excellent.