Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: Throughout all of our in-game and synthetic testing the fastest of the three new mainstream Radeon HD 2000 series cards we tested in this article, the Radeon HD 2600 XT, performed about on par with or markedly behind a GeForce 8600 GT. The more affordable Radeon 2600 Pro came in a few percentage points behind the 2600 XT, and as expected the 2400 XT fell in behind the 2600 Pro.
We also spent some time testing the AVIVO HD video engine in these new cards with a few SD and HD workloads, but weren’t able to compile all of the data in time for launch. We will be updating this article in the next day or so, with the results from our AVIVO HD testing as well.
ATI expects the new Radeon HD 2600 XT, 2600 Pro, and 2400 XT cards to hit store shelves in the next 2 -3 weeks; sometime in mid-July. The latest information we have on pricing puts various flavors of the 2600 XT in the $119 - $149 price range, the 2600 Pro in the $89 - $99 range, the 2400 XT in the $75 - $85 range, and the 2400 Pro (not tested here) in the $50 - $55 range. If history is an indicator, however, expect actual street prices for these cards to be about 5% to 15% higher than these suggested prices for a while. For example, Radeon HD 2900 XT cards have just recently begun selling at their MSRP of $399 after about 6 weeks on the market.
Overall, the new Radeon HD 2600 XT, 2600 Pro, and 2400 XT cards should make for quiet, low-power upgrades from any integrated graphics solution and offer a relatively low-cost of entry into the world of DirectX 10. These cards are obviously not geared to hardcore gamers, but at lower resolutions without high levels of AA and anisotropic filtering enabled they’ll be adequate for casual gaming. These cards are also well suited to HTPC applications where video playback performance and low-noise output are of the utmost importance.