ATI Radeon HD 2600 and 2400 Performance

Our Test Systems and 3DMark06



HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on either an EVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard (NVIDIA GPUs) or an Intel D975XBX2 board (ATI GPUs) powered by a Core 2 Extreme X6800 dual-core processor and 2GB of low-latency Corsair RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the BIOS and set all values to their default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows XP Pro with SP2 and the June '07 DX redist was installed. When the installation was complete, we then installed the latest chipset drivers available, installed all of the other drivers necessary for the rest of our components, and removed Windows Messenger from the system.  Auto-Updating and System Restore were also disabled, the hard drive was defragmented, and a 1024MB permanent page file was created on the same partition as the Windows installation. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance," installed all of the benchmarking software, and ran the tests.

The HotHardware Test System
Core 2 Extreme Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -

Video Cards -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Drive

Hardware Used:
Core 2 Extreme X6800 (2.93GHz)

EVGA nForce 680i SLI
nForce 680i SLI chipset

Intel D975XBX2
975X Express 

GeForce 8800 GTS 320M (2)
GeForce 8600 GTS (2)
GeForce 8600 GT
GeForce 7950 GT
Radeon X1950 Pro (2)
Radeon HD 2600 XT(2)
Radeon HD 2600 Pro
Radeon HD 2400 XT (2)

2048MB Corsair PC2-6400C3
2 X 1GB

Integrated on board

Western Digital "Raptor"

74GB - 10,000RPM - SATA

OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers

Synthetic (DX) -
DirectX -
DirectX -
DirectX -
DirectX -
OpenGL -

OpenGL -
Relevant Software:
Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce Drivers v9.53
DirectX 9.0c (April '07 Redist.)

NVIDIA Forceware v158.16
ATI Catalyst v7.7 Beta 

Benchmarks Used:
3DMark06 v1.0.2
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. *
F.E.A.R. v1.08
Half Life 2: Episode 1*
Prey v1.2*
Quake 4 v1.3*

* - Custom Test (HH Exclusive demo)
Performance Comparisons with 3DMark06 v1.0.2

3DMark06 is the latest addition to the 3DMark franchise. This version differs from 3Dmark05 in a number of ways, and now includes not only Shader Model 2.0 tests, but Shader Model 3.0 and HDR tests as well. Some of the assets from 3DMark05 have been re-used, but the scenes are now rendered with much more geometric detail and the shader complexity is vastly increased as well. Max shader length in 3DMark05 was 96 instructions, while 3DMark06 ups the number of instructions to 512. 3DMark06 also employs much more lighting, and there is extensive use of soft shadows. With 3DMark06, Futuremark has also updated how the final score is tabulated. In this latest version of the benchmark, SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0 tests are weighted and the CPU score is factored into the final tally as well.

We've broken up our graphs into singe- (top) and multi-GPU (bottom) configurations in an effort to make them easier to read. As you can see, according to 3DMark06, the new Radeon HD 2600 and 2400 cards trail most of other cards we tested.  The 2600 XT managed to pull ahead of the 8600 GT by a small margin, but the 2600 Pro and 2400 XT couldn't quite keep up.

If we tunnel down deeping into the 3DMark06 results, we can see just where the Radeon HD 2600 and 2400 cards excelled, or faltered.  Their performance in the shader model 2.0 tests were well behind the rest of the cards, but in the more taxing shader model 3.0 / HDR tests they did much better, relatively speaking.  The 2600 XT was able to outpace everything but the 7950 GT and 8800 GTS in the SM 3.0 / HDR tests.

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