Overclocking, Performance Summary and Conclusion
Overclocking the MSI RX2600XT turned out to be a dead-end, with the card yield ingno extra headroom whatsoever. First we attempted to use ATI Overdrive to find the highest settings, which ultimately peaked at 857/1179 with no option to manually increase the clockspeeds further. Next, we attempted to use ATITool to take the card further but the software would not operate properly with the MSI RX2600XT Diamond Plus, returning errors with every attempt. Interestingly, when we reviewed the Sapphire Radeon HD 2600 XT, it too topped out at 857/1179 exactly. It appears these cards are physically locked so they do not go beyond this point.
Performance Summary: While the MSI RX2600XT comes with twice the memory of any card we compared it to, and its clockspeeds run a notch higher than a standard Radeon 2600XT, we saw minimal performance gains in all of our tests as a result versus a stock Radeon HD 2600 XT. That said, the card does compete relatively well with the likes of a GeForce 8600 GT. Perhaps at higher resolution settings with AA enabled, where a larger frame buffer can be utilized, we would have seen some measurable differences. However, a lower-cost mainstream card like this simply can't keep up fill-rate wise at very high resolutions, so the end result would be a pointless low frame rate anyway.
In evaluating the MSI RX2600XT Diamond Plus, there are a few things to consider. First, added clockspeeds and more memory did not result in any marked gains compared to a Radeon 2600 XT running slightly slower and equipped with half the memory allotment. The MSI RX2600XT Diamond Plus also could not take a definitive lead over the GeForce 8600 class cards in most tests either, begging to question just how this model fits in today's market.
Overall, we'd like to say that the MSI RX2600XT Diamond Plus is a good value for a card of its caliber, but pricing proved to be a challenge. We were able to locate non-plus models with 256MB of memory for $135, which isn't a bad price, but pricing on "Plus" models remained elusive. We can report that the RX2600XT Diamond 256MB model weighs in about $5 less that the Sapphire HD 2600 XT we used for comparison, which comes clocked a tad slower, so pricing appears competitive. Regardless, with the added clockspeeds and double the memory not offering any performance gains to speak of, we think most potential buyers would be perfectly happy with the non-Plus version of the MSI RX2600XT Diamond.
Comparing the card's value dollar-for-dollar, Radeon 2600XTs stacked up nicely to a more expensive Geforce 8600 series a few months ago, but market pricing has shifted lately and now the two cards are often found at similar price points. Today, a Geforce 8600GT with comparable features can be had for $130, leaving personal preference the primary reason to choose one model over the other.