Sapphire HD 2600 XT Video Card
Reviewed by: Makaveli
Reviewed on: July 25, 2007
Price: $149.99 USD
"Be Prepared". Maybe you've heard this from your parents, friends, or co-workers. But I'm telling you to be prepared for DirectX 10. When those new games are released which utilize DirectX 10, you don't want to be left behind the pack. Understandably, you don't want to break the bank, so you'll probably be looking to get a mainstream card. If you're looking on the ATi side of video cards, the 2900 XT is probably on the expensive side for you. What about Sapphire's HD2600 XT video card? It sells for less than half of the 2900 XT, but still boasts DirectX 10 capability. Can this Sapphire HD2600 XT video card give you the performance you need at a price that keeps your wallet full? Let's dig in and find out!
Sapphire has been one of ATi's best partners for quite sometime now, producing some of the most high quality products available to consumers. The company continues to work hand-in-hand with ATi to produce innovative products at affordable prices to meet the needs of users in all sorts of different markets.
The box that the HD2600 XT graphics card was shipped in was very eye catching, portraying an attractive woman suited up for a futuristic battle. The back of the box has some of the product highlights, as well as a list of what is included in inside the box in multiple languages.
Once you take the video card out of the box, you'll notice it is packaged in an anti-static bag which is a plus. The first thing I noticed was how nice the plastic cover over the fan looks. Take a look at the DVI out and Crossfire connectors. I also noticed how there was no power port on the video card, which was a suprise to me.
Included with the card is an instruction manual, driver CD, Crossfire bridge, DVI to D-Sub converters, DVI to HDMI converter and an HDTV breakout cable.
Installing the Sapphire HD2600 XT was one of the easiest video cards to install. Before you turn off your system to install the card, make sure you get rid of all of the current display drivers for the video card in your system. Once the drivers are off of your system, power it down and unplug your power supply. Open your case and take out the old video card and pop in the HD2600 XT. Since there is no power port, you won't need to plug anything into the video card except your monitor's cable on the back of the card. Many users will have to use the included DVI to D-Sub converter in order to plug their monitor into the video card. Once everything is connected, close up your case, plug in your power supply and power up your system. Insert the included driver CD into your optical drive and install the drivers for the video card. Once that is done, check the Sapphire website for the most recent drivers so that you can update if necessary.
Follow the on screen instructions to correctly install the ATi Catalyst Control Center (CCC) and the display drivers.
Once the Catalyst Control Center is installed, you'll be given the opportunity to set up your preferences the "Basic" way or the "Advanced" way. Since I'm an enthusiast, I'm going to be thoroughly examining the "Advanced" options.
With the "Displays Manager" options that the Catalyst Control Center gives you, you can change the resolution, color quality, and refresh rates among other things. In "Display Options" you can turn on things such as "3D Refresh Rate Override" and display management.
You can also change your monitor properties, performance versus quality settings, your color settings, and Avivo Color options.
I was impressed to see an overclocking option called "ATI Overdrive". I wasn't disappointed with the current video card settings, so I'll leave these options for now.
Now that we know some of the options of the Catalyst Control Center, let's move on to test this card!
|Process (Die size)||0,065 µ|
|Transistor Count||390 Mio.|
|Memory Options||128-512 MB|
|Memory Frequency (eff.)||2200|
|Memory Bus (bit)||128|
|Data Bus||PCI Express x16|
|Standard Slot Solution||Single|
|External Power Need||No|
|Memory Optimization||Hyper Z HD|
|Full Screen Anti-Aliasing||Smoothvision HD + Adaptive AA|
|HDR||16-bit integer or floating point|
|Video Acceleration||MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264|
|HDMI Compliance / HDCP Ready||HDMI 1.2 / Yes|
|HDMI Modes (over DVI)||480p, 720p, 1080i|
|Native Display Support||10-bit|
|3D Graphics Resolution||2560x1600|
|TV Out Resolution||1024x768|
|Dual Display Support||Hydravision 3|
- Hardware processed 1080p video playback of Blu-ray™ and HD DVDs
- Plug-n-play CrossFire™ upgradeability
- HDMI with 5.1 surround sound audio
- DirectX® 10 support
Here at OverclockersClub.com we have a series of benchmarks which are really demanding for the video card. We're going to be testing the Sapphire HD2600 XT against multiple mainstream video cards, as well as some high end video cards. Let's see how well this graphics card stacks up against the competition.
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Processor
- Abit IN9 32X-Max Wi-Fi Motherboard
- Crucial Ballistix Tracer (2 x 1GB) DDR2 1066 Memory
- Mushkin XP2-6400 (2 x 1GB) DDR2 800 Memory
- Cooler Master 750watt Power Supply
- Western Digital 250GB IDE Hard Drive
- Western Digital 160GB SATA 3.0GB/s Hard Drive
- Seagate 80GB IDE Hard Drive
- LG DVD-R DL Burner
- Windows XP Professional SP2
- Turtle Beach Montego DDL Sound Card
- Enermax Uber Chakra ATX Full Tower Case
- Sapphire X1950 PRO Ultimate Edition (ATi)
- Foxconn 8600 GTS OC (nVidia)
- XFX 8600GTS XXX Edition (nVidia)
- Far Cry: Hardware OC (Ubisoft Volcano)
- F.E.A.R. (Performance Test)
- Call of Duty 2: Stalingrad (FRAPS)
- Quake 4: Hardware OC
- Need For Speed: Most Wanted (FRAPS)
- Microsoft Flight Simulator X
Benchmark: Far Cry
I always like to start with Far Cry to see how well the new cards do on this older game.
- Maximum quality option, Direct3D renderer
- Level: Volcano, demo: Volcano.tmd
- Pixel shader: model 2.0b
- Antialising: 4×
- Anisotropic filtering: 8×
- HDR: disabled
- Geometry Instancing: disabled
- Normal-maps compression: disabled
We will be using the popular first person shooter F.E.A.R. and its in-game performance benchmark.
- FSAA: x4
- Anisotropic: x16
- Effects: Max
- Computer: High
- Soft Shadow: Off
Benchmark: Call of Duty 2
In Call of Duty 2, we will be testing the frames per second on the multiplayer map of Stalingrad, Russia.
- Anti-aliasing: x4
- Texture Filter: Trilinear
Benchmark: Quake 4
Now we're going to move onto Quake 4, which is another popular first person shooter.
- Demo: Hardware OC
- Quality: High
- Aspect Ratio: [4:3]
- Antialiasing: 4×
- Anisotropic filtering: 4x
- Symmetric MultiProcessing (SMP) enabled
Benchmark: Need For Speed Most Wanted
Need For Speed: Most Wanted is part of a great series of racing games.
- Track: Clubhouse and Hollis
- All basic video settings set to ¾ on scroll bar
- All geometric features: High
- Vsync: Off
Benchmark: Microsoft Flight Simulator X
Microsoft Flight Simulator X is a very complex and graphically challenging game, which can really torture a video card.
- Target Frame rate to unlimited
- Bilinear filtering
- All other settings to medium high
Benchmark: 3D Mark 06
The 3D Mark series is a common program used for video card benchmarking.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: Cpu1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
RyderMark is a new benchmark that is produced by Candella Software. It is graphically challenging and really puts the cards to the test. Check back to OverclockersClub.com for an official review on the RyderMark benchmark!
- Shader model 3.0
- Resolutions 1024x768,1280x1024,1680x1050
- AA 4x Quality 8
- AF 16x
- 64 Bit Shader
- Memory set to video card level
Clearly, the Sapphire HD2600 XT was the worst card of the set. It did hang with some of the competitors and really did step up when it came to the DirectX 10-capable cards' Battle Royale. The competition in which the Sapphire HD2600 XT was put up against, were either mainstream, or top of the line video cards. I would say that this card is a low-end mainstream card. The numbers weren't great, but the card never had a hard time when it was pushed. The price is what really saves this card, because it does have DirectX 10 capability and it can play the graphically challenging games, with a noticeable drop in frame rates. I can't recommend this card as a gaming card, because it didn't out-perform any other card except the Foxconn 8600 GTS at the highest resolution in the game Need For Speed: Most Wanted. With the big televisions that everyone has, you don't need a rediculously high resolution to play games on it so this card would be a video card to reckon with if you plan on using it on a big T.V. or in a home theater PC system. Having 5.1 onboard HDMI sound is a huge plus and coupled with the high definition support - you can't go wrong. The card was easy to install, looks great, and is near silent while it is on. I didn't really notice much of a noise increase while the card was being tortured, either. Check back to OverclockersClub.com for a DirectX 10 video card round up!
- Ease of Installation
- Quiet Fan
- DirectX 10
- Sub-Par Performance