ATI's Radeon HD 2600 and Radeon HD 2400 lines make their debut today. You can expect five basic variants. Some repackagers (Sapphire, Asus, etc.) may offer options with different amounts of RAM. Others might appear only in systems from PC vendors, rather than on store shelves. The basic variations include:
- 256MB (GDDR4) Radeon HD 2600 XT - $149
- 256MB (GDDR3) Radeon HD 2600 XT - $129
- 256MB (GDDR2) Radeon HD 2600 Pro - $99
- 256MB Radeon HD 2400 XT - $79
- 256MB Radeon HD 2400 Pro - $59
These midrange and budget 3D cards fall in the same price range as the competition from Nvidia's GeForce 8600 and 8500 series. Like its Nvidia counterparts, all of ATI's new cards support DirectX 10. They are also all HDCP-compliant for HD movie playback from your PC. The cards also all support ATI's CrossFire dual-card mode.
We're working with our compatriots over at Gamespot to get 3D test results, and you can expect full reviews of a handful of these cards shortly. If the story is anything like the comparison on the higher end, we expect no definitive performance winner overall, with cards from each vendor eking out wins, depending on the game. For next-gen DirectX 10 performance, we have three titles to play with, Call of Juarez, Lost Planet, and Company of Heroes with the DirectX 10 patch. We're not comfortable with any of those titles as definitive indicators of next-gen performance yet, so regardless of what the scores might be, we still think the DirectX 10 winner is up in the air until we see more fully cooked DX 10 titles, and more mature Vista drivers from both vendors.
We can, however, comment on the video capabilities of three of the cards with confidence. AMD sent us the 2600 XT, the 2600 Pro and the 2400 XT. All handled Blu-Ray and HD-DVD content smoothly. We saw a seminoticeable amount of pixel noise, but no more than with Nvidia's GeForce 8500 GT card. ATI has a distinct advantage, though, in that its cards all scale properly on a 1,920x1,080 resolution, aka 1080p. Nvidia's cards still overscan, driving the edges of your Windows screen out beyond the bounds of your display, cutting off the image around its edges. None of our review samples came with an integrated HDMI output, so we had to use ATI's special DVI-to-HDMI adapter. It worked well enough, but our hope is that ATI's partners will start to ship those HDMI-integrated boards soon.