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Digital-Daily : Video : sapphire_hd2600pro

Sapphire HD2600 Pro: first tests of the new middle-end by AMD

Sapphire HD2600 Pro: first tests of the new middle-end by AMD
Author: Dmitry Sofronov
Date: 03.08.2007

This review starts an introduction to AMD's products positioned as middle-end video cards that offer support for DirectX 10. The very first representative of this quite a vast family which arrived at our test lab proved to be somehow nontypical in terms of adherence to the configurations recommended. Anyway, these are rules among middle-end video cards rather than an exception. What matters most to us the performance without detriment to the budget. Well, meet Sapphire HD2600 Pro.

Sapphire HD2600 Pro, front side of the box

The package for Sapphire HD2600 Pro looks somehow unusual. Up till now, the background has been white, with drawings and phlegmatic lean aliens on. In the case with Sapphire HD2600 Pro, the background has been changed to almost black, and the formidable-looking girl armed with a gun now looks more human. The labels with specifications are now depicted as buttons. The labels say that Sapphire HD2600 Pro supports the HDMI-output, offers support for ??-Audio and 256 MB DDR3 video memory onboard. The latter point is just the most essential difference from the "recommended" settings. Originally, AMD assumed that HD2600 Pro video cards would be equipped with DDR2 video memory with 800 MHz frequency (effective). The engineers at Sapphire decided not to put on modest air and made all in their own way.

Sapphire HD2600 Pro, reverse side of the box

The reverse side of the box lists the contents of the package and quite a detailed description of the video card's advantages in terms of support for DirectX10, playing back HD-content, etc.

The package bundle is worth-while enough:

  • DVI/B-Sub adapter
  • DVI/HDMI adapter
  • S-Video/Composite-out adapter
  • HDTV-out adapter
  • Cross-Fire bridge
  • User's manual
  • drivers CD

Sapphire HD2600 Pro, general view

Sapphire HD2600 Pro takes up one standard PCI slot, is equipped with two DVI Dual-Link connectors, and a TV-out jack. Connection to HDMI devices is done with a special DVI/HDMI adapter which, as you could see, is shipped with the video card as a bundled item. The Cross-Fire bridge also comes in handy if you decide to merge two Sapphire HD2600 Pro video cards into a combination due to the matching connectors available on the card itself.

Sapphire HD2600 Pro, front view

On Sapphire HD2600 Pro, there is quite a simple cooler which is made of aluminum with a small turbine. However strange it seems, despite its minor size, it makes no noise since the rotational speed of the turbine is not high, and that does not affect the GPU operation at all. Because of the cooler, Sapphire HD2600 Pro looks somehow cheap, but you can't call the PCB wiring simple.

Sapphire HD2600 Pro, rear view

As it turned out, the secret is hidden on the reverse side of the PCB. Over there, there are pads for extra video memory chips. On the one hand, such a design adds to the PCB development and cost, on the other hand - it allows easily arranging a production of Sapphire HD2600 Pro video cards with 512 MB video memory capacity. That is certainly a good news for those whose are into "big numbers". This could be also of use indeed, since the number of textures in modern games is not going down, and every performance percent counts.

Sapphire HD2600 Pro, front view, without the cooler

There is nothing remarkable under the cooler. Let alone the video processor itself.

Sapphire HD2600 Pro video chip

The GPU is made following the 65-nm process technology and stands out for its quite tiny size. The recommended GPU frequency for video cards like ??2600 Pro is 600 MHz, but on Sapphire HD2600 Pro the recommended VPU frequency is 700 MHz. Quite a good "factory overclocking", and that is not yet a limit - higher-end video cards of the HD2600XT class use absolutely the same chips, with their recommended frequency being 800 MHz. We will soon find out if the video processor on Sapphire HD2600 Pro is able attaining such frequency on overclocking.

Sapphire HD2600 Pro video memory

The memory chips installed on Sapphire HD2600 Pro brought a pleasant surprise. Although the nominal operating frequency of the video memory is equal to the recommended and amounts to 1400 MHz DDR, the card uses chips of 1.25 ns and the nominal 1600 MHz DDR frequency. Certainly, that favored to the increase of the overclocking capability. And now we'll see how it is implemented in practice.


  • Page 1 - Sapphire HD2600 Pro
  • Page 2 - Tests. Final Words

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