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HIS Radeon HD 2600 PRO IceQ 512MB HIS Radeon HD 2600 PRO IceQ 512MB: Hi-Fi design, 5.1 Audio, Superior Cooling, DirectX 10, HD Playback - but can it keep up with the competition? Let's find out.
Date: August 23, 2007
Manufacturer:
Written By: Scott Harness
Price:

I think pretty much everyone knows that AMD's HD 2900 XT didn't exactly make a positive impact when it hit. Quite noisy, power hungry, expensive for the performance and the competition is cheaper and faster to boot. To top it off, the much vaunted media capabilities of the new generation of AMD cards is not a feature in their flagship product.

Still, let's move onto more 'positive waves baby' and talk about the midrange area. The HD 2600 series of cards has a lot more going for it. Better temperatures and power consumption, lower noise levels, better value for money, HDMI with HDCP support and 5.1 Audio support, decoding of VC-1 as well as the better known formats including H.264 and MPEG2. In every way that counts, the 2600 series (and 2400) appears more positive overall than the 2900, on paper at least.

are no stranger to Viperlair readers. We've been looking at their products for years, and I honestly don't recall any of our staff ever having a bad experience with their products. One thing that stood out in all cases with products were the extra steps they took to ensure you get the best from your product, be that extra cables or superior cooling. Admittedly, the winning formula used by with ATI and now AMD products has changed little of late, but the does make a couple of changes from the expected. Coupled with the media capabilities of the new GPU and chipset, it should make for an interesting review.

Specifications

Specifications
Powered by Radeon® HD 2600 PRO GPU - 650MHz(Turbo)
Superscalar unified shader architecture
120 stream processing units
512MB/256MB 128-bit DDR2 - 1050MHz(Turbo)
Comprehensive DirectX® 10 support
Built-in HDMI and 5.1 surround audio
Dynamic geometry acceleration
Game physics processing capability

The box for the HIS Radeon HD 2600 PRO IceQ 512MB is more understated and less colourful than previous generations have been; sleek is another word I would use. One good thing about the changes to the box is that HIS have kept the ability to see the product without opening it via a window on the front.

A (quite long) list of features and specifications is on the front, with a more extensive list with slight explanations on the rear. Also on the front is the Turbo label indicating and specifying the overclocked nature of the product; 650MHz core up from 600MHz standard, and 1.05Ghz memory up from 1.00GHz standard.

Inside, the card is further held in a white box. This box has a clear front that allows you to see the card, although you cannot see the rest of the contents until your open it. Inside the white box everything is held in a clear plastic moulded container. HIS include an S-Vid cable, an HDTV cable, a VGA adapter, and an HDMI adapter. A small Manual and a driver CD are included as well. As has been done in the past, included with the card is a voucher to get free games from Steam.

Just to point out here that the included ATI DVI to HDMI adapter is not an ordinary adapter as it has been designed to carry sound, something that other adapters have no need for; DVI is usually a video only connection.

Moving onto the card itself we can see the cooler is of standard HIS flavour; i.e. it's an Arctic Cooling cooler. Coupled with the power requirements of the 2600 series GPU this card should run very cool indeed. Also note the cooler itself is larger than the card. The cooler is UV reactive and takes up the second slot below the card when installed.

The power cable is sleeved and neatly tidied away against the side of the cooler. Note also that no external power is required. A change from the usual red PCB is a new blue PCB which matches the cooler nicely. The ram for the card is not actively or passively cooled and is mounted on both the front and rear of the PCB.

Apart from the ram chips, the rear is pretty bare. The IO Panel is quite different from what we have come to expect in a few areas. Dual DVI-I ports and a DIN style Video out port center are the connections here. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but this HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ 512MB is part of HIS's new “Hi-Fi concept” image and as such, the DVI-I connectors are gold plated to ensure a good connection. The pin array for the connectors is in contrasting black and the IO Panel itself is a titanium/gun metal colour. These features coupled with the HDMI 1.2 output do offer a combined impression of Media PC duty.

Testing

Test Setup: Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 @ 2.8GHz, Asus P5K Deluxe Wifi-AP, 2x 1GB Patriot PC2-6400, Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit, Dell 2005FPW 20.1” Widescreen Monitor

We used Catalyst version 7.7 for Vista 32bit with the HIS HD 2600 Pro. Note that this HIS card is of the Turbo variety which means that the Core has been raised from the specified 600MHz to 650MHz and the Memory is up from 1.0GHz to 1.05GHz.

3D Graphics Test Suite

Half Life 2: Lost Coast – Even though time has moved on, it still manages to impress, and you can't argue at the price. We ran through a typical 2 minutes of play at highest possible settings, including HDR.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl – This FPS come RPG shooter is new to our test suite and does have a tendency to be rough on underpowered machines. We ran through the first mission.

Tomb Raider: Anniversary – The first Tomb Raider since the first Tomb Raider to be more about the Tomb Raiding. Quite a small game, but plenty of visual goodness to test with.

Need For Speed: Carbon – Carbon isn't as visually appealing as it's predecessor but does stress systems with the right settings. We attempted some drifting with a Camaro and recorded the frame rates.

Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions DX10 Demo – We used the inbuilt performance test to examine some frame rates in this DX10 game, utilizing FRAPS to record the results.

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