Product Listing

ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT 256MB

By Vincent Chang - 28 Jun 2007

Conclusion

Conclusion

ATI's mainstream volley of DirectX 10 graphics cards consisting of two models each in the mid-range Radeon HD 2600 series and the low-end budget Radeon HD 2400 series brings along much needed competition to the largest market segment in the graphics business. By virtue of its head start, NVIDIA has gained much market share, especially among consumers planning ahead to jump on the DirectX 10 bandwagon. Still, with no killer applications or games for DirectX 10 launched so far, ATI has probably not suffered too badly from the delayed introduction. The key question now of course is whether these new mainstream cards can really stand on its own in the market.

As a budget card, don't expect high scores on benchmarks but for those who require a versatile card for multimedia applications, the Radeon HD 2400 XT is a candidate for cheap.

Looking at the top Radeon HD 2400 card currently, the Radeon HD 2400 XT, our main gripe is with its 64-bit memory bus. ATI's previous budget cards, like the Radeon X1300 series had a 128-bit memory bus and while it may be true that with its higher memory clocks, the Radeon HD 2400 XT did end up with decent overall memory bandwidth numbers, it was still inferior to NVIDIA's competing GeForce 8500 GT (11.2GB/s versus 12.8GB/s) and our benchmarks seem to show instances where anti-aliasing and its heavier demands took its toll on the scores of the Radeon HD 2400 XT with its constricted 64-bit memory bus. Overall, the Radeon HD 2400 XT stayed sufficiently close to the GeForce 8500 GT for most of the non-taxing benchmarks to be a viable alternative though we won't recommend either card for aspiring gamers.

What these budget cards do provide in general, both from ATI and NVIDIA, are HD video decoders that relieve the CPU's workload during HD video playback. As both companies have reiterated quite often, the goal now is to develop a card to meet the growing high definition multimedia needs of consumers, especially for the mainstream and low-end segments where it is not so much a choice between ATI and NVIDIA as one between integrated and discrete graphics. Intel too has been working on its integrated solutions in a similar direction with its Clear Video technology. At the moment, we feel that ATI has the slight edge in this aspect, mainly due to its integration of a HD audio controller so as to provide HDMI support and HDCP compliance throughout the entire family without relying on external factors. With no real testing done yet, we can't say for sure whether ATI's claims of a more complete video decoder (that provides hardware support for both H.264 and VC1 unlike NVIDIA's which only has H.264) is really that much better. You can however expect an article from us to dissect those matters in due time just like we've done previously.

As such, the Radeon HD 2400 XT seems to be a versatile graphics card for the coming HD era, even if its raw performance doesn't seem to translate too well in the games and benchmarks tested. These extra features will probably help to sell such mainstream and low-end products, given that consumers are probably not looking chiefly for 3D performance anyway. Its low power consumption and low noise/heat output due to the use of the 65nm manufacturing process ensures that the Radeon HD 2400 XT and the series in general will be a contender for budget and HTPC system builders. Priced at around the US$85 range for the XT and even less for the Radeon HD 2400 PRO, it faces off directly against NVIDIA's GeForce 8500 GT but with a lower entry price to compensate for its performance drawbacks. Hopefully, it can inject some competitive flair into the mainstream DirectX 10 graphics market and generate a larger user base for those games and applications we have been hearing about for so long.

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