PowerColor HD 2900 XT Graphics Card Continued
The good news is that noise coming from the cooler has been improved (and it is heavier with more heat pipe action) over the previous Radeon X1950 XTX, which at full RPM fan speed produced a kind of high pitched whining type of sound. Thankfully the HD 2900 XT has improved on this and that kind of annoying high pitched sound does not exist and it is noticeably quieter than the previous high-end model. When in 2D mode, the HD 2900 XT was hardly audible - the reference Intel CPU cooler from Cooler Master was outputting more sound than the graphics card when sitting in Windows. At first, we even had to check if the fan was actually working while in 2D mode - you can hear when 3D mode kicks in but that was with the case open and in a completely silent room, not a realistic environment when you have the sound turned up playing games or music.
As far as power goes, AMD recommend a minimum 750-watt power supply unit for single card but we only used a (high-quality) 500-watt PSU for our testing and did not note any stability problems - and we were using an Intel Core 2 Quad processor operating at 3GHz, which is no pussycat. The power supply recommended is one with two 2x3-pin PCI Express power connectors. However, if you want to use AMD's built-in overclocking software in Catalyst Control Center called OverDrive, you will need one 2x3-pin and one 2x4-pin connector. This can be overcome by using a 2x4-pin to 2x3-pin connector, as shown below. Other Radeon overclocking tools such as ATI Tool may not even require the 2x4-pin connector but that remains to be seen.
As far as other connectors go, you of course have the mandatory Crossfire connectors for dual-graphics support. On the back in the I/O area are two dual-link DVI connectors along with the S-video like port connector that allows for HDTV-out through component cable and so forth. As mentioned on the previous page, most companies should end up including a special DVI to HDMI connector that is not only able to output video but also audio.
Since we tested the PowerColor HD 2900 XT before it was ready to be shipped out to customers, the retail package was not yet available, but we did get a chance to see the stylish box design. We are not exactly sure what will come in the package but you can most likely expect the usual array of cables and we have been told you will get the 2x4-pin to 2x3-pin connector and special HDMI adapter.
As we have already reported in the news, one of the major selling points of the R600 cards will be the fact that AMD has teamed up with Valve Software again to include a voucher for some upcoming games. When the games are ready (and it should not be too far away), you will be able to login to your Steam account and download the full versions of Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Team Fortress 2 (l33t!) and Portal. If other companies choose to also include another full version game, the package is starting to look quite impressive!
Before we move into the benchmarks, we want to show you a technology showcase of what the R600 GPU is capable of thanks to our friend Ruby but now all new and improved.