The Radeon HD 2600 XT has been in the news a bit recently, with most chatter centering around the memory clock and the price. Is it 700MHz or 800MHz for the former? Does the freefall towards $99 make that memory clock variance moot? Let's not forget there's been some squabbling and grief over whether duff boards made it to consumers, too.

It's the middle of the three points that most people will focus on, and rightly so, since RV630 XT at or near 99 bucks is excellent value no matter which way you slice it. Besides the 3D rendering ability, there's a video-focused chunk of logic dedicated to decode of the latest high-bitrate, high-complexity video codecs.

Pair that with HDMI output ability with audio, and you've got a card that screams for use in a HTPC situation where that HTPC might do a spot of gaming on the side. The downside for us to it playing that role was the cooler. Too loud with the fan at full tilt, with possibly more chance of it turning at that speed in a chassis tucked into a media rack, the SKU cried out for AIB partners to change it and make it a little more appealing.

Back in May, Sapphire announced the Ultimate Radeon HD 2600 XT, and the world rejoiced. HD 2600 XT got a passive cooler first seen on the older Sapphire Radeon X1650 PRO, and thus the silence folks might crave. The announce date of July came and went, though, putting a dampener on said rejoicing, but only until now.

Sapphire duly sent a sample late last week and we've had the chance to quickly play with it today to get some initial impressions.