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AMD Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X Review

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: AMD

AMD Radeon R7 260X – Bonaire was an undercover agent

Maybe the most interesting product, at least released today, is the AMD Radeon R7 260X (replacing the Radeon HD 7790). Once again, the ASIC between these two cards is identical. Specifications and performance should be nearly indistinguishable when compared. I was intrigued to learn that the HD 7790 GPU was the test subject for two new technologies: an updated CrossFire integration and AMD TrueAudio. These hidden features have a chance to be enabled with future drivers.

AMD talked quite a bit about the TrueAudio technology during the Hawaii / GPU14 tech day live stream but to be completely honest I don’t think there is much to discuss quite yet.  The idea and goal is clear and it makes sense to begin moving audio processing to the GPU. This is a great direction.  This fully programmable audio pipeline is integrated into the ASIC but does not share the resources of the GPU directly; it can merely access some memory locations for shared data communication. 

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Multiple integrated Tensilica HiFi audio DSP cores are integrated as a dedicated audio solution for game sound effects that can guarantee real-time performance and services regardless of the CPU the graphics card is installed with.  The streaming DMA engine is multi-channel and uses a scatter-gather memory architecture.  There is 384KB of shared memory while the bus interface has support to access the frame buffer on the graphics card.  The ability for a sound API and middleware software package to actively know what is going on inside a game engine could result in substantial changes in the way game audio is designed; programmed rather than planned.

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The AMD TrueAudio API can be accessed by developers of audio engines and AMD has already showed commitment from the developers behind Murdered: Soul Suspect, Thief and Lichdom.  We don’t yet have any usable demonstration to test the benefits of TrueAudio and its promise to lower CPU usage while improving flexibility quite yet, but when we do I’ll be sure to discuss it further.

As for the updated CrossFire technology, currently being dubbed XDMA (External DMA I think), the R7 260X supports it but we are going to wait for the release of the R9 290X (that also integrates it) to see how it changes Eyefinity and 4K CrossFire configurations.  More soon!

Back to the specifications on the 260X, and again we find only modest changes from the HD 7790 it is replacing.  The clock speed of the GPU is higher at 1.1 GHz (versus 1.0 GHz on the HD 7790), the memory clock is 500 MHz faster at 6.5 GHz effective and the theoretical performance peak jumps from 1.79 TFLOPS up to 1.97 TFLOPS.  Maybe most surprising is that the typical board power has been increased from 85 watts up to 115 watts, a 35% increase over the card it portends to replace.  The 128-bit memory bus is going to be able to access a 2GB frame buffer by default (as opposed to 1GB previously).

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Once again, the rest of the GPU configuration remains the same.  This is a 28nm, 2.08 billion transistor GPU with 896 shaders, 56 texture units and 16 ROPs that mirrors the Radeon HD 7790. 

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What about pricing?  The Radeon R7 260X will MSRP for $139 which pretty much matches the pricing of the Radeon HD 7790 over the last couple of months.  The big difference though is the doubling of the frame buffer from 1GB to 2GB, giving the new R7 260X the advantage. 

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The R7 260X is a pint sized little card but in its reference form still requires a dual-slot installation. 

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The 260X is powered by a single 6-pin connection and has a short enough PCB length to fit into many smaller HTPC-style chassis.

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Consistency - I like it.  The R7 260X reference card continues with the DL-DVIs combined with HDMI and DP.

 

AMD R7 250 and R7 240

Finally, though we don’t have test samples today, AMD is also releasing new cards in the sub-$100 market, the R7 250 and R7 240. 

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The AMD Radeon R7 250 is a 384 shader GPU running at 1.05 GHz that runs without need for external power.  The reference card shown here requires a dual slot configuration but I’d assume some partners will make single slot versions.

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The R240 is built with a half-height PCB and includes 320 shaders running at up to 780 MHz.  With a 30 watt TDP it could be a great option for fanless designs.

October 8, 2013 | 12:03 AM - Posted by Irishgamer01

PS. Like the photo spread of the cards....size and shots.
Very good work.

October 8, 2013 | 09:39 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Thanks!

October 8, 2013 | 12:12 AM - Posted by JohnGR (not verified)

I am looking at those slides from AMD comparing R9 and R7 to HD5000 and HD6000 for 10 minutes and I try to understand what the hell is going on here? Was HD7000 never existed or is AMD feeling that it's customers have the memory of a goldfish and no brain at all?

October 8, 2013 | 12:43 AM - Posted by Humanitarian

This 290(x) better not be stillborn, I really want some top-end competition.

October 8, 2013 | 06:55 AM - Posted by snook

me too. It has to directly compete with the GTX780 or it's a loss in my mind.

October 8, 2013 | 01:25 AM - Posted by Howie Doohan (not verified)

Something odd about these prices, if the 280X is around $300 and the 290X is according to rumours around $600-700 what will fill the large gap? Could there be a 290X cutdown chip on the horizon?

October 8, 2013 | 06:58 AM - Posted by snook

I'll bet the 290X come in at $500-550. no way they price it equal to higher than the GTX780.

unless, they are retarded.

October 8, 2013 | 09:40 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

That is my concern as well.  A huge price gap between the 280X and 290 series would leave a gap in product stack that NVIDIA could go after.

October 8, 2013 | 02:45 PM - Posted by nobody special (not verified)

Did they really lower the price when you don't get 3-4 AAA games now? NV cards still come with Batman Arkham Origins (AAA surely and not even out yet) and a few with Rise of the Triad also (evga's come with both).

Not to mention only a fool buys stock when you can get 3 cards on newegg that are 100mhz faster for $249, and for $259 you can get the Zotac that is 140mhz faster and has memory OC'd 200mhz too over what you're testing here. So basically add another 12% to your scores and remember 1 or 2 free games vs 0. When I can get an OC card that is the same price as a company's set price I call that the new ref card :) You wouldn't buy a ref clocked card for the same price would you? $249 is the cheapest.

Evga, MSI, Gigabyte ($249) and Zotac at $259 at newegg, all are over 100mhz faster. Who buys these ref clocked cards? Newegg displays the speeds for everyone to see on one page. I'm surprise anyone can sell a ref clocked card. Zotac's is 1111/1176 as opposed to your tested 980/1033 probably.

At the same time, I suspect most card makers will clock 280x the same as ghz editions anyway. Having said that, people should just buy OC'd 7970's and take the games if they want AMD. But I don't think the situation is quite as bad as said here considering the games and price for an OC 760 card out of the box (many brands). NV will just adjust prices, uplock a model or two and drop everything else down in a few weeks (before black friday no doubt). They have profits they can take a dip on, AMD cutting just means break even or losses yet again. AMD on the other hand owes $200mil note to GF in Dec which will likely wipe out any profits from these cards and xmas console sales. I hope for their sake, Hawaii is phenomenal.

October 8, 2013 | 12:40 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

There are rumors of a "R9 290" but I haven't read much on the rumors except the name.

October 8, 2013 | 09:08 PM - Posted by snook

Tim, this would be cool. If the 290 competes with the 780 and the 290X with the titan. then the 290X price could be as high as they want, lol

October 8, 2013 | 01:31 AM - Posted by Daniel Nielsen (not verified)

Hrm, good to see that the 280x is at least on par with the GTX 770. But doesn't seem like i need to upgrade from my GTX 680 yet.

October 8, 2013 | 03:34 AM - Posted by WantT100 (not verified)

after 2 years we receive the same cards again. what a yawn fest.

October 8, 2013 | 07:00 AM - Posted by snook

except for the one I suspect they have tested (290X), but an NDA keeps us from knowing the results.

October 8, 2013 | 12:06 PM - Posted by icebug

Do you think that vendors will continue selling the "soon to be forgotten about" cards such as the 7950? I don't see any mention of the cards in between the cards "released" with this new series.

October 8, 2013 | 12:12 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

They will continue to sell them as long as they last but I think the HD 7000 series is soon going to MIA and EOL.

October 8, 2013 | 03:15 PM - Posted by icebug

Let's just hope that they get a solid fix in place for Eyefinity CF before all of these cards are out of stock.

October 8, 2013 | 02:21 PM - Posted by option25

I'm wondering why they would release they're slower-rehashed cards first and sit on the 290X/290. With the big games coming soon you would think they would be pushing them as much as possible now as the green team has nothing to counter. I hope I'm wrong but maybe AMDs upcoming flagship won't compete directly with Nvidia's existing top end chips, hmm, but that has to be wrong right. It's got to be more powerful then the GTX 780, we hope for the sake of the consumer anyway. I guess AMD could be waiting to see what Nvidia is going to do about these new parts. Let's play the waiting game again! Anyone know when we'll have (exciting) news or release dates on new AMD top end card(s)?

October 8, 2013 | 02:43 PM - Posted by sosna (not verified)

Since the article mentions that the video outputs of the 280x have changed to similar to the 700 nvidia series,can a 280x do 120hz eyefinity with the use of only one dual link display port to dvi adapter -or is it the same like the 7970 which required 2 adapters-?

thanks

October 9, 2013 | 10:11 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Interesting question, I'll check!

October 8, 2013 | 03:09 PM - Posted by Daniel Masterson (not verified)

Except for the 290X these cards are very underwhelming. I was really hoping for something different instead of more 7000 cards.

October 8, 2013 | 03:36 PM - Posted by Eradikation (not verified)

It's amazing 2 years later they still can't get multi gpu configurations right but they can re release old hardware as new. None of the offerings can compete with sli 670s or higher. Gtx 700 series may not be quite the new but they directly replaced their elders with price while boosting performance. What good is releasing new cards with crossfire capabilities when it still doesn't work.

What good is eyefinity when no amd card has enough power to play newer games at that resolution and multi gpu just plain don't work correctly at any resolution. I always bought amd cards since it was ati when 3dfx folded. I always believed they were the better value but their has been trash support the past years and to believe they just recently acknowledged crossfire to be a problem is beyond me. So glad I spent saved a few extra and went with the company who provides real support and real fixes for their problems. Scary to think amd is leading us into a new console generation with sub-par gpus. Eeek

October 9, 2013 | 10:13 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

To be fair AMD has addressed frame pacing CrossFire issues on single monitor (2560x1600 and under) configurations since August 1st.  It's not perfect yet, but it's much better than it was.

October 8, 2013 | 06:05 PM - Posted by Nacelle

I don't supposed they mentioned anything about Crossfire + Eyefinity working correctly this time around?

October 9, 2013 | 10:14 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I do mention that in the story.  CF + EF still isn't fixed on these cards yet.

October 8, 2013 | 09:04 PM - Posted by snook

Ryan, your next article should just be blank with instructions
to fill out the information as we please. That way we can all be satisfied we are glorious opinions.

October 9, 2013 | 10:14 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

LOL  :D

October 9, 2013 | 06:21 AM - Posted by snook

ugh, pre-order sites have it at $650-729.

this is not good. hope they are wrong

October 9, 2013 | 11:54 AM - Posted by PapaDragon

Great Review and Video Showcase Ryan. That Asus 280x looks amazing. The price /performance of the 7970, I mean the 280X makes it even better as Im looking to upgrade from my 1gb 7850 to play Battlefield 3 at Ultra at 1080p, which is essentially the only game I play. Bf4 beta isnt to kind to it(7850) either, hopefully I will upgrade son.

Anyhow, keep up the great work, waiting anxiously for the Juggernaut 290X and 290 review!

October 9, 2013 | 04:16 PM - Posted by dredz1985 (not verified)

I don't understand what all the hate with these cards is about. If you are someone that is coming from say a card 3 gens ago then this is a good deal. The price is 300 for a card that can max out any game right now at 1080p and even at 1440p depending on the game.if your not going to buy it then just Waite for the 290x which is expecting to be 600. Not everyone has that type of money

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