Review Index:

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 | 12:14 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

isn't it 512 bit for Memory interface (or something)??

October 8, 2013 | 12:23 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That's the 290x which will be unveiled a little later on.

October 8, 2013 | 12:57 AM - Posted by Eradikation (not verified)

Has anyone not figured out that Bioshock uses more then 2 gigs of ram yet at ultra? Those performance hitches are the ram swapping constantly. I have gtx 670 sli 2gb and a single gtx 770 4gb in two different systems. The gtx 770 plays completely hitch free on ultra using over 2.4 gigs at times smooth as butter. I have to drop texture quality and ambient occlusion to even get close to the same smooth results with my gtx 670 sli even though framerate is almost doubled. Why nvidia is even bothering with 2gb on high end cards is beyond me.

October 8, 2013 | 01:05 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Thanks for the tip - hopefully this is something NVIDIA can address sooner rather than later.

October 10, 2013 | 01:00 PM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

Yes, memory is becoming a bigger issue all the time. In my case Rome Total War II. The rendering of myriads of objects has gotten to the point where the game points out the graphic memory inadequacy of my 1.5GB board and degrades the battle rendering accordingly. A title like this would invalidate some of these tests.

October 8, 2013 | 01:13 AM - Posted by biohazard918 (not verified)

The skip the skip the frame rating explanation link on page 5 takes you to the 7990 review.

October 8, 2013 | 01:30 AM - Posted by biohazard918 (not verified)

Also the transistor count on the 7970 and the 280X is wrong is should be 4.3 billion not 2.8

October 8, 2013 | 04:06 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Fixed this last night, thanks!

October 8, 2013 | 07:58 PM - Posted by ea1985 (not verified)

Also on the 3DMark page, last sentence...

" gets beat at the Normal preset by a $100 more expensive GPU."

LESS expensive??

October 8, 2013 | 01:42 AM - Posted by jake (not verified)

any release date specified yet?

October 8, 2013 | 12:37 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Looks like 10/11.

October 8, 2013 | 02:05 AM - Posted by capawesome9870

this will be my first crossfire build. i currently already have a FX8350 and a HD7870. i will not be able to buy a second 7870 for at least 4 months;

If newegg is not selling the 7870 anymore could i pickup a R9 270x and crossfire it to a 7870?

they are the same GPU or is it locked to the same generation of card?

October 8, 2013 | 03:34 AM - Posted by Humanitarian

Why not just buy another 7870? They're identical.

October 8, 2013 | 09:42 AM - Posted by snook

his question is related to the fact that 7870 may not be available by the time he has the money. discontinued basically.

October 8, 2013 | 09:48 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

I believe in the article Ryan says that you can CrossFire the different generations of cards.  So the R7 270X will be compatible with the HD 7870.

October 8, 2013 | 04:30 PM - Posted by capawesome9870

thanks, after you said this i went and read the pages i did not read. i found it on page 3.

October 8, 2013 | 03:01 AM - Posted by Irishgamer01

Noticed your value for money graphic doesn't have the 7970?

An opps we forgot moment or Amd are big advertisers and we will help them make this relaunch of old cards seem exciting.

Clearly people with older cards not in the know could well purchase these cards as an update, when they are not.

You should be shouting from the roof tops this is a con job of the highest order.

Having said that there is no doubt they are a value option in their respective segments and as such should stand alone on that point alone. Not Rehashed.

This comment is in memory of my 7990 which caught fire and died three days ago. (Yes I do mean caught fire, flames and all)


October 8, 2013 | 09:50 AM - Posted by snook

you didn't read the article. Ryan: "(BTW, you will likely find deals on Radeon HD 7000-series cards while inventory is cleared, so you might want to jump on them.)"

that is after clearly stating they are essentially the same card. with a different eyefinity setup.

Nvidia did the same thing: GTX760, GTX770 are not new.

but, at least you are accusing them of pay-offs from AMD, while most claim it's Nvidia.

October 8, 2013 | 03:37 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Yeah, we must be dong something right if we are being accussed of pay offs from both sides hah!

October 8, 2013 | 06:04 PM - Posted by Irishgamer01

Since you didn't answer the question then I take it the answer is yes?

October 8, 2013 | 11:57 PM - Posted by snook

it was answered, in the article

October 9, 2013 | 02:07 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

What was the question? The 7970s are being EOLed so they will not be available at retail after stock is depleted afaik. It is detailed on the first page that the 280X is essentially the same card as the 7970...

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

As an AMD fan I was expecting too much from these new cards. It turns out that we have nothing new and I would have to wait for Nvidia hopping that they will do something better. Disappointed....

October 8, 2013 | 03:38 AM - Posted by Humanitarian

A true AMD fan would know these are refreshed cards. Nothing new has come out as of yet.

Dayum, step up your fanboyism.

October 8, 2013 | 04:15 AM - Posted by JohnGR (not verified)

A true AMD fan is expecting more from his favorite company. If not better hardware at least a price war. Nothing happened. Now Nvidia is lowering the prices of Ti boost and 660. Instead of AMD being on the offensive you have Nvidia doing that. I guess AMD can not give fast HD7000 cards at lower prices than.... yesterday AND Mantle together to the PC user. It will be a disaster for Sony AND Microsoft in the end a disaster for AMD.

October 8, 2013 | 04:48 AM - Posted by Remon (not verified)

The R9 280X is competing with the 770 and is 100$ cheaper. The 270X is competing with a card that costs 50$. Were you expecting them for free maybe?

October 8, 2013 | 05:11 AM - Posted by JohnGR (not verified)

R9 280X is the same as 7970, 270X is the same as 7870, 260X is the same+audio as the 7790 and the smaller cards are worst than 7770/7750/7730.
Also this is 2013, not 2012.
If you like buying last year's cards with new names at the same prices they where yesterday, well, it's your money, no problem for me.

October 8, 2013 | 09:53 AM - Posted by snook

again, Ryan stated that the 280X is lower in price than the 7970 Ghz edition it replaces, compared to last months pricing.

it's like you guys just want to hate, fuck reading

October 8, 2013 | 12:43 PM - Posted by JohnGR (not verified)

I am not talking about 280X only, but you are write, F%^& reading just go and find hate in a post that you don't approve.

October 9, 2013 | 12:01 AM - Posted by snook

understood, the 280X was an example. the article lays out, how and what, they match up to (280X, 270X, 260X) from the previous cards (7970...etc.)

the article is clear that these are rebrands and that the 290X is the real card we are waiting on.

hence, RTFA

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