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Better Than Radeon HD 7850 Performance At $150? We Want To Believe...

AMD Radeon R7 265 Review: Curaçao Slides In At $150

Averaging the benchmark results across the tests we ran today, we get the following aggregate results. AMD's Radeon HD 7850 serves as our 100% baseline.

At least from a performance standpoint, the Radeon R7 265 is impressive-looking. It's a little bit slower than Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660, which shows up as low as $190 on Newegg, and it's almost perfectly between the Radeon R7 260X and R9 270. That's pretty much where we'd expect it to be. So far so good.

But performance isn't AMD's problem. The company has a number of compelling solutions in its portfolio, fully capable of contending with competition from Nvidia, despite their age. Shoot, the GPU at the heart of this new card was launched two years ago! Pricing and availability are what we're worried about.

At the $150 AMD is promising, its Radeon R7 265 offers impressive value. You would have had to pay $250 for these frame rates when the Radeon HD 7850 surfaced, and that was a good deal back in the day. What's not to like, right?

To begin, the Radeon R7 265 won't be available until the end of this month, according to AMD. The company also claimed the Radeon R7 250X would be available earlier this week, and we're still waiting. It introduced us to a $110 Radeon R7 260 back in December, and of the two examples for sale, the cheapest is $125. The Radeon R9 270 launched in November of last year at $180, and now sits in the $230 range. The Radeon R9 280X, which AMD pitched to us at $300, is now a $500 card. Don't even get us started on the R9 290 and 290X. 

In short, you'll have to pardon our skepticism that Radeon R7 265 will show up on time and at the price point AMD is claiming. We've seen fingers pointed at gun-shy add-in board partners, performance-thirsty cryptocurrency miners, price-gouging retailers, and foundries unable to keep up with supply. But at the end of the day, we're left wondering why AMD is setting prices if it can't control what you pay for its hardware? After piling praise onto the Radeon R9 280X at $300 and 290X at $550, it's our credibility on the line now, and we've been burnt too many times to give you guidance on a card you can't buy yet.

Let's assume for a second that the Radeon R7 265 does show up at $150 in February. At that price, it would dominate the sub-$200 segment. It'd make the GeForce GTX 660 much less appealing at $190. And it'd make the Radeon R7 260X look overpriced at ~$140. AMD knows this, and at least has a few models of the 260X marked down to $120 already, with the MSRP officially lowered to that price point today. That'd be a welcome bit of good news for gamers on a budget. As I mentioned, the 265's performance level used to cost $250 a couple of years ago.

But our little hypothetical situation is a snapshot of the market today. There are going to be additional cards launched into the same general vicinity before the Radeon R7 265 is even slated to go on sale. We can't yet say how that'll play out, but just knowing the landscape will change before you can buy R7 265 makes our thought experiment almost completely pointless.

I'm happy to see great 1080p performance pushed even further down under $200. If AMD does end up delivering the powerful Radeon R7 265 at $150 by the end of February, next month's Best Gaming Graphics Cards For The Money column should be an interesting one. Radeon R7 260X cards already selling for $120 shake things up as well. If you want something a little faster than the 260X, though, wait a couple of weeks and see how the sub-$200 space looks leading into March.

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