AMD Radeon R7 260 Review: The Bonaire GPU Rides Again

The Radeon R7 260's Unrealized Potential

Nothing puts our benchmarks into perspective like a chart of average performance. Right out of the gate, let's look at the aggregate results of the seven other cards we tested relative to AMD's new Radeon R7 260:

Put simply, the Radeon HD 7770 is about 15% slower than the new Radeon R7 260, and the 260X is about 11% faster. Those numbers don't sound like much, but the HD 7770 dropped as low as 33 FPS in some benchmarks, while the R7 260 never fell below 40. Particularly at 1920x1080, that's a significant margin. On the other hand, AMD's Radeon R7 260X performs better, but not so much that it facilitates higher resolutions. It might allow for a couple of more taxing details without dropping below 30 FPS. However, the two cards come pretty close to each other. 

If I was writing this review last month, when the Radeon R7 260 paper-launched at $110, I would have drizzled praise all over it for making the Radeon HD 7770 obsolete. The Radeon R7 260X at $140 and R7 260 at $110 appear a formidable pair, indeed.

But one month later, the Radeon R7 260 is largely missing in action aside from a token entry selling for $140 (Ed.: And now a second model at $125, which we still consider too close to the 260X, found as low as $130). We're scratching our heads. The product we're reviewing is as expensive as competing Radeon R7 260X cards with two times more memory. Thirty dollars might not sound like much, but in the competitive space under $150, it's the difference between an exceptional deal and outright poor value. Perfect example: spending $10 more gets you Asus' R7260X-DC2OC-2GD5, which not only includes a faster GPU, but also twice as much on-board RAM.

An AMD representative we talked to ahead of this piece stated that the company samples hardware to its partners, which then decide what they want to sell. At least for now, it seems as though the add-in board folks are happy with the relationship between the Radeon HD 7770 at $110 and R7 260X at $140.

Here's a bit of perspective. With the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost missing, the Radeon R7 260X rules at its price point. And the GeForce GTX 650 Ti is a little overpriced against AMD's Radeon HD 7770. I can't imagine there's a lot of incentive to create another space between those two successful products. 

Regardless, it appears that the Radeon R7 260 isn't emerging as the value-oriented product we were anticipating, at least in the near future. That could, of course, change over time (and potentially quite quickly if Nvidia strikes with competitive-priced competition for the Radeon HD 7770). Until then, the Radeon R7 260 is too rare and too expensive to recommend over other, more compelling options in the same space.

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  • Novuake
    Mildly frustrating the HD 7790 is not included. Since its bonaire too? You know, the apples with apples concept?:/
  • Herr_Koos
    Why is the R7 260 called the "HD260" in your graphs?
  • mapesdhs
    If the price difference is so small compared to the 260X, why would anyone
    bother with the 260? Skip a couple of beers and get a 260X. An utterly
    unnecessary product IMO, it's just making use of dies that couldn't make the
    grade for higher models.

    Also, it's sad that we don't see single-slot cards anymore.

    Ian.
  • heydol
    It will be fun to se those 260/260x compared to new gtx 750/ti !
  • rdc85
    I'm agreed with the review,I think in their perspective the 7770 still selling well, there no rush to put 260 out...putting it out at 110~120 will cannibalize the 7770...
  • wtfxxxgp
    Hmmm... I don't really know where I stand on this one. I suppose I want to see what happens when the market forces of supply and demand start having an effect on the price, otherwise, I think it's a pretty decent card but just TOO close to the 260X which may be the one I'd choose if I were looking for a card in that league. I'm getting my GTX 760 at month-end finally, so this is not going to turn my head or change my plans...
  • ubercake
    That 260x seems like a decent value. The 260 not so much.
  • vertexx
    So now add the R7 250x into the mix, and you have quite a mess in this segment....
  • ddpruitt
    Great review, especially given what it's competing at in the same price range. It's interesting that AMD isn't pushing vendors to differentiate the products a bit more and get rid of the 7770s to allow more room for the R260s to breath. However...
    Quote:
    Naturally, discrete graphics cards require a substantial amount of stable power, so XFX sent along its PRO850W 80 PLUS Bronze-certified power supply. This modular PSU employs a single +12 V rail rated for 70 A. XFX claims that this unit provides 850 W of continuous power

    Statements like this are what's causing Watt inflation and the myth that you need a dedicated transformer to run a PC. The review itself points out that system wattage is less than a quarter of the max continuous wattage. I think it's a serious disservice to constantly repeat this statement when it's clearly not true. At the very least it should be rewritten a bit.
  • vertexx
    117741 said:
    Also, it's sad that we don't see single-slot cards anymore.


    I agree - that would be one way AMD could differentiate with some of these models is to have one or two designed to be single-slot and/or low profile. That would add some reason for this insanity.
  • gxpbecker
    i would imagine they are trying to push/clear out the stock of 7770/90s first.
  • Onus
    I agree with the article. At the right price, this could be a real sweet-spot card. At these prices, it makes more sense to either move up, or settle for less, depending on budget.
    I definitely agree with ddpruitt about the PSU boilerplate in this article. A system with this card would run quite nicely on a 380W Earthwatts or Seasonic G360. There's certainly nothing wrong with maintaining a testbench containing an oversized monster of a PSU, but I'd like to see articles like this call out specific PSU suggestions so people know what they need for the card under review. I don't think a power-usage graph is enough for newbs who may not realize there aren't other usage cases where the card needs more.
  • average joe
    This card makes sense to me. It replaces the 7770 for the R series. it performes a little faster just like the r260x replaces the 7790 and performes a little faster. however they priced it higher at the moment to let the vendors sell off the old packaging.
  • InvalidError
    Dissipating 80W in a single slot would be quite a challenge. With the last single-slot GPU I had, I ended up putting an IO slot exhaust blower in the next slot because the GPU's fan would get too loud on its own.There isn't much point in insisting on a single-slot GPU if it ends up being unbearably loud.
  • average joe
    the 7770 is a better value just like the 6850's were the better value when the 7850's were first coming out.
  • Yuka
    Why no Low Profile Dual slot card, Asus? WHY?! Cheers! :P
  • kenh536
    Really toms.... pop up ads for your articles that take up a massive portion of the page and follow you down AND ARE UNCLOSABLE?! Way too intrusive, NOT COOL.
  • Novuake
    1292442 said:
    Really toms.... pop up ads for your articles that take up a massive portion of the page and follow you down AND ARE UNCLOSABLE?! Way too intrusive, NOT COOL.


    https://www.google.co.za/search?q=adblock&oq=adbl&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.2978j0j7&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8#q=adblock
  • average joe
    The 7790 hardware supports true audio or whatever it's called as well. AMD disables it's support for it in the driver. That'll change probably I don't think they are that cynical yet.. Fixed sorry!!
  • InvalidError
    211517 said:
    The 7770 hardware supports true audio or whatever it's called as well. AMD disables it's support for it in the driver. That'll change probably I don't think they are that cynical yet..

    They have to give people reasons to pay the $10-50 extra to upsale from HD77xx to R7-260(X) so I doubt they will change their mind about the software disable. Many AMD CPUs, GPUs and APUs are artificially fused off or otherwise locked to lower specs simply to meet demand for lower cost bins.
  • Achoo22
    How much merit can be given to an article on a card without much merit? There should've, at least, been comparisons to mid-range cards in the performance charts and analysis.
  • average joe
    once the 7770 sku's are gone from the channel and the r260 is in place driver 16.02 will turn on true audio or mantle to spur the useless crossfire sales..
  • Xavier Corraya
    This bonner(!) card is not bad. if it had a max TDP like HD 7750, it would become a great card ....
  • mapesdhs
    125865 said:
    Dissipating 80W in a single slot would be quite a challenge. With the last single-slot GPU I had, I ended up putting an IO slot exhaust blower in the next slot because the GPU's fan would get too loud on its own.There isn't much point in insisting on a single-slot GPU if it ends up being unbearably loud.


    Sorry, can't agree there. Many cards in the past managed this perfectly well, eg. the Zotac 9800GT AMP
    was a single-slot, but not loud at all (peak power consumption delta over idle = 91W). Fact is, companies
    just don't bother designing single-slot coolers anymore. Think how much the tech has advanced since the
    days of the 9800GT; there's no reason why modern cards with the same or lower power envelope couldn't
    be fitted with 1-slot cooling setups, but nobody designs them now, and mbds have adjusted to assume the
    use of 2-slot cards anyway.

    That's not to say all 1-slot cards are equal. Some 1-slot cooler designs were terrible, eg. the XFX 8800GT.

    Ian.