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Radeon R7 240 And 250: Our Sub-$100 Gaming Card Round-Up

Introducing The Radeon R7 240 And 250

While the Radeon R7 240 and 250 are new in the retail space, they've been available to OEMs for a year as the Radeon HD 8570 and 8670, respectively. Both cards are based on the Oland GPU. Although the graphics processor does support higher clock rates through PowerTune with Boost, it's considered a first-gen GCN-based GPU and does not offer any of the features introduced with the Radeon R9 290-series cards, such as TrueAudio, precision improvements to the native LOG and EXP operations, or optimizations to the Masked Quad Sum of Absolute Difference (MQSAD).

As the Radeon R7 240, AMD's Oland Pro is limited to five of the GPU's six available Compute Units, each with 64 shaders and four texture units. Do the math and you get 320 total shaders and 20 TMUs. Two ROP partitions are capable of processing eight operations per cycle. Additionally, a pair of 64-bit dual-channel memory controllers yield a 128-bit aggregate pathway. This is the smallest we've ever seen Graphics Core Next scaled down, so I'm personally curious to see how it'll compare to previous-gen parts like the Radeon HD 6670 DDR3 with 480 VLIW5 shaders.

In fact, comparing the Radeon R7 240's 730 MHz base and 780 MHz peak clock rates to the Radeon HD 6670 DDR3's 800 MHz frequency should shed some light on how much more (or less) efficient GCN is next to VLIW5 (which we already know was not as efficient as VLIW4). A 128-bit memory bus laden with 900 MHz DDR3 memory is used on both cards, so memory bandwidth is identical.

The Radeon R7 250 comes equipped with an uncut version of the GPU, called Oland XT. All six of its Compute Units are operational, exposing 384 shaders and 24 TMUs. The back-end is unchanged; you still get two ROP partitions and a 128-bit memory interface. So, overall, there's not a ton of difference between the two GPUs. The Radeon R7 250 has other advantages, though. Its core operates at 1000 MHz and can accelerate up to 1050 MHz under the right thermal conditions. Manufacturers can also choose to arm it with GDDR5 memory. I'd even go so far as to say avoid models with DDR3, since they sell for close to the same price.

Perhaps you noticed that the Radeon R7 250 sounds a lot like the Radeon HD 7730, a card based on a cut-down Bonaire GPU with the same number of CUs, shaders, and ROP partitions. The Radeon HD 7730 runs at 800 MHz though, and the GDDR5-based version sports memory operating 25 MHz slower. We're including it in our benchmarks for comparison.

XFX Radeon R7 240 Core Edition

XFX provided two Radeon R7 240 samples. Both are able to accelerate up to 780 MHz under the right conditions and feature 2 GB of 800 MHz DDR3. Also, they're based on the same half-height 7" x 2.75" PCB. The only functional difference between them concerns cooling; one model is actively cooled by a 50 mm fan, while the other is passively-cooled. 

Interestingly, XFX's memory clock is 100 MHz under AMD's 900 MHz reference spec. We increased this using Overdrive, so our benchmark results reflect AMD's proposed performance levels, rather than XFX's.

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Not surprisingly, the cards are similar around back. They employ the same Hynix H5TQ2G63BFR memory packages and rounded PCB edges.

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XFX equips both cards with dual-link DVI, HDMI, and VGA outputs.

The Radeon R7 240 has a relatively low 30 W TDP, so the power it needs is easily delivered by a PCI Express slot.

It would have been possible to build these cards in a single-slot form factor. However, XFX chose a dual-slot design for improved cooling.

This class of Radeon card doesn't come equipped with bridge connectors for CrossFire (nor does it enjoy the benefit of AMD's integrated XDMA engine). Instead, it can be linked to a second board using the PCI Express bus.

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XFX bundles its cards with warranty information, a quick install guide, a driver install guide, a graphics card and peripheral pamphlet, a power supply pamphlet, and support information. They also come with a driver CD and half-height output bezels.

XFX Radeon R7 250 Core Edition

The XFX Radeon R7 250 Core Edition adheres to AMD's reference peak clock rate of 1050 MHz, complemented by 1 GB of 1150 MHz GDDR5 on a full-height 7" x 4.5" PCB. The black acrylic Ghost cooler has an understated style that's not flashy and is still classy-looking.

Like the Radeon R7 240 cards, this one's PCB also has rounded edges.

The display outputs are similar, too. You get dual-link DVI, HDMI, and VGA connectors.

XFX's Ghost cooler uses an 85 mm fan to contend with the GPU's 65 W TDP. There's a space between the fan bezel and card itself for airflow, and the large heat sink covers both the graphics processor and memory packages. This card also lacks a physical CrossFire connector, just like AMD's Radeon HD 7750. Two-card configurations communicate over PCI Express.

The same support documentation is included: there's a warranty information card, a quick install guide, a driver install guide, a graphics card and peripheral pamphlet, a power supply pamphlet, and support information. A driver CD is also included, but there's no half-height bezel option for this full-sized product.