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

The Sub-$100 Graphics Card Market

Without a doubt, high-end gaming PCs can get really expensive. Even our definition of "mid-range" hovers around the $1000 mark. With a bunch of PC-derived technology at the heart of Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, it's no wonder the latest consoles are so appealing at $400 and $500.

There's another way to think about the market, though. Consider how many people own desktops. Sure, a lot of them have old, crappy integrated graphics engines wholly insufficient for gaming. Often times, though, the only component differentiating a weak word processing machine and a capable entertainment platform is a decent graphics card. Adding one might turn a modest little box into a system strong enough for Battlefield 4 or Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.

But what if you're on a strict budget? Can you achieve that goal with a hundred dollars or less?

Today we're going to compare inexpensive graphics cards to see what they're capable of in modern titles at fairly demanding settings. We're also going to scrutinize AMD's recently introduced Radeon R7 240 and 250 cards. Do they offer good value to gamers with limited funds for new hardware? 

Here are the cards we're comparing, along with their specifications:

GeForce GT 630 GDDR5GeForce GT 640 DDR3Radeon R7 240Radeon HD 6670Radeon HD 7730Radeon R7 250Radeon HD 7750 GDDR5Radeon HD 7770
ShaderCores96 (Fermi)384(Kepler)320(GCN)480(VLIW5)384 (GCN)384 (GCN)512(GCN)640(GCN)
TextureUnits1632202424243240
ColorROPs41688881616
FabProcess40 nm28 nm28 nm40 nm28 nm28 nm28 nm28 nm
Core(Boost)Clock900 MHz900 MHz730(780) MHz800 MHz800 MHz1000(1050)MHz800 MHz1000 MHz
MemoryClock900 MHz DDR3891 MHz DDR3900 MHz DDR3900 MHzDDR3 orGDDR5900 MHzDDR31125 MHz GDDR5900 MHz DDR3 1150 MHz GDDR51125 MHz GDDR51125 MHz GDDR5
MemoryBus128-bit128-bit128-bit128-bit128-bit128-bit128-bit128-bit
MemoryBandwidth28.8 GB/s DDR328.5 GB/s DDR328.8 GB/s28.8 GB/s DDR3 64 GB/s GDDR528.8 GB/s DDR372 GB/s GDDR528.8 GB/s DDR373.6 GB/s GDDR572 GB/s72 GB/s
TDP65 W65 W30 W44 W DDR360 W GDDR547 W60 W55 W80 W
NeweggPriceRange$65$60to$120$70to$90$70-$102 DDR3$80-$125 GDDR5$80to$125(Amazon)$87to$103$100to$137$100to$170
TypicalPrice$65$80$70$80DDR3$90GDDR5NA$90$100$110

A lot of these cards are available across a fairly wide price range. For example, the GeForce GT 640 goes from $60 to twice that number on Newegg. So, I'm citing the third-cheapest price I can find as "typical". No matter how you do the math, though, this is a bit of a challenge for nailing down value. We should still have enough performance data by the end of this story to draw sound conclusions, though.

  • Hazly1979
    This card is slower than HD 7750AMD is playing now for sub par $100

    Watch the language - G
    Reply
  • emad_ramlawi
    No need to read the review, those parts are HD 7750 or the new Nvidia GTX 750 for the WIN

    Watch the language - G
    Reply
  • blackmagnum
    Just buy a bigger PSU and be done with these poor performance-for-the-dollar/watt cards.
    Reply
  • tridon
    These discrete cards that squeeze frames out with very little power drain are great. I recently bought one such cheap AMD-card for my fiancée when she wanted to play Guild Wars 2 with me. Having an aging low cost workstation with a weak power supply "Made in Hell", cards like these were the only option. At least without having to upgrade and tweak other parts of the PC. (Yes I'm lazy ).Don Woligroski: For the few(?) that are in the same situation as me it would be great to se an efficiency chart. Like average frames pr. average watt usage through a benchmark, or something in that vein.
    Reply
  • Martell1977
    My brother has a HP s3500f slimline computer that I thought the R7 240 might work well in (at least better than the Geforce 6150se it has now). Problem is he has a 250w PSU, all the R7 240's list 400w minimum and it seems the only place to get one under $75 is eBay($43, new). 400w seems awfully high for such a low end card...
    Reply
  • cleeve
    12559832 said:
    My brother has a HP s3500f slimline computer that I thought the R7 240 might work well in (at least better than the Geforce 6150se it has now). Problem is he has a 250w PSU, all the R7 240's list 400w minimum and it seems the only place to get one under $75 is eBay($43, new). 400w seems awfully high for such a low end card...

    A 400W is overkill if you're running a power-efficient CPU.

    Look at the results, the most this system puilled with the R7 240 is 122 Watts under load. That's the whole system, with an overclocked Core i5-2500K!

    A good 250W PSU should be fine. AMD is kind of recommending overkill here, but they do that to protect people from poor quality PSUs. A 250W HP shouldn't be a problem as long as the platform isn't power hungry.
    Reply
  • cats_Paw
    Cleeve.... not true:http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/amd_radeon_hd_7750_and_7770_review,7.htmlA stressed 7770 Requires at least a 400W good PSU (Note that 400W DOES NOT mean 400W on the 12V rail, but 400W in total. If you do that math in a 250W supply you get a lot less power on the 12V rail, who knows maybe 170... Also remmber that the GPU needs a fixed amount of power in a defined amount of cables. This means that if the PSU is not good, it wont be able to juice the GPU well enought).
    Reply
  • Sakkura
    In Metro: Last Light, the GT 640 gets exactly the same FPS and frame time variance at both 720p and 1080p. It looks like you accidentally input the data from one benchmark run in both places.

    *EDIT BY EDITOR*

    You're absolutely right! We fixed the charts, thanks for catching that!
    Reply
  • Sakkura
    12560307 said:
    Cleeve.... not true:http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/amd_radeon_hd_7750_and_7770_review,7.htmlA stressed 7770 Requires at least a 400W good PSU (Note that 400W DOES NOT mean 400W on the 12V rail, but 400W in total. If you do that math in a 250W supply you get a lot less power on the 12V rail, who knows maybe 170... Also remmber that the GPU needs a fixed amount of power in a defined amount of cables. This means that if the PSU is not good, it wont be able to juice the GPU well enought).
    A good 250W power supply will have 18-20 amps on the 12V rail, which is fine for the R7 240.

    I don't know why you bring up the 7770, it clearly draws a lot more power than the R7 240.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Where do you get that 400W figure from that Guru3D article? The highest measured figure in there says: "System Wattage with GPU in FULL Stress = 231W" and further down they say they estimate the board's power to max out at ~86W which is just above 7A.That would be power measured at the wall which includes PSU losses... and their test system includes water pump for their OC'd i7-965, cold-cathode lighting and a bunch of other unnecessary stuff most low-end systems would not have that brings their idle power up to a whopping 155W instead of the 50-80W range for typical for current Intel-based mainstream setups.
    Reply