Old Is New Again: Radeon R9 270X and R7 260X Review

By on October 7, 2013, 11:12 PM

AMD announced the next generation Volcanic Islands GPUs last month at their GPU14 Tech Day event in Hawaii. There were a couple of exciting announcements: a widely expected new flagship GPU, the R9-290X, that is meant to compete with Nvidia's GTX Titan, and there was also "Mantle," a new open-source API that at least on paper sounds like a great way to optimize games for the PC platform -- the fact that AMD is also powering Xbox One and PS4 graphics adds credibility to AMD's announcement, of course.

Unfortunately, we are not going to talk about either of those things today since the day hasn't come yet. We will get you up to speed about new Radeon graphics cards outside the R9 290X, however. AMD has done away with the Radeon 'HD' naming scheme that they have used for the past 6 years and replaced it with something a bit more complex.

Previous years have seen the release of a new GPU generation every year which makes the Radeon HD 7000's shelf life surprising, even more so considering the majority of the new RX 200 series cards rebadges from existing HD 7000 products. The RX 200 series will consist of the Radeon R7 240, R7 250, R7 260X, R9 270X, R9 280X and later this month the R9 290 and R9 290X. Confused yet? Well let us try and clear a few things up.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 30

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3 people like this | Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Just lol

Fantastic Work AMD, just fantastic

psycros psycros said:

The ATI acquisition continues to bear overripe, mushy fruit. Sure, its gotten AMD into every home console but its done nothing for them on the PC side. However, they still have a chance to prove that it really IS all in the drivers via Mantle. However, if they can't make their case I'd say their finished with serious PC gamers. It been three years and they still haven't delivered price-to-performance at the high end. (AMD will still own the budget market, particularly due to their superior video playback - I'd never build an HTPC with Nvidia).

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

The ATI acquisition continues to bear overripe, mushy fruit. Sure, its gotten AMD into every home console but its done nothing for them on the PC side. However, they still have a chance to prove that it really IS all in the drivers via Mantle. However, if they can't make their case I'd say their finished with serious PC gamers. It been three years and they still haven't delivered price-to-performance at the high end. (AMD will still own the budget market, particularly due to their superior video playback - I'd never build an HTPC with Nvidia).

Just think of it as a nice reduction in existing prices, or maybe that suspicious shrimp cocktail in the dodgy thousand island dressing before the prime rib main course (290X).

Rebrands were always on the cards with AMD and Nvidia's product release cycle out of step with TSMC's fabrication process cadence. From AMD's point of view there is little to be gained from churning out a full range of new 28nm GPUs with a likely life cycle of 6-9 months, when existing (and mature/proven) GPUs can continue to fill the existing niches.

The only real sour taste is that the 280X is a downclocked 7970GE. Even rebrands usually acquire a mild speed bump.

Guest said:

Sorry but at the last paragraph you got a little mistake there "Then we have the GeForce R7 260X which is said to cost $140" -- Editor: Thank you, fixed. --

Guest said:

GeForce R7? Seems to be a mistake.

Great review, and great product from AMD! My HD 6950 will be changed!

mosu said:

I would not forget about DirectX 11.2 compatibility and TrueAudio engine, not to forget about a lot of minor improvements in frequency and thermal envelope.Why the Radeon HD 7970 benchmark appears only in the power consumption list?

mosu said:

Sorry, mistaken 7790 for 7970

emmzo said:

Yeah, truly embarrassing. Not that I haven't seen this coming, but wait, there's more: "the Titan killer"! Can't wait for that!

1 person liked this | AnilD AnilD said:

@mosu, sorry but I must disagree. DirectX 11.2 compatibility is not really a feature today or tomorrow, and if the GPUs are the same, then the difference is in the drivers and thus AMD could enable future DX support in previous products, too. As for audio, it looks good on paper but it's not a real feature right now either, and it's weird how only 290 and 260 cards get that, but not the rest of the upper-end products.

Guest said:

Man, even for a rebadging this is depressing. Only good thing to come out of this whole mess is price cuts for older cards on both sides.

ghasmanjr ghasmanjr said:

This makes me very sad as this adds absolutely no competition for Nvidia. As AMD has already discovered: no competition = no innovation (looking at you, Intel)

Blkfx1 Blkfx1 said:

The title of this article told me everything I needed to know about this new series. It's sad. But, hopefully AMD will be able to redeem themselves with the 290X.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

The title of this article told me everything I needed to know about this new series. It's sad. But, hopefully AMD will be able to redeem themselves with the 290X.

I wouldn't hold my breath. I think we can safely ignore this generation completely and hope the next will be a lot better.

Guest said:

It's a little disappointing to note that only one GPU from the range is going to actually be a new part, and not a re-badged part but even that said, incremental performance improvements at a similar price level are nothing to be sniffed at even if the units aren't technically new.

JC713 JC713 said:

@mosu, sorry but I must disagree. DirectX 11.2 compatibility is not really a feature today or tomorrow, and if the GPUs are the same, then the difference is in the drivers and thus AMD could enable future DX support in previous products, too. As for audio, it looks good on paper but it's not a real feature right now either, and it's weird how only 290 and 260 cards get that, but not the rest of the upper-end products.

It may be due to the fact that the audio is rendered via the GPU and only the 260 and above can afford to put aside resources to render the audio. I am pretty sure the 270 and 280 get it to.

Also, if I am not mistaken, I dont think the driver can update to provide full DX11.2 support. Not fully sure though.

Blkfx1 Blkfx1 said:

Also, if I am not mistaken, I dont think the driver can update to provide full DX11.2 support. Not fully sure though.

[link] I assume it's the same for the new cards.

1 person liked this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

Average-to-Mediocre Devices is what AMD stands for these days, same as in the CPU segment.

JC713 JC713 said:

Average-to-Mediocre Devices is what AMD stands for these days, same as in the CPU segment.

Not even the cooler was improved much other than the aesthetics.

Guest said:

I remember when NVidia did the same exact thing. So I went and bought AMD. Now look.

Its a vicious circle.

Hell Im just going to get a second 7870. 7870's in CF are just a killer price\performance option.

They are as fast or faster than Titan and my total investment will be $430.

1 person liked this | dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

It may be due to the fact that the audio is rendered via the GPU and only the 260 and above can afford to put aside resources to render the audio. I am pretty sure the 270 and 280 get it to.

Also, if I am not mistaken, I dont think the driver can update to provide full DX11.2 support. Not fully sure though.

You're batting 500.

An upcoming driver will provide full DX11.2 support for all GCN cards.

True Audio is only available for GCN 1.1/2.0 GPUs (Bonaire and Hawaii), so R7-260X, R9-290/-290X. You'll note that the HD 7790 also sports a Bonaire GPU, and is True Audio capable, but AMD it seems aren't enabling it for the card.

The 240/250/270X/280X are straight up rebrands of earlier cards using GCN 1.0, so aren't True Audio enabled.

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

You guys do realise the GTX 770 is just a rebranded GTX 680 right? AMD is not the only one that rebranded their cards, the 760 is a new card though.

These cards are the lower segment, they are not meant to be the cream of the crop, its all about the 290X and 290. I think what we got from the review is very simple:

Unless your upgrading post 2 gens back, dont upgrade your current 7XXX series card as most are just overclocked variants.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

You guys do realise the GTX 770 is just a rebranded GTX 680 right? AMD is not the only one that rebranded their cards, the 760 is a new card though.

Not quite.

The GTX 760 is a GTX 660 OEM with a clock bump. The latter is available as 192-bit or 256-bit. As a 256-bit it features the same 32 ROP (24 for the 192-bit)/96 TMU/1152 Core count as the 760.

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

Not quite.

The GTX 760 is a GTX 660 OEM with a clock bump. The latter is available as 192-bit or 256-bit. As a 256-bit it features the same 32 ROP (24 for the 192-bit)/96 TMU/1152 Core count as the 760.

Well thats a bit peculiar, I forgot about those OEM versions, good catch.

However, that does then add to this argument doesnt it? Because everyone here is ranting about AMD doing that, isnt then that just what NVidia did?

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

However, that does then add to this argument doesnt it?

That both sides rebrand? I guess, but then, it is pretty self evident. 3D graphics cards have been rebranded since their inception. There was only a clock bump between the 3D Rage and Rage II and even less between the Rage Pro and Rage Pro Turbo in the 1995-98 timeframe, and Nvidia's GeForce2 and GeForce4 MX a little later.

Because everyone here is ranting about AMD doing that, isnt then that just what NVidia did?

Probably because this thread concerns AMD hardware. If you want to see people thrashing down Nvidia rebrands than the forum threads attached to the Nvidia reviews are a better (and more apropos) bet.

Geforcepat Geforcepat said:

"Having spent the last 24 hours furiously benchmaking GPUs to get this article ready, as I neared the end it occurred to me that we should have just rebadged our previous Radeon HD 7870 and 7790 reviews"

Duh'er!

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

Probably because this thread concerns AMD hardware. If you want to see people thrashing down Nvidia rebrands than the forum threads attached to the Nvidia reviews are a better (and more apropos) bet.

Well no duh, however its a typical ting anyway, both companies have done this in the past numerous times. While I think its stupid as well as everyone else, we can all pretty much sit safe then at one point in this, the only new cards this gen from both sides are the 290 duo and the 780/titan pair.

Although, tbh, I still count the GTX 760 as "new" because even though its just a rebranded OEM card, its still was not an openly available card to the public meaning you had to buy a pre-built machine with it. I mean unless there were some for sale that I didn't see which is always possible.

For the record, im not saying your wrong, your right its just rebranded, im saying new because its actually open to the public for purchase.

1 person liked this | St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Since the re-badged cards take over the exact price point of the current-gen cards, I wonder how much they will drop when this series releases? Same card, 1.5years older, yet cheaper!

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

Since the re-badged cards take over the exact price point of the current-gen cards, I wonder how much they will drop when this series releases? Same card, 1.5years older, yet cheaper!

Ill drink to that, heres to even cheaper prices on video cards.(y)

JC713 JC713 said:

You guys do realise the GTX 770 is just a rebranded GTX 680 right? AMD is not the only one that rebranded their cards, the 760 is a new card though.

These cards are the lower segment, they are not meant to be the cream of the crop, its all about the 290X and 290. I think what we got from the review is very simple:

Unless your upgrading post 2 gens back, dont upgrade your current 7XXX series card as most are just overclocked variants.

Doesnt the 770 have a new memory controller that operates at 7GHz rather than 6GHz though?

Boilerhog146 Boilerhog146 said:

Well ,I look forward to the 290x review which ,I have no doubt that upon release ,Nvidia will have a fully unlocked titan ,to release, just to steal a little of the 290's shine .and to bench along side it..

(reviewer said)

While the memory is faster, the R9 270X still uses a 256-bit wide memory bus and by default comes with a 2GB memory buffer, though 4GB will be an option on some cards despite being pointless for this GPU.

You said the same thing about the 4 gig 670 , 4 gig pointless.on the gpu because it will never be able to use the 4 gig of memory, do you feel the same about them in Crossfire ,or sli, is the 4 gig still useless.?

just asking ,as I have a pair of 4 gig 670's and though I can't bench with 780's. I still love them. play everything at max or near max settings .except for maybe Metro last light,I play BF4 beta on Ultra @2560 x 1600. at near 60 frms...I'm sure that will change upon release.

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