AMD’s Radeon R7 260X, R9 270X, and R9 280X

Introducing the new line GPU 14 last week, chief marketing officer Colette La Force rallied the troops in Hawaii, where AMD rolled out the new family of R9 graphics cards.

We were able to get our hands on three of the new offerings: the Mainstream segment’s R7 260X, the R9 270X for the Performance segment, and the Enthusiast-class R9 280X.

The R7 260X 

The Mainstream R7 260X is a dual-slot card (or single-slot card, depending on the AIB configuration) mainstream board that has 896 stream processors with a 1.1-GHz core clock and 2 GB of GDDR5. The R7 260X has two DVI slots as well as DisplayPort and an HDMI slot. The board sips a relatively low 115 watts.

There is a lot of value to be gained with this new line of AIBs. When the Radeon HD 5870 (R7’s predecessor) was released, it was priced at $379. The R7 260X is launching with a $139 price tag, yet it outperforms the HD 5870 by 12% in 3Dmark FireStrike. 

The R9 270X

Touted as the “the new $199 GPU King” built for gaming at 1080p, the R9 270X is 55% faster than the previous-generation HD 6870. The R9 270 has 1280 Stream processors with 2 GB of GDDR5 with a memory clock of 1.5 GHz and a core clock of 1 GHz. The maximum wattage is 180. The new Performance card has two DVI port connections along with DisplayPort and HDMI. The board has two 6-pin con¬nectors to power the card.

The R9 270X will also be available in a 4 GB memory configuration, which will increase the price to $230.

AMD is pitting the 270X against the GTX 660 at the $200 price range (the GTX 660 just had a price drop to $180). The GTX 660 has 1.5 GB GDDR5 memory and consumes 140 watts.

The new R9 270X showed a 22% performance advantage in 3Dmark FireStrike Extreme over the GTX 660 and a 50% advantage running Tomb Raider at 1920 x 1080 with Ultimate settings. Given the GTX 660 advantage in price and wattage, the GTX 660 scored very well in our PMark comparison.

The R9 270X launches at $199. The Radeon HD 5850, its predecessor, debuted at $259, but the R9 270X delivers a 51% performance gain over the Radeon HD 5850. 

The R9 280X

The R9 280X is an Enthusiast entry on the lower end of the segment. AMD will roll out the ultra-high-end R9 290X later in the year. The Enthusiast R8 280X checks in with 2048 Stream processors, 3 GB of GDDR5 running with a memory clock of 1.5 GHz, and a core clock of 1 GHz with a maximum wattage of 250 and a 6-pin and 8-pin connector. The R9 280X also has two DVI ports and a DisplayPort as well as HDMI. We matched up the new R9 with the GTX 760. The GTX 760 has 1152 CUDA cores, a core clock of 1 GHz with a memory configuration of 4 GB GDDR5, and an MSRP of $250, which is $50 less than the R9 280X. We also included the Enthusiast GTX 680 with a 1 GHz core clock, 1536 CUDA cores, 4 GB GDDR5 with a $250 price tag. The R9 280X showed a 14% performance advantage in FireStrike over the GTX 680 and a 24% advantage over the GTX 760. The pricing advantage of the GTX 760 coupled with the fact that it consumes 32% less power than the R6 280X helped the GTX 760 score very well on the PMark scale. 

Summing up the new boards 

AMD will have 12 board designs available at launch featuring cards from Asus, MSI, XFX, HIS, Sapphire, and TUL. The entire line will be available from the value end R7 240, R7 250, R7 260X, R9 270X, and the Enthusiast R9 280X.
AMD is advocating scaling of 1.87x in Crossfire, though we were not able to verify these numbers as of yet.

The new R7 and R9 series represents a major upgrade of the Radeon HD 6000 series. The value offered by the new line is truly astonishing with the R9 280X coming in at $70 less than its HD 6970 predecessor yet offering a 50% performance increase; the R9 270X delivering a 51% performance gain over the Radeon HD 5850, which debuted at $100 more; and the R7 260X launching with a $139 price tag yet outperforming the $380 HD 5870 by 12%.

And now, with Enthusiasts moving to larger and multiple screens, gamers are buying Ultra HD monitors and high-end boards need to produce playable frame rates at 3840 x 2160 with 1.4 times the Stream processors than the HD 7970. The new Enthusiast offering has the horsepower to drive these new monitors. The R9 Enthusiast series will be welcomed by UltraHD gamers. 

What do we think? 

AMD has a really competitive lineup for the holiday season and has forced Nvidia to react by lowering the price of their GTX 650 Ti. No doubt if AMD starts to show some sales gain, Nvidia will make further adjustments.