AMD Radeon R7 260

AMD Radeon R7 260

Announced with a retail price of just under $120, the AMD Radeon R7 260 is a slightly watered-down version of the R7 260X, with a reduced number of processing units, a lower clock rate and less graphics memory. The AMD Radeon R7 260 is above all an affordable graphics card for playing the latest games on a shoestring.

AMD Radeon R7 260: Tech Specs

The R7 260 uses the same Bonaire GPU as the higher-end 260X. This GPU was first introduced in March 2013 with the Radeon HD 7790 rather than with the Radeon R200 series. It’s based on a slightly modified version of the GCN architecture, which features parallel processing and full support for DirectX 11.

AMD Radeon R7 260 PCB

However, unlike the Radeon HD 7790 and R7 260X, the R7 260 has 768 rather than 896 processing units. On top of that, it has 48 texture units and 16 ROPs compared with 56 and 16 for the higher-end models. The GPU is announced with a maximum clock speed of 1 GHz. In the various tests we ran, the processor speed was measured between 990 and 1000 MHz depending on the game used.

The 1 GB graphics memory uses a 128-bit bus and is clocked at 1500 MHz, like in the 7790. For 2 GB of memory and a faster clock speed (1625 MHz), you’ll have to look to the higher-end model.

Size & Noise 5/5

AMD has built its reference card using the PCB and the cooling system from the 260X. The only difference here is that the memory is made by Elpida rather than Hynix.

The R7 260 is a compact-format card, measuring 17 cm long, and has a relatively basic cooling system. There’s an aluminium radiator heat sink on the power stage and another on the GPU. This second radiator is twinned with the card’s only fan, which pushes air towards the surface for heat dissipation.

AMD Radeon R7 260 heat sink The basic cooling system in the Radeon R7 260 is lifted straight from the R7 260X.

The cooling system may be basic but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad. For starters, it’s relatively quiet. With the card at idle, the whirr is practically inaudible once you’re over 50 cm away from the PC—and that’s with the tower case open. When gaming, the fan obviously speeds up. It can be heard but remains discreet. It won’t be distracting for other people in the same room as your PC.

The GPU stayed at a little over 60°C during our tests, which is a pretty low temperature. The Bonaire GPU therefore doesn’t get too hot, which is good news for the components working around it.

Power Use 5/5

With the Radeon R7 260 loaded in our test PC, we measured power use at 139 watts, which is pretty low. In fact, it’s on par with the HD 7790. At idle, that drops to a very low 45 W, again for the whole test PC. The ZeroCore Power function is on hand here too, automatically cutting out the fan and saving an extra 5 W when the computer screen drops onto standby.

Performance in Games1/5

Graphics card performance index calculated using test results from seven games tested in 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution with full graphic detail active. Click on the graph to see full test results and to compare graphics cards in the Face-Off.

Given the look of its spec sheet, it’s no surprise that the R7 260 doesn’t give amazing performances when gaming. It generally comes in a little behind the higher-end 260X, with performances down 15% on average. That puts the AMD Radeon R7 260 just behind the Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti.

In the end, the AMD Radeon R7 260 doesn’t offer anything more (and actually a little less) than the Radeon HD 7790 released a year ago. It’s a compact card that can run all the latest games, but you’ll inevitably have to make compromises with graphics options in heavyweight or even middleweight games. As ever with graphics cards, it’s the price that’ll decide whether this model is worth picking over competitor options.

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