At the end of the day the AMD Radeon R7 260 leaves us with mixed emotions. It has a ton of great features and you can’t go wrong with the $109 price tag, but it isn’t a card for everyone. The AMD Radeon R7 260 1GB video card is a card that we feel is best suited for those that game on a single 1080P or lower resolution panel. The AMD Radeon R7 260 just doesn’t have the power or frame buffer to handle cranked up image quality settings. That means that you must be okay with medium or high image quality settings in most ‘Tier 1’ game titles with Anti-Aliasing disabled for many game titles. The reduction in the frame buffer from 2GB to 1GB is a bit bothersome to us as going into 2014 and the era of Ultra HD panels we feel that 2GB should be the minimum a gamer should have on a new graphics card.
AMD is spinning the AMD Radeon R7 260 is a good upgrade to those that have bought similarly priced cards 2-4 years ago. They are looking for people that haven’t upgraded in a number of years to get in on this card due to the price. Here is how they are spinning the AMD Radeon R7 260 video card to the review sites:
“Today we are taking the opportunity to introduce to you the AMD Radeon R7 260 Graphics Card. As 2013 comes to a close the AMD Radeon R7 260 series rounds out a highly successful series of product launches which began in September with the GPU14 tech day in Hawaii.
It’s become quite clear that The Gaming Industry is Changing. The latest and greatest game consoles are now for sale, and next generation games will be developed and optimized for AMD Radeon and GCN which powers these consoles. New audio capabilities are also at the core of these new consoles which will continue to enhance the gaming experience. Mantle is the next ingredient in this massive shift in the industry and with the best developers signed on to integrate Mantle in their upcoming titles the possibilities and excitement continue to grow. The AMD Radeon R7 260 graphics card brings together all of these technologies, features and performance in the R7 260 for gamers, who are looking to upgrade their PCs.
This is igniting an upgrade cycle as Gamers Need More Performance and Features and the AMD Radeon R7 260 graphics is the perfect entry point for that demand. Equipped with AMD’s latest and greatest Graphics Core Next Architecture and providing 2x the performance of similarly priced products 2-4 years ago, the AMD Radeon R7 260 graphics is ready for the demands of the next-generation games. The AMD Radeon R7 260 graphics is extremely well appointed with features like AMD TrueAudio Technology to push audio immersion on the PC to previously un-seen levels, AMD CrossFire technology to provide a healthy upgrade path when more performance is required as well AMD Eyefinity Technology and AMD ZeroCore Power.
With all the performance and features packed in to the AMD Radeon R7 260 GPU, it offers immense value and it is fully prepared to be the ideal upgrade for the budget conscious gamer.” – AMD PR
AMD told us that pricing on the AMD Radeon R7 260 1GB will start at $109 and that it will be available to purchase in the middle of January 2014. That means that this isn’t a hard launch, so it looks like AMD is paper launching this graphics card. They also informed us that their Add-In-Board (AIB) partners will be launching with their own designs and that the cooler on our card is not representative of what will be available in the market. So, it looks like other than raw performance data that many of the numbers we have today aren’t going to mean much once the retail cards come out. The $109 price does concern us a little as the AMD Radeon R7 260X is priced at $139. That card has been out for a couple months and you can cards like the MSI Radeon R7 260X for $122.98 shipped after rebate and it qualifies for a game bundle. So, if you look at it that way… For an extra $13 you get double the memory, 128 more stream processors, higher clock speeds and a pair of games. We asked AMD if the AMD Radeon R7 260 would qualify for the same game bundle and they said that it does not at this time. If you are serious about gaming we feel that one should strongly consider stepping up to the AMD Radeon R7 260X.
UPDATE 12/17/13 at 9am CT: AMD just informed us here at the 13th hour that the AMD Radeon R7 260 will be part of the Bronze tier game bundle. This means that you get to pick one game title from Sleeping Dogs, Deus Ex, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, and Dirt 3.
Well there you have it. The AMD Radeon R7 260 is nothing more than a Radeon R7 260X with two compute units disabled, half the frame buffer and lower clock speeds. It will be a solid card for budget gamers that want something to push a single display that is 1920×1080 or lower with modest image quality settings. We are still unable to test AMD’s new technologies, so we are still on the fence about how much AMD TrueAudio and the Mantle API will mean to gamers.
Legit Bottom Line: The AMD Radeon R7 260 1GB is a solid card, but it feels like too much was stripped away and that gamers would be better off saving up for a Radeon R7 260X with 2GB of memory if they plan on keeping the card for a few years.