AMD has announced the new Radeon R7 260, a graphics card from the Bonaire family that will replace the Radeon HD7770 and give AMD another performance boost in the budget graphics card segment.
The Radeon R7 260 is almost identical to the R7 260X and even bumps up the hardware specs from the outgoing HD7770 quite nicely. AMD only expects to launch the card to partners and the retail channel in mid-January, which coincides with the launch of AMD’s Kaveri APU.
Based on the Bonaire family’s layout, the R7 260 uses the same amount of raster operators but cuts down in every other aspect. Memory bandwidth and VRAM layout take a dip and there are also drops in the core count and available texture units. There’s always the chance that these aren’t physically fused off, so there’s a possibility of using a hacked BIOS to unlock the dormant hardware.
||Radeon R7 260X
||Radeon R7 260
||Geforce GTX650 Ti
The improvements over the HD7770, however, are significant. Not only does it have better power management but the R7 260 will also launch with AMD’s True Audio embedded into the GPU. True Audio is a dedicated hardware chip that handles all the processing of audio effects in games and movies, lessening the load on the CPU and allowing game developers to experiment with different methods of producing sound effects and making a wider range of effects.
There’s also the Kaveri aspect of AMD’s plan that has yet to come to completion. Because Kaveri’s GPU is based on Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, it opens up lots of options of using any of AMD’s recently-launched discrete GPUs that are also based on GCN. AMD is banking a lot on OpenCL adoption in the industry as well, and the R7 260 will be able to easily take advantage of that.
Performance-wise, it could place in a little above the Nvidia Geforce GTX650 Ti in most benchmarks. That means that most AAA games will be playable at 60 frames per second at 1080p with medium settings, which is not a bad showing at all. Its not going to give you a lot of longevity owing to how quickly the game industry moves to bigger and better effects, but as an enabler for the next two to three years it should perform admirably.