Released just a month before the Xbox One and PS4 hit UK retail, the Radeon R7 260X is a value-focused graphics card that brings stiff competition to both next-gen platforms. In essence, we're promised a card that can deliver true, next-gen calibre results at under a third of the cost of a new console - the price-tag being just south of 100 at the time of writing. But just how does such a card stack up to the console experience when playing Battlefield 4 or Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag? And indeed, can we go one further in the visual stakes - while still hitting the same performance targets?First things first, let's address a few salient points on the card itself. The 260X is a through-and-through rebrand of the Radeon HD 7790 we reviewed last year, complete with the very same 28nm processed Bonaire XT chipset (in itself, the basis for the Xbox One GPU) - but now with minor clock tweaks and a cheaper price-tag. The changes are easy to list: we get a core clock bump of 10 per cent, going from 1GHz to 1.1GHz. Otherwise, the restrictive 128-bit memory bus remains, but the memory speed increase to 6.5GHz (compared to 6GHz on the 7790) means a fill-rate of 102.4GB/s is now possible - a respectable update over the 96GB/s of the last card.In terms of features, this refresh gets all the potential benefits of AMD's as-yet untested Mantle interface (an alternative to DirectX that's soon to be supported by Battlefield 4). As a bonus, the 260X also comes with a dedicated TrueAudio sound processing unit, absent from its pricier 270X and 280X siblings. This works entirely independently of graphical tasks, allowing developers to add spatialisation, reverb and a mastering of sound not possible on most users' motherboard sound.
Radeon R7 260X specs

Currently doing the rounds at just shy of the 100 mark, the 260X offers GCN 1.1 features such as Mantle support, plus audio processing courtesy of a new TrueAudio chip. This is an HD 7790 at its heart though, shipping on the same PCB with only a few modest clock changes - with performance gains that would be best described as marginal. Nevertheless, it's a worthy enough budget GPU and as we'll see, it has enough horsepower deliver an experience as good as the next-gen console launch titles.

  • 1.1GHz Core Engine clock
  • 2GB GDDR5 memory
  • 1625MHz memory clock (6.5GHz effective)
  • 128-bit memory bus
  • 104GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 1.97 TFLOPs single precision compute power
  • GCN 1.1 Architecture
  • 14 Compute Units
  • 16 ROPs
  • 56 Texture Units
  • PCI Express 3.0 x16 bus interface

The cheeky twist is that, while these sound processing tricks are new to the 260X, the on-board chip has in fact been present and inactive all this time on the 7790's PCB - a card that released almost a year ago. But we won't dwell on that...