AMD have been on a refresh-roll lately and have just added on another graphics card to their “new” Radeon family – the R7 265. Its based on the same Pitcairn GPU found in the Radeon HD7850 and is mostly untouched except for, in some cases, revised display support to allow for Eyefinity setups to be accommodated on a single card without the use of Displayport. AMD says the “new” graphics card should retail for US $150, a full $100 lower than the launch price of the HD7850 back in 2012.
The R7 265 will be, in most cases, a rebranded HD7850 that’s still left in the retail channels. The stickers might get peeled off or the coolers replaced and there’ll be a BIOS switch at some point as well. For many people, flashing their HD7850 will be possible and they might be able to take advantage of any updates that AMD’s made since Pitcairn’s launch. Additionally, some HD7870s and Radeon R9 270 cards will also be flashed with R7 265 BIOSes in order to move out stock and fill in the retail channel better. Should anyone come across these cards, flashing them to their original BIOSes could unlock the hidden shaders and net you extra performance for free.
In PC Perspective’s brief review on the Radeon R7 265, they found that performance was overall better than the Radeon R7 260X and that the R7 265 placed on average less than 5% slower than the Geforce GTX660, which in the US is about $50 more at retail. While the two cards draw even in Battlefield 4, there’s a clear advantage to the GTX660 which is down to Nvidia’s driver optimisation as well as the card running standard clock speeds. The R7 265 is clocked a little lower than a reference HD7850, hence the slight performance deficit.
From the first round of tests, it’s clear that AMD has priced the R7 265 to be a bargain peformer for most games running at 1080p with medium-to-high settings. Framerates should then be closer to 60fps for most titles, resulting in a more responsive experience all-round. Performance in Battlefield 4 and Bioshock: Infinite is good and playable, but Crysis 3 would require a drop down to medium settings to become more playable.
For the rest of PC Perspective’s suite of benchmarks, the R7 265 stays below the GTX660 but never lets it get too far ahead. GRID 2 and Metro: Last Light both show good placings and the extra memory with the larger width bus helps it out in the latter game which is more taxing on hardware. The R7 26s places above the GTX660 ever so slightly in Skyrim, which means that for any older titles performance should be about the same as the competition.
Mind you, that is performance with a stock install of Skyrim without any user mods. It would be interesting to see a comparision with the two cards running a modded version of the ever-popular RPG.
Overall, the R7 265 releases to little fanfare and isn’t going to set the world on fire. However, it does launch $100 cheaper than the HD7850 it’s based on and now occupies the market space where the HD7770 and HD7790 used to sit. Bringing down performance this low means that the gamers are the winners with this release and if you’re looking for a new GPU towards the end of February or mid-March, this card might be worth your consideration.
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