Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: If you were paying attention on the last few pages, you already know that the new Radeon R7 260 isn’t a barn burner of a GPU. Throughout all of our testing, the card performed at about the same level or somewhat lower than the Radeon HD 7790 and markedly lower than the higher-end Radeon R7 260X and GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost. The Radeon R7 260’s power consumption, however, is the lowest of the bunch, which will probably appeal to some of you.
AMD expects Radeon R7 260 series cards to hit store shelves sometime in mid-January 2014. As we mentioned earlier, the reference card we tested here won’t be sold as-is. Instead, AMD’s board partners will all be launching custom Radeon R7 260 series cards, with different clocks and coolers. As such, we can’t draw too many firm conclusions today, because the cards you’ll actually be able to buy won’t necessarily perform--or even look like--the one we tested.
There is also quite a bit of price variation in the mainstream video card market at the moment, due to the myriad of custom designs and mail-in-rebates currently available, so digesting the value proposition is difficult. To give you a few examples, Radeon HD 7790 cards can be found for about $90 - $130. Radeon R7 260X series cards are available for approximately $120 - $150. And GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost and “non-boost”, vanilla GeForce GTX 650 Ti cards can be had for roughly $120 - $160 and $110 - $150, respectively. Looking back at the numbers, it’s clear that Radeon R7 260 series cards should fall in somewhere towards the lower end of this price spectrum and that is exactly what AMD has planned. Radeon R7 260 cards should arrive at a price point around $109. Assuming partner boards hit the streets with somewhat higher clocks and higher-performing coolers, that price point is probably about right.
With that said, there is quite a bit more performance to be had by investing only slightly more money into your graphics card. If you’ve got a firm budget and absolutely can’t spend more than $110 on a GPU, the Radeon R7 260 is about as full featured as a mainstream video card gets and things could get much more interesting once Mantle and TrueAudio are implemented in some games. But, spending another 15 to 25 bucks can get you a much higher performing card if you do some shopping around.