VR-Zone puts the Radeon R7 260X, R9 270X and R9 280X through their paces.

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At AMD’s #gpu14 event last month in Hawaii, it launched two new series of rebranded cards: the Radeon R7 and R9 series.

The R7 series of cards are for budget oriented users, while the R9 series are intended for gamers looking for performance.

These cards will have the second version of AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture in them. Having a homogeneous core across all of these cards, and game consoles, will allow developers to better optimize code for gaming (given the right tools like Mantle).

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Most of the details of these cards are already known as sloppy retailers published the specs of the cards before their NDA was up, so only how the cards perform under benchmarking is the great unknown.

AMD sent VR-Zone three of the Hawaii boards to benchmark: the R7 260X, the R9 270X and the R9 280X. All benchmarks were completed using a Intel Core i7-4820K CPU, an ASUS ROG Ramapage IV Extreme motherboard, four Corsair Dominator Platinum 8GB x 4 2133MHz CL9 RAM, an Intel SSD 480GB DC S3500, and a Corsair HX1050 PSU.

R7 260X vs. GTX 650 Ti Boost

The first card matchup in VR-Zone’s benchmarks is between the R7 260X and the GTX 650 TI. It’s important to note that the R7 260X is not really a new card, it’s simply a re-brand of the Radeon HD 7790 with the same Bonaire XTX GPU and an upped frame buffer from 1GB to 2GB.

Its MSRP is set for $139, which is around the equivalent of the Radeon HD 7790.

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R9 270X vs. EVGA GeForce GTX 660 with ACX Cooler

Next up is the R9 270X. This card is a re-brand of Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition with minor tweaks that lead to bumps in performance. Because of hardware tweaks, its peak performance jumps from 2.56 TFLOPS to 2.69 TFLOPS compared to its former self and its memory bus is now at 5.6 GHz instead of 4.8 GHz.

Some similar trends with the R7 260X emerge: the card excels at DirectCompute and CineBench tests.

The 270X has an MSRP of $199.

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R9 280X DirectCU II Top vs. EVGA GeForce GTX 760

Last up is the R9 280X vs. the GTX 760. The R9 280X isn’t the R9 290/290X flagship that’s still under wraps, but it’s the mightiest card out of the three that AMD sent out. It’s based on the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, with a few minor changes like lowering the clock speed by an insignificant 50 MHz.

The R9 280X beats the GTX 760 in almost every way, with the exception of the OpenGL heavy CineBench R15. This probably is a driver issue more than anything else as Catalyst 13.11 is still in Beta and it bound to have some quirks.

AMD says the R9 280X will have an MSRP of $299.

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What AMD has done is try to sell consumers the same product twice. Granted, these cards have their share of tweaks, new drivers, and support new features such as DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3, and Mantle, which gives them a nice performance boost against the competition.

Loyal hardware blogs will say that AMD doesn’t need a new architecture set, or best-in-class performance to make things exciting. Sure, by rebranding the cards, boosting speeds, and reconfiguring prices AMD has strategically positioned itself against Nvidia (especially against the now less competitive GTX 770 and GTX 760) — but it’s important not to forget that AMD is selling old cards with a fresh coat of paint.

All things considered, if you’re looking to do an upgrade in the next few weeks to a month these cards are a competitive bargain especially when purchased with the Never Settle Forever Bundle. They aren’t anything all that new or exciting, but are certainly a headache for Nvidia.

Benchmarking was completed by the VR-Zone Chinese team.