The $109 Console-killer GPU: AMD’s Radeon R7 260 Graphics Card Reviewed

by Rob Williams on December 23, 2013 in Graphics & Displays

No one should be surprised at the fact that testing out $500 graphics cards is fun, but with the right perspective, budget cards can be, too. Take the $109 AMD Radeon R7 260, for example, which has debuted following flagship console releases. With that in mind, let’s see what such an affordable GPU can pull off at the much-loved 1080p resolution.

Game Tests: Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Total War: SHOGUN 2

Tom Clancy is responsible for a countless number of video games, but his Splinter Cell series has become something special, with each game released having been considered “great” overall. The latest in the series, Blacklist, is no exception, and thankfully for us, its graphics are fantastic, and not to mention intensive. For those who love a stealth element in their games, this is one that shouldn’t be skipped.

RIP, Tom Clancy.

Splinter Cell Blacklist - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: From the start of the ‘Safehouse’ level in Benghazi, Libya, we progress through until we reach an apartment building that must be entered – this is where we end the FPS recording.

AMD Radeon R9 260 - Splinter Cell: Blacklist (1920x1080)

Blacklist is an absolute tank of a game, so it’s no surprise that we’re skirting with 30 FPS here.

Total War: SHOGUN 2

Strategy games are well-known for pushing the limits of any system, and few others do this as well as Total War: SHOGUN 2. It fully supports DX11, has huge battlefields to oversee with hundreds or thousands of units, and a ton of graphics options to adjust. It’s quite simply a beast of a game.

Total War: SHOGUN 2 - 1920x1080 Single Monitor

Manual Run-through: SHOGUN 2 is one of the few games in our suite where the built-in benchmark is opted for. Strategy games in particular are very difficult to benchmark, so this is where I become thankful to have the option of using a built-in benchmark.

AMD Radeon R9 260 - Total War: SHOGUN 2 (1920x1080)
* Test run at 2xAA

Thanks to the 1GB framebuffer, I was forced to reduce the anti-aliasing to 2x for the R7 260; otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to provide a result at all. So with that in mind, the 260X offers a substantial performance improvement here; it could use a higher AA mode and still deliver 7 FPS more on average. Of the eight games we’ve tested here, this is the biggest gain we’ve seen, so it’s clear that SHOGUN 2 loves GPU memory.