Let’s be honest, not everyone can afford the latest and greatest. The mid-range video cards paired up with a cheap CPU is what most people start with in PC gaming. At our last LAN Sapphire was setup and gaming on a perfect example of a great budget build. When they asked if we would be interested in taking a look at their new R7 260X I couldn’t wait to see what kind of gaming experience you can get without breaking the bank. Let’s dig in and see what the card is all about and find out if it should be in your next budget build!

Product Name: Sapphire R7 260X 2GB OC

Review Sample Provided by: Sapphire

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

 

Specifications

Display Support

4 x Maximum Display Monitor(s) support

Output

1 x HDMI (with 3D)

1 x DisplayPort 1.2

1 x Dual-Link DVI-D

1 x Dual-Link DVI-I

GPU

1150 MHz Core Clock

28 nm Chip

896 x Stream Processors

Video Memory

2048 MB Size

128 -bit GDDR5

6600 MHz Effective

Dimension

215(L)X106(W)X35(H) mm Size.

2 x slot

Software

Driver CD

SAPPHIRE TriXX Utility

Accessory

DVI to VGA Adapter

6 PIN to 4 PIN Power Cable


Packaging

The last few cards I have had in the office from Sapphire have been their high end Tri-X and Toxic cards so when the R7 260X came in, not only was the box a little smaller than what I am used too but the styling is also a little different. They went with a red trim this time around rather than the orange of the other cards and on the front there is some kind of alien monster. Although the artwork is great, I would love to see manufactures start putting photos of the video cards themselves on the cover of the boxes. They all do it so Sapphire isn’t to blame at all, but I think the cards would get my attention more. With that said you have a few icons along the bottom edge with features and up in the top right corner you have the model number. On the back of the box Sapphire has written up a little more information about some of the features shown on the front of the box, none of them are specific to the 260X itself but more general features available on AMD cards.

image 1

image 2

image 3

Inside the box the 260X is wrapped up in a padded static protective bag and placed in a recycled paper tray. Sapphire includes a crossfire bridge, a DVI to VGA adapter, and a Molex to 6-pin adapter that should help you get the 260X hooked up if you don’t have the connections available on your power supply. You also get a software/drive disc that includes their TRIXX utility and a quick install guide. They also slipped in a small Sapphire case badge for you to show off on your case if you are into them.

image 4

image 5

image 6

 


Card layout and Photos

Although the R7 260X is a budget card, Sapphire still invested in its styling and cooling design. They didn’t go with a triple fan design like with their Tri-X cards, but even the single large fan should push enough air to keep things cool. Around the heatsink they included a black and chrome plastic fan shroud that gives the card a clean look that should be at home in nearly any build.

image 7

image 9

image 10

Even though Sapphire does use a fan shroud to direct the cards airflow, the R7 260X is still much more open than a standard reference design. Along the top and bottom of the card we can get a good peak of the heatsink under the fan shroud as well as the cards heatpipes that pull the heat from the GPU out over the heatsink. This design allows for some of the air to vent into the case after blowing over the heatsink. This is different from a reference design where they try to force all of the air out of the back of your PC. The most interesting part of the 260X is the end of the fan shroud. Sapphire left a large open area where the fan shroud design looks like it should have a longer heatsink that fills up the space. I have never seen a card have something like this and I really wish I could explain where they were going with this but it is just unusual.

image 12

image 13

image 14

The 260Xs fan shroud is notched out along the top to fit the cards 6-pin power connection. With the card only requiring just the single power connection most PCs should be able to support the 260X without replacing their power supply, just to be sure Sapphire included a Molex to 6-pin adapter.

image 15

Up along the top edge of the 260X you do get a single crossfire connection. That means if you decide later that you would like a little more power you can pick up a second card without having to invest to much more and have to deal with selling cards.

image 16

Out on the end of the R7 260X Sapphire slipped in two DVI ports, one with analog pass-through and the other without. You also get full sized HDMI and DisplayPorts with ventilation taking up the rest of the PCI slot. This is a little different than the other R7 260X that Sapphire has available that only has a single DVI but also uses a different cooling design and PCB.

image 11

I talked about it a little before but the design of this card was very unusual. This is most obvious when you flip the card over and get a good look at the PCB. That same cavity in the fan shroud on top really has nothing going on the PCB. Sapphire extended the PCB out nearly two inches and the only change they made was with the location of the 6-pin power plug being moved out only slightly. Typically an extended PCB like this helps fit a longer heatsink on the other side of the card, but this time around Sapphire didn’t do that. I really have no idea why they went this route, but in the end it won’t cause any issues as well. That is of course assuming you don’t need a shorter card.

image 8

 


Our Test Rig and Procedures

Our Test Rig

CPU

Intel i7-3960X

Memory

Corsair Vengeance 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM Quad Channel  (4x4GB)

Motherboard

Asus Rampage IV X79 Motherboard

Cooling

Intel Active Thermal Solution RTS2011LC

Power Supply

Cooler Master Gold Series 1200 Watt PSU

Storage

Kingston Hyper X 120 SSD

Seagate Constellation 2tb Hard drive

Case

High Speed PC Test Bench

Our Testing Procedures

Bioshock Infinite

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Bioshock Infinite on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, FXAA turned on, Ultra Texture detail, 16x Aniso Texture Filtering, Ultra Dynamic Shadows, Normal Postprocessing, Light Shafts on, Ambient Occlusion set to ultra, and the Level of Detail set to Ultra as well.

Tomb Raider

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Tomb Raider on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, Exclusive Fullscreen turned on, Anti-Aliasing set to 2xSSAA, Texture Quality set to Ultra, Texture Aniso set to 16x Aniso, Hair Quality set to TressFX, Shadow set to Normal, Shadow Resolution on High, Ultra SSAO, Ultra Depth of Field, High Reflection quality, Ultra LOD scale, Post Processing On, High Precision RT turned on, and Tessellation is also turned on. 

Hitman: Absolution

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Hitman: Absolution on the “Xtreme” quality setting other than the MSAA setting is turned down from 8x to 2x. That setting puts the resolution at 1920x1080, MSAA is set to 2x, Texture Quality is set to High, Texture Aniso is set to 16x, Shadows are on Ultra, SSA is set to high, Global Illumination is turned on, Reflections are set to High, FXAA is on, Level of Detail is set to Ultra, Depth of Field is high, Tessellation is turned on, and Bloom is set to normal.

Sleeping Dogs

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Sleeping Dogs on the “Xtreme” quality setting. That means our resolution is set to 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing is set to Extreme, Texture Quality is set to High-Res, Shadow Quality is High, Shadow Filter is set to high, SSAO is set to High, Motion Blur Level is set to High, and World Density is set to Extreme.

F1 2013

We use the built in benchmark for F1 2013. We set our resolution to 1920x1080 and then use the “Ultra” setting.

Total War: Shogun 2

Direct X11 Benchmark High setting

Crysis 2

Using Adrenaline Crysis 2 benchmark.  1080p, 4x Anti-Aliasing, DX11, Laplace Edge Detection Edge AA, on the Times Square map, with hi res textures turned on.

Battlefield 3

Using Fraps with the game set to Ultra settings with 4x MSAA Antialiasing Deferred, 16X Anisotropic Filter, at 1920x1080.

Sniper V2 Elite

1920 x 1080 resolution, graphics detail set to ultra

Dirt Showdown

1920 x 1080 resolution, 4x MSAA multisampling, Vsync off, Shadows: ultra; Post Process: High; Night Lighting: High; Vehicle Reflections: Ultra; Ambient Occlusion: Ultra; Water: high; Objects: Ultra; Trees: Ultra; Crowd: Ultra; Ground Cover: High.

Metro Last Light

Using the included benchmark tool. The settings are set to 1920x1080, DirectX 11, quality is set to very high, Texture filtering is untouched at 4x, and motion blue is set to normal. SSAA is unselected, PhysX is unselected, Tessellation is off. We run through scene D6 three times to get an average score.

Synthetic Benchmarks

For video cards our synthetic benchmarks are limited to 3DMark Vantage 2011, and 3DMark 2013 (AKA 3DMark). In 3DMark Vantage 2011 we run both performance and extreme benchmarks. The same goes for the most current version of 3DMark, we run through Fire Strike on standard and extreme settings.

Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0

Using the “Extreme” preset

Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0 heat testing

We run through Unreal Heaven at 1080p for 30 minutes to test in game heat performance and noise output of the card while under load.

Power Usage

Using Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0, we get our “load” power usage number from the peak power usage during our test. We get our numbers from a Kill-A-Watt connected to the test benches power cord.

Noise Testing

Our Noise testing is done using a decibel meter 3 inches away from the video card on the bottom/fan side of the card. We test an idle noise level and then to get an idea of how loud the card will get if it warms all the way up we also turn the fan speed up to 100% and test again. The 100% test isn’t a representation of typical in game noise levels, but it will show you how loud a card can be if you run it at its highest setting or if it gets very hot.

 


 

Cooling, Noise, and Power

The first set of tests that I ran the R7 260X through is always the most interesting. In our noise and cooling tests we sometimes see higher end cards that perform cooler than low end cards that should generate less heat and the sometimes it’s the other way around with high end cards being noisy or much warmer. So If the budget friendly 260X has any chance of outperforming the high dollar cards it is in this set of benchmarks. To start things off I ran our power consumption benchmark that checks both idle and peak in game power usage of our entire test bench with the specific card. In this card the 260X came in down near the bottom of our chart meaning its power consumption is extremely low. This was down in with the 650 Ti boost and the HD 7790s that share the same architecture as the 260X with the exception of a slightly faster clock speed.

graph18

In noise testing the 260X was a great example of what I mean where anything can happen. This time it came in at the middle of our charts just above a high end GTX 780. The higher noise output is most likely related to the single fan design that has to work at a higher RPM in order to be able to keep things cool where a two or three fan design can get the same amount of air flow at a much lower RPM.

graph19

Once again the 260X came in at the middle of the charts in our cooling benchmark. As I mentioned before this is related to its single fan design that just can’t keep up with some of the more extravagant cooling designs of more expensive video cards. At 70 degree at peak this is still noticeably lower than any reference card we have tested though, so I wouldn’t be to upset at the results.

graph20

 


Synthetic Benchmarks

As I mention previously the R7 260X is basically last year’s HD 7790 with the same Bonaire GPU and 2GBs of memory. What does set it apart is the GPU clock speed though. The R7 260X reference card has a clock speed of 1100GHz while the HD 7790 reference clock speed was 1000MHz. Most HD 7790s on the market came with a slight overclock so the reference 260X clock speed is a little less impressive, so Sapphire bumped up the clock speed on this card to a healthy 1150GHz. In our synthetic benchmark suite this translated to a slight bump up over the HD 7790’s as well as the GTX 650 Ti. The performance difference between the 260X to the 270X is still really big, but less than there was with the HD 7790s. We can see that AMD fixed the driver issues causing the low scores in 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme as well, so that is a big plus!

graph3

graph4

graph12

graph1

graph2

 


In Game Benchmarks

As always it’s the in game performance that matters the most. Synthetic benchmarks are great for comparing cards, but what we want to know is how well with the card play your favorite games. I put the R7 260X through 12 different games all set to their highest settings while running at a resolution of 1920 x 1080. The ideal frames per second is 60 or more but anything over 30 is considered playable as well. Out of the 12 games, only three came in at over 60 FPS, this is to be expected on a budget video card. Even so only one game came in below 30 FPS and would require you to adjust the settings down slightly. The performance with our settings turned all the way up are actually still better than console performance both in image quality, FPS, and resolution. When you keep that in mind the R7 260X is the perfect card to get you playing todays latest games in a budget.

graph17

graph16

graph15

graph14

graph13

graph11

graph10

graph9

graph8

graph7

graph6

graph5

 


Overall and Final Verdict

The Sapphire R7 260X is an interesting card. Much like the HD 7790 that it is based on, I loved its performance. It isn’t a high end card, but you do get enough power to play any of today’s latest games at a good resolution and in most cases you don’t even have to turn the settings down. The R7 260X outperformed the HD 7790’s due to its increased clock speed and also outperformed the GTX 560 Ti. At its price point not only is it faster than the GTX 650 Ti but it also a little cheaper than most of the GTX 650 Ti’s on the market right now.

What I really like about the 260X is how perfectly it will fit in a budget PC build. Not only is the price right, but with a extremely low power usage you can also save money on a lower wattage PSU. If you pair this up with a lower priced AMD APU you would still get similar performance to what we saw on our test bench as most games aren’t affected by the CPUs performance.

My only complaint about the card really was the odd decision to extend the PCB and the overall card length out for no apparent reason. It won’t hurt performance, but it will mean you won’t be able to fit the 260X into smaller builds. On the plus side, typically budget builds aren’t to small because going with Mini-ITX costs a little more than a normal build.

All in all, the R7 260X is a great card and perfect for a budget build. I was able to put together a full build utilizing the 260X, an AMD A10-6800K, a 2TB hard drive, and 8 gigs of ram for less than $540 that just needs an OS (https://pcpartpicker.com/p/2RWqh).  

fv3recomended

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

Log in to comment

garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #34069 14 Feb 2014 16:32
Before we get into the weekend, I thought it would be a great chance to check out a budget friendly card from our friends over at Sapphire. If you don't save up enough for a small card for your PC builds, this could be your next video card!

We have 1503 guests and no members online

supportus