These days even a lot of the low power cards still require dual PCI slots. So if you have a setup that requires a single slot video card solution it can be a little hard to find something that performs well and will also fit in your case. I don’t think people realize it, but XFX does a great job of creating a wide selection of cards to cover special uses like this. In the past we have seen models from them for people who need half height cards and even silent models. So it wasn’t a big shock when they sent over their R7 250 Core Edition single slot card. Really, the only question is how does it compare to the dual slot cards. If it’s anything like their past cards it should perform well, but the only way to find out for sure it to run it through our benchmark suite and see how it performs.

Product Name: XFX R7 250E Core Edition

Review Sample Provided by: XFX

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

 

Specifications

General

Product Description : CORE RADEON R7 250E 800M 1GB D5 DP HDMI DVI

UPC Number : 778656065819

Processor & Bus

Bus Type : PCI-E 3.0

Chipset version : Verde Pro

GPU Bus (bit) : 128

GPU Clock : 800 MHz

Performance Category : Warrior

Stream Processors : 512

Memory

Memory Bus : 128 bit

Memory Clock : 4.5 GHz

Memory Size : 1 GB

Memory Type : DDR5

Feature Technologies

AMD Eyefinity Technology : Y

AMD HD3D Technology : Y

AMD Stream Technology : Y

Environmental

RoHS : Y

Display Output

HDMI Ready : 1.4a

Max Supported Resolution (ANALOG) : 2048 x 1536

Max Supported Resolution (DIGITAL) : 2560 x 1600(DVI);4096 x 2160(HDMI;DP)

Output - Display Port : 1

Output - DL-DVI-I : 1

Output - HDMI : 1

Physical

Card Profile : Single

Thermal Solution : Fansink

Thermal Type : Single Slot

Card Dimension (cm) : 21.0 x 11.12 x 1.88

Card Dimension (inch) : 8.3 x 4.4 x 0.74 

Includes

Driver Disk Installation Guide : 1

Installation DVD : 1

Promotional Bundles : PSU Cross Marketing Insert

Quick Installation Guide : 1

Requirements

Minimum Power Supply Requirement : 450 watt

XFX Recommended Power Supply : XFX 550W

 

 


Packaging

The packaging for the R7 250E Core Edition has the same styling that I have seen for the past few generations. The best way to describe it is there are pieces of metal with a bright glowing light behind them. This is fitting due to XFXs use of full metal fan shrouds for the past two generations. On the front they put the R7 250 branding right up front, you have to look a little lower into the details to find that this is the core edition. I would love if this was even more descriptive to show that this is a single slot card, but without changing up the packaging design a lot to include a photo of the card I don’t think they could do that.

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Around back things are very simple, you get a feature list listed in six different languages. No photos, specifications, or anything else you might look for when shopping in person for a new video card.

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Inside the card is wrapped up in a static protect bag that also is made of bubble wrap. Because the card is a single card slot wide XFX had to double wrap the card to keep it from bouncing around in the box.

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For documentation you get an installation guide. XFX also includes a warranty paper along with information on other XFX products like their power supplies. They also include a driver disc as well although I would always recommend getting the latest driver online if you can.

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Card Layout and Photos

At first glance the R7 250E Core Edition looks a lot like other XFX cards. Being a Core Edition it only has a single fan, but this is something they do with a lot of their cards. What sets this card apart from the rest is its single slot design though. We still get an all metal fan shroud design with the black stripe down the center. The metal fan shroud always gives XFX cards a quality feeling in hand, something that most other cards don’t have, especially at a budget price point.

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It really isn’t until you look at the R7 250E Core Edition from the top angle that you really notice that it is a single slot card. XFX did a great job of sticking with their typical style, from the other angles it could be a normal XFX card. If you look close you can see a slight gap between the PCB and the fan shroud, this combined with the vent on the end of the card (right side in this photo) are where the hot air will vent from. This means this design does vent fully inside of your case, almost all modern cases are built to handle this but it is something to keep in mind when selecting your components.

What you won’t see in the photo below though is a Crossfire bridge or a power connection. The R7 250E Core Edition pulls all of its power directly off of the PCI slot and this card does not support multiple card configurations. Given its place in the market this isn’t a big loss at all.

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I love that XFX went with a black PCB on the R7 250E Core Edition. In most cases all you can see is the top edge of the card and the PCB, black PCBs look great is nearly every situation.

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Being  single slot card there is a limited amount of room on the PCI slot. XFX skipped on cooling vents to give three different video connection options. You get a DVI, full sized HDMI, and a full sized DisplayPort. This is a great variety that should hook up to nearly any modern monitor. As always I would personally prefer to see two DVI connections, but given the limited space I think this was the best configuration.

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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. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.

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.  We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.

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. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above, except on the “high” setting.

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. We also run this same test at 2560x1440 using the same settings as mentioned above.

F1 2013

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

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.

Theif

Tested using the “Very High” setting at 1920x1080 and 2560x1440

3DMark

The same goes for the most current version of 3DMark using the Fire Strike benchmark in both normal and extreme settings

Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0

Using the “Extreme” preset

Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0 heat testing

We run through Unreal Heaven using the “Extreme” preset for 30 minutes to test in game cooling performance.

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 50% and 100% and test both speeds as well. 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.

 

 


Synthetic Benchmarks

Just to be clear, the R7 250E isn’t a high or even mid-range video card. You guys might remember the HD 7750, the R7 250 is actually the same card. So I had an idea of where it would fall in our charts and it wasn’t great. That is to be expected when we are talking about this price range. Officially AMD is pushing this card as a good card to run at resolutions lower than 1080p. Even still a score of 2191 in 3DMark Fire Strike is still respectable, just not in the same league as the cards I’m normally testing.

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In-Game

Like I said before, the XFX R7 250E Core Edition isn’t really designed to play games at 1080p, especially when the settings are cranked all the way up like we do with our testing. With that said I was still impressed that even at those settings I saw playable frame rates in a few of the games. Specifically F1 2013 and Dirt Showdown, Sniper V2 Elite wasn’t far off with it puling 29.56 FPS average. The rest of the games were a little rough, but I expected as much. As expected, overall this put the card in line with the HD 7750 that it is based on. What did I take from all of this? Well the R7 250E Core Edition should still be great at 720p or if you turn the settings on some of the games, especially making sure to turn off AA.

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1440p In-Game

I couldn’t help but feel like I was kicking the XFX R7 250E Core Edition when it was down by running it through our 1440p testing but I went ahead and did it anyhow to see how well it would perform. Rather than make a page specifically for a resolution that the R7 250E Core Edition was never designed to handle I’m just slipping the results in down here for anyone who is interested in seeing them.

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Cooling, Noise, and Power

When you have a card like the XFX R7 250E Core Edition, one of the best features is the possibility that you could just pick it up and add it to any store bought PC that you might have sitting around. To be able to do that it needs to have low power requirements, low thermal requirements, and if you are looking to do it without your parents complaining their PC now making “all kinds of noise” you will need for the card to be quiet. Starting on the power side of things, I knew that the 250E Core Edition didn’t have a power connection so its power requirements aren’t too high, but how did it compare to other cards? Well it came in a little higher than the ultra-efficient GTX 750 Ti’s but it still performed well with a peak of 265 watts being pulled from our whole test bench with the 250E installed and under load. Considering the test bench has a power draining 6 core monster of a CPU and water cooling, this is an impressive number.

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For noise testing I ran the card through three tests, once at idle, once at 50% fan speed, and once at 100% fan speed. Between the three we can get a good idea of its fan noise profile. I was a little worried at how well it would perform because single fan designs sometimes run at higher RPM to give even better cooling, XFX obviously didn’t have to do this though. The 250E Core Edition had an impressive idle number but the best was the 100% fan speed number that was actually lower than some of the large cards running at 50% fan speed. The GTX 750 Ti Reference card still performed better, but the next closest card was 3 dB higher.

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So it doesn’t pull too much power and it is quiet, does it run hot? Well I ran the 250E Core Edition in Heaven Benchmark 4.0 until its temperature leveled out at 69 degrees. This is basically middle of the pack average. Considering the single slot cooling design it is actually better than I would have expected though!

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Overall and Final Verdict

While honestly our benchmark suite is a little more demanding than the XFX R7 250X Core Edition was ever designed to handle. I was still impressed that it managed to pull out playable numbers in a few of the games, even with the settings turned completely up with full AA. This got me wondering how it would perform with the settings turned down slightly. Well turning down the Bioshock, Tomb Raider, and Sleeping dog tests down to the medium setting I was able to run all three though with an average of 43 to 57 FPS depending on the game. That is a huge improvement and finally showed that the R7 250E Core Edition still has a great place on the market for people running lower resolutions or people who are playing less demanding games. A great example of this is League of Legends, the most popular game in the world right now, its lower system requirements will let you play with settings turned up with this card. If this is all you play you might not even need anything else!

What I really like about the R7 250E Core Edition is its single slot design. It really is rare to find a card without water cooling that only takes up a single slot. This makes this one of the only options for some HTPC cases for example. That combined with no need for a 6 pin power connection also makes this a great option when you have a store bought PC and you want a bump in game performance. You won’t have to worry if the power supply has enough power to handle your new card, as long as you have a PCIe x16 slot you are good (assuming the card fits in the case of course). The thin heatsink design did mean that the card ran a little warmer than you might expect an R7 250 to run, but even so it will still only in the middle of our charts. On the noise side of things it was one of the quietest cards I have ever tested.

So if you are on a budget is the XFX R7 250E Core Edition a good choice? Well if you are looking to game with the settings turned all the way up at 1080p I would look at saving up a little more. But if you are planning on playing less demanding games like LoL you are getting a good deal. Compared to the other R7 250’s this card is on the low side of the prices at just under $85. That doesn’t count that right now there is a $10 rebate and you also get a free game from AMD. You get to pick from a big list of games with the value going up to $40. If for some reason you were already planning on getting the game, you are really only out $35 after rebate! Even if you hadn’t planned on that, $75 and a free game is a good price. 

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Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://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.

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garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #35759 13 Oct 2014 15:36
While most of you are building higher end PCs, sometimes you just need a basic card that keeps the budget small. Todays card when combined with the rebate and free game is a steal, check it out

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