Sapphire R7 250 Ultimate Passive 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Sapphire’s Ultimate series already has quite a reputation for consumers interested in passively cooled AMD graphics cards. Sapphire have been making their Ultimate series with AMD graphics cards for a very long time and there is a common trend among all the GPUs – they tend to be entry level GPUs. We’ve seen a HD 4670, HD 5670, HD 6670 and HD 7750. Today we have a new Ultimate series card with us from Sapphire, although let’s cut right to the chase – this isn’t new at all. The Sapphire R7 250 Ultimate graphics card is merely a Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, Sapphire have just renamed it. In fact from what I can tell AMD’s R7 250 was meant to only be a 384 GCN core Oland XT part, this is how AMD explained the product on launch and at their tech conferences. Yet a few months down the line and we now have these 512 GCN core HD 7750 rebrands being dubbed R7 250s, a move AMD has endorsed on its own official product specification. My suspicion is that HD 7750 inventories needed to be digested so AMD gave board partners permission to use those as R7 250s. The reality is that this is great news for consumers – you can get an R7 250 with more GCN cores and better performance for the same $90 price point as the Oland XT variant.

Specifications Analysis

So the Sapphire R7 250 is different to other R7 250 graphics cards we’ve looked at – it has 512 GCN cores at 800MHz. It has a lower clock than the Oland XT version but the extra GCN cores mean we will see more performance and this will become particularly apparent when we move into overclocking. The Sapphire R7 250 Ultimate holds a $10 premium over R7 250 reference pricing which is very reasonable.

Packaging and Bundle

The packaging is typical of Sapphire with their usual robotic theme. Key features include 1GB of GDDR5 memory and their passive silent cooling solution.

The back details all the key features a little more.

Included is some documentation and a driver CD.

Accessories are limited to a 1.8m HDMI cable and a DVI to VGA adapter.

HIS Radeon R7 250 iCooler Boost Clock 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


When it comes to gaming on a strict budget there are a tonne of choices: AMD’s R7 240, R7 250 and R7 250X all fall beneath the $100 price point while Nvidia’s GT 630 and GT 640 graphics cards also fall beneath the $100 level. If discrete graphics cards aren’t your thing then you can also get AMD’s A10-7850K APU which effectively has R7 250 level graphics, or the A10-7700K and A8-7600 which are somewhere between the R7 240 and R7 250 in terms of their performance. Today we are looking at the AMD R7 250 and more specifically HIS Digital’s version of it. It comes in at reference pricing of $90 and it opts for reference clock speeds but you do get a custom cooler and HIS Digital tell us there is great overclocking potential to be had on their R7 250 iCooler Boost Clock 1GB GDDR5 graphics card.

Specifications Analysis

As we mentioned this graphics card runs with reference speeds and is also available in 2GB DDR3 or 1GB GDDR5 options. We’re testing the 1GB GDDR5 option today and I would encourage most people to also choose this option as it gives much faster speeds in the vast majority of games.

Packaging and Bundle

The packaging comes emblazoned with HIS Digital’s trophic “excalibur sword” and points out HIS Digital’s iCooler cooling solution which they claim produces less than 28 dB of noise.

The back details more of the features of this graphics card, most of which are just general AMD features like PowerTune and App Acceleration.

Included with our sample of this graphics card was just the card itself and a piece of documentation. According to HIS Digital’s website you should expect a driver CD and installation guide to be included in the retail product.

AMD XFX Radeon R7 250 Core Edition Passive 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


While the low-end graphics card market is fairly monotonous, passive graphics cards always make for interesting system builds and the XFX R7 250 we have here today this is certainly no exception. The R7 250 from AMD offers a surprisingly punchy amount of performance for quite a modest price of just $90 and with low power consumption. XFX’s take on the R7 250 costs just $10 more than the MSRP and in return you get an awesome looking passive cooler but there is of course no factory overclock because taming heat is of the essence. XFX is targeting their R7 250 (R7-250A-ZLH4) at the gamer or HTPC user who wants a silent experience but with enough power to get involved with gaming or 4K playback. Unlike the R7 240 the R7 250 offers up almost twice the performance yet costs only $20 more, making it a viable gaming card for a user on a budget. The R7 250 does of course face stiff competition from the R7 250X which offers a substantial leap in performance for just $10 more but the R7 250 has the advantage of not needing supplementary power and being cool-running enough to facilitate a variety of passively cooled models.

Specifications Analysis

As we’ve mentioned the XFX R7 250 is clocked at stock speeds and is priced $10 higher. It is also worth noting that it uses only 1GB of GDDR5 which in my opinion is the best choice. XFX are not offering DDR3 models or variants with 2GB of VRAM which is a sensible decision – for this type of graphics card 1GB is ample. A technical detail worth noting is that XFX use the “new” Oland XT based R7 250, that is in contrast to the “old” Cape Verde Pro R7 250 which is based on the HD 7750. The HD 7750 variant is slightly faster but availability of these cards are quite scarce and so far I only see Sapphire offering Cape Verde Pro based R7 250s.

Packaging and Bundle

The packaging retain’s XFX’s usual styling and it points out the key feature – a passive 0 dB cooling solution with a 6mm heat pipe.

The rear details the card’s features.

Included with this card is a variety of documentation and a driver CD. There are no adapters, brackets or cables.

Kaveri Hybrid CrossFire: The A10-7850K & A10-7700K With R7 240 & 250

Introduction – Dual Graphics (Hybrid CrossFire) on Kaveri


Kaveri represents another significant step forward for integrated graphics performance but realistically it still isn’t even on the same playing field as true discrete graphics solutions which aren’t as limited by memory bandwidth or physical space. However, AMD has always had a solution for making its APU graphics performance more competitive and this solution is known as “Hybrid CrossFire”. However, AMD has recently changed the nomenclature and Hybrid CrossFire is now dubbed “Dual Graphics” so this will be used in this article interchangeably with Hybrid CrossFire.

The term “hybrid” in Hybrid Crossfire is coined because it is a hybrid amalgamation of “discrete-class” integrated graphics on the APU with a discrete graphics card. The logic of CrossFire is still retained in Hybrid CrossFire – you should pair two similar graphics processors to scale extra performance through synchronisation and joint GPU processing. In the case of Hybrid CrossFire you aren’t dealing with only graphics cards like you would be with normal CrossFire, but instead GPUs so it can be problematic, though the objective is still to pair similar parts. AMD does set out some official recommendations for which R7 series GPUs you should pair off with each Kaveri APU – we will detail those recommendations on the next page. A final thing to briefly mention is frame pacing. AMD have released a driver fix for frame pacing which effectively fixes the problem of delayed “runt” frames. In our case we have enabled the frame pacing driver but we lack the equipment to show you how effective this frame pacing driver is. However, we can point you to PCPer who have investigated the driver fix to show that it does solve the problem and offers identical performance to what you would get with the frame pacing setting turned off.

In this article we will be taking a look at what AMD’s Dual Graphics can offer in terms of a performance upgrade for Kaveri APUs, so without any further ado let’s take a look!

AMD Drops R7 260X Pricing With R7 265 Launch

With AMD introducing lots of new cards to the R7 series they’ve decided it is time to readjust pricing. Today the R7 265 has been launched and with a price of $149 it makes the R7 260X uncompetitive at $139. As a result AMD have made the wise decision to drop the price of the R7 260X to $119. AMD’s R7 Series now has the following MSRP pricing:

  • R7 265 – $139.99
  • R7 260X – $119.99
  • R7 260 – $109.99
  • R7 250X – $99.99
  • R7 250 – $89.99
  • R7 240 – $69.99

Of course the pricing of these cards will vary by retailer and by the model in question as AMD’s board partners will choose to modify the cards in many ways. Either way we can say that the AMD R7 series looks a significant amount more attractive than it did when it was first released. What do you think of AMD’s complete R7 series and the product pricing?

Image courtesy of AMD

AMD Announces HD 7770 GHz Edition Rebrand, The Radeon R7 250X

While not exactly a new card for AMD, the R7 250X have been officially revealed. The new card, I mean old card, is a the HD 7770 GHz Edition and has been given a new name to bring it back to market to fill the gap between the current R7 250 and the R7 260.

The card is based on the Cape Verde hardware and features 640 stream processors, 40 texture unites, 16 ROPs and a GPU clock speed of 1000MHz. The card will also be available in both 1GB and 2GB formats via a 128-bit bus, although we do not know what type of memory has been used, we can only assume GDDR5 for the 1GB and DDR3 for the 2GB in a bid to keep costs as low as possible.

The R7 250X will hit the market later this week for around $99, putting is in the firing line of the Nvidia GTX 650 and it should give AMD a little bit of a performance lead in this end of the budget market.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Fudzilla.

Rumour- AMD R7 250X Inbound – $99 And A HD 7770 Rebrand

AMD is rumoured to be releasing an R7 250X graphics card very soon. The R7 250X will fill the gap between the R7 260 and R7 250. The specifications suggest we will see 640 stream processors, 16 ROPs and 40 TMUs making the unit physically identical to the HD 7770. Clock speeds are not known but considering the HD 7770 was clocked at 1GHz on the core and 4500MHz on the memory we should expect to see the R7 250X come with similar or higher clock speeds.

Currently two models have been spotted by VideoCardz, one from Sapphire (top) and one from ASUS (above). Pricing is expected to be around $99.99 and the European price is around €90. In the UK we should see a price of £75-85. 1GB and 2GB GDDR5 models are expected to be available.

Images courtesy of VideoCardz.com

AMD Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X, R7 260X, R7 250 and R7 240 Launch Details

Introduction


Launch day is finally among us for AMD’s hotly anticipated RX 2XX series. Today AMD unveils the R9 280X, R9 270X, R7 260X, R7 250 and R7 240. That’s two cards from the enthusiast R9 series, shown above, and three from the entry R7 series, shown below. We’ve already got reviews ready for you to read of the R9 280X, R9 270X and R7 260X so be sure to click those links and check those out.

All the cards you see here today aren’t strictly new but are based on technology from the HD 7000 series. The only hardware difference is we’ve got higher performance from raised clocks and that is at lower price points. AMD have also introduced an updated feature set that includes Direct X 11.2 support, OpenGL 4.3 support, support for AMD’s new low-level Mantle API, improved audio with AMD TrueAudio and improved Eyefinity compatibility for Eyefinity 6 off most cards. This is only just the scratching the surface though so read on as we detail more about AMD’s new launches.

Nvidia Preparing Two Sub-$250 SKUs And Price Cuts For GTX 700 Series

Digitimes reports that Nvidia is planning new GPUs and price cuts in its GTX 700 series to combat the launch of AMD’s R9 and R7 series of graphics cards. Firstly Nvidia is expected to provide price cuts across the whole range of GTX 700 series GPUs in order to compete with the new AMD graphics cards. Secondly, Nvidia is expected to released 1 to 2 new GPUs to defend the USD $149-249 market segment according to industry sources. That potentially means two new cards below the GTX 760 which comes in at around $249.

“The R7 250 is priced below US$89, the R7 260X is US$139, the R9 270X US$199 and the R9 280X US$299. The highest-end R9 290X is also expected to be at a competitive price point.”

The report also states that AMD’s highly competitive pricing should see them regain market share, that’s if Nvidia doesn’t respond well enough to prevent consumers jumping ship to AMD. AMD’s Matt Skynner believes AMD can regain 50% share in the graphics card market.

Image courtesy of eTeknix

AMD Details Improved 4K Support For RX 2XX Series GPUs

AMD has revealed at its GPU 14 LiveStream event that the new RX 2XX series will bring improved compatibility and support for 4K monitors.

AMD claims that in most cases there will be “out of the box” compatibility for 4K monitors with their new series of GPUs.

The new drivers for the AMD RX 2XX series will come with hardware level support for new 4K monitors. The RX 2XX series will also implement a new AMD proposed VESA standard that automatically stitches the two separate panels on a 4K monitor (as most 60Hz 4K monitors are formed from two 2K panels stitched together as current generation display controllers cannot run a single 4K display at 60Hz natively so two are required with two separate panels).

Images courtesy of eTeknix via AMD LiveStream

AMD Announce R9 2XX And R7 2XX Series Graphics Cards

At the GPU 14 event (which you can watch live coverage of here) AMD announced its newest series of graphics cards with the R9 290X, R9 280X and R9 270X all forming the R9 series and the R7 260X and R7 250 forming the R7 series.

AMD briefly details the amount of GDDR5 memory, the price point and the estimated 3DMark Firestrike score of all the new GPUs.

However, the star of the show is AMD’s Radeon R9 290X – the newest addition to the AMD Graphics card family based off a brand new GCN 2.0 architecture. This beast from AMD is revealed but sadly very few details have been disclosed so far. We will of course bring you those A.S.A.P, if AMD reveal them, as we continue our coverage.

Images courtesy of eTeknix via AMD LiveStream

HIS Website Leaks Details Of Upcoming AMD GPUs

The guys over at WCCFTech have managed to grab some details of AMD’s upcoming Volcanic Islands GPU family via the HIS website. We tried to explain the new GPU naming system a while back but now we can bring you the exact naming of these new graphics cards from AMD. The new naming system will be as follows:

  • AMD R9-290 (Replacing HD 7990 Flagship)
  • AMD R9-280 (Replacing HD 7900 Series)
  • AMD R9-270 (Replacing HD 7800/7700 Series)
  • AMD R7-260 (Replacing HD 7770 Series)
  • AMD R7-250 (Replacing HD 7700 Series)
  • AMD R7-240 (Replacing HD 7600 Series)

Based on currently available information the new graphics card line up is believed to look something like this:

Apparently the majority of the graphics cards from the new R-200 series are to be refreshed or rebadged versions of current AMD HD 7000 series graphics cards. These include the R9-270X and below. As you can see from the above table, if this is true, then AMD have knocked to HD 7970 (Tahiti XT) down 3 places in the product stack essentially meaning the HD 7850’s successor is a HD 7970. Nvidia’s rebranding exercise only saw products knocked down by a single place in the product stack, as the GTX 680 became the GTX 770.

AMD’s Hawaii GPU will be for the top three fastest single GPU cards while Vesuvius/Tonga will be the dual GPU graphics card to replace the HD 7990. This will probably be based on a pair of Hawaii GPUs.

WCCFTech also noted that the HIS 280X iPower IceQ X² graphics card was listed with the following specifications:

  • 3GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • 384 Bit interface
  •  Dual LinkDVI-I/HDMI/2xMini DP

The R9-280X is said to be based on the Hawaii XT GPU.

Check out more details right here.

Image courtesy of WCCFTech