MSI Radeon R7 260X OC budget graphics card review

MSI Radeon R7 260X OC budget graphics card review: The best gaming performance under £100

MSI's Radeon R7 260X OC budget graphics card offers the best gaming performance under £100. Read our MSI Radeon R7 260X OC graphics card review. (See all budget graphics card reviews.)

A card like the R7 260X amounts to just about the best you can buy for less than three figures. Note that we're still not talking about graphical showcases of everything that's spectacular and sublime - a truly powerful card will set you back at least £300, while for the most glorious results you'll still be looking at upwards of £500. However, a card like the MSI Radeon R7 260X OC will let you sample the latest games at decent frame rates - just as long as you're happy to do without a little detail or are satisfied to play at lesser resolutions. (Also see: How to upgrade your PC's graphics card.)

While its main rival at this price point, the GTX 750 SuperClock, takes a rather unusual approach - sacrificing speed and specs for lower power consumption - the Radeon R7 260X is a rather more conventional grab for frame rates - even if it was really little more than a slightly enhanced version of the old but faithful friend, the HD 7790. The 260X perhaps starts slowly, and its memory clock speed, an effective 6GHz, is a solid but not sensational improvement on the 5GHz of the GeForce GT 740 OC. In fairness, the 260X's memory bandwidth of 96GB/sec is a good distance away from the GT 740's 80GB/sec - and even the 260X's big rival, the GTX 750, can only manage 80.2GB/sec. (Also see: What's the best budget graphics card 2015.)

The 260X's core clock speed is less than stellar, a figure of 1050MHz trailing far behind the GTX 750's 1294MHz, and only just staying ahead of the GT 740's 1033MHz. However, we've seen before that clock speeds are rather trivial compared to the number of texture units - and here the 260X strikes decisively, pulling out a complement of 56, some 24 ahead of the 750 and GT 740 OC. That helps the 260X to an emphatic texture fill rate of 58.8GT/sec - blitzing the 41.4GT/sec of even the 750.

The 260X also fares much better on stream processors, offering 896 of them to the 750's 512. However, the 260X is undoubtedly rather power-hungry compared to the 750's clever design. The 260X needs an extra 6pin connector from the PSU. It also puts out considerably more power - its TDP of 115 watts is almost twice that of the 750's 60 watts. The difference isn't quite that large in real life, but there's a good 45 watts between them most of the time. And the 260X is a louder card to boot. (Also see: What's the best graphics card 2015.)

MSI Radeon R7 260X OC: Specs

  • AMD Radeon R7 260X
  • 2GB GDDR5 RAM
  • 28nm manufacturing process
  • 1050MHz core clock
  • 1.5GHz memory clock
  • 6GHz DDR effective
  • 128-bit memory bus
  • 96GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 896 stream processors
  • 56 texture units
  • 16 ROPs
  • 58.8GT/s texture fillrate
  • 2x DVI
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x DP
  • 1x 6-pin power connector
  • 115W TDP
  • 3-year warranty
  • AMD Radeon R7 260X
  • 2GB GDDR5 RAM
  • 28nm manufacturing process
  • 1050MHz core clock
  • 1.5GHz memory clock
  • 6GHz DDR effective
  • 128-bit memory bus
  • 96GB/s memory bandwidth
  • 896 stream processors
  • 56 texture units
  • 16 ROPs
  • 58.8GT/s texture fillrate
  • 2x DVI
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x DP
  • 1x 6-pin power connector
  • 115W TDP
  • 3-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

The 260X is the superior card for gamers - even if the difference isn't quite as big as you might think. We were mostly seeing average increases of 3-4fps. The most we saw was, in Crysis 3, a gap of almost 7fps. But if you need strong gaming performance for less than £100, this is the best product here, and can handle games even at the relatively high resolution of 1920x1200.