AMD Radeon R7 265 review: pre-emptive strike

New "Pitcairn light" leads the R7 series and offers an early retort to Nvidia's upcoming GTX 750



The eternal competition between AMD and Nvidia is a game of having a graphics card available at every price point while offering a better price/performance ratio than your competition. Part of that game is the timely anticipation of product introductions and price drops. Although AMD denies it, today the manufacturer introduces a new graphics card that serves primarily as a pre-emptive answer to the upcoming introduction of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 750 and 750 Ti, next week. As the name suggests, AMD's new Radeon R7 265 will be positioned between the R7 260X and R9 270. The  card is set to cost about € 109 excluding VAT or  $149.

The R7 265 is based on the Pitcairn GPU, which can also be found in AMD's R9 270, R9 270X and earlier Radeon HD 7850 and 7870 graphics cards. In order to meet a lower price point, the chip has somewhat lower specifications than the 270 and 270X. Of Pitcairn's 1280 shader units, the R7 265 has 1024 enabled enabled. The GPU has a maximum clock frequency of 925 MHz, identical to the R7 270. Radeon R7 265 cards will come equipped with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory, linked through a 256-bits interface and clocked at 1.4 GHz, resulting in an identical memory clock frequency to the 270 and 270X's.

The card reminds us of earlier and popular products like the Radeon HD 7870 XT, equipped with chips that were originally meant for a higher segment but used in a slightly toned-down version to deliver superior performance at a lower price point.

The introduction of the Radeon R7 265 seems rushed, as AMD's partners haven't shown their take on the card yet. The sample we received from AMD is a model manufactured by Sapphire and is identical hardware to the brand's R7 270. It is quite possible we are dealing with an existing card with a different BIOS. In the official press documents, AMD pits its new addition against Nvidia´s GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost, a card that costs roughly € 160, thirty bucks more than AMD's card. One thing has to be made clear though: for the R7 265, the real battle won't start until a few days yet.

The Sapphire Radeon R7 265 AMD sent us.

The official TDP value for the new Radeon R7 265 is 150W. Like other AMD Radeon R7 and R9 cards, the 265 offers supports to both the DirectX and OpenGL APIs, as well as AMD's Mantle technology. It's expected that the Radeon R7 265 cards from AMD's partners will all be based on their R7 270s. These cards normally have a single 6-pin PEG-connector and offer 2x DVI, in addition to DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI video outputs. The R7 265 can also be used in a Crossfire configuration. However, since the Pitcairn is a last-gen GPU, it does require a Crossfire cable.

AMD states that the first Radeon R7 265 cards should hit shelves late February, at a recommended price of € 109 (excl. VAT) or about € 132. Following the introduction, Radeon R7 260X cards will drop in price: the new recommended price will be € 89 excl. VAT, or €109 including tax.

Ignoring Nvidia and AMD's cat and mouse games, the introduction of cards like this is always good news for the consumer. As we'll see further on in this review, the new card offers a great price/performance ratio and is a smart and affordable choice if you're looking to play video games at Full HD resolutions.

The table below details the specifications of the R6 265 and allows for comparison with the R7 260X and R270:

ProductnaamRadeon R7 260XRadeon R7 265Radeon R9 270
ProductcodeRADEON R7 260XRadeon R7 265RADEON R9 270
ArchitectuurGCN 1.1GCN 1.0GCN 1.0
Rekenkernen896 cores1024 cores1280 cores
Kloksnelheid1100 MHz925 MHz925 MHz
Transistors2080 mln2800 mln2800 mln
Productieprocedé28 nm28 nm28 nm
Geheugengrootte2048 MB2048 MB2048 MB
Type geheugenGDDR5GDDR5GDDR5
Geheugensnelheid1625 MHz1400 MHz1400 MHz
Geheugencontroller128 bit256 bit256 bit
DirectX versieDirectX 12 fl 12_0DirectX 12 fl 11_1DirectX 12 fl 11_1
SLI compatible
Crossfire compatible
Geïntegreerde H.264 videodecoder
Geïntegreerde H.265 videodecoder
Geïntegreerde VC-1 videodecoder
InterfacePCI-Express 3.0 x16PCI-Express 3.0 x16PCI-Express 3.0 x16
Extra power-connector
Type power connector(s)PEG6PEG6PEG6
Thermal design power115 W150 W150 W


We used our standard graphics card testing setup, consisting of an Intel Core i7 3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 16 GB Corsair DDR3-1600 RAM, an ASUS P7X79 Pro motherboard, a Samsung Spinpoint F1 hard disk, a Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200 watt power supply and Windows 7 x64.

We've tested the card only in Full HD resolution (1920x1080), because it's not powerful enough for higher resolutions such as EyeFinity and 4K. The review includes results for both Medium and Highest/Ultra settings. On Ultra, we also enabled 4x AA where applicable.

For the test we used the Catalyst 14.1 beta driver. To find out which drivers we used for the other cards, click on the name on of the cards in the graphs on the next pages.

In the charts, the R7 265 is blue. Other AMD cards are red and Nvidia cards are green. We will mainly focus on the performance difference between the Radeon R7 265 and the GeForce GTX 650 and 650 Ti Boost, although it has to be mentioned that those cards have already received the status "end-of-life" and successors will make their début shortly.

Product discussed in this review

  Product Lowest price

AMD Radeon R7 265

Curacao, 1024 cores, 925 MHz, 2048 MB, 256 bit, DirectX 12 fl 11_1, PCI-Express 3.0 x16

Specifications Test results Reviews

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