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AMD Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X, And R7 260X: Old GPUs, New Names

AMD Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X, And R7 260X: Old GPUs, New Names
By , Igor Wallossek

AMD is introducing a handful of new model names today, based on existing GPUs. Do the company's price adjustments make this introduction newsworthy, or will the excitement need to wait for its upcoming Radeon R9 290 and 290X, based on fresh silicon?

Back in 2000, a gentleman by the name of Brian Hentschel called my dorm room at UCLA to ask my opinion of brand names. Brian was a marketing manager at ATI, and the company was looking for something catchy to succeed its Rage family. I had owned every single Rage-based desktop graphics product up until that point, and was pumped to provide feedback on the company's next-gen nomenclature.

Thirteen years later, I cannot remember the other options ATI was throwing around, but I distinctly recall liking Radeon least of all. Clearly I have no future in marketing, because I’ve been reviewing Radeon-branded cards ever since.

With its latest generation, AMD maintains the Radeon legacy, but changes everything that comes after. According to the company’s PR team, the new naming scheme makes positioning easier—and I’d have to agree. Our own writers were mistyping combinations of Radeon HD 7990, 7970, 7790, and so on. Now, we have the high-end Radeon R9 and mainstream R7 families, which are sub-divided into three-digit models suggesting performance levels.

Say Goodbye To The Old Names And Hello To The Old GPUs

At its press day in Hawaii, two weeks ago, AMD publically announced the Radeon R7 250, R7 260X, R9 270X, R9 280X, R9 290, and R9 290X. There’s also an R7 240 the company didn’t mention. How on earth will you ever memorize all of the corresponding specifications of each card in a timely manner? It’s easy: although we’re looking at new model names, all of the products AMD is talking about today employ GPUs already found in the Radeon HD 7000-series line-up.

Take that R9 270X, for example. With 1280 shaders spread across 20 compute units, it employs the same Pitcairn GPU introduced on the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition in March of last year. Or how about the R9 280X? Its 2048 shaders, 1 GHz engine frequency, and 384-bit memory bus should remind you of the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, sporting the Tahiti GPU.

Of course, taking existing technology, tweaking it a bit, and giving it a shiny new-sounding name is an old practice. Much of the Radeon HD 8000 family is a replicate of the 7000s, shipped off to OEMs in the hope that folks buying tier-one machines don’t know any better. And don’t think I’m picking on AMD here. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 700M series has Fermi-based models in it with core configurations dating back almost three years. The GeForce GTX 770 and 760 employ the same GK104 GPU found at the top of the 600-series. This sort of thing seems to happen a lot in the graphics market.

The good news for today is that familiar GPUs make our job quite a bit easier. Doubly-so because the two products based on never-before-seen silicon, R9 290 and 290X, still aren’t ready for their public debut. This leaves us with the remainder of AMD’s R9 and R7 line-ups, well-known (and tested) technology, and price drops across the board. Positioning becomes the main focus of today's discussion, then.

Just don't be quick to marginalize what AMD is doing. Most Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition cards currently sell for somewhere around £325. R9 280X is going to debut at ~£230. The GeForce GTX 770 that Nvidia launched to replace its GTX 680 still sells for that much or more. Remember when the original 7970 sold for £450? Boy, that escalated quickly.

Let’s take a closer look at the R9 280X—for now, the highest-end board in AMD’s re-branded portfolio.

Display all 7 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    snowctrl , 8 October 2013 06:28
    Here in the UK Radeon was for a long time a washing powder brand
  • 3 Hide
    Menigmand , 8 October 2013 09:26
    So they have replaced one cryptic naming system for another. I'm still baffled. GPU tech seems to be stagnating..
  • 0 Hide
    sickbullet , 8 October 2013 12:25
    The holding back of the 290X price is really frustrating, I really need to know if I'll cross fire and buy another 7970 or go safe with a 290X, I'd prefer to keep to a single gpu.
  • 0 Hide
    Qualtric , 8 October 2013 17:48
    I'm missing the GTX 770 and 780 in the benchmarks. From what I've seen the 280x compares with a 770.
  • 0 Hide
    Qualtric , 8 October 2013 17:48
    I'm missing the GTX 770 and 780 in the benchmarks. From what I've seen the 280x compares with a 770.
  • 0 Hide
    AMKANMBA , 8 October 2013 18:19
    I would really like to see some results of how these GPUs perform in metro last light. Even the 7990 was horrible!
  • 0 Hide
    shADy81 , 8 October 2013 21:05
    Interesting how Guru3D (reference design) and HardOCP (Asus Direct CUII) have the 280x's outperforming the 7970ghz by a few frames and here the opposite.
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