AMD’s Radeon R7 265 is one to avoid

Smoke, mirrors, and a regression from the R7 260X

AMD Radeon Logo 2013If you are wondering what will fill the gap between AMD’s R7 260X and R9 270X, guess no longer and welcome the R7 265X. It also splits the price gap between these two but still lacks the key features of modern AMD GPUs.

A you might guess from the numbering, the R7 265 is a beefed up R7 260 rather than a downgraded R9 270X. If so you would be wrong, it is closer to the Pitcairn XT chip in the R9 270X than the Bonaire GPU in the R7 260. This is a true shame because means the R7 265 lacks the one feature that makes the R7 260X worth caring about, Trueaudio. The specs look like this.

AMD R7 265 GPU specs

Note the lack of the TrueAudio = Yes line

Technically the 265 is based on Curacao but in effect it is the same generation as the Pitcairn XT which is to say three generations old. Bonaire is only ‘last’ generation so it has most of the goodies found in Hawaii that a mid-range gamer will benefit from. As of today, AMD has dropped the price of the R7 260X from $139 to $119 and slotted the R7 265 in at $149. In short 265 may be a bit slow but it is cheap and feature packed.

Just kidding, it is a bit more expensive but it is actually slower! Gotcha! No we aren’t kidding, the raw numerical performance of the 265, the pointless number that AMD uses in lieu of real benchmarks is 1.89 TFLOPS, the 270X posts 2.69 TFLOPS and the cheaper R7 260X posts 1.97 TFLOPS. This is balanced out by the wider, 256-bit vs 128-bit, but slower, 5.6Gbps vs 6.5Gbps GDDR5. Both have 2GB standard.

Power use at 150W TDP splits the difference between the 180W of the 270X and the 115W of the 250X or about what you would expect. The shader count is 1024 against the 1280 and 896 of the 270X and 260X respectively but the 260X is of a newer generation. The 265 also clocks slowest of the set, 925MHz vs the 260X at 1.1GHz and the 270X at 1.05Ghz. All support PCIe3.

So what’s to like about the Radeon R7 265? Not much really which probably explains why AMD didn’t brief on this or get anyone cards in time to test before release. The R7 265 appears pointless, while likely a bit faster than 260X it is otherwise a regression from it’s predecessor. This probably explains why AMD only showed a single synthetic benchmark, Firestrike, to promote this card. Unless the independent benchmarks show a very different story from what the specs indicate, there is no way the 265 will live up to the claimed 25% performance increase on anything but cherry-picked memory bound benchmarks. The timing of review samples strongly suggest that we aren’t wrong here so you would be best off avoiding the R7 265.S|A

Author’s note: Splitting the embargoes up by three days is the stupidity the we were talking about during the R7 250X writeup. That said the timing and sample stupidity apply equally here.

Author’s note 2: In yet another stupidity, the pricing wasn’t revealed to us until late Tuesday, about a day and a half before launch but after the R7 250X reveal. Knowing this would have made the 250X seem a bit less attractive. SIGH.

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate