After a patch of bad news on the gaming PC front for AMD -- its hardware was not selected to be part of the 300 Steam Machine prototypes being built by Valve (though AMD apparently will be part of the commercial rollout) and boutique system builder Origin PC has stopped using the company's graphics cards (either as part of an Nvidia conspiracy -- or not -- depending on whom you ask) -- it hopes to turn the tide with its new lineup of Radeon R9 and R7 graphics cards.
A majority of the new lineup is based on existing hardware, albeit with the usual tweaks to provide better performance and quieter operation. Currently, the higher-performing R9 series comprises two new cards: the R9 270X and R9 280X. The 270X is based on the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition hardware, but boosts the core clock speed and video memory speed, while also offering a card with 4GB of video RAM in addition to a 2GB model. Oddly enough, the R9 280X doesn't appear to be much of a hardware upgrade to the corresponding Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition at all, even having a slightly slower GPU clock speed, though it's slightly cheaper.
The more budget-friendly R7 series includes the R7 240, 250, and 260X. The board that the 240 and 250 are based on has previously been available to OEMs only. As with the R9 270X, the 260X betters the speeds of its Radeon HD 7790 hardware twin, though the power draw jumps from 85W to 115W. Unfortunately for AMD, reviewers like Hot Hardware and Tom's Hardware found that the 260X could not beat the similarly priced Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost.
Versions of the five new cards will be commercially available starting tomorrow. At the low end, the R7 240 is priced at $69 and the R7 250 at $89, with the 260X coming in at $139. The R9 270X is priced at $199 for the 2GB version and $229 for the 4GB model, while the 280X will cost $299. Of course, final pricing and any enhancements will ultimately decided by AMD's manufacturing partners.
Those in the market for a more powerful card will be curious to see what AMD offers with the forthcoming R9 290X (and R290), which will be based on the new Hawaii architecture. According to early online pricing, it may cost over $700 for the privilege of having the latest and greatest hardware, however.