Sapphire R7 250 Ultimate Review
AMD recently changed the naming convention of the Radeon GPU line up because they were quickly running into numbers that were previously used by a competitor. As it stands now, the “R” series is denoted by a number to represent it’s place in the tier starting with the R9 series. The R9 encompasses the enthusiast and hardcore gaming class GPUs followed by the R7 (mid-range) and R5 (entry level) series of GPUs. The following numbers express the placement within that tier. Today we are looking at an R7 250, this places this card in the middle of the mid-range GPU offerings. Unlike the other R7 250s available, the R7 250 Ultimate employs a passive cooling solution for absolute silent operation.
The rear of the box lists the standard affair of features and product information. Along with the highlighting of the GCN architecture, the R7 250 is capable of Powertune, Direct X 11.2 and Crossfire capable.
Within the package you find that Sapphire included an HDMI cable and DVI to VGA adapter along with the driver disc and warranty information.
I found the packaging of the R7 250 Ultimate a little odd. Even if the PET (antistatic) bag is supposed to protect from the inside as well as the outside, it is still very uncommon and generally avoided to place paper or cardboard inside with the component. Once the GPU is removed from the PET bag there will be a risk of a transfer of electrostatic from you to the cardboard to the GPU. I would suggest wearing an ESD strap or discharge as much static from yourself as possible during the removal and installation of the GPU. This should be standard practice but it is always worth a quick reminder.
As you can see the passive cooling solution is very extensive. The multi part cooling solution covers the entire front side of the GPU and part of the rear. The hefty , 185(L)X120(W)X50(H)mm Ultimate may be able to run silently but it will be difficult to do so in some of the smaller HTPC cases as it may not fit. The aesthetics of the heat sink and the middle block cover gives the Ultimate a very capable look.
The 2 slot R7 250 Ultimate was designed for HTPC and light gaming, as such it comes with all 3 of the most commonly used outputs for HD video. Full size display port 1.2, full size HDMI (with 3D) and Dual-Link DVI -I. Thankfully a VGA port was omitted as it should be phased out forever. For those using an older VGA capable monitor, the included DVI to VGA adapter has you covered. Eyefinity is enabled on the Ultimate R7 250 for multi screen HD viewing.
Each of the finned heat sink sections contain one of the four chrome polished heat pipes to maximize surface area to keep the 512 shaders cool. Some of you may have noticed that other R7 250s in the market only list 384 shaders on the spec sheets. AMD has released two distinct models of the R7 250, one shipping with 2GB of 128bit DDR3 with 384 shaders clocked at 1000MHz and the model we are reviewing today, 128bit 1GB DDR5 model with 512 shaders clocked at 800MHz. Overall they will be very close in performance but I would go with the DDR5 model.
Sapphire felt it was necessary to warn users of the heat dissipated from the surface of the cooler. Since there are no fans to assist this may turn out to be a fair warning.
There are more then 100 individual fins on the R7 250 Ultimate to help pull heat off the GPU.
You may have noticed that there is no additional power needed to run the R7 250 Ultimate. You will thank Sapphire if you install the Ultimate in a HTPC chassis. One less cable to manage.