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Practical thoughts on the APU

Discussion in 'System Builder's Advice' started by lilhasselhoffer, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. lilhasselhoffer

    Apr 2, 2011
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    I intend this to be a resource for people who intend to build a system based around the APU. Given how new the thing is, a little bit of advice from people who have built a system may be of great importance to those looking to take the plunge.

    Some general issues:
    The APU is currently having issues with overclocking. AMD has documented this, and as of this post is still working on a solution. This means you can set the multiplier to the moon, but not see any real performance increase (beyond a certain point).

    The processing power on this thing is limited. Half of the die is dedicated to the graphics core. To put it into perspective, I've absolutely trounced the processing time for hyper pi using a Q9400 processor.

    I've experienced issues with tech support. For some reason my OS recognizes 6.0 of 8.0 GB of installed RAM. Gigabyte has yet to resolve this issue after a week of waiting, M$ doesn't respond, saying it must be a BIOS issue. On top of that, the mobo did not properly detect the RAM timings, despite the fact that the RAM was on the compatable memory list.

    Why choose the APU:
    Integrated video that doesn't suck. It really isn't fair to compare Intel integrated graphics to this. Between playing full 1080p videos, and games on reasonable settings (older - medium to high, newer, low to medium), this video solution puts Intel to shame.

    Budgetary concerns. For about 600 USD you get amazing graphics, the possibility for future graphics expansion, and a decently overclockable silicon slab. Even the lowest end Sandy Bridge beats out the APU on sheer processing power, but for a budget user the extra computing power is useless.

    Pricing breakdown:
    Right now the APU occupies a unique niche. It occupies a segment of the market about 150-200 USD dollars large. 500 USD will buy a low spec APU system, and anyone with a lower budget is better suited to look at very different computing options (atom, or even a tablet). If you have a budget above 700 USD you can get a discrete video card and the more powerful Sandy Bridge processor line.

    Final thoughts:
    If the next generation of APU utilizes the bulldozer architecture the story of value might be very different. Additional die shrinks might also increase the transistors available to the x86-64 processor, making them far more capable of driving the integrated graphics.

    For now, the APU is a unique animal. It does very well for the user on a tight budget, but is severely outclassed the second that your budget allows for a dedicated graphics card. I would recommend the APU, with the understanding that you have at least 8.0 GB of RAM and a restricted budget. Just know that the APU has some substantial flaws that still need to be ironed out.
  2. jpierce55

    Oct 7, 2006
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    The idea of oc'ing really doesn't matter when considering the APU in my mind. In my mind it is for people in a specific category, and that is not the enthusiast category. I think it has its place, and I expect it to be a success.

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