A few days ago, AMD allowed us to show some early numbers and some of the new features of their FM APU series, but there were some complaints about all of the sites that posted previews because the picture they presented with such articles skewed people's impression of AMD's new APUs. There is, of course, some truth to that; however, those judgments were, perhaps, made a bit too quickly. Today is the day that the APUs actually launch, and today is also the day I have the full testing suite to show.
You know, to be completely honest, I wasn't exactly sure how to present these new APUs because they are, to me, kind of exciting. Many things, including many of their executives, have changed at AMD, and I expect many people to be critical of AMD, especially considering that the launch of Bulldozer wasn't quite "accepted" by the enthusiast market as a whole. Since I consider myself part of that enthusiast market, and I wasn't overly excited by a Bulldozer in my current gaming rig either, I got an Intel chip, paired up with multiple AMD graphics cards, instead. I really like AMD in general, but even I cannot deny that for some time Intel has just had the better offering. So when I was asked if I wanted to do an APU preview back in July, I said "OK", but I was quite apprehensive on how things were going to shake down. I got my chip and an A75 board with the expectation that I'd be posting a review within about a month. Instead, I swapped out my son's FX-4100 and HD 4870 combo for the APU with a 6670 and that was that. I, however, had a plan.
A few weeks ago, I pulled that rig apart and installed that FX-4100 along with an HD 5850 back into my son's rig to begin work on the review in anticipation of the launch. I contacted a bunch of OEMs looking for matching comparison parts, and the tests that follow were assembled with the parts THEY want you to see this review completed with. For kicks, I also tested that FX-4100 rig with the HD 6670 for those interested in Bulldozer vs. Piledriver numbers. You can, as a result, try to "guesstimate" how much the addition of L3 to this CPU core is going to affect performance. And I'm going to let you draw your own conclusions about what these FM2 APUs represent. But first, I'm going to tell you what I think.
I held off on publishing the APU review back in August because I think AMD's got a real winner here. This is not a product that is meant to blow the doors off your Intel rig to make your Intel CPU run away in fear - these APUs have an entirely different purpose. First of all, the A10-5800K, the top-level chip, has an MSRP of around $125. A full APU rig with AMD Dual Graphics should cost less than $500. And yes, that same rig can play games in Eyefinity.
AMD's sole purpose with this product is to introduce decent graphics capability to the entry-level and value markets. Getting decent graphics performance on a budget has been rather hard since home PCs became a thing. You can try playing a recent game on one of many office PCs; however, you will probably not have much fun doing so. You will have to add a discrete graphics card if you want to add a second monitor to many of these systems, and the performance gain, depending on how much you spend, might not be that great for gaming either, but that aspect of computing is about to change. This is what it looks like:
|MODEL:||AMD A-Series APU|
|Tech/Package:||32nm, FM2 socket|
|TDP Configs:||CPU Power: 65W and 100W configurations|
|Processor:||“Piledriver” 32nm HKMG process core (up to 4 cores),|
up to 128 KB L1 Cache (64 KB Instruction, 64 KB Data)
Up to 4 MB L2, 2 x 128-bit FPUs / compute module
|Memory:||Up to DDR3 1866 @ 1.5V|
|Graphics Core:||Up to 384 Radeon™ Cores 2.0, DirectX® 11 capable, UVD3, VCE|
|Displays:||3x Digital Display: each supporting Display Port, HDMI or DVI |
1x Additional digital display supported using DP 1.2 daisy-chain connection
-VGA on FCH
|AMD Radeon Brand||HD 7660D||HD 7660D||HD 7560D||HD 7560D||HD 7540D||HD 7480D|
|AMD Radeon Cores||384||384||256||256||192||128|
|GPU Clockspeed||800 MHz||800 MHz||760 MHz||760 MHz||760 MHz||723 MHz|
|CPU Clock (Turbo/Base) GHz||4.2/ 3.8||4.0/ 3.4||3.9/ 3.6||3.7/ 3.2||3.8/ 3.6||3.6/ 3.4|
|Total Cache||4 MB||4 MB||4 MB||4 MB||1 MB||1 MB|
|Max DDR3||1866 MHz||1866 MHz||1866 MHz||1866 MHz||1866 MHz||1600 MHz|
|AMD Turbo CORE 3.0||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|