It’s been a busy time of year in the CPU market, with Haswell now on sale and making its stand as one mighty processor for its size, it’s time for AMD to release their update to the Trinity APU platform.
Whilst Intel’s new Z87 platform has seen a vast improvement in performance over Z77, it still has one major downside for some people and this relates to the cost. A new ground up platform means that users need to buy a new Z87 board in order to use the latest fourth generation processors and on the top end of the scale, this can equate to a large hole in the wallet. This is where AMD’s APU platform makes a strong stand against Intel. Whilst they have got their FX line of CPU’s that can perform virtually neck and neck with the 3rd Generation offerings from Intel, they do lack a built in GPU.
The APU or Accelerated Processing Unit is something that AMD have been proud of for a while now and the Trinity platform showed that with the inclusion of HD Radeon graphics into the same chip as a quad core CPU, it was able to give quite a substantial amount of power, especially for the price.
Richland is the next generation of APU’s to roll out of the AMD factories and even though AMD have made it clear that their HD Radeon 8xxx series of discrete GPUs will not be around until the early part of next year, back at the start of the year they did state that their 8000 series mobile graphics would be making appearance way before then within notebooks and within their APU’s
So what extra is there to be had over Trinity? Well over the last generation chips, AMD is promising a boost of 30-40% in performance and the biggest shouting point of all is the total cost of upgrading. Whereas Intel users need to buy both a chip and board in order to upgrade, the Richland APUs will all work on the current line of FM2 A85X motherboards with a simple BIOS update.
Other new features within Richland include the new HD Radeon 8000 series GPU cores, with up to 384 shaders, 8xAA and 16xAF support, DX11 support, DisplayPort 1.2 support and a clock speed of up to 844MHz. On top of this the A10 APUs will now also have native support DDR3-2133MHz memory speeds and the chips as a whole will offer more voltage and frequency levels for overclocking meaning that we should see some chips that are easier to work with when taking them to the next level in terms of speed.
To test this chip we will run all of our tests at stock speeds, then overclock the chip as far as it will allow and then run the tests again.
- Asus F2A85-V Pro (A85X) (With BIOS update for Richland APUs)
- AMD A10-6700 & A10-6800k
- ASUS Matrix HD 7970 Platinum
- Corsair Vengeance 1866MHz 16GB
- Corsair H100i
- Corsair HX1050
- Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD
- Lian Li T60
Many different software applications are also used to gain the broadest spectrum of results, which allows for the fairest testing possible.
- 3DMark 11
- Cinebench R11.5
- PCMark 7
As with all CPU reviews, we want to see how well the chips overclock and use this as a secondary reference point for your testing. With these two new APUs, only the A10-6800k will be shown with overclocked results within the charts as the A10-6700 is a locked processor, meaning that there is no facility to overclock it. As a sub note to anyone that is a little out of touch with recent CPU naming systems, AMD; like Intel -name all their unlocked chips with a ‘k’ at the end of the name to indicate that the CPU has an unlocked multiplier thus allowing the chip to be overclocked.
With the BIOS on the Asus F2A85-V Pro updated to ensure that the new Richland chips are properly recognised and are operating properly, its time to see how well the new A10 platform overclocks in comparison to the older Trinity chips. With a slight increase in the vCore up to 1.5v, the CPU ratio was gradually raised through 46x up to 48x where a core clock of 4.8GHz was obtained. 49x resulted in a series of boot loops or BSODs and any increase to the voltage had no effect on stability.
Whilst in terms of a percentage overclock this is only a small gain in speed, we should see within the results that are to follow a healthy gain in real world performance from the overclocked A10-6800k.
CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more. CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.
Looking at the two Richland APUs over the older generation Trinity chips, there is a good gain in performance to be seen from their previous generation counterparts. The A10-6700 sees a 16.6% gain in performance up from 2.88 to 3.36, whilst the 6800k sees a gain of just under 11% up from 3.22 to 3.57. Overclocking the 6800k sees an additional 10% over stock performance.
Super PI is a computer program that calculates pi to a specified number of digits after the decimal point—up to a maximum of 32 million. It uses Gauss–Legendre algorithm and is a Windows port of the program used by Yasumasa Kanada in 1995 to compute pi to 232 digits.
Whilst AMD chips in general are not well known for their SuperPI 32M calculation times, the Richland APUs are the fastest we’ve seen to date. The 6700 see a whopping 5 minutes 5 second taken off the time of the equivalent Trinity chip showing a near 20% gain in straight line performance. The 6800k also sees a faster time, shaving just under 3 minutes off the calculation time of the 5800k, bringing the stock AMD calculation times ever closer to the 20 minute mark.
3DMark 11 is the latest offering from Futuremark, taking full advantage of DirectX 11 by utilising tessellation features and volumetric lighting. It takes your graphics and CPU hardware to the edge to simulate the most extreme conditions whilst working as a stand point to compare results with other users online.
(Non-APU results use an ASUS Matrix HD 7970 Platinum)
The two new APUs see a close level of performance between the two, which given the fact they share the same GPU (HS 8670D @ 844Mz) is to be expected. Under the extreme pre-set in 3DMark 11, there is only a slight gain in performance over the older Trinity chips, however the Performance pre-set scores do see a good gain taking the Richland chips over the 1600 points threshold.
Overclocking the 6800k doesn’t see much improvement in performance, however 3DMark does focus more on the graphics side of the chips performance rather than the CPU.
AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users. AIDA64 Extreme Edition provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives. AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
As I’ve mentioned many times before, the lack of level 3 cache within AMD chips does have a major effect on memory bandwidth over Intel’s offerings, but we are slowly seeing that AMD are closing the gap between the two rivals.
PCMark 7 provides a set of 7 suites for measuring different aspects of PC performance with a high degree of accuracy. Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark Suite. The Lightweight Suite measures the capabilities of entry level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the full PCMark suite. Common use performance is measured by the Entertainment, Creativity and Productivity scenario suites. Component performance is measured by the Computation and Storage hardware suites. The Storage suite is ideal for testing SSDs and external hard drives in addition to the system drive.
PCMark7 again sees around a 6-7% gain in performance from both the 6700 and 6800k over their older siblings and overclocking to 4.8GHz sees the 6800k push even closer to the stock performance of an FX-8350.
To test power consumption, we monitor the overall power of the system through a plug-in electricity usage monitor at an idle and load state. This allows us to show the fluctuation between how much power draw the system takes at idle and at load. By monitoring the overall usage of the whole system, it gives an easy comparison if you wish to do the same yourself as opposed to buying very expensive individual testing equipment.
Power consumption is an area where the latest processors from both AMD and Intel have big things to shout about. Whilst the processing power of the latest generation chips is going up considerably, the power that the chips require is the same if not less than before. With both of the new APU’s idling comfortably below 60w, and fully loaded giving a total system draw of just over 100W, they are certainly not power hungry. We do note however that whilst the 6700 offers a TDP of 65W, its total draw is rather close to that of the 6800k.
For many years there has been a battle going on between AMD and Intel to get the consumer on their side and to stay with them and with the new Richland update to Trinity, I was expecting a bit more from the new chips in order to tempt some more people towards AMD. Whilst AMD claim the users should see around a 30-40% gain over the Trinity platform, the prospect in the real world as that they should see around 10% gains give or take. A lot of this is down to the memory speeds that the chips offer and in the case of the 6800k, it is highly recommended that a 1.5v 2133MHz kit is used to give optimum performance, whilst an 1866MHz kit is used with the 6700 as this lacks 2133MHz support.
Whilst there is not quite the gain in performance that I expected, the major factor that we have to take in to account with the AMD platform in general is the relative costs involved in getting a system built over Intel. With both the A10-6700 and the A10-6800k priced at around the £110-120 mark, (~€135 / ~US $180) and the boards that they run on also highly affordable, users on a budget can get the two key components they need for far less than an equivalent Intel setup and this is what matters – the performance that is on offer for the price. With the APU’s offering high performance Radeon graphics whilst Intel’s chips offers Intel’s own graphics platform, the advantage is there for AMD meaning users can quickly and cheaply get a system built that will happily play and game at 1920×1080 with good quality and frame rates without the need for a discrete GPU in the mix.
When it comes to the likes of video of photo editing work, the choice is less likely to be an AMD chip but for the most part and users that are on a tight budget, the AMD FM2 platform continues to deliver a lot for a relatively small price giving the upper hand to AMD on the entry level end of the market.
Bottom line: With 8000 series HD Radeon graphics on-board and still a remarkably low price point for upgrade with a simple BIOS update needed, AMD have got the entry level and mainstream user markets locked firmly in their grasp.