Kaveri APus have a lot in store, and get a lot to say about. I've been working with this A10-7850K APU for a few days now and its an excellent APU for generic desktop PC usage. Combine your setup with a nice SSD and the OS feels incredible snazzy and fast. Next to that , I was just trying out Battlefield 4 playing on the integrated GPU. Though the results are not injected into our test suite, on average at 1080P I got 25 to 30 FPS at medium quality settings. That's not bad really, this was non Mantle btw and with Mantle enabled ... you'll be slightly above the 30'ies. Yes Kaveri is AMD's most powerful APU ever made, the focus for AMD however has been everything but not processing performance, and that still puzzles me. I mean AMD put well over 2 Billion transistors in this APU and that shows in both OpenCL and graphics performance. Kudo's for that.
The actual raw processing performance of the product is barely a notch faster compared to Trinity and Richland, and that is a bit of a let down. Truth be told though, the CPU and the GPU are in sync performance wise. AMD on their end claims that actually processing performance is less significant and that the GPU performance as well as OpenCL performance is where they need to be. CPU performance will be compensated once Mantle kicks in, it pretty much sums up AMDs look at things. But even if Mantle would get wide adoption from the software houses, it's not gonna help them at all with generic CPU dependant applications, just with a handful of games. The A10-7850K APU as tested today performance roughly at similar performance levels as the previous generation A10 6800K APUs, though with a faster IGP performance. That makes the A10-7850K a product for the more mainstream PCs, it is an excellent solution for HTPCs. The focus on the A10 system and the capabilities will be small form factor PCs for casual gaming, media etc and on that front it definitely excels. Again, these APUs are just perfect for generic Desktop PC usage, but you won't have fast enough processing power to build you a blistering fast gaming rig though. That is the sheer reality.
So the danger for the success of the APU on the Desktop PC platform remains the lack of raw processor power. The IGP inside the APU is leading and highly programmable. OpenCL and anything compute related is exactly where this APU shines. Gaming wise a migration of the architecture to GCN is a very clever step as well. With mediocre settings you can actually play games at 1080P, please do pair it with fast DDR3 memory though as the iGPU is very dependant on system memory. So yeah, you can even play game at 720P and some even at 1080P considering you flick down image quality settings, and that's progress alright. Realistically if you build a PC for everyday usage like browsing and perhaps Photoshop a thing or two then it's all good really. The Kaveri APU also excels with its updated video engine and all the multi-monitor output lovin this APU offers, AMD simply wins hands down opposed to anything Intel has to offer.
TDP wise AMD has given the A10-7850K a TDP of 95W which we roughly measured. Idle power load is low overall we feel that power consumption is not bad at all, especially when you take the IGP into account.
The Platform Overall
Now in the beginning of this conclusion I wrote an entire chapter about processing performance, but the truth is also (and you do need to realize this) that a Kaveri APU based platform will offer tremendous value for money. AMD is intensely strong with the embedded GPU and can spin-off many functions from that GPU. Combined with the series 8 chipset you will gain features like a SATA-600 and USB 3.0 support. Also a very powerful Catalyst based software suite surrounding AMDs APUs definitely brings heaps of advantages to them opposed to the competition. Remember, the A10 7850K APU offers decent enough CPU performance, excellent multi-media options, the Full HD experience and sure, even gaming albeit very low level will work just fine.
If you take away a high-end gaming rig from your mindset and understand what AMD is bringing to the table with Kaveri, then you should be impressed. It is a rather bold move for AMD to focus more on the IGP side of things rather then CPU performance. I profoundly like the new Kaveri architecture, it is the first true native heterogeneous APU architecture that will set the path into the future. With it's well over 2 Billion transistors it isn't even a cheap chip to produce. I do worry though that the overall serial processing performance (raw processor performance) is just not enough to make a big enough difference for you guys as you demand something faster. That really is my only negative view on Kaveri. On the architecture side of things, Kaveri is looking mighty good.
Though we just reviewed the A10 version, even the A8 model we recently tested managed to impress me and will make for an excellent APU to run your average PC for browsing, photo's and multi-media functionality.
These APUs are just great for any HTPC or small form factor functionality. The A10 has 512 Shader processors, the move towards the GCN GPU architecture was a great, albeit expensive, one. But utilizing both the CPU and GPU architecture does make Kaveri Excel at tasks that will make use of both, OpenCL keeps coming back into my mind as well as gaming. If you purchase a Kaveri APU with the combination of that Series 8 motherboard, you'll have a processor, graphics subsystem, up-to eight SATA-600 ports, USB 3.0, heaps of USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HD audio and you simply get a very up-to-date PC.
Any Kaveri APU will be will be hard to beat in terms of features and overall performance, it is an excellent and affordable APU for a HTPC or a mainstream Windows 8.1 PC. Gamers with a high-end dedicated graphics cards will however require a little more in terms of raw processor performance. But if enough games get supported, Mantle might be the magic that AMD needs to happen and solve that need. The A10-7850K really is a terrific product offering heaps of features, fun and a very decent PC experience.
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