AMD A8-3850 APU review -
Finals Words and conclusion
Final words and conclusion
With Llano Lynx, or the AMD A8 series APUs, AMD places an attention-grabbing product onto the market for those that like to build a decent Net-PC, an entry level PC, a simple desktop PC or an HTPC.
For the desktop PC platform the Lynx series A8 APU we tested is fascinating alright, however we definitely had higher hopes for RAW processor performance. The culprit for AMD is that they made use of the Stars architecture and as such cannot compete with Intel on that level compared to Sandy Bridge. It will take up-to 2012 until Llano gets updated to a new CPU architecture based off Bulldozer, that project is called Trinerty. But Intel is releasing Ivy Bridge in 2012 as well. So yeah we had hoped for much higher-per core performance. It's not all about raw unadulterated processor performance though as AMD abundantly makes clear.
See, the strong point of Llano obviously is the embedded GPU and combined with their A75 chipset features like native SATA-600 and USB 3.0 support. Next to that, the powerful software suite surrounding Llano definitely brings heaps of advantages to AMD opposed to the competition.
And as such I foresee that Llano will be huge in the notebook market, and perhaps a little less strong in the PC market initially. For notebooks for example, with Llano AMD effectively kills off the market for NVIDIA with products like an AMD processor / NVIDIA GPU combo. Llano offers good CPU performance, excellent multi-media options, the Full HD experience and even a great gaming experience -- I'm still talking laptops here ok?
But back to the desktop platform, for the PC the Lynx based A8-3850 is a decent performer processor wise at best. The integrated GPU however is a class of its own and it will accelerate all GPU assisted applications extremely well. For HTPC usage the Llano Lynx processors will be hot stuff as for little money you can design an HTPC that just downright kicks ass. The 400 shader processors will allow you to do massive additional post-processing on your content and the UVD3 engine will offer you seriously good Full-HD accelerated playback from pretty much any source. Also think about stuff like AMD Accelerate where you can use the processor and shader processors to compute and accelerate more generic applications. If the software supports it, that's where the A series APU will kick in hard.
We also have to realize that with the embedded GPU the dynamic of the 'generic processor' changed. Combine the processor with the GPU and see that GPU as an extra parallel co-processor for a second. Imagine software taking advantage of both these units simultaneously. That's where the true power is, and unfortunately for AMD... most benchmarks and tests are just not ready for that, as 80% of the tests and benchmarks focus mainly on just the processor. Ironically a test like the 3DMark Vantage P score is probably a very good indicator as it emasures both CPU and GPU performance.
For the series A8 processor that we tested we have to admit that the power envelope is decent. With use of the integrated GPU we noted down 39 Watts in idle and roughly 110 Watts when we stress the APU, that's pretty okay really. Heat levels of the APU are a non-issue as well, obviously we always recommend a proper cooler. But expect a thermal envelope of 50 Degrees C with a decent cooler and heavy APU stress. We did not include final temperatures in our tests just yet as we noticed a weird offset in the monitoring software, likely related due to a BIOS or sensor offset issue.
Gaming then; well Llano for Laptops will be really good, the 400 shader processors and that graphics engine will deliver decent performance for laptop monitor resolutions. Fact remains that after 1280x1024 the IGP will slowly run into problems. Performance wise the lower end games with lower quality settings however will run 1600x800 reasonably, and yeah that is just a colossal step forward for an integrated GPU.
Say if you are on a very steep budget, well... gaming is becoming an option and AMD certainly offers the best IGP in the business. Especially compared to the IGPs in say Core i5 660/661 and the current Core i3/i5/i7 Sandy Bridge series processors, the A8 series will dominate, rule and has set a completely new standard.
From that other point of view, sure... if you have gaming needs in decent resolutions with respectable image quality settings and modern more stringent on the GPU based games, you will need to be on the lookout for a dedicated graphics card. But obviously, that was as expected.
Overclocking -- I'll need to redo and check out overclocking performance on another motherboard. The ASROCK motherboard in use while applying tweaks did not show any differences in performance. You will be limited though to roughly 3800 MHz as that's how far the multiplier goes, and the baseclock .. well you hardly can tweak on that really. So we'll look into that in a later stage or with other A75 motherboard reviews.
Alright, let's sum things up; the AMD A8 processor as tested today offers what AMD always offers, a very affordable alternative with every gadget available on-board. If you purchase an A8 APU with the combination of that A75 based motherboard, you'll have a processor, graphics subsystem, SATA-600 ports, USB 3.0, heaps of USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HD audio and well... everything you need to get a very up-to-date PC.
Now, if you combine all these features with the APU price you'll be surprised, the AMD A8-3850 APU as reviewed today will cost you give or take 129 USD / 90 EUR, and that's a hard price to beat for all the features and GPU goodness you receive alright. So with the A series APU AMD have started something new, a heterogeneous piece of technology that will address a very specific market and that's from low-end to mid-range PC. The years to come will be interesting as slowly but steadily we are moving towards system-on-a-chip designs for the PC and notebook segment. We had hoped for some more CPU power, but that graphics subsystem certainly compensates for a lot. Intel must be scratching their heads right now, as AMD made a massive step forward today.
Look at the entire infrastructure versus features, not just the processor power -- that's what's it's all about -- its Fusion my man.
The A8 series processors are entry level to mid-range targeted processors (well -- APUs). So we are looking at reasonably up-to okay CPU performance versus a rather kick ass integrated GPU, and all that for prices that are very interesting. Today's tested A8 3800 APU will cost roughly 89 EUR, and you get a whole lotta CPU/GPU for that money.
AMD A8-3850 APU review
Combine the power of a CPU and a GPU then tie a Northbridge into that product and boom -- AMD calls the end product an APU. We take a look at the AMD A8-3850 APU in combination with the new A75 motherboard chipset. Let's have a peek at what AMD brings to the table.