AMD Trinity: Welcome Back to the Game
AMD has had a rough go this year with their FX processor falling well below everyone’s expectations on performance. With the FX not reaching the level they wanted AMD has put a lot of focus on their Fusion design and the Trinity APU is the newest entry. AMD sent us the A10 5800K to take a look at.
The new Fusion processor takes the Bulldozer basic design, with some tweaking and adds a more powerful parallel co-processor over the original Fusion chips. The result is a more powerful APU design that is also more efficient.
The particular model we have in house, the A10 5800K is the top end of the new Fusion APU lineup. As you can see from the chart the line up includes 4 quad core chips, 2 of them setup for lower TDP along with 2 dual core chips. The 5800, 5600 and 5400 are K branded chips which means they are unlocked for easier overclocking. The A10 chips have the higher end of the onboard graphic options. The 5800 is priced at around $130 and the other chips will work down the price line accordingly.
The new chip brings with it a new socket and thus new motherboards. To allow us to test the chip AMD sent an Asus F2A85-M Pro board. This is one of the higher end boards for the new FM2 socket and is designed to provide a solid mainstream priced board with some good features for overclocking. Like the previous APUs we looked at, the A10 will make use of faster RAM and so for our testing we used Hyper-X DDR3 1866 RAM courtesy of Kingston.
For purposes of our testing I did my testing with a lot of basic work as well as video play back. For gaming I focused at 720 resolution settings but also pushed the testing to the 1080 resolution based on our briefing from AMD. For the basic work testing we did batch runs of photo resizing as well as well as used a number of benchmarks designed to work in Word and Excel. For gaming we chose from some of todays popular games; Borderlands 2, Star Trek Online, World of Warcraft, Mechwarrior Online (now that the NDAS is lifted) and Civilization V.
Using just the onboard graphics the chip was able to deliver on everyday use with ease. There we no functions we threw at the chip that resulted in a performance hit that was noticeable, even when compared head to head with faster processors. The video playback using HD video was smooth and looked great. Gaming produced some really surprising results when you realize it was purely onboard graphics. I found most game ran okay at 1080 with a medium detail setting and at 720 the detail level could crank up and the performance was still very playable.
As with the first APU release, this chip allows a hybrid crossfire using the 6670 and 6570 to boost the gaming horsepower. As with that release the results were solid when the game supported it. The good news is more games today come with multi-card support out of the box. These means you can get a solid lower cost gaming system if needed.
When we move into the CPU side of this APU the results are still very close to the first APU releases. The move to the “Bulldozer” style core shows off when it is mutli-tasking hard but in single threaded apps it still falls on it’s face when compared to older chips. However more software is moving to a multi-threaded setup so the chip is not being hurt as much as it might have been a year or two ago.
When you take this chip as a whole and do not segregate the two components, the chips shines. When compared to the i3 processors from Intel, the ones that match the price point, the A10 is a solid choice. When the thread count rises the A10 takes a good lead in performance and the onboard graphics blows away Intel’s offering. This makes this chip a great choice for a low cost build, HTPC or an entry level gaming PC.
The key here however is that this is meant for entry level. As you raise the cost of your PC you begin to get options open that offer a more powerful solution. So it brings AMD back to the game when it comes to the entry and budget level builds due to being more versatile that the competition with solid performance and way over the top video capabilities.
However the place this chip will really shine is in cookie cutter (OEM) machines. If you are going into a store and looking to buy that basic $600 PC then look for a system using an A10 or A8, these are the best choice by far. They deliver a more complete package then the competition and have some nice low cost upgrade options built into the design.
For most of this year AMD has struggled to hang on to the entry level with some decent offerings but nothing that gave them a clear edge. It is nice to see AMD finally climb up and not have to hold on by it’s finger tips, but rather stand tall and again take command of this market segment.
Segment as aired live 6 October 2012