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AMD A8-3870K Unlocked Llano APU Review

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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
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1,088
Location
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System Benchmarks: PCMark 7 / WinRAR / 7-Zip

System Benchmarks: PCMark 7 / WinRAR / 7-Zip



PCMark 7




WinRAR


WinRAR 4.0.1 x64
Test: Compression of 1GB of Assorted Files
Comparison: Time to Finish

One of the most popular file compression/decompresion tools, we use WinRAR to compress a 1GB batch of files and archive them, timing the task until completion.




7-Zip


7-Zip 9.22 x64
Test: Compression/Extraction of 1GB of Assorted Files, with AES-256 encryption
Comparison: Time to Finish


 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage / 3DMark 11

Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage / 3DMark 11



Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.1.0
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.




Futuremark 3DMark 11


3DMark 11 v1.0.2
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280X720
Test: Specific Physics Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score


3DMark 11 is Futuremark's very latest benchmark, designed to tests all of the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. At the moment, it is lot more GPU-bound than past versions are now, but it does contain a terrific physics test which really taxes modern multi-core processors.



 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks: Crysis / Crysis 2 / Civilization V

Gaming Benchmarks: Crysis / Crysis 2 / Civilization V



Crysis


Crysis v1.21
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: High
Global Settings: DX10 / 64-Bit

Test 1: Ice benchmark_CPU2 demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Still one of the most hardware intensive game on the market today, Crysis has been chosen for its obvious ability to be able to showcase the differences between platforms and to showcase just how far one will need to go in the quest for maximum performance. The game also features the renowned CryEngine, the power behind the incredible graphics, which is expected to be foundation of future titles.




Crysis 2


Crysis 2 v1.9 + DirectX 11 Ultra Upgrade Patch
Quality: Very High
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 0X
Map: Downtown
Runs: 3
API: DirectX 11
Edge AA: Edge Blur
Hi-res Texture: On




Civilization V


Civilization V
Map: LateGameView Benchmark
API: DirectX 11
Resolution: 1680x1050 @ 59Hz
Anti-Aliasing: 4X MSAA
All quality settings on high.



 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks: DiRT 3 / Far Cry 2 / X3

Gaming Benchmarks: DiRT 3 / Far Cry 2 / X3



DiRT 3


DiRT 3
DirectX 11
[email protected]
Graphics Quality: High
4X MSAA
Skidmarks: On
Track: finland_rally





Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2 1.02
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: Very High
Performance: Very High
Global Settings: DX10 Enabled

Test 1: Ranch Long Demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Far Cry 2 is the hot new new first-person shooter from Ubisoft's Montreal studio, and the first game to utilize the new visually stunning Dunia Engine, which will undoubtedly be used by numerous future games. Using the included Benchmarking Tool, we ran the Long Ranch demo in DX10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings set to very high.




X3: Terran Conflict


X3: Terran Conflict 1.2.0.0
Resolution: 1680x1050
Texture Quality: High
Shader Quality: High
Antialiasing 4X
Anisotropic Mode: 8X
Glow Enabled

Game Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)


 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks: Team Fortress 2 / Street Fighter 4 / World in Conflict

Gaming Benchmarks: Team Fortress 2 / Street Fighter 4 / World in Conflict



Team Fortress 2


Team Fortress 2 (Latest Update)
Map: Dustbowl
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing Mode: 4X MSAA
Filtering Mode: Anisotropic 8X
Graphic Settings: High
Texture Detail: Very High
Water Detail: Reflect All
Motion Blur: Enabled
High Dynamic Range: Full
Test 1: HWC TF2 Custom Timedemo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)




Street Fighter 4


Street Fighter 4 Demo
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Texture Filter: 8X
Graphic Settings: High
Test 1: Built-in Timedemo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Street Fighter IV is a 2008 arcade game produced by famous developer Capcom, that has finally been released on the PC platform. This game has not been 'ported' since the Street Fighter IV arcade machines actually have PC internals, with circa 2005 components. As a result, the version of the game released on the PC is considered the definitive version. With fully multi-threaded engine and an astounding hybrid 2D/3D graphics style, this game is sure to please all fans of the Street Fighter series.




World in Conflict


World in Conflict v1.0.0
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 4X
Graphic Settings: Very High
Test 1: Built-in Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

One of the most visually stunning real-time strategy games in recent history, World in Conflict can really push systems to the brink, which is what we attempt by running the game in DirectX 10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings maxed out. For this test we used the in-game benchmarking tool.


 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
IGP Gaming Benchmarks

IGP Gaming Benchmarks



In order to get an idea of how the Radeon HD 6550D GPU in the A8-3780K APU compares to the competition, we decided to test it against the A6-3650, the A8-3850, the Intel GMA HD IGP (both 733Mhz & 900Mhz variants) found in the Clarkdale chips, the Intel HD Graphics 2000/3000 IGPs in the various Sandy Bridge chips (6 EUs @ 850-1100Mhz/ 12 EUs @ 850-1100Mhz/ 12 EUs @ 850-1350Mhz), and AMD's fastest AM3 platform IGP, the Radeon HD 4290 (40 shaders/700Mhz core clock/UMA+SidePort DDR3-1333) found in the 890GX chipset. We also threw in two low-priced discrete GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA, the Radeon HD 5550 GDDR5 (320 shaders/550Mhz core clock) and the GeForce GT 430 DDR3 (96 shaders/700Mhz core clock).

As we demonstrated previously in the A8-3850 review, both overall memory bandwidth and the amount of memory allocated to the IGP greatly affects gaming performance. We did not bother re-testing the A8-3870K with the various memory frequency/timing configurations, but we have included the original results so you can see what kind of performance gain to expect if you do go that route. We have also included results from the Highest Stable GPU Overclock configuration to demonstrate just how much additional gaming performance can be squeezed from the A8-3870K via overclocking.



Futuremark 3DMark06


3DMark06 v1.1.0
Graphic Settings: Default
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

The Futuremark 3DMark series has been a part of the backbone in computer and hardware reviews since its conception. The trend continues today as 3DMark06 provides consumers with a solid synthetic benchmark geared for performance and comparison in the 3D gaming realm. This remains one of the most sought after statistics, as well as an excellent tool for accurate CPU comparison, and it will undoubtedly be used for years to come.





Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
Graphic Settings: Entry Preset
Resolution: 1024X768

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.




Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2 1.02
Resolution: 1280x1024
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: Medium
Global Settings: DX9 Enabled

Test 1: Ranch Long Demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Far Cry 2 is the hot new new first-person shooter from Ubisoft's Montreal studio, and the first game to utilize the new visually stunning Dunia Engine, which will undoubtedly be used by numerous future games. Using the included Benchmarking Tool, we ran the Long Ranch demo in DX9 mode at 1280x1024 with all settings set to low.




Left 4 Dead


Left 4 Dead (Latest Update)
Resolution: 1680x1050
Filtering: 0X AA / 0X AF
Graphic Settings: Medium
Shader Detail: Medium
Test 1: HWC Custom Timedemo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Left 4 Dead is the latest disorienting, fast-paced zombie apocalypse mega-hit from Valve. L4D uses the latest version of the Source engine with enhancements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation. We tested at 1680x1050 with in-game details set to low. For benching, we used a pre-recorded 20 minute timedemo taken on the No Mercy campaign during The Apartments mission.




World in Conflict


World in Conflict v1.010
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 0X
Anisotropic Filtering: 0X
Graphic Settings: Medium (DX10)
Test 1: Built-in Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

One of the detailed and most visually stunning real-time tactical games in recent history, World in Conflict remains a staple in our gaming lineup . For this test we used the in-game benchmarking tool.




X3: Terran Conflict


X3: Terran Conflict 1.2.0.0
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 0X
Anisotropic Filtering: 0X
Graphic Settings: Medium
Test 1: Built-in Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)




As you would expect, the default performance difference between the A8-3850 and the A8-3870K ranges from between nil and 3% depending on how CPU-centric a game is. Nevertheless, this level of performance is still more than enough to blow away every other IGP in the charts, as well as be competitive with the dedicated GeForce GT 430 in a few instances. However, it is when you overclock that the A8-3870K really shines. When set to our Highest Stable GPU Overclock configuration, the A8-3870K came in first place in every instance, decidedly surpassing both of the dedicated graphics cards with ease. Yes, the CPU is having a significant impact here, but it just goes to show what level of performance you can unlock from these Llano chips with a little easy multplier tweaking. You might also achieve a similar level of performance by overclocking the A8-3850, but it is going to be much more of a challenge.

If we isolate and compare the similarly-priced A8-3870K and Core i3-2120, the difference is stark. Even with its much higher CPU performance the Sandy Bridge chip gets slaughtered across the board, sometimes achieving less than half the frame rates of the stock Llano APU. If you're a gamer on a really tight budget, the choice is obvious.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Power Consumption / Temperature Testing

Power Consumption



For this section, every energy saving feature was enabled in the respective BIOSes and the Windows Vista power plan was changed from High Performance to Balanced.

For our idle test, we let the system idle for 15 minutes and measured the peak wattage through our UPM EM100 power meter.

For our CPU load test, we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs on all available threads for 15 minutes, measuring the peak wattage via the UPM EM100 power meter.

For our overall system load test, we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs on all available threads for 15 minutes, while simultaneously loading the GPU with OCCT v3.1.0 GPU:OCCT stress test at [email protected] in full screen mode.


As expected, the A8-3870K features nearly identical power consumption figures as the A8-3850. The numbers aren't quite Sandy Bridge good, but then again Llano chips do have 1.45 billion transistors, more than any other mainstream-level processor.

When overclocked, the A8-3870K has slightly higher power consumption than the similarly-clocked 3.6GHz Phenom II X4 980, but the Llano chip obviously has a huge chunk of its die dedicated to graphics. Since it was designed to be used in a simple system without a discrete GPU, let’s take a look at the power consumption when using the IGP.


First let's restate that the Sandy Bridge chips in this graph have an almost unfair advantage in the form of the Intel DH67BL motherboard. This Intel-manufactured motherboard has unmatched idle power consumption, easily 10W less than comparable motherboards from the big three motherboard manufacturers.

Once again, the A8-3870K's default power consumption numbers are basically identical to the A8-3850. The idle results are good, but when you load up the CPU power consumption rises greatly, and it is not really competitive with its main competition, the Core i3-2100 series. Thankfully, the power consumption doesn’t rise much when you also tax the integrated GPU, so overall you end up with a system that peaks at about 145W. This is obviously excellent when compared to the two configurations with dedicated GPUs, and when you consider the level of performance that you are getting in the graphics department.

When overclocked the figures do rise substantially, but you are getting a nice 20% performance boost in most applications and a 30-40% gain in games.



Temperature Testing


For the temperature testing, since we were not given a default cooler from AMD, we used a Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme with a Thermalright TR-FDB-1600 fan. The ambient temperature was 21°C/69.8°F. The application used to monitor temperatures was HWiNFO v3.82-1300. Keep in mind that the thermal sensors in most modern processors are not really accurate at measuring idle temperatures, hence the very small delta between the room temp and the idle results.

Idle CPU + Idle IGP: The system was left to idle for 15 minutes.
Idle GPU + Load IGP: OCCT v3.1.0 GPU stress test was run at 1680x1050 for 15 minutes.
Load CPU + Idle IGP: Prime 95 In-place large FFTs was run for 15 minutes.
Load CPU + Load IGP: Prime 95 In-place large FFTs and OCCT v3.1.0 GPU stress test were run for 15 minutes.


AMD are known for making cool-running processors, and the A-series APUs are no different. Our A8-3870 sample was remarkably cool when idle, and barely warmed up when we were fully loading the integrated GPU. Even when both CPU and GPU portions where loaded, the temperature just barely broke the 40°C mark.

When overclocked and overvolted the CPU and GPU obviously put out a lot more heat, but even then we did not record any temps above 55°C. You definitely don't need to spend more than $30 on an aftermarket CPU cooler to get this chip cool when overclocked.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,088
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


We have always considered the $135 A8-3850 to be a good value, and at $145 this new A8-3870K is arguably an even better deal. The 100MHz frequency increase doesn't really mean much in terms of overall performance, but the unlocked multipliers really allow users to better exploit the not inconsiderable headroom found in the CPU and GPU portions of this Llano APU.

Now this chip does have to compete with the likes of the Intel Core i3-2100 series, the $130 Core i3-2120 in particular, and as you can see below even in overclocked form the A8-3870K is not going to set any records in CPU benchmarks. However, it is without question the golden standard when it comes to IGPs. Take a look at the tables to see what we mean:


As we mentioned in both previous A-series APU reviews, the "Stars" K10.5 cores simply cannot compete with the newer Sandy Bridge microarchitecture when it comes to lightly threaded applications. The Llano chip does occasionally score the odd victory thanks to its four native cores, but even those victories are by a fairly slight amount and they certainly don't offset the losses. To make matters worse, in all of our gaming benchmarks it was a decisive victory in favour of the Sandy Bridge processor.

Even when overclocked by a healthy 20%, the A8-3870K's weaknesses are still readily apparent, but the quad-core APU's multi-threading advantage over the stock dual-core/four-thread Core i3-2120 does balance out the overall performance a bit. Now those of you wondering how an overclocked i3-2120 would fare have to remember that these lower-end chips are artificially limited, and even we were only able to extract an extra 84MHz in our review. This fact alone makes the unlocked APU particularly attractive to us, but then again we like to tinker with our hardware.

Now when we remove the discrete GPU from the equation, the A8-3870K's real strength is finally highlighted:


As we demonstrated in our original review of the A8-3850, in stock form the Radeon HD 6550D is without question the fastest integrated graphics solution on the market right now. It competes in a totally different league than the Intel HD Graphics 2000 part that is built into the Core i3-2120, often achieving frame rates that are twice as high in particularly GPU-intensive games. It also provides a significantly smoother gaming experience than either the Core i5-2500K or Core i7-2600K, both of which have an overwhelming CPU performance and sport higher-end Intel HD Graphics 3000 IGPs.

Keep in mind that this is in stock form. When overclocked, we were able to achieve a 30% increase in gaming performance, and thanks to the unlocked multipliers it was an incredibly easy task. When running at 960MHz, an impressive 60% increase over the stock 600MHz, the Radeon HD 6550D performs a heck of a lot better than any of the entry-level $40-45 discrete graphics cards out there. Optimal performance can be achieved by adding a highly-clocked DDR3 memory kit, since it will help alleviate some of the GPU's memory bottlenecks. By the way, don't forget the fact that there is more and more software that is harnessing the parallel processing horsepower of modern graphics architectures, so that powerful IGP can play an important role in current and upcoming GPU-accelerated programs.

Ultimately, our conclusion for the A8-3870K largely mirrors that of the A6-3650 and A8-3850. If you're building a low cost system from scratch that will be used for medium-level gaming, HD movie watching or other general day-to-day tasks, the Lynx platform is a no-brainer that provides unmatched value. Intel's lower-end Sandy Bridge models are still generally faster in most benchmarks, but when you take an overall look it is hard not to come to the conclusion that Llano's graphics capabilities more than makes up for its processing shortcomings. Furthermore, with this new unlocked A8-3870K chip it is very easy to address some of the performance shortcomings via overclocking, and based on our experience you are getting a terrifically versatile all-in-one chip for $145.

 
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