The Ultimate AMD Kaveri Review: A10-7850K, A10-7700K and A8-7600



/ 6 months ago

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Introduction


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If you follow our website and the technology industry more broadly then you may have heard a lot about Kaveri since it was officially launched on January 14th 2014. Kaveri is the codename for AMD’s fourth generation of desktop APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) after Llano, Trinity and Richland. In successive generations we have seen AMD’s APUs grow a lot stronger mainly in terms of graphics performance but also bringing refinements in terms of power consumption and CPU performance as well as new features.

So what does Kaveri bring to the table that is new? In terms of new architectures we see a transition from Piledriver (Trinity) to Steamroller on the CPU side and from VLIW4 (Trinity) to GCN 1.0 on the GPU side. Yet the most exciting and easily the most talked about new feature is the inclusion of AMD’s new HSA technology. HSA is AMD’s “Heterogeneous Computing” plan which includes two main components: hUMA (Heterogeneous Unified Memory Architecture) and hQ (Heterogeneous Queuing). hUMA allows for the sharing of system memory equally between GPU cores and CPU cores and hQ allows for both the CPU and GPU cores to independently schedule tasks.

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There is of course more to Kaveri than Steamroller, GCN and HSA – but those are the main components. Other new additions include full support for AMD’s TrueAudio technology, Mantle support and an improved Unified Video Decoder and Video Compression Engine. However, before we delve into those new technical improvements and features, let’s first discuss what this article is all about.

Today we are examining AMD’s entire new range of Kaveri Desktop APUs – the A10-7850K, A10-7700K and A8-7600. In addition we will be comparing those to their equivalents from the last generation – the A10-6800K, A10-6790K and A8-6500T respectively. Then for a bit of perspective we are comparing those three parts with their main Intel rivals – the Core i3 4330 and Core i5 4440. What we’re looking to do is provide a complete perspective on how AMD and Intel’s offerings match up across a wide range of CPU, GPU and combined benchmarks covering areas like gaming, productivity and general system performance, as well as the generational changes Kaveri offer over Richland. Below you can see a summary of all the contenders in this comparison. Please note that the number of GPU cores are not comparable between all processors below, but are only for reference. GCN cores are much more powerful than VLIW4 cores while Intel’s “cores” work in a different way, they are technically “execution units” not cores.

APU_spec_sheet_summary

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  • Derek Johnstone Macrae

    may as well brand the A10 as the 720p chip, if your happy to game at that rez, still waiting for a capable APU that can play games at 1080p, the 512 cores just isn’t enough on its own, the chip needs around 650-1,000 cores, also, ram speed is critical for future apu performance, the quicker amd move to a ddr4 chipset, the better

    • http://www.eteknix.com/ Ryan Martin

      Yes RAM is critical! We will be adding more about RAM with our RAM scaling featured coming up. Watch this space :)

      • Derek Johnstone Macrae

        excellent, also, love the way which the article summed up the cost of cpu+gpu V apu, it hits the nail on the head why you should buy an apu, however, I feel that AMD are missing trick here, a 1000 core apu with ddr4 support would allow many to build a slim steam machine that could compete with the consoles, as it is, you still need a gpu to provide an apu system with playable frame rates at 1080p, and overclocking an apu with a discrete gpu is no easy task, hybrid crossfire gives an apu system a much needed boost, as does ram speed, but it still leaves a lot to be desired, and the cost of a crossfired apu system v performance from an i5+discrete gpu puts many off, AMD need to make a huge leap in performance for the apu’s, I know why these chips are aimed at the budget segment, its to stop Intel grabbing market share, plus, a more powerful apu would probably eat into AMD’s own gpu business, I wish they showed more courage, and give us the one chip solution that the APU’s originally promised…

        • Derek Johnstone Macrae

          Could you maybe look at crossfire performance for the A10 ?…..can you get smooth 1080p gameplay ?, and is the cost V performance worth it ?

          • http://www.eteknix.com/ Ryan Martin

            I am currently doing hybrid crossfire testing right now. Will also be doing overclocking and the RAM scaling I mentioned. We just wanted to get the base review out first. We will be adding the other bits over the coming week or so.

          • Derek Johnstone Macrae

            more tech goodness, thats great Ryan, cheers

    • Streetguru

      1600x900p is the sweet spot for APUs right now.

  • charley machicote

    DONT THINK ITS MADE FOR GAMERS… but for people who game on facebook pogo nad things like that will be fine

    • http://www.eteknix.com/ Ryan Martin

      Did you even read the review? Kaveri is quite capable of playing games. Most people don’t have lots of $ to chuck at graphics cards and expensive processors, in those instances an AMD APU offers a great alternative, especially the A8-7600.

    • Derek Johnstone Macrae

      you can do a bit more than just FB bud, 720p performance is fine, as long as you keep to medium or low settings

      • Peter Donnell

        Exactly, I’ve got a A8 APU in my girlfriends rig, play Resident Evil 5 at high-ultra graphics, 1080p and 30fps, not bad for an £80 chip IMO.

        • Jgren

          Completely agree, price for performance as absolutely outstanding

    • charley machicote

      guess my insights were wrong game on

  • Acidz

    i seen a demo of the kaveri APu playing Battlefeild 4 on 720p with medium details it hand handle some games pretty well

  • Marcus Ellwood

    I hate to say this, but even though I am a part of the kaveri’s intended market (which is *poor* entry level gamers and HTPC users), I don’t see why you would buy one. The Richland 6800k does comparably well to the 7700K but costs $30 less. I’m a poor gamer so that $30 does mean something to me. With the Kaveri’s dual graphics not coming anywhere close to the performance of the $120 260x, The new APUs don’t even make sense in the long run because you might as well pay for a 260x instead of spending that money on the 250 or 240. Power consumption vs. performance only improved significantly on the 7600, but that hasn’t released yet so the kaveri doesn’t really win in any case.

    • Marcus Ellwood

      Well, I stand corrected on 3 issues so I guess I’m not really an expert like I thought I was. At first I didn’t see the power consumption chart on page 12, where both of the Kaveris in dual graphics mode beat the 6800k in power efficiency. I simply went by the TDP of the APUs (which dropped by 5W between generations). Then, I saw Newegg has $150 7700ks, so the margin between it and the Richland is now $20. Lastly, I learned that the Richland APU is really just an overclocked Trinity ($120), so the margin is still $30. Oh well, i guess I’m saving $10 because the power consumption doesn’t matter to me whatsoever.

  • HMan2828 .

    As a reference, to convert a thermal margin to a processor temperature, you take the processor’s rated TDP and substract the thermal margin. So for a processor with a 95C TDP, the margins you posted are roughly equivalent to the temperatures measured. 95 – 57.9 = 37.1C for an A10-7800K at load. I think the reason they cannot specify the temperatures is because the TDP is configurable on those chips. Also keep in mind the temperature will likely rise dramatically with the GPU also on full load, because they both use the same cooling device. The stock fan will probably not handle the CPU and GPU at full load in turbo mode for too long, so I wouldnt cheap out on the cooler on these things.

  • Albert89

    Well this would have to be one (& only) of the most honest reviews about AMD ‘s Kaveri.
    And with all the bias against AMD, its about time someone did a solid review about it’s latest APU.
    Showing it to be a performer that exceeds all expectations with built in technology that’s starting to show even greater promise.

  • Justin Downer

    You forgot about ram speeds with a Pentium+250X you only need 1333mhz ram vs the high speed ram for the APU’s plus you forgot about the differences in performance from DDR3 to GDDR5 on the 250X

    • http://www.eteknix.com/ Ryan Martin

      Trust me, there are a lot of things I could have included, I didn’t want to write 100,000 words. But yes you’re right.