AMD Kabini AM1 Athlon 5350 APU (FS1b) Review




/ 5 years ago

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AM1 Feature Overview


AMD’s AM1 socketed Kabini platform will offer four APU models at launch, two based on Athlon branding and two based on Sempron branding. These all have identical GPU hardware but there is a bit of clock speed variance. The CPU parts again vary by clock speed but are all broadly similar except the Sempron part which is the only dual core.

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The APUs have incredibly competitive price points of $59, $49 and $39 respectively according to the AMD slides. AMD tell us the 1K tray prices of the units will be $55, $45, $36 and $31 – this suggests to us that the prices on the slides are the retail prices. The retail price for the Sempron 2650 should then be $34 if I am not mistaken. AMD says AM1 motherboards will cost around $25-35  so motherboard and APU combos for the AM1 platform start at just $64!

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Kabini is an incredible platform purely because of how much it offers for the price. It has two DDR3 1600 memory channels that operate in single channel mode, a UHS-I/SDXC memory card link, dual USB 3.0, 8 USB 2.0, TPM, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, dual SATA III, three PCIe 1 X lanes and Gigabit Ethernet! There is of course support for a discrete GPU for even more upgradability down the line.

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AMD’s quad core Kabini APUs are effectively the same as two Steamroller cores in size. The Kabini APU does share a lot with the Steamroller platform but is designed to operate under lower power scenarios and in a smaller size footprint.

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The aim with the Kabini platform has been to improve the IPC and architectural efficiency as much as possible, this is important because in such a mobile-orientated architecture AMD can’t just keep increasing clock speeds. Increasing clock speeds works in the high-end desktop arena but not in the mobile and SFF markets.

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Like with Kaveri AMD is still pushing the “Compute Unit” concept. Kabini has up to six compute units, four CPU and two GPU – therefore one CPU compute unit is a Jaguar x86 core and one GPU compute unit is 64 GCN cores.AMD_Kabini_Slides_7

AMD’s graphics parts on the Kabini APUs are “R3 Graphics” which means they sit below the R7 graphics we seen in the desktop graphics and Kaveri products, and below the newly released R5 desktop graphics.

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AMD’s Kabini APUs are capable of Ultra HD 4K display through the HDMI (30Hz) or DisplayPort (60Hz) connections. AMD also have support for their Wireless display technology ready with these Kabini APUs. AMD’s integrated Video Codec Engine and Universal Video Decoder will both be hugely popular additions as I can see the AM1 platform being used quite frequently as the basis for media PCs and possibly even Smart TVs!

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AMD claims significantly more performance than Intel’s Pentium Bay Trail platform and Nvidia’s similarly priced G210 graphics card.

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USB 3.0 may not seem like a big deal for a lot of people but for such a low cost platform it is. Not only does AMD claim USB 3.0 support but it also claims that it is capable of exploiting more USB 3.0 performance than Intel’s Bay Trail platform.

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Since everything the AM1 platform uses is “on-die” it is essential that AMD’s Catalyst software package provides up to date graphics and “chipset” drivers. AMD is pledging monthly updates for its AM1 platform.

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AMD’s AM1 APUs also get support for AMD’s video processing features, like Steady Video and Super Scaling, and AMD’s image enhancement technologies like Dynamic Contrast and Edge enhancement.

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AMD’s HSA enabled JPEG decoder also makes an appearance on Kabini. We first saw this on Kaveri and we’re glad to see the lower cost Kabini platform inheriting some of those premium Kaveri features.

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We already implied AMD’s AM1 platform is ideal for home users and AMD is teaming up with BlueStacks to make their PCs even more accessible. By offering native BlueStacks support home users can experience the best of both Android and Windows. I personally would like to see full Android operating systems available for AMD’s Kabini platform because a lot of people are used to working entirely with mobile operating systems like Android.

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Given the mobile-nature of Kabini power management is at the heart of its design, with an APU the management of the CPU and GPU parts is crucial to its overall operation.

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The Kabini APUs manage heat primarily by offsetting load between the CPU and GPU depending on the type of application. When the GPU is active the CPU serves to bring the overall package temperature down and vice-versa.

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Comments

30 Responses to “AMD Kabini AM1 Athlon 5350 APU (FS1b) Review”
  1. Skidmarks says:

    Very informative, thank you. I’ll look into these platforms in a bit more depth because I wasn’t fully aware of them, Perhaps even build them and flog them off at decent prices, I know of a few small businesses that are looking for something like what these have to offer. I approve. 😉

    • This is so true, just think you can market a quad core system with 8GB of RAM, USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, Wireless Display, 4K support, low power consumption, just about every feature and marketing buzzword and will cost you a hair under $200 to put together an entire system, APU, board, RAM, boot drive, case, PSU (can get away with a sub 200W PSU easily). These are definitely the systems to build for friends and family 😛

      • Skidmarks says:

        I’m busy with it as we speak. 🙂

      • Medallish says:

        I’ve actually built one for my aunt and her husband as they don’t want to shell out the usual price for a Desktop, and bought a used and very old Athlon XP 2400+ based system. I used this Chieftec mini-itx chassis and it’s amazing how tiny it is, I can’t wait to see their reaction to this lunchbox of a PC outperforming that old thing they got :P.

  2. George Hillier says:

    What’s the socket type for these CPUs? May make a little system for steam home streaming.

    • I thought that was clear to see in the review maybe I didn’t make it clear enough. It is socket FS1b while the platform is AM1. So it’s like FM2+ and A88X for example. You will only be able to use these newly released Kabini APUs with the FS1b socket, so the four APUs we detail on page 2 of this review.

      • George Hillier says:

        Thanks for the reply 🙂
        Can make a nice little system with a 2.05ghz athlon, 8gb of ram, 120gb SSD, 1tb HDD and a R7 260X GPU for £450, which isn’t too bad considering it’s got a dedicated GPU and an ssd.
        Also did another build without the GPU and HDD for £300 which could be used for steam in home streaming to my living room, so overall it’s very good value for money!
        If only I had the money to buy one now!

    • Fergus Clunies-ross says:

      I was worried I was the only person who was thinking in home streaming 😀 If you get it and it works well (or if it doesn’t) please reply 🙂

  3. Derek Johnstone Macrae says:

    impressive bang for buck, I think the main attraction of these systems will be size and power draw, be aware that intel has just released an atom SOC based x86 chipset, thats priced at $129, with the board and cpu, it has intel hd4000 onboard too, so it would be usefull if you could get your hands on one to test Ryan, just to see how the performance and features compare, thanks.

  4. That guy says:

    Just wondering, would it be possible to do dual-graphics with Kabini? That would makes things more interesting.

  5. perfectlyreasonabletoo says:

    What a crock of shit.

  6. sai kiran says:

    Memory is single channel, not dual channel as mentioned in this article

    • No, it does not state that. I clearly state on the memory page it is single channel. I stated on page two that it has dual 1600 memory channels, dual means two, so the same thing can be written as two 1600 memory channels. That doesnt imply single or dual channel operation. I have clearly specified it operates in single channel mode to avoid further confusion.

  7. comrade says:

    u could build a really cheap but nice mini pc for internet browsing and office document processing with linux live and persistent storage on the class 10 sdcard, u can build a nice xbmc box for htpc with it too

  8. Icefrontier says:

    What does it take to cool it passively? :>

    • Alex Anderson says:

      The “Arctic Cooling Alpine M1 Passive” is the only product on the market that I know of. It is reasonably priced but difficult to find a place to buy it. It seems to be easier to find in Europe than in North America. I had to buy it directly from the manufacturer, paying more in shipping than the cost of the cooler itself, for a total of about 26 US dollars.

  9. jq747 says:

    “AMD’s temperature readouts have always been a bit dubious”… Athlon idles at 5 degrees-C.. Really?? Where are you running it, Siberia?

  10. Alex Anderson says:

    I’m putting together a basic, general purpose home/office computer for a friend, and I couldn’t resist using this platform because of the low power consumption relative to the features and cost. I’m using a passive CPU cooler, and a case with very good airflow, so the very quiet fan from the power supply unit should be enough to ventilate the entire system.

    It will have excellent long term cost savings because of the lower power consumption and also the very minimal maintenance required. Furthermore, because it will be using a standard ITX case and standard sized ATX power supply, this will make future upgrades much easier and cheaper than with ultra compact custom form factors, which might otherwise seem more appealing.

    If my friend ever wants to upgrade to a full powered desktop computer, they will only need to replace the motherboard and CPU. Modular, do it yourself computer building is something that more people should learn how to do. This platform makes it easier to encourage beginners to learn how to do it themselves.

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