Review: AMD A10-5800K
The A10-5800K is from AMD’s mid-range A-Series family of processors, and features strong on-chip graphical capabilities.
Paul Urquhart | Friday, December 28 2012 | 1 Comment
Product type: Accelerated Processing Unit (APU)
RRP incl GST: $199
- 3.8GHz (4.2GHz Turbo) quad-core APU (CPU + GPU)
- AMD Socket FM2
- 100W rated power draw
- Integrated AMD Radeon HD 7660D GPU
It's frustrating this chip requires a new motherboard socket, and its CPU performance is nothing to write home about, however it makes up for it with stellar gaming performance from its integrated graphics.
Trinity – a new breed
Last year AMD introduced its Fusion range of Accelerated Processing Units (APU) – basically a marketing term for a CPU with a built in graphics processor (GPU) – with a series of chips codenamed Llano.
This year it has released a follow-up range under the Trinity moniker, that so far includes two dual-core and two quad-core APUs.
The two dual-core chips run at 3.4GHz and 3.6GHz and sell here for approximately $100 and $120 NZD respectively, whilst the quad-core variants feature base clock speeds of 3.6GHz and 3.8GHz with price tags of roughly $170 and $200 apiece.
The chip we received to review this month is the A10-5800K that comes from AMD’s mid-range A-Series family of processors, as opposed to its high-performance FX-Series or low-power E-Series integrated motherboard/processor solutions.
Disappointingly, this new range is built on the same 32nm manufacturing process that the previous version was, which means we shouldn’t expect any significant improvements in terms of power usage or overclocking ability.
Contrast this to Intel’s third-generation ‘Ivy Bridge’ range of processors, that are built on a smaller 22nm process that was launched in April 2012. It seems that AMD is still behind the 8-ball compared to Intel in technological progress.
FM2 – a new platform
Trinity-based processors are not compatible with the same motherboards as last year’s Llano chips, so if you built a system built around that old FM1 socket then your upgrade path has officially been cul-de-sacced.
There are two things I am not clear on about this new platform; firstly, why the new FM2 socket is incompatible with FM1 processors, and secondly, why AMD bothered to shift sockets at all.
There appear to be no significant differences in terms of features between the old and new processors, and the new motherboards even re-use some of the same chipsets as the old boards (e.g. the A55 and A75 chipsets).
Personally I would like to have seen the same transition as there was going from AM2 to AM2+, likewise from AM3 to AM3+. In those situations, newer processors were compatible with the older motherboards - they just couldn’t take full advantage of things like improved bus speeds, which was a non-issue really as very few applications would saturate those interfaces in the first place.
The next generation
AMD advises that the Trinity APU series will be replaced by ‘Kaveri’ as the third generation of Fusion processors in 2013.
Those new APUs will feature 2 to 4 cores plus improved CPU and graphics cores, so FM2 could potentially provide a good upgrade as long as AMD doesn’t decide to switch platforms again.
Cheaper Athlon X4-branded chips are also coming to FM2 – these will essentially be identical to Trinity APUs but without a GPU built in.
The only significant change that Trinity brings is a shift away from AMD’s previous microarchitecture known as Bulldozer, to its newer design called Piledriver.
Piledriver introduces small performance and efficiency improvements to the processors via incremental enhancements to things like branch-prediction precision, pre-fetching algorithms and new instruction-set extensions.
The new microarchitecture will also appear in forthcoming FX-Series processors for AMD’s high-end AM3+ socket, which is still very much alive and kicking. The AM3+ platform does not support integrated graphics however, which brings us to the flagship feature of these Trinity chips...
GPU in a CPU
AMD have long held the performance advantage over Intel in terms of its integrated graphics processing units, and the Trinity series is set to extend that.
Where the most powerful Lllano APU, the A8-3870K, had 400 unified stream processors (the processing cores that perform graphical tasks), the A10-5800K only has 384. However, these are AMD’s new VLIW4 shaders as used in its HD 7000 series of desktop graphics cards, which can each do more processing work than the old VLIW5 shaders. Their clock speed has also been ramped up from 640MHz to 800MHz.
For comparison, an AMD Radeon HD 7750 PCI-E graphics card has 512 shaders running at the same 800MHz, so it’s amazing to consider that the A1-5800K APU has almost three-quarters of this grunt built in to it.
The advertised speed of 3.8GHz is the base speed that all cores in the A10-5800K can run at all the time, however if not all of the cores are being utilised and pre-determined thermal and power thresholds haven’t been hit, then the APU will automatically clock itself up to 4.2GHz.
If that isn’t fast enough for you, then the A10-5800K is also multiplier-unlocked (which is what the “K” in the model number designates). Simply open up the BIOS settings and increase the multiplier to gain a higher clock speed (the default is 38, multiplied by the system clock of 100MHz which gives the advertised speed of 3.8GHz).
I didn’t have much luck with overclocking the chip I received for review – anything over 4.5GHz would result in the processor generating too much heat and it would throttle the speed down to protect itself. At 4.5GHz it showed roughly 10% improvement in CPU-dependant benchmarks – not enough to even bother overclocking it in the first place in my opinion.
Looking at the performance results, it is important to remember that the Intel Core i5-3570K that we have included in the test results for comparison is a $320 CPU, over 50% more expensive than the A10-5800K.
For the CPU-intensive tests - i.e. 7zip compression, Cinebench, x264 encoding and PCMark7 - the i5-3570K outperforms the A10-5800K by over 50% in many of the results, suggesting that Intel still gives more bang for buck in the demanding areas.
For gaming however the opposite is true – the cheaper AMD chip providing up to double the gaming performance across the board.
The A10-5800K is priced right in the middle of the Intel Core i3-3220 and i3-3225, which are both Hyper-Threaded dual-core CPUs running at 3.3GHz.
These chips feature Intel HD 2500 and HD 4000 graphics processors respectively – note that the Core i5-3570K we tested here also has Intel HD 4000 graphics and it gets thoroughly caned by the AMD HD 7660D inside the A10-5800K.
I feel the AMD A10-5800K would be a great choice for a system builder who has a tight budget, but still wants acceptable multi-threaded performance for productivity or creativity applications – as well as the ability to play modern games at enjoyable quality settings and frame rates.
Another bonus is being able to connect up to three monitors straight out of the box (as long as the motherboard supports this), something Intel solutions cannot presently do without a separate video card.
In a home theatre PC where low-noise is key, the 100W power rating of the APU would necessitate active fan-cooling as opposed to a silent, passive solution. Not a huge issue but something to bear in mind.
Overall I think the flagship feature of the A10-5800K is its gaming performance. If you can’t squeeze a separate video card into your budget for a gaming rig, then this should be your first choice in processor.
Intel Core i5-3570K
Unigine Heaven 3.0
Default Preset 720p
Medium Preset 0xAA 720p
Trackmania Nations Forever
High Preset 0xAA 720p
Medium, Vsync off, 720p
Compression speed, Single-core
Compression speed, Multi-core
Cinebench R11.5 (Benchmark score)
x264 HD Benchmark v4.0 (FPS)
Encoding 720p Mpeg2, Pass 1
Encoding 720p Mpeg2, Pass 2
Posted by Anonymous at 3:46:07 on February 21, 2013
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