Today we get to give a new lease of life to a product we've only recently covered, the AMD A10-6800K. Last time around we ran all our tests with the system running at stock settings, but now we have the opportunity to open the taps and see what we can do when overclocked.
We'll be focussing our overclocking efforts on three areas: the CPU, the GPU, and the RAM. Though overclocking the memory seldom has a big effect on performance it's a little different this time. APUs love high speed memory as the greater bandwidth enables the chip to really let loose. Whether or not all the tweaks shall make a difference remains to be seen, but it shall be interesting to see how much more you can get by playing around in the UEFI.
In our stock testing we gave the 6800K a Value for Money award because of its impressive gaming performance for the £116.99 retail price. We'll have to see how the results pan out, but there's nothing stopping the chip from meriting a higher award if it's well deserved.
We loved both the 5800K and the 6800K at stock settings but felt as if the performance of the two APUs was too similar. Time to crack on and see if the 6800K can light up our world!
The 6800K runs on the same 32nm manufacturing process as its predecessor but with an improved architecture and higher stock clock speed. With a 266MHz improvement over Trinity, Richland A10s are capable of running 2133MHz RAM to further unleash the 8670D nestled within the chip.
Not much to see here as we've changed a lot of the settings with our overclocking, but stuff like core count stays true.
AMD A10-6800K Gigabyte F2A85XM-D3H 8GB Mushkin Blackline 2133MHz
Mushkin Joule 1000W
Windows 7 x64
Two physical things have changed since we last tested the system: the cooler and the memory. The AMD stock cooler barely managed to keep things under control at stock and so we replaced it with the air cooling titan that is the Noctua NH-D14. Both fans were ran at a constant 12v by connecting them to the power supply. For the memory we used a 2133MHz kit from Mushkin.
From 4.1 to 4.6GHz we see a 12% improvement in CPU core speed. We did push for higher clocks but it simply wasn't stable. Nonetheless a 500MHz boost is nothing to be sniffed at and we should see definite improvements with CPU bound tests.
We can see that CPU-Z is reporting the frequency as 1066.6 MHz. Double that for DDR RAM and we get to 2133.2MHz, or dead on the rated specs of our memory.
With the stock 8670D running at a paltry 844MHz we see a 206MHz increase in clock speed when overclocked. This, when paired with our speedy new RAM, should make a big difference with our gaming benchmarks.
Power Consumption at the Wall
We use a mains power meter to measure what's being taken from the wall by our system. It's clear to see that overclocking the system has resulted in more power being used in all scenarios, from idle to heavy CPU stress tests.
Even with the two-tower 'D14 cooler running at a constant 12v we're still seeing over 80ºC when using OCCT's stress test, though the temperatures drops to below 60ºC when playing back HD movies. It was clear from the get go that the stock cooler would not have been able to withstand the extra volts needed for the overclocks.
AIDA64 is a benchmark suite containing a plethora of tests for the whole system. For our needs we singled out the tests that represent the performance of the CPU and the memory.
The 6800K was the winner of this test on stock settings so there's no surprise that it's won again now overclocked. We can see that the i3 is still just ahead with the CPU Queen test, but otherwise the overclocked APU took the crown.
In the memory tests we see that the speedy RAM used in this system has helped lessen the gap between the i3 and its competition. Our overclocked system is ahead of the stock and 5800K systems, but aside from the Copy benchmark the i3's still the winner with its better memory controller.
A respectable 0.3 point increase can be seen in the CPU results from the stock system to our overclocked one. However, it's the OpenGL score that really shows the difference in performance - a 41% increase in the results.
The POV-Ray benchmark is almost entirely CPU oriented, hence we don't see the same increase in score as Cinebench's OpenGL tests. Regardless, our tweaked setup beats its stock settings counterpart to take the lead.
Media Transcoding Using Handbrake
A common task for media PCs to undertake is the transcoding of various video files, whether to change the format to one more desirable or as a means of compression. For our tests we have employed the popular software known as Handbrake to transcode three separate files. As this is a CPU heavy task we should see a slight increase in how fast our system is able to complete its tasks.
The small file comes in at just under 100MB and is 1080p. This test is to show how the CPUs will deal with small video clips that can be taken by most modern smart phones.
The larger files come in two distinct flavours - a 2GB standard definition video to demonstrate how non-HD footage is processed, and a 1080p MKV file weighing in at almost 5GB.
Together we feel we have covered the most common usage scenarios.
The overclocked 6800K comes out triumphant in all three tests, though it was expected. The stock 6800K won out last time, so if the faster processor on test today didn't pull out a lead there'd be something wrong for sure!
Video conversion is an extremely strenuous ordeal for a processor but it's something that a HTPC may very well be tasked with. As such the x264 Benchmark gives a great insight into how each processor would deal with such a work load.
Our overclocked APU takes the crown here, removing any competition that was present between the stock 6800K and the i3.
A popular benchmark for seeing the power of a CPU, wPrime is once again included in our testing. The extra 500MHz to the CPU's core clock can be seen to make a difference here, with the overclocked system pulling ahead from the stock one. As it does so it also takes the crown for another overclocking victory.
We ran the overclocked system through a plethora of Sandra's tests ranging from the raw arithmetical performance of the CPUs to how it deals with media transcoding.
Throughout the tests we can see that the OCd A10 takes the lead constantly from its competition. It loses once to the i3's Multimedia Float x16 performance but that's it.
For this part of Sandra's test we focus on the processor's ability with Financial Analysis as well as the overall power management of the chips.
The overclocked A10 beats the stock results at financial analysis. Unfortunately for the 6800K, the way the results are weighted mean that Intel pulls ahead as the overall winner of this test.
We see a mixed bag of results when it comes to processor efficiency. The overclocked 6800K sees an increase in its multi-core efficiency over the stock system, though it still loses to the i3. In terms of both ALU and overall power management we see that out overclocked results begin to fall behind. This shall be due to the extra power needed for the performance increases.
Processor Multi-Core Efficiency and Power Management
It's clear to see that the overclocked system excels at GPU oriented tests with a near 20% increase in aggregate results over the stock chip. With media transcoding we once again see a gain over the stock system, though Intel's QuickSync support ensures that the i3 wins that test.
For the memory bandwidth results we do see a decent improvement over the stock system but the i3's memory controller enables it to take the lead, even though it's using slower RAM than our system today.
Video Shader Compute
Media Audio/Video Transcode
Futuremark's PCMark benchmarks are great for testing the overall performance of a system. Tests include processor performance, web browsing, spreadsheets and image manipulation to name a few, and the results should indicate how well the processors are affecting the overall system.
A brand new addition to our test lineup, PCMark 8 promises to be the best yet. We implement three of its five tests to show what difference the overclocking can do for overall system performance.
We can see that the overclocked chipped triumphs over its stock self with the Home and Creative tests but falls behind a little with the Work one. This strange result may be a lack of Richland support within the processor as there's not really a reason for the overclocked system not to win outright when set against the stock 6800K.
Vantage, a firm favourite for overall system performance, shows the overclocked system taking the crown as it gets top score in every section.
Whereas the 6800K was neck and neck with the i3 before we can now see it pulling ahead from the others. Our 500MHz overclock yields an 8.5% increase in performance over the stock settings.
One of the most popular gaming benchmarks out there, Futuremark's 3DMark software allows you to stress your system under a heavy gaming load.
Throughout all the testing we can see that the overclocked A10-6800K wins whilst showing impressive performance increases over the stock system.
Alien vs Predator
Moving on to Alien vs Predator, a benchmark based from the real game, we see once again that the overclocked system is the victor. Nearly a 40% gain in average FPS shows that our tweaking has made huge gains to gaming performance.
The benchmark runs at the same resolution as your sytem, or 1080p in our case.
Counter-Strike: Source is one of the most popular games out there and it uses one of the most common game engines too. This should mean that our results from this benchmark can be extrapolated to other Source based games such as Team Fortress 2 and the Half Life series.
With the in-game benchmark completely maxed out at 1080p we see fantastic results from the overclocked APU. A 44% increase in frames per second is gained from our performance tuning which launches the system into the lead.
We see here that the overclocked system constantly trumps the stock 6800K. It's not even a real competition at this point, with the extra GPU clock speed and faster RAM catapulting the 6800K to victory.
Once again extremely impressive results from the overclocked A10, powering into first place over its APU rivals.
Showdown is one of the games often bundled with an AMD graphics card and so it makes sense for the APUs to perform well. Running at 1080p with Medium settings the overclocked APU performs well no matter the MSAA options being used. With no instances of the FPS going below 30 this is hugely promising for the overclocked APU as it once again takes the crown from its stock counterpart.
Often bundled with APUs, SimCity shows great performance increases with our overclocked system with a ~9FPS improvement. We ran through this game at 1080p and with both Lights and Shadows turned to Low but with every other graphical setting set to maximum.
Another clear win for our overclocked system with Hitman: Absolution's built in benchmark.
We ran the tests with a variety of settings and resolutions - 1080p, 720p, Lowest preset, Medium preset, 0xAA, and 8xAA. It's pleasing to report that our overclocked APU took the lead for each run.
Yet another game affiliated with AMD through their game bundles. We ran two instances of the game's built in benchmark - Normal preset and High preset, with both being at 1080p.
As ever we see big gains from the overclocked 6800K over stock settings as it once again takes the lead.
Sleeping Dogs' in built benchmark shows us what we've been seeing throughout our gaming tests. Running at the Normal preset at 1080p we see an 11.2 average FPS increase over the stock 6800K.
Resident Evil 5 DX10
We've been using the Resident Evil 5 fixed benchmark for a while now and so it only made sense to include it in these testings. We used Medium settings at 1080p and took the results for both 0xAA and 8xAA.
Nothing we haven't seen before here with the overclocked system pulling out in front of the other results.
Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil 6's benchmark utility is DX9 only - strange when its predecessor has DX10 support. We ran the benchmark with the Medium preset over 1080p and 720p with both showing familiar trends. Another victory for the overclocked A10.
Unigine's Heaven benchmark is a favourite for anyone wanting to test their graphics solution. We run both Basic and Extreme presets to gain a better representation of results.
Throughout the two tests we can see that the overclocked system pulls ahead - a testament to how much our tweaks have improved gaming performance.
Another benchmark offering from Unigine showing extremely similar results. Once again we ran two tests at Basic and Extreme presets to better gauge the performance of our chips under different circumstances.
As ever we see big improvements over the stock system with our overclocked 6800K.
We last talked about AMD's A10-6800K when we were testing completely stock settings and even then we were massively impressed. When compared to its main competition, the Intel i3-3220, it matched the CPU performance in most cases whilst completely destroying it in GPU performance. In essence, there was no real contest with the 6800K stealing the show in everything but power consumption and temperatures. By opening the taps and letting the chip loose we've seen an even greater leap in performance and we're impressed by what kind of improvement we've been able to achieve.
Replacing the RAM with a 2133MHz kit from Mushkin whilst also overclocking both the CPU and GPU has shown increases in all our tests. Whereas the 6800K at stock settings was often just ahead of the 5800K, the overclocked A10 was never found trailing behind. GPU oriented tests showed the most improvement with the extra GPU clockspeed and memory bandwidth giving the chip a lot more oomph. The 500MHz boost to the CPU's clock speed also gave a decent improvement in tests, with an 8% increase in Cinebench's CPU test. Nothing to sniff at of course, but the spotlight is completely stolen by the 44% increase in FPS shown in Counter-Strike: Source's results. All of these performance gains ensure a better gaming experience all round.
One of the biggest issues with lower end systems when gaming is the input lag you experience at low framerates. Trying to complete the Bioshock Infinite runs on the Intel i3-3220 last time was nigh on impossible, with massive delays between what's happening in the game and what we could see on the monitor. We can happily say that this was far from true with the overclocked 6800K as it was an absolute pleasure to use. Even comparing the runthrough to the stock 6800K showed a big difference. Quantitative results can only show one part of the picture so you'll have to believe us when we say it was a far greater, more enjoyable gaming experience.
The increase in performance does of course come at a price. Even at stock settings we were seeing temperatures in excess of 90ºC with the AMD stock cooler and so it's no real surprise that we employed the air cooling behemoth that is the Noctua NH-D14. With the extra volts pumped through to make the system stable it's impressive that the 'D14 managed to keep temperatures at around the 80°C mark while still keeping the noise down. We're huge sticklers for low noise output from our cooling solutions and Noctua's twin tower cooler fit the bill perfectly. It may not be cheap but this level of cooling would be advisable if you want an overclock similar to ours whilst also having a quiet rig you can live with.
To us the 6800K is supposed to be overclocked. If you're not going to play around with some of the settings why buy the unlocked version at all when there's the A10-6700 on the market? For just over the £100 mark it's clear to us that this is one of the best budget options around for those wanting to wet their feet with some overclocking. Not only does the chip offer great performance benefits when you do play around with it but it's also dead easy to do. Before any of you head of to the forum to ask for our BIOS settings stop, sit down and learn the OC3D way. CPUs, APUs and GPUs can all be very different so we have made several guides on how to learn how to get the most from your own system. In the long run you will learn a lot more but most importantly when things go wrong (and they will) you will know how to work out what the problem is. The next step up in terms of an overclock-ready CPU would be Intel's i5-4670K, retailing at £171.59 at Aria, plus the more expensive Z87 motherboards. This, plus the fact you'd need to buy a dedicated graphics card to be able to have an enjoyable gaming experience, means that the overclocked 6800K system is in an extremely good place in the market.
All in all it's hard to say anything wrong about the 6800K. For the money you get a true quad core processor with great CPU performance and outstanding GPU performance. If you're not wanting to buy a dedicated GPU this is the best option out there - there is nothing else which gives the same level of gaming performance on a single chip. You get the opportunity to overclock your system to gain further performance, and with Richland's memory controller tweaks you can employ 2133MHz RAM to synergise with the iGPU.
We were blown away with the 6800K's ability to game at playable framerates at stock settings but overclocking really has given the whole system a new lease of life. There are those of you who will only enjoy your games at the highest settings at full resolutions with 60+ FPS, and we totally understand where you guys are coming from. For you lot this really wouldn't be a viable option for your main gaming system, but then you would be insane to think it would for this much money. However, for those of you on a tight budget who want a great gaming experience whilst trying your hand at some overclocking we really cant recommend this enough. Without a dedicated graphics card this really is THE best option available to you, and would even be in our line up for our own chosen budget gaming system. There's no other way this could have turned out and so we're delighted to give the overclocked 6800K our OC3D Gold Award.
Thankyou to AMD for supplying us with the A10-6800K APU on test today. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.