AMD A10-6800K Richland Review
AMD came to us in 2011 with their APU lineup to fill a gap in the market that not many realised was there. Fast forward to present day and, on the performance front, they're still going reasonably strong. For the price that this chip is being released at the performance has been pleasantly surprising, beating the Ivy Bridge i3-3220 in most scenarios. Not too shabby at all for a product whose main focus is not on the CPU, but instead the integrated graphics solution.
In saying that, it does seem as though AMD have focused more on improving the CPU side of their new range, with a 300MHz boost to stock clocks, Piledriver cores, an improved memory controller, and a stronger focus on OpenCL. Both the Handbrake media encoding and the x264 benchmark have seen the benefits from the OpenCL support, which is great for those of you who transcode video files. AMD's Piledriver cores employ two modules containing two cores each, with each core sharing some resources with its module pair. Unlike Intel's i3, this makes the A10 a fully fledged quad-core processor. Many dismiss the architecture as being weak, but there's no denying that the 6800K does beat the other processors in the majority of our CPU oriented tests.
On to the iGPU and we see that the 8670D on board the Richland APU beats both of its opponents throughout our tests, though we don't see as much as an improvement as we'd like over last generation's Trinity solution. Synthetic benchmarks seem to show more of an improvement than those sourced from actual games, with results from the relatively new Hitman Absolution game, an AMD title nonetheless, showing barely any improvement over Trinity's 5800K. This trend is found frequently throughout our results, with next to no increase in frame rates over last year's tech. It is possible, of course, that future updates will prove beneficial for Richland, but we must report on the results that we're getting at present. From the get go it was obvious that the i3's HD2500 offering was no where near the performance of the APUs, which is a great spot for AMD to find themselves. Intel simply have no real answer to this section of the market.
Following on from this it must be said how impressive the gaming performance of both APUs are. Being able to play games at decent framerates on an integrated solution is remarkable, and it's often easy to forget that there's no dedicated card being used. For those that care less about graphical settings and more about the gameplay itself, the AMD chips may be the perfect match for you. This is such a far cry from how things were just a few years ago that it's not too far fetched to believe that the casual gamer has little need for a video card anymore.
Though the general performance of the 6800K is good, we think it's prime time for AMD to focus more on the power efficiency of their APUs. The difference in performance between Intel's i3 and the 6800K in terms of the CPU isn't all that much, and yet the i3 uses significantly less power. This is not great for a HTPC, as such systems are often left on for long periods of time, sometimes 24/7. With this kind of usage expected the extra power consumption is definitely a bad thing, though there will be many of you who won't care that much.
The power efficiency does lead into another issue, and that's the temperatures. The extra power used by the 6800K is creating heat - a lot of heat. When OCCT is used to stress the CPU AMD's stock cooling solution doesn't stand a chance, with the core reaching temperatures of 97°C. Though such stresses aren't going to be experienced to such a degree in real life, applications such as Handbrake which transcode media files can certainly turn up the heat. We ran our stock cooler at a constant 12v to take any variations in motherboard fan profiles from effecting results. Even with the cooler manually set to run at maximum we still experienced temps up to nearly 100°C, showing that if you want your system for CPU intensive tasks OR low noise you will have to invest in a good aftermarket cooler to tame the heat that can be produced.
All in all we find that AMD's biggest competition for an on-die gaming solution with the 6800K is the 5800K. Tiny improvements in gaming scenarios lead us to recommend those already owning a Trinity APU to stay put. For those of you who are thinking about buying an APU for a low powered gaming system for the first time, it'd be worth checking the price differences between the two A10s in today's tests. If the 5800K undergoes a serious price drop then, to us, it still seems to be the best option.
For those who're not interested in gaming on the APU, but instead more interested in media playback, the two A10s may be a little more than you need. There are other less power hungry options which can play movies just as well, and these should also have less issues with heat.
After much deliberation, we give this Richland processor the OC3D Value for Money award. For the price that it's being released the gaming performance is great, and the CPU performance is steadily improving, though not by much over last year. For the people who can still enjoy gaming at lower settings and resolutions this APU is a fantastic option.