AMD Kaveri A10-7850K & A10-7700K Review
Published: 3rd April 2014 | Source: AMD | Price: £130 & £105 |
As always, we started our testing with the CPU tests. In most tests, the Kaveri CPUs performed the same, if not marginally better than the Richland and Trinity counterparts. AIDA saw near identical results between all the APUs, although in memory tests, the Kaveri CPUs triumphed as they clearly have a more advanced memory controller. However, getting into tests like wPrime, we do see the 7700K and 7850K pull ahead.
AMD promised increased performance in OpenCL applications on Kaveri, and due to that, we thought it would only be fair to add a few of OpenCL and OpenGL tests to our benchmarks. We retested the old A10-6800K to show performance differences on BasemarkCL, LuxMark and Musemage between the three processors. Along with these, we have Cinebench and PCMark 8, which show the Kaveri APUs do perform a little better than the older chips. This will benefit you in applications such as rendering which may utilise OpenCL, so it is nice to see a little gain in performance here between the two. LuxMark and Musemage both show the rendering performance, and although the scores are good, they aren't that much further ahead of the older 6800K. This is also shown in the Image and Video tests on BasemarkCL, however, in the Physics and Fractal tests, the two Kaveri APUs do pull away from the older model, so it is clear which areas of OpenCL performance AMD has paid the most attention to. Although the performance here is on the whole quite good, we do still wish AMD had focused more on the overall CPU performance rather than the much more specific OpenCL use which does have more limited use in real world applications.
Moving on the graphics performance and we're incredibly impressed by the results we saw from here. We've seen increases of between 20-50% in the real game benchmark tests we run. As far as graphics performance goes, this is excellent for a year's work. In games like Bioshock, we see a 30% increase in graphics performance, and in Counter Strike: Source we see double the FPS than we previously saw on the 6800K. This makes the A10-7850K and A10-7700K a great choice if you're in the market for low end gaming without wanting a dedicated graphics card.
We see a similar story in the non-game benchmarks such as Unigine and Catzilla. Although these scores aren't as high as some of the numbers we saw on the real game tests, they're still definitely higher. We're putting this down to the tests being engineered to use the CPU more than the games do, which will level the results off a little more. It's still impressive performance however so this definitely makes for a plus point for the Kaveri processors.
Now, due to the onboard graphics using system RAM rather than its own dedicated vRAM that you'd see on a graphics card, it's no surprise that increasing the RAM speed makes a significant difference. In our tests, we upped the memory clocks from 1600MHz to 2400Mhz to and ran the majority of tests again. This is perhaps the area that we were most surprised and impressed at how well the APUs scored. In most of the game related tests we saw around a 20% increase in performance just from increasing the RAM speed. In certain games such as Bioshock we see even more than this. It is worth mentioning that the increase in RAM speed had very little impact on the CPU scores. We did see marginal increases in the OpenCL performance, but certainly nothing as significant as we saw on our GPU tests.
One of the most talked about features of the APU is its ability to be put in Dual Crossfire with a dedicated graphics card. Currently, on the Kaveri processors this is only supported on R7 240, and R7 250 GPUs. We tested this too with an R7 250 on the majority of gaming benchmarks and it does offer a decent boost in performance compared to the standalone CPU with integrated graphics in most tests. There are still a number of issues with Crossfire and therefore on certain older games such as counter strike we only see a 30% performance increase after enabling the card. On more modern games such as Dirt Showdown, we see a 55% increase in performance, whilst on something like Tomb Raider we get nearly double the performance increase. This makes for a great option for people wanting to see decent framerates on a low end gaming system whilst staying on a budget.
Overall, APUs offer a great all-round performance for a processor. The graphics solution on Kaveri processors is unbeatable by any other integrated solution. Its CPU performance is still reasonable, but we were expecting a little more than what we saw, considering there was very little difference between this and last year's 6800K. Therefore the performance of these will very much depend on exactly what the user wants from it. It's difficult to ignore the A10-7850K, and the A10-7700K being £130 and £105 respectively, and whilst that isn't necessarily expensive for what it is, if you're after CPU performance then an Intel i5 can be bought for roughly the same price which may prove to be a better option. At the same time, if you're wanting a system for purely gaming performance, then you may be better off looking along the lines of an Intel Pentium with an R9 270 which will offer you a little more graphics performance than you would with the Dual Graphics R7 250 and 7850K. However, if you're wanting a mix of CPU and GPU performance, for the price the Kaveri APUs are great, and we do thoroughly recommend it if you're looking for a product like this.
There are a few things to add however. Our tests show that the difference in performance between 1600MHz and 2400MHz RAM is huge, and if you are looking at buying one of these APUs, you'd be a fool to pair it with anything lower than 2133MHz as in our eyes you'd just be sacrificing too much performance. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean you may need to spend a little extra on other components to make the 7850K or the 7700K worthwhile. However, the AMD 2400MHz Radeon memory can be had for around £70 which isn't too steep a price as far as fast RAM goes. We would definitely recommend spending the extra few pounds on this over a standard 1600MHz kit.
Also, for now the R7 250, and R7 240 are the only graphics cards supported for dual crossfire with the Kaveri APUs. We are told by AMD that in the future, a patch may be released to enable it with a more powerful graphics card such as a 260X, but for now we can only review what currently works. Because of this, you're currently very limited in your choice of graphics cards if you want this for a gaming system, and that is definitely something to consider.
Finally, the question that needs answering is which of the APUs is the best value for money. Our tests show that performance between the A10-7850K and the A10-7700K is near identical in testing. The 7700K has 2 fewer graphics compute cores, although our graphics tests show this to make very little difference. The A10-7700K comes in at around 20% cheaper than its bigger brother, and that's a difficult thing to ignore when looking at the performance results. This does make the A10-7700K look a fair amount better for the money than the A10-7850K, and the extra £25 saved could be put towards another area of the system such as faster RAM.
We feel right to award The Kaveri A10-7850K the OC3D Silver Award. It offers great GPU performance, and very reasonable CPU performance for the price, and although it may be beaten in both those areas individually, very little comes close to it in both areas.
On the other hand, we're awarding the A10-7700K the OC3D Gold Award as it performs incredibly well for the price, and does offer a better option for users on a budget.
Thanks to AMD for providing the Kaveri APUs for review. You can discuss your thoughts on the OC3D Forums.