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AMD A8-3870K review

Verdict

Cheap and, thanks to a fine balance of application and gaming power, a great option for budget PCs

Review Date: 4 Sep 2012

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £66 (£79 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
3 stars out of 6

AMD hasn’t had the best couple of years when it comes to processors but, despite its disappointing FX chips, the firm’s APUs – those with integrated graphics – have proved both innovative and successful.

Originally dubbed “Fusion” but released under the A-series branding, APUs combine traditional processors with Radeon graphics cores. With both crammed into the same package, it’s a combination AMD hopes will woo those buying at the budget end of the market. The firm theorises many will happily trade some application performance for better gaming grunt.

AMD A8-3870K

The A8-3870K wasn’t released in the first wave of A-series APUs, but now it’s at the top of the stack – a quad-core chip running at 3GHz, with 4MB of L2 cache and an unlocked multiplier. Unlike Intel chips, there’s no sign of Hyper-Threading and, surprisingly, unlike weaker A-series parts, there’s no Turbo Core – so you’re stuck at 3GHz unless you overclock.

Graphics power comes from a Radeon HD 6550D. It's the most powerful graphics core in any of AMD's APUs, and it’s based on the Redwood architecture that underpinned the Radeon HD 5550, 5570 and 5670 discrete cards. That means a specification better than we’re used to seeing in integrated graphics: 400 stream processors, and a clock running at 600MHz.

The A8-3870K rattled through our Low quality 1,366 x 768 Crysis test at 68fps, 15fps faster than Intel’s top integrated chip, the HD Graphics 4000 GPU, in a Core i7-3770K. The A8-3870K’s 45fps average in the Just Cause 2 Low quality test was eight frames quicker than the Intel chip, and only in DiRT 3 did Intel catch up, each scoring 61fps.
The A8-3870K trounces Intel’s best-integrated offerings but, more importantly, it also puts paid to low-end discrete graphics cards. Both AMD’s Radeon HD 6450 and Nvidia’s GeForce GT 520 scored a much lower 41fps in the Low quality Crysis benchmark.

AMD A8-3870K

When it comes to application benchmarks, the A8-3870K is less impressive. A score of 0.7 is fast enough to handle everyday applications, but it doesn’t compare favourably with rivals: it’s slower than every Intel Core i3 chip bar the low-power versions, and it's slower than all the AMD FX CPUs.

At £79, however, we're willing to overlook that, since it's cheaper than every current-generation Core i3 processor and, makes up for its slightly disappointing application benchmarks with best-in-class gaming performance. The A8-3870K strikes a fine balance, and it's the chip we recommend for building a budget PC – at least until the next wave of APUs arrive.

Author: Mike Jennings

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User comments

A-10 Trinity

Where is the review I really want to read. Trinity is where we see real performance and value for money that does compete well with intel's i7 especially in graphics.

By nicomo on 4 Sep 2012

I'm confused...

Why is a bad application score but a good graphics mark make this a good processor? Gamers aren't going to be using processor such as these and they make a minority of the market.

David.

By artiss on 4 Sep 2012

I get it...

I think that we are at a stage where application score is more than good enough, even on laptops. The bottlenecks are clearly on the GPU side, not only for gaming but for HD playback, Photo/Video editing, etc.

This CPU seems to strike a great balance.

By TheMegamale on 5 Sep 2012

artiss...

You're missing the point.
This chip is aimed for budget systems. The kind of system a family shares to do homework, internet and games. MegaMale gets the concept of this perfectly... for everyday use it's the gpu that struggles in todays environment. Hardcore gamers would be going for top end cpus and gpus in sli/x-fire configs. This is a budget apu aimed at the budget market and this is where balance counts.

By JmLing on 6 Sep 2012

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