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The Pursuit Of Balance Warms Our Hearts

AMD's Trinity APU Efficiency: Undervolted And Overclocked
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Because AMD split its Trinity architecture introduction up into two days of coverage, I’m forced to draw a conclusion today that runs counter to the efficiency data we just presented.

At its stock settings, the company’s flagship A10-5800K is generally faster than Intel’s Ivy Bridge-based Core i3-3220/3225 in heavily-threaded applications and slower in x86-oriented tasks that only run on one core. Some of our benchmarks fall somewhere in between, and the results reflect as much.

Although HD Graphics 4000 is clearly an improvement over HD Graphics 3000, Intel cannot touch AMD in gaming. The difference is significant enough to split the two solutions across resolutions and detail settings. Where AMD is viable, Intel is not. And if you step down to the HD Graphics 2500-equipped Core i3-3220, well, we hope you like spreadsheets, word processing, and Web browsing.

The price you pay for AMD’s heavy emphasis on graphics performance is power consumption, heat, and, at least on our test bench, noise. Intel’s Core i3-3225 can be used to drive a very fast desktop machine that, completely built-up, uses far less power than the TDP of just AMD’s APU. And it does so without as much as a whisper.

Of course, now we have pricing details to consider as well. AMD plans to sell its A10-5800K for $122 and its A8-5600K for $101. The Core i3-3220 sells for $130 and the -3225 is $145. Frankly, neither Intel option is very attractive to us. We’d rather go for a Pentium G2120 for $100 with entry-level discrete graphics. On the AMD side, the A10-5800K touches the performance we’d want from an on-die GPU to feel comfortable recommending to a friend with modest gaming ambitions. The A8-5600K gives up too much ground in that regard, and the A8-3870K couldn't quite get there last generation, either.

In the end, then, both Intel and AMD are offering you an experience. Which one do you pick?

Intel gives you great performance in productivity and content creation apps, with a fantastic thermal envelope. But any aspiration for gaming necessitates discrete graphics, putting you in the $200 range.

AMD counts on a “good enough” showing in x86-based applications and ample 3D muscle to play a number of modern games at mainstream resolutions. In exchange, you’re asked to accept comparatively high power use. But it’s a price point below what Intel charges for its neutered Core i3-3220 that swings favor toward the A10-5800K for enthusiasts on a strict budget.

We’re power users, after all. We know how to cope with heat and noise; we can deal with a 100 W chip, even in an HTPC. But there’s no way to make the Core i3 look better unless you spring for an add-in card. AMD’s emphasis on balance makes the A10-5800K a better platform for more people than Intel’s closest competition.

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Top Comments
  • 41 Hide
    esrever , October 2, 2012 6:50 AM
    Most PC are idle or semi idle when people have them on. 90% of the time I use my PC, I do web surfing or watch video or a text editor for work, my pc is not loaded with benchmarks 24/7. If you look at idle power consumption, the trinity APUs are amazing. They easily beat out intels offerings. If you are looking at the power consumption over a month, the trinity will be much more energy efficient than the i3 for most people.
  • 37 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 2, 2012 7:02 AM
    Quote:
    In the end, then, both Intel and AMD are offering you an experience. Which one do you pick?


    At this price point, i would choose AMD Trinity.
  • 29 Hide
    cangelini , October 2, 2012 7:03 AM
    esreverMost PC are idle or semi idle when people have them on. 90% of the time I use my PC, I do web surfing or watch video or a text editor for work, my pc is not loaded with benchmarks 24/7. If you look at idle power consumption, the trinity APUs are amazing. They easily beat out intels offerings. If you are looking at the power consumption over a month, the trinity will be much more energy efficient than the i3 for most people.

    Happy to set a couple of systems up and let you know what I find.
Other Comments
  • 41 Hide
    esrever , October 2, 2012 6:50 AM
    Most PC are idle or semi idle when people have them on. 90% of the time I use my PC, I do web surfing or watch video or a text editor for work, my pc is not loaded with benchmarks 24/7. If you look at idle power consumption, the trinity APUs are amazing. They easily beat out intels offerings. If you are looking at the power consumption over a month, the trinity will be much more energy efficient than the i3 for most people.
  • 11 Hide
    tacoslave , October 2, 2012 6:58 AM
    man getting this in a 17inch laptop with a 12 cell battery would make it an instabuy
  • 37 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 2, 2012 7:02 AM
    Quote:
    In the end, then, both Intel and AMD are offering you an experience. Which one do you pick?


    At this price point, i would choose AMD Trinity.
  • 10 Hide
    DjEaZy , October 2, 2012 7:03 AM
    ... i like the WinZip with OpenCL acceleration benchmark... it shows...
  • 29 Hide
    cangelini , October 2, 2012 7:03 AM
    esreverMost PC are idle or semi idle when people have them on. 90% of the time I use my PC, I do web surfing or watch video or a text editor for work, my pc is not loaded with benchmarks 24/7. If you look at idle power consumption, the trinity APUs are amazing. They easily beat out intels offerings. If you are looking at the power consumption over a month, the trinity will be much more energy efficient than the i3 for most people.

    Happy to set a couple of systems up and let you know what I find.
  • 18 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 2, 2012 7:05 AM
    AMD should team up with developer of 7zip to accelerate it on APU's. That will make Trinity look better. A lot of people use 7zip. And most of the installation setup exe files are compressed using LZMA algorithm.
  • 19 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 2, 2012 7:11 AM
    Chris, it would be great to see some benchmarks of applications that uses the new FMA3 instructions of the Piledriver.
  • 16 Hide
    cangelini , October 2, 2012 7:27 AM
    esreverMost PC are idle or semi idle when people have them on. 90% of the time I use my PC, I do web surfing or watch video or a text editor for work, my pc is not loaded with benchmarks 24/7. If you look at idle power consumption, the trinity APUs are amazing. They easily beat out intels offerings. If you are looking at the power consumption over a month, the trinity will be much more energy efficient than the i3 for most people.

    So, it's probable that we're seeing a difference in configuration. It looks like Anand is using the Gigabyte A85X board and perhaps an older driver version. I'm on the MSI board and Cat 12.8, with a different Intel setup as well. On the Windows desktop, after 10 minutes on each config, I get 59 W for Intel and 67 W for AMD at idle.
  • 14 Hide
    techcurious , October 2, 2012 7:35 AM
    Chris, for the sake of completeness, any chance you could undervolt the i3-3225 at stock speeds and run the power consumption/efficiency tests on it? ;)  ...to reveal how low the i3 can be pushed with some tweaking as well, and create the opportunity for a more fair comparison with the undervolted Trinity results.
  • 7 Hide
    sarinaide , October 2, 2012 7:46 AM
    Thanks Chris, another great article to pass time over. You really need to comment on the forums more and more so to help out against the blatent belligerence against what AMD are trying to achieve and how they are looking to achieve it.

    Hopefully this articale can start to filter around particularly for the budget users which A-series is premised to target.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , October 2, 2012 7:57 AM
    So now that we got that out of the way...............where is the hybrid xfire chart so we know what's the max discrete card that will be supported? And while you're at it, when you find that out can you check to see if there are any significant gains when setting up a discrete + discrete + 7660 triple hybrid xfire set up, or even a quad hybrid xfire set up (3 discrete cards + 7660) of if either of those are even possible? After seeing that write up on how the dual 7750's performed, I'd love to see what trinity's version of hybrid xfire can pull off.
  • 14 Hide
    m32 , October 2, 2012 7:57 AM
    I could get rid of my family computer with a dedicated gpu and just slap an A10k in there. Most of the time it is just used for web browsing and such, so it would be an killer for my family and friends that don't need an lot.
  • 26 Hide
    bulldozer83 , October 2, 2012 8:17 AM
    The_TrutherizerNice article, but I must say that much as I enjoy the over clocking stats from AMD; To be fair to Intel their part should also be over-clocked to make this a sporting comparison. I believe the two would be more or less equal, except for AMD's APU being considerably more capable at handling gfx tasks. And yes... As some people have stated we really need benchmarks where a discrete gfx card is used in conjunction with the APUs and HD CPUs as I believe this is what most people will do currently.


    overclock the locked Intel chips? how do you suppose they do that? they weren't testing against Intel K series unlocked chips.
  • 0 Hide
    Nintendo Maniac 64 , October 2, 2012 8:19 AM
    Wouldn't it be more fair to compare the i3 power consumption to the 65w Trinity APUs (such as the A10-5700) rather than the 100w ones?
  • 26 Hide
    americanbrian , October 2, 2012 8:34 AM
    Umm, WHY DIDN'T YOU SHOW THE GAME BENCHMARKS WITH THE OVERCLOCKED GPU SETTINGS!!!

    I can't be the only one who was waiting for the money shot of what is the difference in performance when you clock up from 800Mhz to >1000Mhz.

    SUCH AN OVERSIGHT. UNFORGIVABLE!
  • 2 Hide
    americanbrian , October 2, 2012 8:36 AM
    I mean really, why not show people what they want to know? I WANT TO KNOW.
  • 10 Hide
    theconsolegamer , October 2, 2012 8:45 AM
    Where's the gaming benches of the retail APU?
  • -3 Hide
    chesteracorgi , October 2, 2012 9:30 AM
    Given the results of head to head comparison in gaming, I'm interested in seeing them compete in transcoding, and comparisons when paired with discrete GPUs. Presently AMD Trinity seems to be the runaway winner for laptops, but a poor option for desktops.
  • 12 Hide
    abitoms , October 2, 2012 9:36 AM
    Chris, and team, a few things I - and probably others- would like to see here;

    1. overclocked/undervolted benchmarks for the i3 parts
    2. dedicated gpu game benchmarks at 1440, 1680, 1920 for the A10 and the A8
    3. More OpenCl benchmarks with and without dedicated GPUs for the i3 parts as well as the A10 parts

    p.s. I realised I was getting thumbed up and down for this. do these seem like too many requests? nobody has covered trinity like toms and that too with superb writing quality. is it wrong for me to get greedy to read more of their stuff? :-) i'm addicted to this stuff is all. now if you'd excuse me, I have an F5 button to press.
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