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How We Test AM1 Kabini APU Motherboards

Three AMD AM1 Motherboards For The Kabini APU, Reviewed
By
Test System Configuration
CPUAMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini): 2.05 GHz, 2 MB L2 Cache, Socket FS1b
CPU CoolerAMD Socket FS1b boxed (2-pin) cooler
RAMPatriot Viper 3 PV316G240C1K (16 GB) at DDR3-1600 C9 Defaults
GraphicsAMD Radeon HD 8400 integrated (600 MHz)
Hard DriveSamsung 840 Series MZ-7PD256, 256 GB SSD 
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCorsair AX860i: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Platinum
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional RTM x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 13.4
ChipsetAMD 13.250.26

We purchased a new, retail-boxed AMD Athlon 5350 specifically for today’s test. It will probably end up in the hands of a contributing editor, eventually.

We specifically seek out DRAM that defaults to DDR3-1600 CAS 9 for use in motherboard round-ups, since some boards don’t use XMP properly and others make unwanted changes when XMP is enabled. We started with Patriot’s PV332G240C1QK 32 GB DDR3-2400 kit and removed two modules, transforming it into the same company’s 16 GB dual-channel part number PV316G240C1K.

Far overcapacity for these low-power platform, Corsair’s AX860i remains efficient even at low loads. Since I don’t have any smaller-yet-more-efficient parts laying around, it stays on the test bench.

Benchmark Settings
3D Games
Battlefield 4Version 1.0.0.1, DirectX 11, 100-sec. Fraps "Tashgar"
Test Set 1: Low Quality Preset (No AA, No AF, SSAO)
Test Set 2: Medium Preset (No AA, 4X AF, SSAO)
Grid 2Version 1.0.85.8679, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark
Test Set 1: Medium Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: High Quality, No AA
Arma 3
Version 1.08.113494, 30-sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase"
Test Set 1: Low Quality Preset (No AA, No AF)
Test Set 2: Standard Preset (No AA, Standard AF)
Far Cry 3V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost"
Test Set 1: Low Quality, No AA, No ATC., SSAO
Test Set 2: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC., SSAO
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CCVersion 12.0.0.404: Create Video which includes 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly
Adobe Photoshop CCVersion 14.0 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premeire Pro CCVersion 7.0.0 (342), 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 11.0.4.4 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format 
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.99: Video from Canon Eos 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds
Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat 11Version 11.0.0.379: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.68A, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual Studio 2010Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
File Compression
WinZipVersion 18.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 5.0: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.30 alpha (64-bit): THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.5.0, Benchmark Only
3DMark ProfessionalVersion: 1.2.250.0 (64-bit), Fire Strike Benchmark
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2014.02.20.10, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia / Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks
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Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    ta152h , July 2, 2014 7:42 AM
    Tom's should avoid talking about this subject, because every article completely misses the point, and shows a complete lack of understanding of the market.

    These sites often make the same mistake, I think intentionally in some cases (not in Tom's, I think it's just not understanding), of taking products out of their context market. They might put a line up here or there reminding people of the market, but then test it in ways it was never intended to be used. The overall effect is misleading and inappropriate, but under the guise of being accurate since somewhere on some page they mention it's a lower end unit.

    Probably they don't know how to test appropriately. In any case, there aren't the right benchmarks for this type of unit, and so the confused author complains about the CPU on the last page with one last misplaced remark.

    But, for the more informed people, this is a very effective and efficient architecture. It performs as much work per clock cycle as their larger cores, despite being less than 1/3 the size. It's the same size as Bay Trail, despite being on 28nm as compared to 22nm, but has roughly 20% higher IPC, as well as much greater GPU performance. It's a great design.

    Tom's just doesn't know better. They should. They don't. In their blundering and dull-witted way, they think it should be used for gaming, because everyone wanting a gaming processor is going to want one. Kids will be kids.

    Minimally, put a discrete GPU in each, something cheap, if you want to test with games, although it's very difficult to see people buying this platform for gaming in any context. PS4 has that covered with a derivation of this successful architecture.

    To complete the lack of understanding of this baffled author, we have the uninformed remark about the processor costing twice as much as the motherboard. Sadly, this author's lack of understanding precludes him from realizing this is the point. More was put on the APU so it wouldn't have to be put on the motherboard.

    Just a bad article, with no understanding of the segment or product.

    Also, these motherboards and products are more geared for countries that have less disposable income. You can get a 5150 and MB for less than $90, or a 5350 and MB for around $100, and both offer good enough performance to make these attractive products for people needing a computer, but with a limited budget. And no, that market doesn't buy these things for games.

    In any case, the most interesting motherboard for the U.S. market was left out ASRock AM1H-ITX. If you want DisplayPort, it's the only game in town, as well.
  • 11 Hide
    Wisecracker , July 2, 2014 7:41 AM

    My Temash with 2 CUs at 3-400MHz is more than capable of playing RB6: Vegas2 and FEAR at great frame rates. A Kabini with higher clocks and greater memory through-put will play older DX games just dandy.

    It's just a big fail when testers throw BF4 at a 15w APU and exclaim, "It can't play!"

    It's quite dumb, too.

  • 11 Hide
    Puiucs , July 2, 2014 7:28 AM
    again i see reviews and benchmarks for Kabini and none answer the right questions.
    Can it play 1080p/4k videos? (30 or 60fps) youtube or downloaded
    Can it play games that are meant to work on low end PCs?
    What is the HTML5 performance?
    What is the average total cost of the system?
    How can you further improve the system value, depending on the components you choose to buy for it?
Other Comments
  • -6 Hide
    damric , July 2, 2014 12:08 AM
    TL;DR

    Why not throw a mid-ranged discreet GPU in there and see what happens? It's all we really want to know. Otherwise this platform is for strictly 2D flash games.
  • 0 Hide
    jdwii , July 2, 2014 12:19 AM
    This build should not be used for anything other then flash games for HTPC its perfect and light server work i can build this for 250$ and its perfect.
  • -3 Hide
    blackmagnum , July 2, 2014 2:27 AM
    It uses the 'Jaguar' core; the same core technology as the mighty Playstation 4. So, I believe it can handle more than simple flash games!
  • 1 Hide
    zetonfire , July 2, 2014 3:28 AM
    I own this processor paired with a gt 630 from nvidia, 4 gb of ram, hdd 1tb 7200 Rpm and what can i say, it does the job well, it runs 1080p movies with no problem. I play lol with high settings at @ 30-60 fps. At WoW it kinda struggles on 25 man raids but it still playable 20+fps, to mention that settings are nealy high. (both on 1080p). Nfs mostwanted 2012, battlefield 3, grid 2 on 720p 30fps most of the time, some fps drop there and there but still ok.I think if you put a better videocard ( i had the 630 @ house standing for nothing) it could do much better in certain games that are not processor hungry.
  • 4 Hide
    Lightbulbie , July 2, 2014 4:14 AM
    @blackmagnum
    Just because the technology is the same, it doesn't mean that it well perform on par with the PS4.
  • 7 Hide
    wtfxxxgp , July 2, 2014 4:20 AM
    I don't understand why THW doesn't add in games like League of Legends or DOTA2 when testing this type of hardware. I'd like to believe that the person that buys a system like this and DOES NOT buy a discreet GPU is NOT going to be playing games like Far Cry anything. LOL and DOTA2 are free to play, and therefore it is much more likely that they may, at one or other point in time, be tested on this type of system. Make the Games review relevant to the hardware if there is not a discreet GPU, pretty please?
  • 0 Hide
    Eelco van Vliet , July 2, 2014 4:32 AM
    In Europe the prices are a bit different
    Asus 33 Euro
    Gigabyte 32 Euro
    MSI 30 Euro

    I am gonna get the Asus at that price...
  • 1 Hide
    caamsa , July 2, 2014 6:10 AM
    How about the ability to over clock these CPU's with these boards?
  • 0 Hide
    MU_Engineer , July 2, 2014 6:13 AM
    I recently built a wireless router using an Athlon 5150 in a Biostar AM1ML. I'm surprised that $30 board wasn't in the comparison as it has two pretty significant advantages that none of these boards have. It's a micro-DTX board which gives it an extra PCIe slot compared to the mini-ITX units but it still fits in most of the "mini-ITX" cube cases unlike the Gigabyte unit tested here. That second PCIe slot was just what the doctor ordered as I needed to add both a wired Ethernet card and a wireless NIC for that build and it all fit perfectly in a little Silverstone Sugo.
  • 11 Hide
    Puiucs , July 2, 2014 7:28 AM
    again i see reviews and benchmarks for Kabini and none answer the right questions.
    Can it play 1080p/4k videos? (30 or 60fps) youtube or downloaded
    Can it play games that are meant to work on low end PCs?
    What is the HTML5 performance?
    What is the average total cost of the system?
    How can you further improve the system value, depending on the components you choose to buy for it?
  • 11 Hide
    Wisecracker , July 2, 2014 7:41 AM

    My Temash with 2 CUs at 3-400MHz is more than capable of playing RB6: Vegas2 and FEAR at great frame rates. A Kabini with higher clocks and greater memory through-put will play older DX games just dandy.

    It's just a big fail when testers throw BF4 at a 15w APU and exclaim, "It can't play!"

    It's quite dumb, too.

  • 22 Hide
    ta152h , July 2, 2014 7:42 AM
    Tom's should avoid talking about this subject, because every article completely misses the point, and shows a complete lack of understanding of the market.

    These sites often make the same mistake, I think intentionally in some cases (not in Tom's, I think it's just not understanding), of taking products out of their context market. They might put a line up here or there reminding people of the market, but then test it in ways it was never intended to be used. The overall effect is misleading and inappropriate, but under the guise of being accurate since somewhere on some page they mention it's a lower end unit.

    Probably they don't know how to test appropriately. In any case, there aren't the right benchmarks for this type of unit, and so the confused author complains about the CPU on the last page with one last misplaced remark.

    But, for the more informed people, this is a very effective and efficient architecture. It performs as much work per clock cycle as their larger cores, despite being less than 1/3 the size. It's the same size as Bay Trail, despite being on 28nm as compared to 22nm, but has roughly 20% higher IPC, as well as much greater GPU performance. It's a great design.

    Tom's just doesn't know better. They should. They don't. In their blundering and dull-witted way, they think it should be used for gaming, because everyone wanting a gaming processor is going to want one. Kids will be kids.

    Minimally, put a discrete GPU in each, something cheap, if you want to test with games, although it's very difficult to see people buying this platform for gaming in any context. PS4 has that covered with a derivation of this successful architecture.

    To complete the lack of understanding of this baffled author, we have the uninformed remark about the processor costing twice as much as the motherboard. Sadly, this author's lack of understanding precludes him from realizing this is the point. More was put on the APU so it wouldn't have to be put on the motherboard.

    Just a bad article, with no understanding of the segment or product.

    Also, these motherboards and products are more geared for countries that have less disposable income. You can get a 5150 and MB for less than $90, or a 5350 and MB for around $100, and both offer good enough performance to make these attractive products for people needing a computer, but with a limited budget. And no, that market doesn't buy these things for games.

    In any case, the most interesting motherboard for the U.S. market was left out ASRock AM1H-ITX. If you want DisplayPort, it's the only game in town, as well.
  • 1 Hide
    blafrisch , July 2, 2014 8:13 AM
    Any word on what the boot time differences were like across the different motherboards?
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , July 2, 2014 9:47 AM
    Quote:
    How about the ability to over clock these CPU's with these boards?
    There are no overclocking options, check the BIOS descriptions.

    As for POV, I come at this from the viewpoint of someone who's gamed on Haswell's integrated GPU. I'm just looking for entry-level performance. As in, barely useful 3D. I'm not finding it.

  • 2 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , July 2, 2014 10:01 AM
    This article is useless. You will find more useful information on Newegg's product page. The tests conducted didn't match the intended application of these parts.
  • -1 Hide
    Crashman , July 2, 2014 10:06 AM
    Quote:
    This article is useless. You will find more useful information on Newegg's product page. The tests conducted didn't match the intended application of these parts.
    I thought it was supposed to be a low-energy multimedia platform with entry-level gaming capability.

  • -3 Hide
    MANOFKRYPTONAK , July 2, 2014 10:19 AM
    For power-miser consumers, meaning it doesn't have much power to do anything!!! LOL, I kid, I kid.

    The same jaguar core that is in the mighty PS4, that must be why the PS4 is sub par, lol...
  • -1 Hide
    Wisecracker , July 2, 2014 10:31 AM

    Asus AM1I-A Mini ITX ---> 25- to 30% OC's

    THG announced the mobo on March 16th ...

  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , July 2, 2014 10:59 AM
    Quote:
    Asus AM1I-A Mini ITX
    THG announced the mobo on March 16th ...
    Really? Dude...
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/am1-motherboard-socket-fs1b-athlon-5350,3850-3.html
    No reference clock control in firmware or motherboard software. If you'd like to recommend a different application, feel free.

  • 3 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , July 2, 2014 11:04 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    This article is useless. You will find more useful information on Newegg's product page. The tests conducted didn't match the intended application of these parts.
    I thought it was supposed to be a low-energy multimedia platform with entry-level gaming capability.


    Where are the tests that reflect that? I don't see any HD playback testing. I also don't see but one graph that shows any testing on power consumption. Do you not think people would be interested in seeing results for tests that aren't maxing out the CPU or GPU? What about a comparison to Intel Atom configurations? Anyone who is honestly interested in learning more about this platform could care less how well BF4 benches.
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