Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Performance With And Without Discrete Graphics

Lian Li PC-Q30 Case Review: A Mini-ITX Chassis With Flair
By

APU vs. CPU with Discrete Graphics

The PC-Q30’s dimensions do limit your choices when it comes to discrete graphics. Dual-slot cards fit without a problem. But a length of 24 cm with a power connector on the back of the card, or a height of 13 cm (more like 12.5 cm, really) with the power connector on top, are already pushing it. Our power supply of choice has a six-pin PCIe power cable and connector, but shorter cards like Asus' GTX 670/760 DirectCU II Mini require eight-pin input, in which case you’re out of luck.

Then again, an AMD Radeon HD 7850 or 7750 should suffice in light of the system’s intended location and purpose. The latter can even be passively cooled. Of course, a board like HIS' HD 7850 IceQ X² is still really quiet; you probably won't notice it above the noise from other components.

This is a good time to revisit the APU versus CPU discussion. The A10-6800K's on-die graphics engine offers fairly similar performance as a Radeon HD 6670. This is enough to play Crysis 3 at the Low detail preset at up to 1680x1050 with reasonable frame rates. Less demanding games run at 1920x1080 at higher performance, depending on the title and graphics settings. AMD's A10-6800K is certainly not good enough for serious gaming, but it’s ample for entry-level or mainstream 3D.

Combining a passively-cooled Radeon HD 7750 and Intel's CPU doesn’t really provide much more performance than the AMD APU. This is because graphics is the bottleneck. Differences only become apparent in CPU-intensive games like StarCraft II with some of its more challenging maps or Battlefield 4 in multiplayer, and they’re more pronounced when a Radeon HD 7850 is used instead. The APU’s less powerful processing cores lose out to the combination of reasonably powerful add-in graphics and Intel's Core i5-2500K to the tune of five to 10 percent. Of course, while this is easily quantifiable, it's typically not enough to render a title playable or not.

Bottom Line: APU vs. CPU and Discrete Graphics

The A10-6800K APU is powerful enough for HTPC applications and light gaming. If, however, a stylish gaming system is the goal, then a more powerful combination of an Intel processor and a discrete graphics card is the way to go. Both solutions are equally doable in this enclosure.

If you thought to yourself, "How about adding a Radeon HD 6670 in Dual Graphics mode?" then we have some bad news. On paper, that'll give you between 15 to 30 percent more performance, but it'll also add about 50 W to your system's power consumption. Moreover, the boost might not even be palpable. Check out AMD Dual Graphics Analysis: Better Benchmarks; Same Experience? for our own investigation.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 39 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    gofasterstripes , November 19, 2013 12:20 AM
    Lian Li proving, again, that they're a little less sane than everyone else...

    I kinda like it, nice concept. There's too many boring PC cases!
Other Comments
  • -1 Hide
    afrobacon , November 18, 2013 10:54 PM
    It's hideous.
  • 13 Hide
    gofasterstripes , November 19, 2013 12:20 AM
    Lian Li proving, again, that they're a little less sane than everyone else...

    I kinda like it, nice concept. There's too many boring PC cases!
  • 8 Hide
    jimthenagual , November 19, 2013 12:23 AM
    Doesn't quite do it for me. Good for them for trying something new, but it's not something I'd buy.
  • -3 Hide
    monsta , November 19, 2013 12:49 AM
    Yuck....
  • -3 Hide
    bemused_fred , November 19, 2013 2:20 AM
    Ugh. How incredibly gauche.
  • 4 Hide
    jimthenagual , November 19, 2013 2:23 AM
    It makes me want to play donkey kong on the screen.
  • 3 Hide
    killerclick , November 19, 2013 4:21 AM
    I like it. Then again, everything is better than a laptop.
  • -4 Hide
    JohnMD1022 , November 19, 2013 4:36 AM
    Ugly with a capital UG !!
  • 4 Hide
    vertexx , November 19, 2013 5:45 AM
    Does that thing dispense Bitcoins? It looks like it should be dispensing something....
  • 4 Hide
    rolli59 , November 19, 2013 6:24 AM
    Definitely a matter of taste.
  • -2 Hide
    edmoncu , November 19, 2013 7:39 AM
    UGLY! I don't understand the 'uniqueness' of this being a thing of beauty. it's a total opposite! Being different is not just about being different!
  • 2 Hide
    clonazepam , November 19, 2013 9:03 AM
    So a designer at Lian Li was sitting around feeling all nostalgic about his Macintosh (1984-1993), and was looking at all the interesting slideshows of said computers that had been turned into fish bowls, or just a hideout for cute cats. Then the idea for this came to him/her.

    It's not something I'd do for myself. I can see how plenty of people would appreciate the design. I know my 8 yr old daughter would absolutely love that fan. Get some software to turn your monitor into a strobe light, and you have a party in the making! lol

    Igor's awesome. Good job. Could a 140mm fan be rigged up to that CPU(APU) cooler?
  • 1 Hide
    warezme , November 19, 2013 9:22 AM
    Tell your grandpa, it's a new fangled microfiche, he'll get it.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , November 19, 2013 9:26 AM
    It looks like an airport or store kiosk.
  • -1 Hide
    ta152h , November 19, 2013 10:11 AM
    Whoever thought this was an attractive case should not be allowed to do any decorations in the house.

    It's ugly as Hell. Different is easy. Different and attractive is difficult. This is different, sure, because no one else wanted to build something so ugly.

    Their train is different and pretty. They normally miss, that's for sure, but every now and then they get it right. I have the train,and love it. This ugly thing? I'd sledgehammer it. It would look better that way.
  • 2 Hide
    g-unit1111 , November 19, 2013 10:23 AM
    Quote:
    So a designer at Lian Li was sitting around feeling all nostalgic about his Macintosh (1984-1993), and was looking at all the interesting slideshows of said computers that had been turned into fish bowls, or just a hideout for cute cats. Then the idea for this came to him/her.

    It's not something I'd do for myself. I can see how plenty of people would appreciate the design. I know my 8 yr old daughter would absolutely love that fan. Get some software to turn your monitor into a strobe light, and you have a party in the making! lol

    Igor's awesome. Good job. Could a 140mm fan be rigged up to that CPU(APU) cooler?


    Actually I'm thinking more some designer at Lian Li travels a lot and was thinking "Hmm...... how can I get my PC to have the feel of that machine at the airport that prints out your boarding pass?" :lol: 
  • 0 Hide
    cobra5000 , November 19, 2013 10:58 AM
    Lots of negative posts but I think its pretty cool. A case like this, demands a stylish cooler and gpu, if you add one. I have been itching to do a small form factor..
  • -1 Hide
    nekromobo , November 19, 2013 11:54 AM
    Any suggestions whats the cooler of choice to replace that case-fan? Something like Noctua NF-A15 ? For that absolutly silent service.. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    RedJaron , November 19, 2013 2:17 PM
    I don't mind the look of this. The cooling solution doesn't make much sense to me, though. The exhaust fan is effectively under the board. That means the flow has to go past the edges, but not across. That seems really inefficient, and possibly eddy inducing right above the board. And I'd forget trying anything but a blower-fan GPU in that case ( though that should work quite well considering the fan intake is right up against the case vent. The passive cooled card's fins are right next to the vent too, but they're not inline with how the air wants to flow.

    It just seems clumsy from a thermal/airflow perspective.
  • 0 Hide
    DanglingPointer , November 19, 2013 3:53 PM
    Get the most powerful Kaveri and pair it with a 7850 next year! Or whatever the most powerful GCN card that can fit!

    Mantle enabled games that are multi-gcn-gpu aware will be able to take advantage of assymetric AFR (assymetric crossfire rendering)!!!! Then you'll be able to play BF4 on high quality on 1080p!

    But that's only if Mantle lives up to the hype! It is still all theory on slides from AMD and DICE.
Display more comments