AMD A8-3850 Review: Llano Rocks Entry-Level Desktops

Test Setup And Benchmarks

Briefly, a couple of notes about our test bench. We have three basic configurations to compare. We wanted to include more, but simply didn't have enough time with stable, trouble-free Llano-based setups to include viable alternatives like AMD's Phenom II X3 720 and other popular, low-cost enthusiast setups. If there's interest, we'd be happy to do a follow-up with that, Intel's new low-cost Sandy Bridge-based Pentiums, and more.

We kept the memory subsystem of all three machines consistent with DDR3-1333 transfer rates. Llano gets a notable boost from more aggressive clocks and timings, though, so we've also made sure to dedicated an entire page to exploring the effects of faster memory, and we'll remind you where more bandwidth helps performance throughout the analysis.

The original plan was to test the Core i3 using a more value-oriented H67-based motherboard, but an overzealous lab tech bent processor interface pins in my one H67 platform right before benchmarking commenced, forcing me to go with Z68. The pricier motherboard won't effect the test results, though, as we're only using one graphics card, and Core i3 can't overclock anyway.

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Test Hardware
ProcessorsAMD A8-3850 (Llano) 2.9 GHz (29 * 100 MHz) CPU, 600 MHz GPU (400 Shaders), Quad-core, Socket FM1, 4 MB L2 Cache, Power-savings enabled
Row 1 - Cell 0 Intel Core i3-2105 (Sandy Bridge) 3.1 GHz (31 * 100 MHz), Dual-core, LGA 1155, 3 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled
Row 2 - Cell 0 AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (Deneb) 3.4 GHz (17 * 200 MHz), Socket AM3, 6 MB Shared L3, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardASRock A75 Extreme6 (Socket FM1), AMD A75, BIOS A75EX61.11I
Row 4 - Cell 0 Asus P8Z68-V Pro (LGA 1155) Intel Z68 Express, BIOS 0501
Row 5 - Cell 0 Asus M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 (Socket AM3) AMD 890GX/SB850, BIOS 2201
MemoryKingston 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-2133, KHX2133C9AD3W1K2/4GX @ DDR3-1333, 7-7-7-20 and 1.65 V
Hard DriveSamsung Series 470 256 GB SSD, SATA 3Gb/s
GraphicsRadeon HD 6570 1 GB
Power SupplyOCZ ModXStream Pro 500 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriverAMD 8.862 RC1
Row 14 - Cell 0 AMD Catalyst 11.6
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3D Games Benchmarks and Settings
Metro 2033Game Settings: Medium Quality Settings, PhysX: Off, AAA, 4x AF, Wait for vertical sync: disabled, 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1680x1050, Demo: Built-in Benchmark Utility (Frontline)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Game Settings:  Ultra Quality Settings, Anti Aliasing: Disabled/4xAA, Anisotropic Filtering: Disabled, Sync Every Frame: No, 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1680x1050, Demo: Second Sun, 45 seconds, Fraps
World of Warcraft CataclysmGame Settings: Good Quality Settings, Anti Aliasing: Disabled/4x AA, Anisotropic Filtering: 4x, Vertical Sync: Disabled, 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1680x1050, Demo: Crushblow to The Krazzworks, Fraps
Audio Benchmarks and Settings
iTunesVersion: 10.3.1, 64-bit Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min., Convert to AAC audio 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)
Video Benchmarks and Settings
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.94Video: Big Buck Bunny (720x480, 23.972 frames) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept Reference v2Version: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Application Benchmarks and Settings
WinRARVersion 4.01 RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
WinZip 14Version 14.0 Pro (8652) WinZIP Commandline Version 3, ZIPX, Syntax "-a -ez -p -r", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
7-ZipVersion 9.2LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5Video length 2min 21s, Export to H.264 Blu-raySource 960x720, Output 1280x720
Adobe After Effects CS5Create Video which includes 3 StreamsFrames: 210, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously: on
CinebenchVersion 11.5 Build CB25720DEMOCPU Test single and multi threaded
BlenderVersion: 2.54 beta Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, Resolution: 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing: 8x, Render: THG.blend frame 1
Adobe Photoshop CS 5 (64-Bit)Version: 11 Filtering a 16 MB TIF (15000x7266), Filters:, Radial Blur (Amount: 10, Method: zoom, Quality: good) Shape Blur (Radius: 46 px; custom shape: Trademark sysmbol) Median (Radius: 1px) Polar Coordinates (Rectangular to Polar)
ABBYY FineReaderVersion: 10 Professional Build ( Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
PCMark 7Version: 1.0.4
3DMark VantageVersion 1.1.0
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version: 2011.SP3 Processor Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth, GP-GPU Cryptography
Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • whatisupthere
    Great review! Thanks Toms
  • Tamz_msc
    Another win for AMD!
  • SteelCity1981
    So then what's the point of getting the Turbo Core versions when they are going to be Turbo Clocked slower then the none Turbo Clocked versions...
  • cangelini
    SteelCity1981So then what's the point of getting the Turbo Core versions when they are going to be Turbo Clocked slower then the none Turbo Clocked versions...
    They don't want you to see better performance from a cheaper APU in single-threaded apps by pushing Turbo Core further ;-)
  • Known2Bone
    i really wanted see some amazing gains in the content creation department what with all that gpu power on chip... oh well games are fun too!
  • ivan_chess
    I think this would be good for a young kid's PC. It would be enough to run educational software and a web browser. When he grows up to be a gamer it would be time to replace the whole machine anyway.
  • DjEaZy
    ... it's may be not the greatest APU for desktop... but it will be a powerful thingy in a laptop... the review was nice... but in the gaming department... would be nice to see a standard 15,x'' laptop resolution tests @ 1366x768... or something like that...
  • Mathos
    Actually if you want good DDR3 1600 with aggressive timings, the Ripjaws X series memory that I have does DDR3 1600 at 7-8-7-24 at 1.5v, not all that expensive when it comes down to it either.
  • Stardude82
    This makes little sense. An Athlon II X3 445 ($75) and a HD 5570 ($60, on a good day you can get a 5670 for the same price) would provide better performance for the same price ($135) and not have to worry about the RAM you use.

    So is AM3+ going to be retired in favor of FM1 in the near future? Why are there chipset at all? Why isn't everything SOC by now?

    Otherwise this is a very good CPU. If AMD has used 1 MB level 2 caches in their quads when they came out with the Deneb Propus die, they would be much more competitive.
  • crisan_tiberiu
    stardude82This makes little sense. An Athlon II X3 445 ($75) and a HD 5570 ($60, on a good day you can get a 5670 for the same price) would provide better performance for the same price ($135) and not have to worry about the RAM you use. what about power consumption?