The staggered birth of Kaveri has been an interesting story to cover but it has been difficult to keep all the pieces right in the forefront of memory. The initial launch in January 2014 saw a small number of SKUs such as the A10-7850K and the A8-7600 at first and since then we have had a small trickle at a rate of one or two new models a quarter hitting the shelves. We've seen 65W SKUs, such as in the form of the A10-7800, which offer 45W modes as well. Today we're reviewing the most recent Kaveri processor to hit the market, the A8-7650K rated at 95W and officially priced at $105/$95.

AMDs APU Strategy

Integrated graphics is one of the cornerstones of both the mobile and the desktop space. Despite the love we might harbor for a fully discrete graphics solution, the truth of the matter is that most people and most places still have that integrated platform in both consumer and business. Whenever I meet with AMD, the question from them is always simple - when you build a system, what would you get from AMD/Intel at a similar price point? The APU series tackles the sub-$200 price bracket from head to toe:

CPU/APU Comparion
AMD Kaveri Amazon Price on 5/12
Intel Haswell
(4C/4T, 88W)
3.5-3.9 GHz
HD 4600
    $199 i5-4590
(4C/4T, 84W)
3.3-3.7 GHz
HD 4600
    $189 i5-4460
(4C/4T, 84W)
3.2-3.4 GHz
HD 4600
3.7-4.0 GHz
512 SPs
(2M/4T, 95W)
$140 i3-4330
(2C/4T, 54W)
3.5 GHz
HD 4600
3.5-3.9 GHz
512 SPs
(2M/4T, 65W)
3.4-3.8 GHz
384 SPs
(2M/4T, 95W)
$120 i3-4130
(2C/4T, 54W)
3.4 GHz
HD 4400
3.3-3.8 GHz
384 SPs
(2M/4T, 95W)
3.1-3.8 GHz
384 SPs
(2M/4T, 65W)
$96 Pentium G3430
(2C/2T, 53W)
3.3 GHz
HD (Haswell)
3.7-4.0 GHz
X4 860K
(2M/4T, 95W)
    $70 Pentium G3258
(2C/2T, 53W)
3.2 GHz
HD (Haswell)
3.5-3.9 GHz
256 SPs
(1M/2T, 65W)
$64 Celeron G1830
(2C/2T, 53W)
2.8 GHz
HD (Haswell)

I first created this table with launch pricing, and it had some of the APUs/CPUs moved around. But since the release dates of these processors varies on both sides, the prices of individual SKUs has been adjusted to compete.  Perhaps appropriately, we get a number of direct matchups including the A10-7700K and the Core i3-4130 at $120 right now. This table is by no means complete, due to Intel’s 20+ other SKUs that fight around same price points but vary slightly in frequency, but that tells a lot about each sides attack on the market. Some of AMD's recently announced price cuts are here, but for consistency our results tables will list the launch pricing as we have no mechanism for dynamic pricing.

Testing AMDs APUs over the years has provided results that these are not necessarily targeted to the high end when it comes to multi-GPU systems that total $2000+, although AMD wouldn't mind if you built a high end system with one. The key element to the APU has always been the integrated graphics, and the ability to offer more performance or percentage of transistors to graphics than the competition does at various price points (irrespective of TDP). Ultimately AMD likes to promote that for a similarly priced Intel+NVIDIA solution, a user can enable dual graphics with an APU+R7 discrete card for better performance. That being said, the high-end APUs have also historically been considered when it comes to single discrete GPU gaming when the most expensive thing in the system is the GPU as we showed in our last gaming CPU roundup, although we need to test for a new one of those soon.

Part of the new set of tests for this review is to highlight the usefulness of dual graphics, as well as comparing both AMD and NVIDIA graphics for low, mild-mannered and high end gaming arrangements.

The A8-7650K

The new APU fits in the stack between the 65W A8-7600 and before we get into the A10 models with the A10-7700K. It offers a slightly reduced clock speed than the A10, but it is built (in part) for overclocking with the K moniker. The integrated graphics under the hood provide 384 SPs at 720 MHz, being part of AMDs 4+6 compute core strategy. The A8-7650K is designed to fill out the processor stack to that end.

AMD Kaveri Lineup
Price $140 $135 $120 $104 $96 $83 $64
Modules 2 2 2 2 2 2 1
Threads 4 4 4 4 4 4 2
Core Freq. (GHz) 3.7-4.0 3.5-3.9 3.4-3.8 3.3-3.8 3.1-3.8 3.7-4.0 3.5-3.9
Compute Units 4+8 4+8 4+6 4+6 4+6 4+0 2+4
512 512 384 384 384 N/A 256
IGP Freq. (MHz) 720 720 720 720 720 N/A 756
TDP 95W 65W 95W 95W 65W 95W 65W
2133 2133 2133 2133 2133 1866 1866
L2 Cache 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB 2x2MB 1MB

At a list price of $105 (current $104), we were at a quandary with what to test against it from team blue. The Pentium G3258 sits at $72 with two cores at 3.2 GHz and HD (Haswell) GT1 graphics. The next one up the stack is the i3-4130, a dual core with hyperthreading and HD4400, but sits at $120. Ultimately there is no direct price competitor, but AMD assured us they were confident in the positing of the SKUs, particularly when gaming is concerned. Due to what I have in my testing lab, the nearest competitor to this is the i3-4330, a model with a larger L3 cache which has a list price of $138, or the i3-4130T which is a low power SKU.

New Testing Methodology
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  • silverblue - Thursday, May 14, 2015 - link

    I've often wondered if the G3258 is really the better choice in this price range. Sure, there are titles it cannot play, but workarounds exist in one or two titles to allow it to work. Newer titles may indeed render it obselete, but there's always the argument about buying a better CPU for the platform later on. Additionally, it overclocks like buggery if you feel that way inclined; how long has it been since we had a CPU that could be overclocked by 50% without costing the earth in power?

    The concern I have with upgrading just the CPU is that Intel doesn't stick with its sockets for a long time, and if you're buying a CPU that will eventually become as useful as a chocolate fireguard when playing modern titles, it'd make more sense to buy its i3 cousins in the first place. AMD is banking on you considering its quad core APUs for this, however they have their flaws too - FM2+ has a year left (Carrizo is destined for FM3 along with Zen), they don't overclock as well, power usage is higher even during idle, and the GPU-less derivatives don't appear to be any faster. H81 boards aren't expensive, either, for overclocking that Pentium. Still, you really do need a discrete card with the G3258/Athlons, whereas the APUs and i3 have enough iGPU grunt to go into an HTPC if you're not gaming heavily.

    Decisions, decisions... and right now, I'm wondering how I could even consider AMD. Has anybody made systems for both Pentium and Athlon/APU systems and can share their thoughts?
  • Tunnah - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    Nice review, covers pretty much everything, and says what I guess everyone was expecting.

    One thing I wondered though, why choose the 770 for mid-range when the 960 is a much more logical choice ? Price wise it's £140 here in UK so I guess about $200 over the pond, and is a much more competent card than the 770
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    Because I've had 770s in as part of my test bed for 18 months. The rest of the cards (290X, 980, 285) I've sourced for my 2015 testing, and it's really hard to source GPUs for testing these days - I had to personally purchase the 285 for example, because I felt it was extremely relevant. Unfortunately we don't all work in a big office to pass around hardware!
  • meacupla - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    If you do ever get a GTX 960 or 750Ti, it would be nice to see some total system power consumption numbers between overclocked A8-7650K+R7 240 vs. i3-4xxx+750Ti vs. overclocked G3258+750Ti
  • Drazick - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    Could you please add MATLAB to your performance benchmark?
    Or at least Python / Julia.

    We need data about scientific computation.

    Thank You.
  • UtilityMax - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    "Scientific computation" is a somewhat amorphous term. Moreover, I don't know if there exists a benchmark suite for either Matlab or Python. In any case, Matlab and Python or both used in numerics as fast prototyping tools or for computations where the compute time is inconsequential. If you're running in speed issues with Matlab it's time to start coding in something else, although in from my observations, most people who run into performance issues with Matlab don't know how to optimize Matlab code for speed. Most don't know how to code at all.
  • freekier93 - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    Your really don't know what you're talking about... Matlab is SO much more than fast prototyping software. I have quite a few programs what would be good speed tests, one of which being a full non-linear aircraft dynamics Simulink simulation. A 5 minute simulation could easily take 2 minutes of compute time. Anything that starts getting into serious differential equations takes compute time.
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    3DPM is a Brownian Motion based benchmark, and Photoscan does interesting 2D to 3D correlation projections. The Linux benchmarks also include NAMD/NPB, both of which are hardcore scientific calculations.
  • Smile286 - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    Author, do you know about existence of 'Haswell Refresh' CPU models? It's basically the same 'Haswell' with +100/+200/+300 MHz to their x86-core's speed. Why not use them in tests? It's not like it's 2013 right now, when i3-4330 was released. FYI, i3-4370 have the same $138 MSRP (tray) as i3-4330, but it +300 MHz faster.

    Same story about i3-4130 and i3-4170: +300 MHz for i3-4170 basically for free.

    You should put them in test rather an old 'Haswell' core i3 models. Thanks.
  • zodiacfml - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    How could a next generation API improve AMD's APU performance if it already has decent if not very good performance in integrated 3D graphics (beating the lowest end discrete)?

    AMD still needs better CPU performance as it shows poorer value compared to an Intel of near or similar price (without considering the GPU).

    The occasional gaming niche is pretty nil too as that kind can be accomplished in a notebook, tablet, or smartphone.

    This remains valuable for people with regular gaming in mind but with absolutely limited budget. I see myself getting this for getting back into Diablo 3 after a day from work but saving a bit more, I might as well get a decent laptop.

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