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AMD Llano Desktop A8-3850 review: banging on Intel's door

by Tarinder Sandhu on 30 June 2011, 05:00 4.0

Tags: Gigabyte (TPE:2376), AMD (NYSE:AMD)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa6hu

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Final thoughts and rating

Quickly following on from the launch of the laptop chips, AMD is keen to push its fledgling Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) into the mainstream desktop market.

Now released as four chips split between the A6 and A8 APU families, AMD is clearly targetting the sub-£100 market with these CPU-and-GPU processors, while its motherboard partners are busy launching similar-priced supporting motherboards.

Through a little care and sensible integration it will be possible to build a complete APU-centric PC base unit for around £300, meaning that these new processors' appeal is vast.

The design of the desktop APUs indicates they're scaled-up versions of the mobile parts, which is no bad thing. Our benchmarks show the (£99) quad-core A8 3850 APU has adequate CPU performance and, for an wholly-integrated graphics core, GPU qualities akin to a £50 discrete card from NVIDIA, along with all the video-acceleration technology present in modern graphics cards.

CPU

Putting the performance into real-world context, the A8-3850's CPU is, on balance, about the same speed as a roughly price-equivalent Core i3's. However, the AMD APU's graphics performance resides in a different league to Intel's, and it's made all the better by the provision of Dual Graphics.

Gigabyte's A75-UD4H provides a solid foundation on which to build an A8 rig. Chock-full of features and endowed with a sensible layout, there's much to like here.

Readers who demand lusty power from their PC are advised to look elsewhere - discrete CPUs and GPUs, for starters - but that's not the aim of these APUs. Rather, it's to provide a quality base on which to build a cheap-ish PC around.

So if you're in the market for a relatively inexpensive, well-balanced, power-efficient, fully-featured system, it pays to take a very close look at AMD's nascent APU technology, more so if motherboard manufacturers release value microATX boards that pave the way for a sleek build.

The Good

Solid all-round performance
Hot on multimedia and IGP goodness
Makes a compelling case as the guts for a budget PC
Power efficient

The Bad

CPU is based on old technology
Requires investment in new motherboard

HEXUS Rating

4/5
AMD A8 3850 Desktop APU

HEXUS Awards

HEXUS Recommended
AMD A8 3850 Desktop APU

HEXUS Where2Buy

TBC.

HEXUS Right2Reply

At HEXUS, we invite the companies whose products we test to comment on our articles. If any company representatives for the products reviewed choose to respond, we'll publish their commentary here verbatim.



HEXUS Forums :: 15 Comments

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great review guys, looks like you have been keeping an eye on what everyones concerns have been and probed the chips thoroughly to make sure they comply.

Thanks!
Lovely review with only one downside for me…. no overclocking results? Was that an editorial decision, or just a time constraint?
Looking at those prices, it is indeed very tempting.
Thorough review but the choice of chips used for comparison is a bit off - 990X, 1100T, 2600K, etc? They're not even in the same ball park - it's OK to include one or two high-end chips for comparison but it doesn't do much for the chip when the competitors you've chosen put it consistently at the bottom of the graphs.
As I see it vs Intel:

+ Priced to sell
+ Good IGP, although still only really enough for media & old games

= Power usage finally on par with Intel
= CPU performance is OK in it's segment

- Loses out to Intel in CPU features, e.g. Quicksync, AVX
- Needs expensive RAM to get the best out of it

I can see them in a lot of all-in-ones and low end media oriented machines, but with CPU performance that low it's not got too much “future-proof” about it, I can see machines based on the platform feeling outdated rather quickly, especially once AMD refresh to Fusion Bulldozer.

I'm still happy with the i3 2100T I bought for my HTPC, the 35W TDP of the T models makes for a low power and quiet ITX machine, not sure such little cases would be so happy with the peak power usage shown here for the A8.