AMD A10-7870K APU Review & Benchmarks vs. CPU + dGPU Solutions

By Published August 03, 2015 at 2:25 pm
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Additional Info

  • Component: CPU
  • Original MSRP: 150
  • Manufacturer: AMD

After an extended period of hardware silence, AMD has recently made its resurgence with updated GPU and CPU lines. The Radeon 300 series refreshed the existing R200 lineup, followed shortly by the architecturally revamped Fiji GPU on the Fury X; we've reviewed both of these launches (R9 390 & 380 review / Fury X review). Back in May, we also posted about the company's promised Kaveri refresh – the A10-7870K – and its market positioning.

Today we're reviewing that APU.

The A10-7870K APU is built on the Kaveri architecture and refreshes the A10-7850K, mostly by way of small frequency boosts to the CPU and GPU. This AMD A10-7870K review compares the APU against budget CPU + GPU purchases – like the G3258 – and Intel's own HD 4000 series IGPs.

AMD's A10-7870K is priced at $150 at most retailers. Note that, at the time of this review, Amazon is selling the A10-7870K for $122 as a “daily deal.” Pricing will return to $150 once the day has concluded.

We understand that AMD's market positioning and target may differ in Asiatic countries. This review strictly looks at the product from a US / Western perspective, where the price structure of competing and ancillary products is more familiar.

AMD A10-7870K Specs

  A10-7870K A10-7850K A10-7700K
COMPUTE Cores 4 CPU + 8 GPU 4 CPU + 8 GPU 4 CPU + 6 GPU
Frequency 4.1 / 3.9GHz 4 / 3.7GHz 3.8 / 3.4GHz
L2 Cache 4MB 4MB 4MB
GPU Frequency 866MHz 720MHz 720MHz
Feature Support Dx12, HSA, FreeSync, Unlocked Dx12, HSA, FreeSync, Unlocked Dx12, HSA, FreeSync, Unlocked

Changes from the A10-7850K

The A10-7870K reflects similar feelings to the R300 refresh. It's not a new architecture, but there are some small changes instituted to the existing platform. As with the R300 vs. R200 references, we would consider the 7870K a “refresh” to the 7850K; that is, it's not a true “rebadge” – the selling of an existing product under a new name – but isn't entirely new, either. There is no inherent flaw with refreshing a product as long as the new price and feature updates reflect progress. Most companies, even non-electrical manufacturers (like those who make cases and coolers), will refresh products between cycles.

AMD's 7870K has increased the CPU frequency from 4GHz / 3.7GHz (turbo / standard) on the 7850K to 4.1GHz / 3.9GHz (turbo / standard) on the 7870K; that's a 0.2GHz pre-overclock. The GPU frequency is slightly more noteworthy, increasing from 720MHz to 866MHz. The rest is the same – Dx12, HSA, and FreeSync are all supported on both the 7850K and 7870K. The 7870K still hosts 4 CPU and 8 GPU cores.

AMD's Kaveri platform hosts Steamroller, for those who recall the now-aging Bulldozer / Piledriver / Steamroller nomenclature. The architecture remains heavy on COMPUTE and arithmetic (integer) processing. Steamroller drove IPC performance more heavily than its power-focused predecessor, Piledriver. Kaveri hosts 2.41B transistors on a 245mm^2 physical die package, using 28nm manufacturing process.

Kaveri's programming model allows developers to tap into its heterogeneous system architecture (HSA) for more equal loading of the coupled CPU and GPU components. The CPU and GPU are able to jointly access most sets of data in the same memory locations, theoretically allowing for co-processing in a fashion that accelerates applications. This is something that must be optimized for in the codebase and is not necessarily a “free” performance improvement.

7870k-cpu-3

Test Methodology

We tested using our updated 2015 GPU test bench, detailed in the table below. Our thanks to supporting hardware vendors for supplying some of the test components.

The latest AMD Catalyst drivers (15.7.1) were used for testing. NVidia's 353.62 drivers were used for testing. Game settings were manually controlled for the DUT.

Testing was split between CPU bottleneck analysis and IGP benchmarks. To test at what point the CPU bottlenecks a high-end GPU, we equipped all platforms with a GTX 980 Ti and performed tests using the following settings:

  • Metro: Last Light - Very High w/ high tessellation.
  • GRID: Autosport - Ultra, 4xMSAA.
  • Shadow of Mordor - Ultra preset.
  • GTA V - Very High / High.
  • GTA V - Very High / High with Advanced Graphics (to find bottlenecks).
  • FireStrike (normal).

IGP testing was performed with a lower-end set of games due to limitations on the on-die GPU:

  • CSGO - High / Very High with AA disabled.
  • GRID: Autosport - Medium.
  • DOTA2 - Medium on the sliders, other settings as below.
  • GTA V - Lowest (normal).
  • FireStrike (normal) for physics.

dota-settings

All tests had the resolution set to 1080p.

Each game was tested for 30 seconds in an identical scenario, then repeated three times for parity.

Average FPS, 1% low, and 0.1% low times are measured. We do not measure maximum or minimum FPS results as we consider these numbers to be pure outliers. Instead, we take an average of the lowest 1% of results (1% low) to show real-world, noticeable dips; we then take an average of the lowest 0.1% of results for severe spikes. Anti-Aliasing was disabled in all tests except GRID: Autosport, which looks significantly better with its default 4xMSAA. HairWorks was disabled where prevalent. Manufacturer-specific technologies were used when present (CHS, PCSS).

Here is the Intel test bench:

GN Test Bench 2015 Name Courtesy Of Cost
Video Card

GTX 980 Ti
R7 250X

NVIDIA
AMD
-
CPU Intel i7-4790K CPU
Intel i5-4690K CPU
Intel i3-4160 CPU
Intel G3258 CPU
CyberPower
GamersNexus
GamersNexus
GamersNexus
-
Memory 16GB 2133MHz HyperX Savage RAM Kingston Tech. $300
Motherboard Gigabyte Z97X Gaming G1 GamersNexus $285
Power Supply NZXT 1200W HALE90 V2 NZXT $300
SSD HyperX Predator PCI-e SSD Kingston Tech. TBD
Case Top Deck Tech Station GamersNexus $250
CPU Cooler Be Quiet! Dark Rock 3 Be Quiet! ~$60

And the AMD bench:

GN Test Bench 2015 Name Courtesy Of Cost
Video Card

GTX 980 Ti
R7 250X

NVIDIA
AMD
-
CPU AMD A10-7870K
AMD Athlon X4 760K
AMD
GamersNexus
-
Memory 16GB 2133MHz HyperX Savage RAM Kingston Tech. -
Motherboard ASUS A88X-PRO GamersNexus $285
Power Supply NZXT 1200W HALE90 V2 NZXT $300
SSD HyperX Savage SSD Kingston Tech. TBD
Case Top Deck Tech Station GamersNexus $250
CPU Cooler Be Quiet! Dark Rock 3 Be Quiet! ~$60

Continue to page 2 for the benchmark results!


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Last modified on August 03, 2015 at 2:25 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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