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GPU Performance

We’ve passed the most unpleasant part of this testing for the new APU. We’ve made sure the Kaveri’s x86 performance is low, so now we want to check out its graphics department. The A10-7850K looks optimistic in this respect as its integrated graphics core features high theoretical performance. AMD claims the Kaveri lets you do without any discrete graphics card if you want to use your Socket FM2+ platform for gaming. According to AMD’s official data, the new APU can ensure a playable frame rate (over 30 fps at Full-HD resolution) not only in the majority of online projects but also in popular single-player games.

Let’s see if this is indeed so. To make our testing complete, we will compare the A10-7850K with other hybrid processors as well as with inexpensive discrete graphics cards (Radeon R7 240 and Radeon R7 250 with DDR3 and GDDR5 SDRAM).

As a tentative test of the 3D performance of the graphics core integrated into the Kaveri processor, we will run Futuremark 3DMark. Its Cloud Gate test is designed to benchmark DirectX 10 performance of typical home PCs whereas the most resource-consuming Fire Strike is targeted at gaming DirectX 11-compatible configurations.

So AMD is right claiming high performance for the A10-7850K’s integrated graphics. The test results suggest that it is competitive to discrete graphics cards with DDR3, let alone other integrated graphics solutions. The Fire Strike scores are especially illustrative. The A10-7850K is twice as fast as the Haswell’s GT2-class graphics and 50% faster than the Radeon HD 8670D core integrated into the A10-6800K APU. It is even a little better than the discrete card Radeon R7 250 with DDR3 memory. We might expect this as the senior Spectre version has 512 shader processors whereas the Richland and the Radeon R7 250 have only 384.

However, the low bandwidth of dual-channel DDR3 SDRAM which is used on Socket FM2+ platforms doesn’t let the A10-7850K show its full graphics potential. The Radeon R7 250 with GDDR5 memory is considerably faster although its GPU is inferior in specs. So if AMD wants to make its integrated graphics better, it should consider upgrading to memory subsystems with much higher bandwidth or introducing a large and high-speed cache as in Intel’s Iris Pro Graphics.

Anyway, 3DMark is a synthetic benchmark, so it wouldn't be quite correct to form any general conclusions on its basis. Let’s first check out the integrated graphics cores in actual 3D games. There are two test modes: 1) Full-HD resolution (1920x1080) with low or medium visual quality settings and 2) 1280x720 pixels with medium or high visual quality settings. We do not enable full-screen antialiasing.

Battlefield 4 is a highly popular multiplayer shooter with rather high system requirements. The A10-7850K’s integrated graphics is quite capable of delivering a playable frame rate at the Full-HD resolution. You can even try to enable medium visual quality settings. The other integrated graphics solutions can’t offer such a high level of performance.

And if the resolution is dropped to 720p, the A10-7850K even allows using high visual quality settings. On the other hand, the A10-7850K is inferior to the discrete Radeon R7 250 cards in this case, irrespective of the type of onboard memory. So the low clock rate also seems to be a problem for the Spectre graphics.

Developed by Codemasters, F1 2013 is a racing simulator which employs the EGO 3.0 technology we can also find in the DiRT and GRiD game series. Such games do not have high system requirements, so you can enjoy F1 2013 on an integrated graphics core even with high visual quality settings. Although the A10-7850K is inferior to the discrete graphics cards of the Radeon R7 250 class here, it does ensure a playable frame rate. Well, we must admit that Intel’s Haswell processors with GT2 graphics are also quite sufficient for F1 2013 as they are a mere 5% slower than the A10-7850K at the Full-HD resolution. The game is just too CPU-dependent and the Kaveri’s x86 performance isn’t high.

Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter that is one of the most resource-consuming games in terms of hardware requirements. So it is no wonder that it runs rather slow on the A10-7850K if you choose the Full-HD resolution. It is only at the 720p resolution that you may try increasing the visual quality settings to medium level. The low Full-HD performance of the A10-7850K in this game must be due to a lack of memory bandwidth. As you can see, the DDR3 version of Radeon R7 250 is even slower whereas the A10-7850K is a mere 6% ahead of the A10-6800K despite the significant difference between their integrated GPUs.

The latest third-person action game in the Tomb Raider series offers the gamer a highly realistic and visually rich world. Despite this, it can run fast enough with minimum settings on integrated graphics cores. The frame rate is high on the AMD APUs even at the Full-HD resolution. The Kaveri should be given credit for allowing to use medium visual quality settings at 1920x1080, maintaining a playable frame rate.

Still, the Radeon R7 250 card with only 384 shader processors but GDDR5 memory beats the A10-7850K by 50%. The new APU is a mere 6% ahead of its Richland predecessor, so it looks like the Kaveri’s 512 shader processors can’t be put to good use. AMD should have optimized the memory subsystem instead.

The highly popular MMO simulator World of Tanks is played by lots of gamers on different PC configurations. And the A10-7850K seems to be suitable for it, too. Its integrated graphics core makes the game playable at the Full-HD resolution with medium visual quality settings. However, the Kaveri doesn’t differ much from the senior Richland model here, so the key problem of its integrated graphics core - the low memory bandwidth - shows up once again. We can see that the discrete card Radeon R7 250 is 38% faster although has lower theoretical performance. It is just equipped with fast GDDR5 memory.

Summing up our graphics tests, we can say that the A10-7850K is indeed faster than any other hybrid processor. The GCN architecture and the increased number of shader processors give the Kaveri’s integrated graphics core an advantage of about 10% over the A10-6800K’s graphics. That’s enough to make most games playable on our Socket FM2+ configuration with A10-7850K processor at Full-HD and medium visual quality settings.

Unfortunately, the graphics core of AMD’s new APU is not good in all applications. Some resource-consuming shooters run too slow on the Kaveri even if you choose minimum visual quality settings and Full-HD resolution. The integrated graphics is fast but its memory bandwidth is low. The Kaveri’s dual-channel DDR3 SDRAM limits the potential of the Spectre GPU.

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