The new desktop processors of the Haswell and Richland series have increased the general level of 3D performance of integrated graphic cores, but in different ways. AMD has increased the clock rate of the older Devastator core whereas Intel has added more execution devices and revised some of the fixed-function subunits. The performance benefits are different, too. The Richland’s graphics is 5 to 10% faster than the Trinity’s in 3D applications whereas the Haswell is 50% faster than the Ivy Bridge.
Still, we can’t say we’ve witnessed something completely new in our 3D tests today. AMD’s A10 and A8 series APUs are still unrivalled in terms of 3D performance. Even though Intel’s HD Graphics 4600 is indeed much better than the HD Graphics 4000, let alone the HD Graphics 2500, it is only competitive against the Radeon HD 8470D core currently employed in AMD’s entry-level A6 series APUs.
AMD’s Socket FM2 products remain the better choice for entry-level multimedia configurations without a discrete graphics card. However, while the Trinity used to ensure playable frame rates in games at Full-HD and low visual quality settings, this is not so today. The hardware requirements of the recently released shooters have grown much more than the performance of AMD’s A10 and A8 APUs. There are quite a lot of games now which don’t run fast enough in Full-HD even on the Radeon HD 8670D core from AMD’s A10 series APUs. The integrated graphics must make a step forward to become a truly full-featured modern gaming solution. Hopefully, the next generation of AMD’s APUs, codenamed Kaveri, will do that.
On the other hand, today’s top-end Socket FM2 APUs can indeed be good in quite a lot of games as they are comparable in their 3D performance to the discrete graphics card Radeon HD 7750. They can easily run online games, for example. They are also fast enough in titles that use advanced game engines but don’t have very high system requirements.
Prices are also in favor of AMD. Intel CPUs with HD Graphics 4600 cost $182 and higher right now. And even after the Haswell-based Core i3 series is released, a hybrid processor from Intel will cost you no less than $120. AMD’s Richland-based APUs with a cut-down version of the Devastator cost only half that price, which makes them a perfect choice for entry-level configurations.
The Richland design has its downsides, though. Such APUs have high practical power consumption and heat dissipation. They need twice more power than the Intel Core i5 in a lot of applications, both 3D and multimedia ones. The 4000 series Core i3 is going to widen the gap even more. That’s why the A10, A8 and A6 series APUs may not be the optimal choice for small and quiet home computers or HTPCs, especially as the Richland’s multimedia engine looks outdated in comparison with the Haswell’s. It cannot cope with 4K content and has rather low performance in video transcoding tasks.
Still, the Richland-based APUs are quite good at playing conventional Full-HD video in popular formats, which makes them suitable for inexpensive multimedia configurations as well.