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Testbed Configuration and Testing Methodology

Today we are going to investigate the performance of the graphics core in the AMD’s new hybrid processors. We will use the obtained results to find out if the newest processors with integrated graphics will become a good option for entry-level gaming systems without the discrete graphics accelerators inside.

During our test session AMD A10-5800K processor with Radeon HD 7660D graphics core will compete against other currently available integrated chips with 3D graphics and acceptable performance. The first competitor is AMD Llano processors, which will eventually become outdated once Trinity is out, but are still pretty current. Llano family will be represented by AMD A8-3870K with Radeon HD 6550D graphics core. The second competitor is Intel Ivy Bridge family, which top graphics core modification, HD Graphics 4000, offers very promising 3D performance, according to the manufacturers. The honor of this family will be defended by dual-core Core i3-3225. We chose this particular CPU over the quad-core Core i5, because AMD positions their APU as an alternative specifically to Intel’s dual-core products. According to the preliminary information, AMD A10-5800K will cost about the same as the junior Core i3 CPU models.

Moreover, do not forget about the conclusions we drew in our recent articles revealing higher specific efficiency of the Intel graphics cores. Quad-core processors with Sandy Bridge microarchitecture competed quite successfully against eight-core Bulldozer processors, and I doubt that things have seriously changed with the release of new generation Ivy Bridge and Piledriver microarchitectures.

Although A10-5800K is much faster than AMD A8-3870K, it falls behind Core i3-3225 and Core i3-2125 processors, not to mention a serious beating it takes in the computing performance test from the quad-core Core i5-3330. So, the comparison of the new AMD APU against the dual-core Core i3 in graphics tests is totally justified.

In order to estimate the performance of the integrated graphics core in contemporary processors in respect to the discrete graphics accelerators, we also added the results of a system with a discrete graphics card. We chose Radeon HD 6570, which is currently priced at about $70 for the modification with GDDR5 memory, like the one we had on hand. We tested it in an A10-5800K based system.

As a result, we put together test platforms with the following hardware and software components:

  • Processors:
    • AMD A10-5800K (Trinity, 4 cores, 3.8-4.2 GHz, 4 MB L2, Radeon HD 7660D);
    • AMD A8-3870K (Llano, 4 cores, 3.0 GHz, 4 MB L2, Radeon HD 6550D);
    • Intel Core i3-3225 (Ivy Bridge, 2 cores + HT, 3.3 GHz, 3 MB L3, HD Graphics 4000).
  • Mainboards:
    • ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe (LGA1155, Intel Z77 Express);
    • Asus F2A85-V Pro (Socket FM2, AMD A85);
    • Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H (Socket FM1, AMD A75).
  • Memory: 2 x 4 GB, DDR3-1866 SDRAM, 9-11-9-27 (Kingston KHX1866C9D3K2/8GX).
  • Graphics card: AMD Radeon HD 6570 (1 GB/128-bit GDDR5).
  • System disk: Crucial m4 256 GB (CT256M4SSD2).
  • Power supply unit: Corsair AX1200i (80 Plus Platinum, 1200 W).
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64.
  • Drivers:
    • AMD Catalyst 12.8 Driver;
    • AMD Chipset Driver 12.8;
    • AMD Catalyst Application Profiles 12.9 CAP 1;
    • Intel Chipset Driver;
    • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver 15.?26.?12.?2761;
    • Intel Management Engine Driver 8.?1.?0.?1248;
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology 11.?2.?0.?1006.

For our tests of the AMD A10-5800K platform we installed KB2645594 and KB2646060 OS patches, which adapt the scheduler operation for Bulldozer microarchitecture.

The primary focus of our today’s test session will be obviously on gaming performance of the processor integrated graphics. Therefore, most of the benchmarks we use today are special gaming tests. With these goals in mind, we will primarily concentrate on the performance of graphics solutions in the de facto standard FullHD resolution of 1920x1080. Therefore, most tests were performed in this particular resolution with low or medium image quality settings.

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