Opinion PC

AMD APU vs CPU Showdown - What PC gamers should know

PC gaming with AMD.jpg

A little while ago, we published an article called “The novice’s guide to gaming graphics” and the potential use of an APU as an entry-level solution for building a gaming PC on a budget.

The time has now come to set loose our tame tester and put a variety of configurations through their paces on our shiny AMD test bench and report on the results. The following APUs, CPUs and GPU were put through some stringent testing:

APU

APU + GPU

  • A10-7860K + R9 390X
  • A10-7890K + R9 390X

CPU + GPU

APU Specifications

A10-7860K

  • Socket: FM2+
  • Cores: 4CPU & 8GPU
  • Frequency: 3.6 - 4GHz
  • Cache: 4MB
  • Cost: R2,395

A10-7890K

  • Socket: FM2+
  • Cores: 4CPU & 8GPU
  • Frequency: 4.1GHz – 4.3GHz
  • Cache: 4MB
  • Cost: R3,114

CPU Specifications

FX 8370

  • Socket: AM3+
  • Cores: 8CPU
  • Frequency: 4GHz – 4.3GHz
  • Cache: 16MB
  • Cost: R3,993

X4 880K

  • Socket: FM2+
  • Cores: 4CPU
  • Frequency: 4.2GHz
  • Cache: 4MB
  • Cost: R1,916

GPU Specifications

ASUS Strix R9 390X

  • Core Clock: 1070MHz
  • Ram: 8GB
  • Bus Width: 512bit
  • Ram Type: GDDR5
  • Power supply requirement: 700W
  • Cost: R8,899

All of the hardware listed above was tested in various configurations using benchmark tests and a selection of video game tests to see what we could get out of them. All tests were conducted with HyperX Fury 16GB 1866Mhz RAM and 1000W Cooler Master Platinum Silent Pro PSU. The APUs and the X4 880K were tested on an ASUS A88X-Pro Motherboard, while the CPU was placed on an ASUS ROG Crosshair V Formula Motherboard.

IMG_2025.JPG

APU performance

It should be noted that there is a hard limit of 2GB RAM that can be assigned to the APU GPU which does limit its graphics capability.

 

A10-7860

A10-7890

Difference

3D Mark Skydiver

5530

6205

675

PC Mark

2222

2374

152

Furmark 720

695 (11FPS)

708 (11FPS)

13

SMITE (High)

20-30FPS

20-30FPS

0FPS

WoW (High)

20-30FPS

20-35FPS

5FPS

TERA (5)

11FPS

12FPS

1FPS

CS:GO (High)

45-60FPS

55-70FPS

10FPS

DOTA2

28FPS

30FPS

2FPS


APU test conclusion: The two APUs performed quite well in most of the cases and in the rare cases where they underperformed a little, the settings were quite high for the games that were played, so if you are willing to drop the settings a little the APUs would run much better. With a R700 price difference, you may even be better off going with the A10-7860, especially if you are on a strict budget and are not planning on going with the APU and GPU configuration as tested below.

APU with GPU performance

While many may question the use of an APU with GPU configuration, the simple fact of the matter is that with the APU you are in possession of a perfectly good CPU should you wish to upgrade your PC and are already in possession of an APU, there is no reason to replace it with a CPU. As can be seen with the tests below, an APU with GPU is an option worth considering.

 

A10-7860+GPU

A10-7890+GPU

Difference

3D Mark Skydiver

15665

17653

1988

PC Mark

2852

2953

101

Furmark 720

8358 (139FPS)

8394 (139FPS)

44

SMITE (High)

40-60FPS

55-70FPS

10-15FPS

WoW (High)

37FPS

40FPS

3FPS

TERA (5)

40FPS

47FPS

7FPS

CS:GO (High)

170-240FPS

200-260FPS

20-30FPS

DOTA2

70FPS

85FPS

15FPS


APU with GPU conclusion: Following on from the conclusions of the APU only tests, we can see that when a GPU is added, the increased frequency of the A10-7890 shines through more and if you are considering buying an APU and getting a GPU later, then the A10-7890 looks to be a better purchase.

CPU performance

 

X4 880K+GPU

FX 8370+GPU

Difference

3D Mark Skydiver

17432

24048

6616

PC Mark

2933

3283

350

Furmark 720

8406(140FPS)

8445(140FPS)

39

SMITE (High)

55-70FPS

65-80FPS

10FPS

WoW (High)

41FPS

65FPS

24FPS

TERA (5)

45FPS

57-80FPS

12-35FPS

CS:GO (High)

180-240FPS

260-295FPS

55-80FPS

DOTA2

89FPS

105FPS

16FPS


CPU conclusion: We were expecting to see the FX 8370 perform a lot better on some of the games. That could be down to the in-game-engine used by the titles which caused such huge discrepancies in the frames per second (FPS) as can be seen in the table above

As we can see with the 3D mark test (which is DirectX 11), the CPU with GPU combo of the FX 8370 and the R3 390X scored much higher than the APU with GPU combo of the A10 7890 and the CPU with GPU combo of the X4 880K, but there was not such huge frame rate increases in SMITE, World of Warcraft and TERA.

IMG_2026.JPG

Conclusion

From all the testing, it is clear that the CPUs performed quite a bit better than the APUs, but when considering the costs involved, you will be paying quite a bit more for the CPU option. You could consider going the APU route if you are on a budget, but you could also consider waiting for the Zen processors which are scheduled to arrive later this year. The Zen processors are rumoured to be capable of supporting DDR4 instead of DDR3 and the new AM4 Socket that supports both APUs and CPUs might just be a better purchase if you’re looking at future proofing your PC.

However, if you’re in the market now for a budget solution, the APU A10-7890 with a GPU looks like the option to go for, keeping in mind that the choice of GPU could also be up to you.

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Where do I get an APU?

If you are interested in investigating any of the APU products, either the standalone APU or a full upgrade kit, check the links below:


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored article.

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