There are countless trends competing for attention in the gaming notebook and laptop space but not all of them are either useful or benefit the core gaming experience.
AMD A10-7800 (Kaveri) APU
AMD has produced a processor with enough graphics power to enable small-build gaming systems
- Impressive integrated graphics
- Suitable for a small system
- Well priced
- Power consumption still more than competing Intel chips, though offset by better graphics performance
The AMD A8-7800 is a worthwhile APU for any user wanting to build a simple desktop PC with integrated graphics, which can also be used effectively for playing games.
Price$ 189.00 (AUD)
AMD has always been a bit of a fan favourite among the system builder crowd, thanks mainly to value for money parts, and the fact that it is seen as being an underdog these days, and everyone loves an underdog. With the release of the A10-7800 APU (accelerated processing unit), the company will definitely entice loyal enthusiasts, but it should also pique the interest of anyone looking to build a small and cost-effective all-round PC.
The key thing about the AMD A10-7800 APU is that its processing ability is referred to in 'compute' cores, rather than dedicated 'CPU' cores. This is because it has been designed with four CPU cores and eight graphics cores (for a total of 12 compute cores), and these work together, allowing the APU to choose the best compute core for the job at hand. The graphics cores are based on AMD's R7 Series technology, and this gives the AMD A10-7800 a graphics kick that is impressive for an integrated solution.
While the CPU performance of the 3.5GHz AMD A10-7800 is approximately the same as a mid-range Intel Core i5 (fourth-generation) CPU, the graphics performance offers much more differentiation. Pitting the AMD against a computer equipped with a 2.9GHz Intel Core i5-4570T, for example, our Blender 3D rendering test, which is used to gauge CPU speed, recorded 35sec for both systems. In 3DMark, however, the AMD recorded a mark of 1366 for the high-end Fire Strike test, while the Core i5 CPU recorded 554, and that's a noticeable gap in performance.
For games such as Battlefield 3, the AMD recorded 20 frames per second when using a 1920x1080-pixel resolution and with graphics quality set to 'high'. When we dropped the resolution down to 1600x900 and changed the quality to 'medium', the average rate improved to 34fps, with the high being just over 40fps during lulls in the action, and the rate dropping to between 30-35fps when multiple explosions and other action was dominating the screen.
This sort of performance makes the A10-7800 an attractive option for a low-cost, all-round machine that can be used for gaming, especially if you only want to play games now and then, rather than as a serious pastime, and if you don't mind sacrificing the best possible graphics quality on your screen. (For better performance at high quality, you'll want to pair the A10 with a discrete graphics adapter.) It also means that you can make a gaming-capable system from a small case, rather than relying on a large tower.
During our tests, we used a low-profile heat sink and a standard CPU fan, and it couldn't be heard over the ambient noise of the office (or the hard drive of our test machine) at just under 1500rpm. Meanwhile, the power consumption of our A78 chipset-based system, which was also equipped with 8GB of DDR3 1866MHz SDRAM (two 4GB sticks) and a 7200rpm, 2TB hard drive, got up to 83W. This is one of the areas in which the AMD doesn't have an advantage over the Intel Core i5 CPU, and that's mainly because AMD is using 28 nanometer transistor technology, while the Intel Core i5 uses 22 nanometer technology.
That said, it's still an efficient number considering the graphics performance you can get out of it. It also has a configurable TDP (thermal design power) setting, which, if your motherboard BIOS supports it, allows you to modify the power consumption of the APU and bring its thermal design power down to 45W from its standard 65W. We were unable to test this with the motherboard we used, but will update this review if we get the opportunity to configure the TDP in the future.
What you need to run the AMD A10-7800 APU is a motherboard with an FM2+ socket, and an AMD A88, A78, or A55 chipset. The A10-7800 costs $189 in Australia and $209 in New Zealand, but cooling is not included in the box at that price.
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