AMD 2nd Generation A10 5800 & A8 5600 Desktop APU Review

formerstaff - 2012-09-21 20:21:08 in CPU's
Category: CPU's
Reviewed by: formerstaff   
Reviewed on: October 2, 2012
Price: A10 5800K $122- A8 5600K $101


If "will it play Crysis?" has been the number one (and most annoying) Internet meme and inquiry in tech forums of the last several years, second place has to go to "can I play (insert game title) with my integrated graphics?" The answer was a resounding "No!" until Advanced Micro Devices finally replaced all of those familiar and ubiquitous "The future is Fusion" logos with a chip called the APU or Accelerated Processing Unit. The Ultra Low Wattage incarnations of this was the Zacate and Ontario meant for the netbook market, while Llano was meant to provide the CPU and GPU power to break into the desktop market.

AMD has openly stated that it has approached Fusion as much an ideal as it does process and function in what AMD thinks customers want in a computing experience. Whereas Intel has relied on raw processing power to carry the day, AMD has given equal weight to CPU and GPU function on the same die as well as engineering to very quickly shift those resources back and forth depending on what the task at hand demands. While Llano won much acclaim for doing just that, it left some wishing that there was a bit more horsepower under the hood before it would catch the attention of the mid to upper stream users.

Closer Look:

Today we have a look at the flagship of the new FM2-based A-series in the A10-5800K, a two Piledriver module quad-core part, and the next unlocked part in the food chain, the A8-5600K, also a two module quad core part.










From first glance they look the same as the previous generation Llano, but much has changed. The new 'Trinity' A-series is not backwards compatible with the Llano's FM1 socket. For starters the Trinity is missing a pin from the FM1 setup, which had 905 pins. Trinity is based on the new and improved Piledriver cores as opposed to the Athlon-based Llano. The die size is a bit larger than the previous generation coming in at 246mm² as opposed to Llano's 228mm². The Trinity parts are manufactured with the 32nm process like their predecessors, and that is pretty much where the similarities end.



There will be six new parts released in the Trinity lineup. The two we have here are both 100W unlocked parts in the A10-5800K and A8-5600K. The A10-5800K runs at a stock frequency of 3.8GHz and turbos up to 4.2GHz, while the A8-5600K operates at 3.6GHz and turbos to 3.9GHz. The parts with locked multipliers and the lower end A6 and A4 parts run at 65W. Here is a look at the entire upcoming lineup for the new AMD A-series.


AMD has implemented changes at every corner of the die. Let's have a look under the hood and see what it has done to improve performance.

Closer Look:

The Trinity A-series is really a ground up effort from AMD starting at the core with well, new cores. The Trinity uses the new 'Piledriver' cores, which are improved versions of the Bulldozer cores released last year to at best luke warm fanfare. The target has been aimed at 10-15% overall improvement in performance over the Bulldozer with a heavy emphasis on IPC to improve single-threaded performance. The new cores have also gained the latest ISA instructions including FMA4/3, AVX, AES, and XOP; instruction sets that were not included in the Llano. Also improved are branch prediction and cache enhancements, both thought to be at the heart of the under-performing single-threaded performance of the original Bulldozer cores.

The maximum turbo boost is 4.2GHz thanks to AMD's Turbo Core 3.0 that adds frequency boost to both CPU and GPU cores and can be software controlled in AMD's AOD program. The L2 cache has also been doubled to 4MB total or 2MB per dual-core module and incorporate 1.3 billion transistors, which is roughly the same as the last generation. There is more than the CPU + GPU Fusion going on here. Notice the unified northbridge, the new DDR3 memory controller supporting 1866MHz memory, HDMI, DisplayPort 1.2 DVI controllers, 24 PCIe lanes (16 of which can be used for Crossfire on A85X chipsets), and the AMD HD media accelerator and video converter.The only thing missing that I was anticipating in this incarnation of AMD's APU is L3 cache, which will be found on the upcoming FX line of Piledrivers.











The GPU:

While the CPU side of things on the Trinity my not be able to keep up with the compute power of the modern offerings of the competition, AMD has made some powerful changes to the GPU side of the die over the Llano series it replaces. While the previous flagship to Llano (3870K) had 400 shader cores compared to the 384 shader cores of the A10-5800K, the performance increase is sizable to say the least and here is why. The Llano GPU is based on the HD 5000 series graphics architecture. The Trinity gpu is based on the VLIW4 Northern Islands architecture, which is found in the Radeon HD 6900 series and is more efficient and handles tessellation much better. The graphics engine packed into the A10-5800K is called the HD 7660D. The A8-5600K has the 7560D with 256 shader cores. Keep in mind that the A-series lineup includes A6 and A4 economy models with much less graphic capabilities. Below is a look at the Trinity's A10 VLIW4 Graphics with six SIMD engines, 24 texture units, and eight ROPs.

Also in the GPU side and new to Trinity is the hardware video encoding and decoding UVD3 that is used in the GCN's video codecs engine to offload CPU. This includes AMD Picture Perfect support with HD post processing technologies. This is also the first and only processor to support Eyefinity 3+1 displays with Display Port 1.2 meaning Eyefinity can be run from the motherboard and the onboard graphics.



The Platform:

Platform updates include AMD Crossfire support with A85X motherboards, AMD memory profile support that will auto detect memory timings in select DIMMs, and AMD Dual Graphics enhancements including easier installation steps and DirectX 9, 10, and 11 support for more titles. All in all an exciting platform shaping up with improved CPU and memory support, much improved GPU architecture, a full featured accelerated video converter, unified northbridge, Eyefinity/DP 1.2 support, and more discreet pairing options and improvements. Below is a look at how the platform all fits together. Turn the page for a look at the A85X motherboard before we heat this APU up.



Closer Look:

The motherboard we were sent to test the A10-5800K and A8-5700K was the top of the top of the line A85X chipset in the form of the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4. It is rare that a company stays on top and does not rest on its laurels at some point but Gigabyte keeps on bringing it and always surprises me with new innovations for the performance user.

The Gigabyte A85X arrives in a typical Gigabyte-looking, basic white background box sporting a few "best of" and awards from Computex and an Electronic Award of the Year 2011 credentials. Among the most prominent Gigabyte trademarks are the lower right corner with a lifted up image to reveal and illustrate the 2X copper PCB design for better conductivity and cooling by using two ounces of copper in the tracers. The 'Ultra Durable 5' design philosophy occupies the entire upper left quadrant of the box along with something that was a bit of a surprise to see on a motherboard built for an APU. These were "High Current Capability" and "designed for overclocking AMD A-series APUs and for use in water cooled systems." Interesting. There is also a new feature in the Power IR Stage 60A power delivery, which is 4+2 on this board, but with significant differences. I will have a more in depth look at the A85X chipset and this board in an upcoming review, but for now we will just have a quick look around.













Popping open the box and you get a look at the bundle, which is rather basic with the A85X. You get an I/O backplate, a manual, driver software install disc, three SATA cables, and that's about it. Underneath the accessories you get the first look of the A85X inside its anti-static bag.



Out of the box we have a look at at our first FM2 motherboard that looks a lot like the FM1 motherboards. The UP4 is done in that great looking Gigabyte black (real black) on black color scheme. The first things I notice are the cooler compatibility has not changed and it is a standard ATX form factor measuring in at 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm. The board has a clean layout and looks to have zero interference problems even if you decide to load it up with its full capability. Nothing to report on the back other than a steel support bracket.



Starting with the rear I/O panel we have the usual connectivity with the unique exception of the DisplayPort that makes Eyefinity possible from the motherboard with this platform. You get the following connections: one PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, one D-Sub port, one DVI-D port, one optical S/PDIF Out connector, one HDMI port, one DisplayPort, four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA 6Gb/s connector, one RJ-45 port, and six audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side SpeakerOut/Line In/Line Out/Microphone). In the next image we can see the expansion capabilities of the UP4 with three PCIe x1 slots and three full length PCIe x16 slots. You get full 16 lanes with a single discreet card and run at x8/x8 in Crossfire. The bottom PCIe slot runs at x4.



Along the bottom of the board we have the usual line of connectivity with the USB headers including the red USB header that is three times the power cabable for faster charging with devices that support it. You also have a TPM header, front audio, and a system fan header. We also spot a cluster of the Gigabyte high quality 50,000 hour Japanese capacitors. On the lower right of the A85X we see the front panel header alongside a vertically placed SATA 6Gb/s header. Atop the SATA header is the digital debug readout for diagnosing problems during boot-up




Drive connectivity on the UP4 is in the form of eight SATA 6Gb/s ports controlled by the A85X chipset, which offers support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, and JBOD . Six are positioned in typical fashion along the right edge of the board while one is mounted vertically below the others and one eSATA is on the rear I/O panel. Note the dual BIOS modules to the left of the SATA ports. In the case of a bad flash or BIOS failure the second BIOS will activate and take over so you can re-flash the first successfully. Towards the top right of the board is the 24-pin power connector along side a 20-pin USB header. In the right corner we have a on board power button and a clear CMOS button



Memory support for the UP4 is up to 64GB of 1.5V dual channel DDR3, with speeds of 1866/1600/1333/1066. I installed 2133MHz memory and it recognized and applied the correct multiplier and timings with AMD memory profiles. Two phases of the board's 4+2+1 phase layout is dedicated to the memory power delivery and hyper transport. As we will see in the proceeding benchmarks, the FM2 platform is very memory performance sensitive and scales very well with the speed of the RAM used.


Around the socket area we can see the 60 amp Power IR Stage IR3550 ICs from International Rectifier and 60 amp rated ferrite chokes. Basically it is a single package MOSFET design that runs much cooler than traditional MOSFETs and lower RDs MOSFETs. The Ultra Durable 5 motherboards implement a digital PWM controller array that uses digital power controllers to send precise voltage to the different components around the board. This is particularly critical with the AMD APUs where the CPU and GPU work in tandem constantly throttling back and forth as the workload dictates. We will cover this interesting new digital power delivery in the UP4 dedicated review. You can also see the small finned aluminum heat sink that sits atop the MOSFETs that are made for serious overclocking and at no time was heat an issue. In the second image you can see the board uses a standard 8-pin CPU power connector placed just behind the rear I/O panel.



We have the top unlocked models of the new Trinty A-series locked and loaded in the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 and ready to go.



A welcome addition to Gigabyte AMD motherboards has arrived, as a comprehensive UEFI BIOS is now included. The 3D BIOS Dual UEFI BIOS has been a pleasure to work with and here are a few screenshots of 3D BIOS.



That's a brief look at the Gigabyte motherboard we will be using for the introduction of the Trinity A-Series. As i said we will take a much more in-depth look at this motherboard in a separate upcoming review.

Check out the detailed specifications for the A85X-UP4 on the next page and then we will strap the A10-5800K and A8-5600K in and see what they are made of.


AMD A-Series APU     
32nm, FM2 socket
TDP Configs
65W and 100W configurations
Processor Core
“Piledriver” 32nm HKMG process core (up to 4 cores), up to 128 KB L1 Cache (64 KB Instruction, 64 KB Data) Up to 4 MB L2, 2 x 128-bit FPUs / compute module
Up to DDR3 1866 @ 1.5V
Graphics Core
Up to 384 Radeon™ Cores 2.0, DirectX® 11 capable, UVD3, VCE
Digital Display I/F DP0: Display Port, HDMI, DVI
Digital Display I/F DP1: Display Port, HDMI, DVI
Digital Display I/F DP2: Display Port, HDMI, DVI
 Additional digital display supported using DP 1.2 daisy-chain connection -VGA on FCH
Power Management
• Multiple low-power states
• 32-nm process for decreased power consumption
• System Management Mode (SMM)
•ACPI-compliant, including support for processor performance states (P-states), processor power states (C-states), a and sleep states including S0, S3, S4, and S5
• Per compute module power gating (CC6)
• PCIe® core power gating
• PCIe® speed power policy
• GPU power gating of Radeon™ Cores and video decode (UVD3)
• AMD Turbo Core 3.0 technology
Integrated DAC supporting VGA.
65nm / FC BGA, 605-Ball, 23x23mm, .8mm pitch
TDP Configs
2.7W to 4.7W for typical configurations
 x4 Gen 1 + DP
6 Ports, 6 Gbps
A85X: 4 USB 3.0 Ports, 10 USB 2.0 Ports, 2 USB 1.1 Internal Ports
 GPPs 4x1 Gen2
Incorporates Fan Control, Voltage Level Sensing
Consumer IR
CIR Receiver




All information courtesy of AMD


Testing this latest A85X board from Gigabyte will involve running the GA-F2A85X-UP4 through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual game-play, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and the latest AMD Catalyst drivers. To ensure as few variables as possible, all hardware will be tested at their stock speeds, timings, voltages, and latencies – unless otherwise stated. Turbo Boost is disabled to make a fair comparison without skewing results.

Testing Setup: AMD Trinity


Testing Setup: Intel




AMD and Gigabyte have an array of tools through their utility lineup and features in 3D Dual BIOS that will remove all the sport of overclocking if you want them to. I used the good old fashioned method of using the unlocked multiplier with both of the APUs on our bench today. Using the BIOS I raised the multiplier until stress failure and incrementally raised the voltage to achieve the maximum frequency that would pass stress testing with Prime 95 testing. AMD states that the voltage applied to the CPU for overclocking also works for GPU frequency. In doing this I was able to achieve the overclocking results below for both the CPU and GPU frequencies. Two side notes on this: 1) I was not able to spend the time I would have liked on the overclocking of these new A-series APUs so given more time to experiment there may be a bit more to be achieved in the overclocking of these models, and 2) It is possible that CPUID may need an update to properly read some information regarding the new A-series as I noticed that the voltage readout was showing 1.50V when it was set lower. The results I achieved with the A10-5800K and A8-5600K for both the CPU and GPU are listed below.


AMD A10 5800K CPU and IGP OV



AMD A8 5600K CPU and IGP OC


Maximum Overclock

Each CPU and motherboard has been tested for stability at the clock speeds listed when in an over-clocked state. These clock speeds will be used to run the test suite and will show the performance increase over the stock settings in the overclocked scoring.



Scientific and Data:

Video and Gaming:


The first part of our testing will involve system-specific benchmarks.


Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:



The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.













Lower is Better


WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. Here, we will test the time needed to compress files of 1000 MB and 500 MB. Time will be measured in seconds.




Lower is Better





Lower is Better



Geekbench 2.1 is a benchmark that tests CPU and memory performance in an easy-to-use tool. The measure used for comparison is the total suite average score.


Higher is Better


Bibble 5:

This test consists of converting one hundred 8.2 MP RAW images to jpeg format. The file size is 837 MB. The measure used for comparison is time needed to convert the file in seconds.


Lower is Better



We are starting out with what I suspect will be a trend throughout the CPU side of the testing as the i5 2500K dominates the testing.


Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2 MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that represent many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is the amount of time it takes to refresh the sheet.

















Lower Is Better


POV-Ray 3.7: This program features a built-in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing), enabling the workload to be spread across several cores for quicker completion.


Higher Is Better


ProShow Gold: This program is used to take a collection of images and stitch them together in a slide show, using a variety of transitions and effects, to make a compelling show you can share with friends and family. The workload consists of 29 high-resolution images that are stitched into a 3 minute video file.


Lower Is Better


HandBrake 9.5: is an open source application used to transcode multiple video formats to an h.264 output format. The test file size is 128 MB in size and 43 seconds in length.


Lower Is Better



The i5 continues its CPU dominance here as well.


SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.
















Processor Arithmetic


Memory Bandwidth


Multi-Core Efficiency




Cache and Memory



AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the CPU Queen test that looks for the solution for the "Queens" problem on a 10x10 chessboard. This tests the branch-prediction capabilities of the processor. The FPU Mandel test measures double precision floating point performance through computation of several frames of the "Mandelbrot" fractal.


Higher is Better


Even more pronounced is the Intel solutions dominance in the Sandra synthetic tests where bandwidth has been a strong characteristic of Intel CPUs.


ScienceMark tests real-world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we run the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.





















Higher is Better!




Cinebench 10 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program, CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.


Higher is Better

Cinebench 11.5


Higher is Better


HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.



Higher is Better


Things are looking a bit better for the Trinity in the real world testing provided by ScienceMark.


Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based on the two popular sci-fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species: the Alien, the Predator, or the Human Colonial Marine. The game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine, which supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. For testing, I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.
















Finally to the strength of the Trinity A-seies APUs. It's amazing to see 1080p gaming at these frame rates and settings in a tessellated game.


Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX, and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied – in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses, chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.














Metro 2033 is a graphically brutal game, and even on low settings the built-in benchmark is a touch go to no-go for any other IGP.


DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.

















DiRT 3 is a smooth gaming experience with the two APUs we have here today. Running frame rates in the low 40s with settings all on high including post processing, impressive!


Sleeping Dogs is a new release from United Front games that takes place on the mean streets of Hong Kong. You assume the role of Wei Shen, an undercover cop trying to take over the most powerful gang in the city. Sleeping Dogs is not for the faint of heart as conflicts are solved by way of one bloodbath after another.
















Sleeping Dog's results were a surprise. It's a new game and appears to have character and primary object tessellation.


3DMark 11 is the next installment in Futuremark’s 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies that this benchmark is for Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence, the name matches the year proceeding its release (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 is designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required along with a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition has unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage is only allowed for a single test run. The advanced edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all of the features of the benchmark, while the professional edition runs $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing; one to test for physics handling and one to combine graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics library is used for physics simulation and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still seems to be a popular choice.

With the new benchmark, comes two new demos that can be watched, both based on the tests. Unlike the tests, however, these contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and involves a few vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and presents a location similar to South American tribal ruins with statues and the occasional vehicle around. The demos are simple in that they have no story – they are really just a demonstration of what the testing will be like. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors MSI and Antec on their sides – the sponsorships helping to make the basic edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to test the performance of each card. The presets are used as they are comparable to what can be run with the free version, so that results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.












3DMark 11 is a brutal DX11 benchmark standard that will not run at all on most other IGP solutions. Overclocking the A10's 7660D returned a 591 score on Extreme setting!


Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.










This GPU test is the first that the 2500K equipped with Intels HD 3000 graphics is capable of running with the settings used. AMD's integrated solution is far superior to the HD 3000 graphics core in this test both stock and overclocked.


I have been trying to think of how to sum up what AMD dropped off here this week and I think a defining moment came while I was playing DiRT 3 at 43 FPS with settings on high at 1080p. I looked over at the large windowed case that I assembled this new platform in and saw only a motherboard and some memory looking back at me. What AMD has engineered here is a rather amazing platform. If you need a multitasking center and a fully featured multimedia center, and workstation, and a gaming machine, well here you go. I was just afforded a look at the retail pricing for the flagship of the A-series and it will be available for $122. By my calculations that means for around $400 you can put together all of the above.

The A85X chipset is equally impressive with its range of features and possibilities with eight SATA 6Gb/s ports, the ability to drive three monitors from the motherboard using the integrated graphics, the ability to double your graphics power with a $50-$80 discrete card to work in tandem with the on-die graphics and the list goes on. The CPU half of the die has been improved but is not going to set the world on fire and against Intel it is on par with the i3s. It leaves me wondering why the L3 is missing in Trinity, and what the 8MB of L3 will mean to Vishera.

The GPU power and the change to modern architecture is exciting to see as well as reaping benefits to this great platform. On a single die you have a reasonably powerful quad-core CPU and 384 powerful GPU cores with the clever engineering to throttle and move around these resources lightning fast to accommodate the task at hand. This is in addition to a fully featured video encoder/decoder and a unified northbridge. Add to this an additional half a gigahertz of free performance on the CPU side and enough overclocking headroom on the GPU side to almost kick it up to the power of the next rung on the graphic ladder, and you have something that does not come close to existing anywhere on the market in price-performance or in functionality.

AMD has stated that with Trinity it set out to deliver a product that is greater than the sum of its parts, and I believe it has. And AMD has some pretty good parts in its own right.