AMD A8-3850 Quad Core Desktop APU (updated July 10)

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GPU Performance: Video Playback

CPU usage during video playback was low but disappointing in Blu-ray playback. Playing through one minute sections of "Disturbia" and "Becoming Jane," the Lynx platform required twice as many CPU cycles as HD 2000/3000 and the Radeon HD 5450. It is possible the UVD 3 chip on the APU was doing more post-processing but the subjective image quality between UVD 2 and UVD 3 was about the same.

From the looks of it, power consumption during video playback is a bit of a concern, particularly when playing Blu-ray, where the A8-3850 system used 4W more than a Core i5-2500K paired with an entry level Radeon HD 5450 video card. However, note that the Intel DH67BL board used with the Core i5-2500K is freakishly energy efficient. Paired with HD 3000 graphics, it was more frugal than the Asus P8H67-M with HD 2000. The power consumption of the P8H67-M is probably closer to what the majority of third party H67 boards pull. Add 2~3 watts to the DH67BL's numbers and it's essentially an even playing field, at least with a Radeon HD 5450.

GPU Performance: 3D

In the last three versions of 3DMark using the default settings, the HD 6550D paired with DDR3-1600 memory fell just short of the Radeon HD 5570, a discrete graphics card that retails for around US$50. Bumping the memory speed up from 1333 MHz to 1600 MHz resulted in some nice performance gains. Intel's HD 3000 was walloped regardless of the RAM used with the AMD's APU.

At 1280x800 resolution and details set to low, the HD 6550D delivered comfortable frame rates in both the H.A.W.X 2 and Lost Planet 2 benchmarks. Alien vs. Predator slipped to 25 fps with DDR3-1333, while DDR3-1600 provided a substantial improvement. It appears the game is somewhat CPU bound as the APU beat the HD 5570 running in our triple core graphics card testing system.

At 1440 x 900 resolution, the difference between the two memory speeds is most evident. With DDR3-1333, the HD 6550D fell to a somewhat choppy 20 fps in both Lost Planet 2 and Alien vs. Predator. With DDR3-1600 Lost Planet 2 received a 7 fps boost while Alien vs. Predator got a 12 fps bump. These are relatively heavy gains that can differentiate playable from unplayable.

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