AMD A10-7860K & Athlon 880K: Kaveri Refresh

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Value Analysis

When considering the cost of a system, the CPU is only part of the equation as the price of motherboards and RAM must be added to find the true platform price. In the chart below we included the prices of the chips compared today and an average compatible motherboard from Newegg that fulfill this basic barebones set of criteria:

  • Retail models
  • In stock
  • Not extravagantly priced (most expensive models omitted)
  • Major name brand (ASRock, Asus, Intel, Gigabyte, MSI, EVGA)
  • SATA 6 Gbps support in some form
  • USB 3.0 support in some form

According to our parameters, the average motherboard pricing is US$63 for FM2+, US$100 for AM3+, US$96 for LGA1150 (US$118 for the i7-5775C assuming cheaper 8-series chipset boards are incompatible with Broadwell) and US$121 for LGA1151.

Low FM2+ chip and board pricing makes the A10-7860K and X4 880K much more attractive options if you're on a budget

To calculate performance per dollar, we divided the relative performance scores by the platform costs and re-scaled it, again with the A10-7860K as our reference point.

In terms of pure CPU value, the X4 880K surpasses all the Intel chips, trailing the A8-7600 by a small amount. The A10-7860K's higher pricing puts it at a disadvantage, making it only a moderately better value than Skylake. Keep in mind both of these AMD chips are unlocked so there's room for improvement here, though overclocking will push power consumption even higher. The X4 880K also ships with AMD's "near silent" 125W cooler, making it an ideal choice for this.

To adjust for integrated GPU performance as well, the cost of an equivalent discrete graphics card has been deducted from each chip (US$70 for the i7-5775C, US$50 for the APUs/Skylake, US$45 for Haswell) and everything has been re-scaled once more.

The A8-7600 is actually the clear leader in this category, providing 40% better CPU+GPU value than the A10-7860K. Lacking integrated graphics, the X4 880K actually slips behind the i5-4690K.

FINAL THOUGHTS

With the Kaveri refresh launch, it feels like AMD is just going through the motions, rejigging their budget offerings as if it were simply a scheduled chore on their spring cleaning list. The new APUs don't bring anything new or exciting, only some slight changes in CPU and GPU frequency. The difference between the various models has always been fairly small, and with these new parts, it's even more difficult to decide between the various SKUs. The A10-7860K place is fairly clear though, AMD's new top-of-the-line 65W APU, positioned as a slightly faster and overclockable replacement for the A10-7800. Being multiplier unlocked gives it more flexibility though using this advantage defeats the purpose of having a low TDP. Likes its predecessors, its graphics capabilities are limited though older and less GPU-dependent titles can be played reasonably well at lower resolutions.

The updated Athlon lineup is a bigger advance over the X4 7xx series, bringing graphics-free quad core Steamroller-based CPU cores to the party. The affordable Athlon X4 845 is also the first CPU in all of AMD's catalog with Excavator cores, the newest revision to the Bulldozer architecture, though unfortunately we haven't had an opportunity to test it. Generally, these chips are suited for budget gaming builds with a single discrete video card, and the Athlon X4 880K is the best available. It delivers excellent value for a sub-US$100 part, though it's not nearly as energy efficient as its A10/A8 APU cousins. This is probably less of a concern as overclockability is more of a keystone feature for the Athlon line as it allows penny-pinching DIYers to get as much bang-for-their-buck as possible. It's also noteable that the X4 880K ships with an updated cooling solution (the new Wraith cooler without the LED shroud) that performs well enough to to compete with modest aftermarket solutions.

Our thanks to AMD for the A10-7860K and Athlon 880K processor samples.

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Articles of Related Interest
AMD Wraith: Upgraded Stock Cooler
Intel Core i7-6700: Skylake i7 at 65W
Skylake: Intel Core i7-6700K
AMD A8-7600 Kaveri APU
AMD A10-6800K & A10-6700 Richland APUs
Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell Processor

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



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