AMD A8-3870K Black Edition APU Review

CPU by stefan @ 2012-04-30

The Black Edition A8-3870K APU from AMD is aimed at the mainstream market and offers enough performance for occasional gaming at lower resolutions, other multimedia activities or office work, this without the need to buy a dedicated video card. Thanks to the unlocked multiplier, overclocking becomes much easier than before and the performance gains after this operation are quite surprising.

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Product Specifications, A Closer Look

With the more recent AMD A8-3870K APU, we will go back again and look at the AMD Lynx desktop platform, aimed mainly at budget conscious people, on 32nm. These APUs have a different IGP compared to the A6-3650 we have tested in the past, with 400 Radeon Cores vs 320 and a higher running frequency of 600MHz. The list of technical specifications for the Radeon HD 6550D GPU and a comparison with the Radeon HD 6530D can be found in the following table:


Integrated Graphics Architecture


The A-Series APUs have a new socket, FM1 and are not compatible with the previous AM2 or AM3; however, the coolers that we have used on the older AMD sockets can be successfully used with the FM1 too; the APUs are supported by the A55 and A75 Fusion Controller Hubs, the later being more feature rich:



From the APU die Architecture photo, we can see that the IGP are takes quite a lot of space:


APU die Architecture


On the market, the A-Series APUs are positioned on different price levels and a small table with feature differences can be found on AMDs’ website. The A-Series can be also found with 3 or even 2-core variants; the 2-core APUs also have much less L2 cache, only 160 Radeon cores for the IGP, but the clock speeds are kept from the more expensive models; also, the cheapest models from the series have lower officially supported memory speeds, only 1600MHz. The A8-3870K is not the only unlocked (Black Edition variant), but we can also find one more in the A6 series, named A6-3670K, with lower GPU and CPU clocks:




The K version has its multiplier unlocked and is easier to overclock compared to the A6-3650; of course, we can also alter the reference clock which will also raise at the same time the IGP frequency, boosting performance even more. What remains to be seen from the tests that we will perform is if the system overall performance will increase significantly or not by using a higher clocked RAM.


Each APU can support single or dual-independent high resolution displays and provides exceptional multimedia capabilities with the 3rd generation of the Unified Video Decoder (UVD3) hardware decode support for H.264, VC-1, MPEG2, WMV, DivX, MVC and Adobe Flash.



As the last time, A8-3870K sample was shipped inside a small plastic box:



The CPU HSF holds information like serial number, batch number:



By looking on the bottom of the CPU, we can observe the pin design placement:



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