The second-tier Kaveri APU isn’t far
behind, but that’s part of the problem…
The AMD A10-7700K is the second fastest
model of the
desktop Kaveri line-up at the begin of 2014
AMD’s Kaveri APU finally turned up last
month, bringing with it the promise of a new dawn of heterogeneous processors
blurring the line between graphics and computational silicon. That future is
still yet to be fully realised because HSA-enabled software is still a little
way off, leaving us instead with adequate processors paired with genuinely
impressive graphics capabilities.
The question is: what do you want your PC
to do? If you spend your days perfecting the front crawl through a vault full
of coins and adventuring with three quacking nephews, then an APU probably
isn’t the right choice for your über rig. But if you’re on a tight budget and
want some PC gaming in your life, the AMD APUs provide decent gaming for a
really minimal outlay.
The AMD APUs offer the bonus of dual
graphics – they can be paired with a low-end discrete GPU to effectively double
gaming performance, or be hooked up with the new Mantle API. The first option
is interesting, although it relies on AMD’s driver team getting the GPU and APU
playing nicely. The second also has serious potential, but right now is only
really good news for anyone running a Hawaii- based GPU on an Intel system.
This is the second tier of AMD’s APU
stack, coming a close second behind the top-end A10-7850K. Both are K-series
chips, and therefore deliver a certain amount of overclocking on both CPU and
GPU components. The 7700K and 7850K are dual-module Steamroller processors,
with four nominal cores to help with multi-threaded performance.
AMD A10-7850K and A10-7700K
Split the difference
Where they differ first is CPU clockspeed.
The 7850K runs at 3.7GHz out of the box with a claimed 4GHz turbo (though we
didn’t see that in testing), whereas the 7700K comes with a 3.5GHz baseclock
and 3.8GHz turbo. That really made a difference in the CPU performance
On the graphics side, although AMD hasn’t
cut the clockspeed of the GPU portion, it has hacked out a number of Radeon
cores – some 128 to be precise. To be fair, we would have expected that to have
a sizeable impact on the gaming performance of the Graphics Core Next GPU, but
it really is only marginally behind the 512 cores of the 7850K. In current APU
speak, the 7850K has 12 compute cores (four CPU and eight GPU) compared to the
7700K’s 10 compute cores. Each GPU cluster of 64 cores is denoted as a compute
core, so the second-tier APU has six GPU compute cores to go alongside its four
CPU compute cores.
The 7850K and 7700K specifications
Running Bioshock Infinite at medium
settings at 1080p, the 7850K comes in at 45fps while the 7700K still manages a
very credible 43fps. However, that gap almost disappears when you overclock the
GPU and RAM in the system.
The tough thing for the A10-7700K is that
there is only around $16-$25 between it and the top-tier Kaveri APU. When
you’re on a tight budget every penny counts, but the extra CPU performance is
probably worth investing in at this level.