Kaveri Review – Performance
All this new technology coming with Kaveri is very interesting, and we will certainly take a look at the performance it provides when programs make full use of it. More important to us right now though, is how it performs today in the applications we use. We have a pretty modern suite if benchmarks, most of it based on real world applications you would actually use. While we do take a quick look at ‘pure math’ results, I think it’s much more important to know how these processors perform in the programs people actually use on a daily basis. Interestingly, OpenCL comes into play in many new programs, such as OpenOffice and even Photoshop. So it will be interesting to see how those perform on Kaveri.
Here’s an overview of how we will be evaluating Kaveri today:
- Gaming performance – In our Core i3 4340 review, we discovered that Haswell architecture allows the Core i3 to allow the Radeon R9 280X to run at full potential, while Richland APUs and FX CPUs would sometimes act as a bottleneck. We’ll find out if Kaveri improves upon this.
- Integrated graphics gaming performance – Richland was already capable of running most of today’s games at 720p at playable framerates in most games. We’ll see if Kaveri improves performance enough to allow gamers to increase settings or resolution
- Overclocking – We’ll find out just how far we can overclock the A10 7850K, and see just how far we can take this new 28nm process.
- Compute performance – We’ll quickly look at ‘pure calculation’ performance, to see what the raw numbers look like, and should know what to expect from there.
- Desktop performance – We’ll use the latest version of PC Mark to see how the A10 7850K performs in various desktop scenarios. PC Mark 8 uses the most realistic scenarios we’ve seen in a benchmark program like this, and the latest version makes heavy use of OpenCL.
- Content creation – We’ll use various real-world programs like Photoshop and 3ds Max to see how the A10 7850K performs compared to the other CPUs
- Media encoding – Again using real-world programs, we’ll encode some video and audio to see how the A10 7850K performs. We use the latest versions of the x264 encoder and LAME MP3 in multithreaded mode which support the latest CPU features.
- Other intensive desktop tasks – Various other tasks are performed, from file encryption to compression and decompression.
- Combined Computing tasks – Combined computing is a huge part of what makes Kaveri what it is, so we’ll take a look at the improvements that have been made over Richland, and compare it to the Haswell Core i3. We’ll look at various OpenCL applications, and take a quick look at what to expect when HSA is fully utilized.
- Power consumption – We’ll test power consumption not only under full load, but single core load and idle which are by far more the most common states of a normal desktop PC.
As usual, we like to keep a pretty focused list of hardware to compare to a new product. In this review, we’ll be comparing Kaveri to several CPUs within its price range.
|Model||CPU Cores/Threads||CPU Base||CPU Turbo||TDP||Last Level Cache||GPU Config||GPU MHz||Price Jan 14, 2014|
|A10 7850K||4/4||3.7 GHz||4.0 GHz||95W||4MB L2||8 GCN Cores|
512 Radeon Units
|A10 6790K||4/4||4.0 GHz||4.3 GHz||100W||4MB L2||384 Unified Shaders||844 MHz||$130|
|FX 6300||6/6||3.5 GHz||4.1 GHz||100W||8MB L3||$110|
|Core i3 4340||2/4||3.6 GHz||54W||4 MB L3||20 Execution Units||1150 MHz||$160|
|Core i3 3240||2/4||3.5 GHz||55W||3MB L3||6 Execution Units||1050 MHz||$120|
Kaveri is available right now, for around $180, which puts it $20 above the Core i3 4340 we reviewed not long ago. We dropped the Trinity 5800K from the list, since it has been replaced by Richland. We also dropped the Ivy Bridge Core i3, since there is really no reason to consider it over the Haswell Core i3.
I considered making this an “APU Only” review for a while, but a 6 core Piledriver CPU is still worth considering for many people at this price. It will have to sit out quite a few tests though. We did include two products that sit right above Kaveri’s $180 mark – the Core i5 4670 for $220 and the AMD FX 8350 for $200.
To get an idea of what a mild overclock can provide, and how Kaveri compares to Richland when everything is clocked similarly, I included some overclocked results for Kaveri. It is running at 4.0 GHz base, with 4.3 GHz turbo, matching the speed of the A10 6790K included in this review. The GPU was also overclocked to match the one on Richland, to 844 MHz. We will do more intensive overclocking later on.
Kaveri Review – Test System Specs
|A10-7850K||A10-6790K||FX 6300||Core i3 4340|
AMD A88X Chipset
AMD A88X Chipset
AMD 990FX Chipset
Intel Z87 Chipset
|Memory||16GB (2x8GB) Crucial Ballistix Sport XT 1866 10-10-10-30
|Hard Drive||OCZ Vector 256GB
|Video Card||Diamond Multimedia ATI Radeon HD7870 2GB
Sapphire Radeon R9 280X (for gaming tests)
|Motherboard Drivers||Catalyst 13.30 RC2 Chipset|
Catalyst 13.12 SB
|Catalyst 13.10 Chipset|
Catalyst 13.10 SB
|Video Drivers||GPU: Catalyst 13.12|
IGP: Catalyst 13.30 RC2
|GPU: Catalyst 13.10|
IGP: Catalyst 13.12
|GPU: Catalyst 13.10||GPU: Catalyst 13.10
IGP: Intel 10.18.10.3345
|Operating System||Windows 8 Professional x64 RTM
All updates as of Dec 1, 2013
|Notes||Replicated from FX 8350 (disabled 1 module, adjusted clock speeds)|
SiSoft Sandra 2014 – Compute Performance
As always, we’ll kick things off with a look at SiSoft Sandra’s pure CPU tests. This benchmark utility makes use of the best instruction sets any CPU has to offer – from SSE to AVX to FMA, it uses whatever is most suitable for that particular CPU.
Below are the results from the “Arithmetic” tests, which use the old Dhrystone and Whetstone benchmarks.
Kaveri shows an immediate improvement over Richland, with an immediate 30% per clock improvement.
Next are SiSoft Sandra’s “Multimedia” CPU tests. These are more ‘real world’ and reflect software that makes full use of media extensions offered by modern CPU architecture.
This time there isn’t much of a per-clock performance increase to be seen. AMD did not include the AVX2 instruction set into the new core, so FMA3 is being used.
Kaveri Gaming Performance
Our gaming performance tests are probably a bit different from what you’re used to seeing on most sites. We test performance using real-world gameplay exclusively, and the results we look at are frame time measurements rather than frames per second (although that measurement is still included).
We sometimes find that FPS doesn’t carry enough data to tell us exactly how a given set of hardware performs. Although this is much more important in video card reviews, we can include it in our CPU reviews as well.
Each game is tested using a 60 second playthrough of a level with the intention of being repeatable and consistent. This is easier in some games than others, so our benchmarks are repeated 3-5 times to find the most consistent result. Once that result is found, we use that as a representation of performance. FPS is recorded, as well as individual frame times. From there, we can calculate the top 1% of slowest frames, to give us an idea of which CPU feels the most ‘laggy’ at its lowest point of performance. We then calculate the amount of time spent over several thresholds, to give us an idea of which CPU delivers the most consistent framerate. We use 16.7 ms as the top benchmark, which is 60 FPS. The less time spent over this point, the smoother the game will play, especially with VSync enabled on a 60 Hz screen. From there, we go to 33 ms (30 FPS) and 50 ms (20 FPS) to see which CPU is the slowest over the course of a 60 second playthrough.
The video card used for gaming performance in this review is a Radeon R9 280X. All games are run at 1080p, by far the most common resolution, at settings that push the hardware pretty hard.
Here are the games we used, and the settings for each (we’ll also include a screenshot of each settings page as we go through the results).
|Assassin's Creed IV||3rd Person Action||1.06||AnvilNext|
|Battlefield 4||First Person Shooter||v89510_111213||FrostByte 3|
|Crysis 3||First Person Shooter||126.96.36.19900||CryEngine 3|
|Metro Last Light||First Person Shooter||Update 3||4A Engine|
|Tomb Raider||3rd Person Action||188.8.131.52||Modified Crystal Engine|
Let’s kick things off with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag: