A10 6790K Review
Update: December 21, 2013 – The FM2 motherboard we used to test the A10 CPUs ended up being faulty after updating the BIOS to support Richland. Because of this, all our initial IGP results and OpenCL were way lower than they should have been.
We re-tested both the A10 6790K and A10 5800K with a new motherboard (the ASRock M2A88M-HD+, which we’ll be reviewing soon) and the article has been edited to reflect this. At the same time, we added the results from our Core i3 4340 review. We didn’t have one at the time we published this review, so we took the opportunity to redo all the charts with this relevant CPU.
A few weeks ago, leaked slides came out showing AMD’s intention to cancel plans to introduce next-gen CPUs to their performance “FX” line. Moving forward, the only new desktop computing components will be APUs, which combine CPU cores with graphics cores in one package. I’m sure many of our readers were sad to discover this, but to be honest, AMD has had a tough time being competitive with Intel at the high end level. They are still using a rather large die, and crucially, Intel is leaving them behind in per-clock performance.
That isn’t stopping them completely though. Today we’re looking at the newest entry to AMD’s APU lineup – the A10 6790K. This is based on “Richland” architecture, which is a slightly updated version of Trinity. When Richland was first introduced, the top chip was the A10 6800K running at 4.1/4.4 GHz. The A10 6790K we’re looking at todeay runs 100 MHz lower, at 4.0/4.3 GHz and more importantly, is $10 cheaper. Since it is an unlocked CPU, getting that 100 MHz back is all but guaranteed. Another possible advantagfe is that the A10 6790K is based on newer silicon that can go even further with a more aggressive overclock.
Before we get to overclocking, we’ll look at how the A10 6790K performs to Trinity and other CPUs in its price class. Here is a list of all the CPUs we will be comparing it with in this review:
|Model||FPU Modules/Integer Cores||CPU Base||CPU Turbo||TDP||Last Level Cache||IGP Units||IGP MHz||Price Dec 6, 2013|
|A10 6790K||2/4||4.0 GHz||4.3 GHz||100W||4MB L2||384||844 MHz||$130|
|A10-5800K||3.8 GHz||4.2 GHz||100W||800 MHz||$130|
|FX 4300||3.8 GHz||4.0 GHz||95W||4MB L3||N/A||$110|
|FX 6300||3/6||3.5 GHz||4.1 GHz||8MB L3||$110|
|Core i3 3240||2/2|
|3.5 GHz||N/A||55W||3MB L3||6||1050 MHz||$120|
We’ll be comparing it to the former top model Trinity APU, A10 5800K, to see what kind of performance benefits AMD were able to find with the Richland core at the same price. We’ll also include a couple FX CPUs, which use the same Piledriver modules as Richland, but running at higher clock speeds with an extra layer of cache. In the case of the FX 6300, an extra dual core module is included, although the base clock speed is lower.
Finally, Intel’s model in this price range is the Core i3 3240.
Intel have yet to refresh their Core i3 lineup with Haswell, so this is their best offering at this price. We have added the Core i3 4340 to the mix on December 21, 2013. We’ll keep the Core i3 3240 results for comparison. The Core i3 has two Ivy Bridge cores, with support for Hyperthreading. This CPU does not support Turbo frequencies or overclocking, so it runs at 3.5 GHz under any load.
This is what we are going to consider for our A10 6790K review:
- Gaming performance – does the A10 6790K keep up with the more loaded FX CPUs or Ivy Bridge when gaming with a high end GPU?
- Integrated graphics gaming performance – Can the A10 6790K run today’s best looking games at 720p? This includes the latest next-gen games like Assassin’s Creed IV and Battlefield 4. If it can, it is already well ahead of what the previous generation of consoles are capable of
- Overclocking – We’ll find out just how far we can overclock the A10 6790K, and whether the latest silicon can go further than prior fabs.
- 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 6790K performs in various desktop scenarios. PC Mark 8 uses the most realistic scenarios we’ve seen in a benchmark program like this.
- Content creation – We’ll use various real-world programs like Photoshop and 3ds Max to see how the A10 6790K 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 6790K 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.
- OpenCL tasks – While not a huge part of what a $130 APU is designed for, we’ll take a quick look at OpenCL performance, comparing the integrated GPU performance to the Intel Core i3.
- 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.
Basically, after reading our A10 6790K review, you’ll know enough about it to make an informed decision on whether it’s worth considering compared to other CPUs in its price range.
Below is a look at the system test specs. We are using the very latest software and driver versions, with the exception of Windows. We’ll be looking at Windows 8.1 performance in a separate article, using different hardware classes.
AMD A10 6790K Review System Specs
|Core i3 3240||Core i3 4340|
|Motherboard||MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 |
AMD A85X Chipset
AMD A88X Chipset
AMD 990FX Chipset
Intel Z77 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 13.10 Chipset|
Catalyst 13.10 AHCI
|Video Drivers||GPU: Catalyst 13.11 b9.4|
IGP: Catalyst 13.11 b9.4
|GPU: Catalyst 13.11 b9.4||GPU: Catalyst 13.11 b9.4
IGP: Intel 10.18.10.3345
|Operating System||Windows 8 Professional x64 RTM
All updates as of Dec 1, 2013
|Notes||FX 6300 Replicated from FX 8350 (disabled 1 module, adjusted clock speeds)||Replicated from i3 3220 (103 MHz bus)|
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.
The excellent per-clock and per-core performance of the Intel cores are showing up here, as the only AMD CPU that can beat them is the one with 6 cores.
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.
These results show us the huge improvement Intel made in Integer performance when AVX2 is being used. We know the per-clock performance went up over Ivy Bridge, but this is huge. Overall though, it really depends on the calculations being done.
A10 6790K 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|
We’ll kick off our look at A10 6790 gaming performance with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.