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Feature Articles
AMD Trinity Desktop APU - Graphics & Dual Graphics Performance Review
By Wong Chung Wee - 3 Oct 2012,8:49am

AMD Dual Graphics Technology

Dual Graphics Performance

We have already witnessed the impressive performance of the APU's integrated Radeon HD 7660D graphics core. Now, we shall proceed to ascertain the new implementation of the AMD Dual Graphics technology when we pair the APU with a Radeon HD 6670 discrete graphics card. For this part of our benchmarking, we also turned off the AMD Dual Graphics technology, leaving our discrete GPU in the form of the Sapphire Radeon HD 6670 graphics card to churn out graphics performance on the same test bed. This will give us the exact improvements made from enabling Dual Graphics Technology.


Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

With the AMD Dual Graphics technology turned on, the Trinity APU took pole position with an overall score of 9713, with a winning margin of 25% over its pairing with the Sapphire Radeon HD 6670 discrete graphics card without the support of Dual Graphics. Overall boost from this pairing is 67% against just the Trinity GPU's own capability.


Far Cry 2

The DirectX 10 performance of the Trinity APU is also boosted tremendously by the AMD Dual Technology although its winning margin over itself without the advantage of this technology is not so evident here as it led with a negligible margin of almost 8%.


Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Initially, its performance in a DirectX 11 environment didn't show the tangible benefits of the Dual Graphics technology as both the average frame rates of recorded at both settings of the said technology were almost identical. Do note that the new entrant Intel HD Graphics 2500 in the form of the Intel Core i3-3220 failed to execute this gaming benchmark.

However, it was only when we set the benchmark configuration to 'High' when we saw the advantages of the hybrid CrossFireX technology (refer to second graph). The average frame rate was 36% higher than when the Dual Graphics technology was turned off. With the investment of a discrete Radeon HD 6670 GPU, the advantage was the most evident as the score was 110% higher than the performance of the APU's integrated Radeon HD 7660 graphics core. In short, impressive!



Preliminary Price-Performance Comparison

The AMD A10-5800K APU has scored a resounding victory in terms of its graphical performance. In terms of competing with its direct competitor in the form of the Intel Core i3-3220, its integrated Radeon HD 7660D engine core has shown its mettle by churning out an average frame rate of above 30 FPS for our DirectX 11-supported gaming benchmark. At the point of writing, there are no retail prices for us to consider, but let us make a calculated guess based on what's in the market. We estimate that the price of a high-end FM2 socket based motherboard will be approximately S$190 (considering current FM1 socket based boards) and the AMD A10-5800K that is about S$200 (which is about the going price of the top SKU Llano desktop processor), the initial cost of investment for this pairing of core hardware components is a total of S$390, or about S$400 (if you want a round figure).

In terms of cost comparison for a competing Intel motherboard, we would have to settle for an Intel Express Z77 chipset-based mid-tier ATX board that offers native support for PCIe Gen 3.0 bus standard; however, we must add that the accompanying Intel Core i3-3220 processor doesn't feature an integrated PCIe Gen 3.0 controller (in fact, it's still in Gen 2.0). Therefore, there is a mismatch in the hardware capabilities of these competing computing components from the Intel camp. With the anemic performance of processor's onboard Intel HD 2500 GPU, it cannot match up to the graphical performance of the AMD hardware. In any case, a pairing of a mid-tier Intel Z77 motherboard and the Core i3-3220 CPU would range between S$350 to S$400 depending on your motherboard selection (which is quite varied on the Intel camp). You could even argue that you can build one for as low as S$250 (yes, the processor bundled with a B75 class motherboard), but the capabilities and features may not match that of a top class AMD board. At the end of the day, you might still save S$100 on the Intel platform, but to get any decent gaming done out of it, you'll need to invest that back into a discrete graphics card. 

The current winning equation of AMD's Heterogeneous System Architecture for desktop computing.

With the AMD Dual Graphics Technology thrown into the mix, the clear victor is the AMD A10-5800K Trinity desktop APU. With an investment in a discrete AMD Radeon HD 6670 graphics card that costs roughly S$110, the winning tripartite of APU, FM2 motherboard and this previous generation GPU will make up a decent gaming platform for budget conscious system builders at an estimated cost of S$500. With lower cost motherboard options, the total price can be as low as just S$450 - bagging you a motherboard, Trinity APU and even a discrete graphics card. Although this is an odd mix of old and new technology, our graphical performance analysis alluded to these strange bedfellows and their impressive performance scores. It is Intel who started the ball rolling with its Clarkdale family of processors and their integrated Intel HD graphics core but it is clear the new AMD A-Series desktop APUs are holding court now.

All things said and done, this is a rather price competitive sector and we'll need to perform a stronger analysis once the retail price points are available for the AMD Trinity Desktop based ecosystem. What we've compared in the last few paragraphs is in the assumption that the Trinity platform won't cost more than the Llano platform, but we'll soon find out and we shall update this article once more.

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