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AMD A8-3850 - Integrated Graphics the AMD Way

By Vincent Chang - 1 Jul 2011

Integrated Graphics Performance

Integrated Graphics Performance

The main story of the AMD A-series APU is its integrated graphics performance and it's where this new APU rose to the occasion. The thing that you need to know about the integrated graphics on the AMD APU is that memory frequency matters. That's system memory we're talking about, which is of course conscripted by the graphics cores in the APU for its own use. For our integrated graphics testing, we manually set the frame buffer to 256MB, but users with more system memory can always allocate more for better performance.

As we found out, there's quite a decent amount of scaling going from DDR3 1066MHz to 1333MHz and to 1600MHz. The architecture supports up to DDR3 1866 currently, so there's even more performance uplift if you use faster memory. AMD also states that memory latency will play a part. Due to time constraints, we haven't tested this aspect but we feel that differences will be minor compared to using higher frequency memory.

The results were pretty impressive, for integrated graphics at least. In the three benchmarks we tested, the A8-3850 with DDR3 1600MHz memory was about as capable as an entry level discrete graphics card like the NVIDIA GT 220 with 512MB of RAM. And it was running with a vastly faster CPU, the top Sandy Bridge Core i7-2600K processor. By itself, the performance of the integrated graphics on the Core i7-2600K was at best 2/3 that of the A8-3850 with DDR3 1066MHz.

It was no contest at all. If one takes the lower end Intel HD Graphics 2000, like the one on the Core i5-2400 instead of the higher clocked HD Graphics 3000 (Core i7-2600K), the differences were even greater. The A8-3850 at its slowest was almost three times that of the Intel HD Graphics 2000. More importantly, these are extremely playable frame rates at settings that one expect mainstream machines to be running at. One cannot use the old argument that it was futile to choose between integrated graphics from AMD or Intel because both solutions were not good enough.

This is clearly no longer the case. Even if you push the resolution to 1280 x 1024 pixels, we bet that the AMD A8-3850 with DDR3 1600MHz would be able to handle the two DX10 games, Far Cry 2 and Bad Company 2 decently. Integrated graphics is finally good enough.  

Next up, we also tried out the new, integrated Universal Video Decoder 3 (UVD3) on the APU. Just like a discrete graphics card from AMD or NVIDIA, the Blu-ray playback on the A8-3850 was issue-free and we recorded similarly low CPU utilization numbers on the APU as an NVIDIA GT 220. Although the current generation of Intel Core processors was also quite capable of playing HD content without a hitch, the CPU utilization was somewhat higher. This proves that the AMD A8-3850 is much more efficient for these tasks.

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  • Performance 8
  • Features 8.5
  • Value 8.5
The Good
Hits new high in integrated graphics performance
Mainstream pricing
The Bad
Mediocre CPU performance
Dual Graphics feature is disappointing
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