• Home
  • blog
  • AMD A10-7860K & Athlon 880K: Kaveri Refresh

AMD A10-7860K & Athlon 880K: Kaveri Refresh

The latest editions to AMD’s Kaveri budget FM2+ lineup take a spin on our freshly updated CPU test suite. Though based on the same technology as previous 7xxx models, the A10-7860K is the fastest 65W APU in AMD’s arsenal while the X4 880K becomes the new flagship for their graphicsless Athlon series.

March 29, 2016 by Lawrence Lee

Product
AMD A10-7860K
FM2+ Processor
AMD Athlon 880X
FM2+ Processor
Manufacturer
MSRP
US$118 US$95

All eyes are on AMD this year as the PC world awaits the release of their new CPU microarchitecture, codename Zen. The anticipation is understandable as the Bulldozer core is nearly five years old, with only slight improvements in the Piledriver and Steamroller revisions during the interim, while Intel surged ahead with multiple updated CPU iterations. Last month, we received a taste of things to come in the form of the Wraith cooler, Zen’s surprisingly competent beefed up stock cooling solution released in advance in a limited capacity.

Now we get to sample another morsel in the form of new FM2+ processors before the main course later in Q4. Having fallen far behind at the high-end, the budget segment of the CPU market has become AMD’s primary battleground. Here they offer some compelling weapons, including integrated graphics rivaling what Intel offers on their expensive flagships, old school Athlons without graphics for those who don’t need them, quad core CPUs at much lower price-points, and base frequency overclocking and unlocked multipliers on numerous parts, not just the premium ones. Even the motherboards are more affordable, bringing even more value to the table.

Quad Core AMD Kaveri APU Lineup
Model
A10-
7890K
A10-
7870K
A10-
7860K
A10-
7850K
A10-
7800
A8-
7670K
A8-
7650K
A8-
7600
CPU Clock (Base/Turbo)
4.1 / 4.3 GHz
3.9 / 4.1 GHz
3.6 / 4.0 GHz
3.7 / 4.0 GHz
3.5 / 3.9 GHz
3.6 / 3.9 GHz
3.3 / 3.8 GHz
3.1 / 3.8 GHz
L2 Cache
2 x 2MB
Memory Support
DDR3-2133
Compute Units
8
6
Stream Processors
512
384
Max GPU Clock (MHz)
866
866
754
720
720
754
720
720
TDP
95W
95W
65W
95W
65W
95W
95W
65W
Street Price (USD)
$160
$130
$118*
$110
$115
$100
$90
$75
* MSRP, new chips in bold

AMD’s current APU lineup is sizable, with eight quad core 7xxx models now existence, separated into A10 and A8 models based on their GPU hardware, with A10 featuring more stronger integrated graphics with more compute units and stream processors. The differentiation doesn’t stop there though as their is a wide range of GPU and CPU frequencies, 95W and 65W thermal envelopes, and locked/unlocked multipliers to consider. The latest two releases are the fastest 95W and 65W chips in their updated catalog, though they’re based on the same 28nm Kaveri/GCN technology as the rest of the 7xxx series. The A10-7890K’s CPU clock speed has a 5% advantage over the A10-7870K but it sports a US$160 MSRP, coming close to Intel Core i5 pricing. Our APU sample, the A10-7860K with its US$118 MSRP will probably be a more popular choice. It’s positioned it to usurp the A10-7800 as the A10-7860K is equipped with slightly higher CPU/GPU speeds and an unlocked multiplier for just $8 more.

AMD Athlon Lineup
Model
X4 880K
X4 870K
X4 860K
X4 840
X4 760K
X4 750
X4 845
Architecture
Kaveri 28nm
Richland 32nm
Carrizo 28 nm
CPU Clock (Base/Turbo)
4.0 / 4.2 GHz
3.9 / 4.1 GHz
3.7 / 4.0 GHz
3.1 / 3.8 GHz
3.8 / 4.1 GHz
3.4 / 3.9 GHz
3.5 / 3.8 GHz
L2 Cache
2 x 2MB
2 x 2MB
2 x 1MB
Memory Support
DDR3-2133
DDR3-1866
DDR3-1866
DDR3-2133
TDP
95W
65W
100W
65W
65W
Street Price (USD)
$95*
$85
$75
$65
EOL
$65
* MSRP

Until recently, the graphics-free Athlon X4 family was stuck with 32 nm Richlands featuring older Piledriver CPU cores but they’ve now been retired. Replacing them is the X4 8xx series which is somewhat late to the party, finally bringing Kaveri/Steamroller to the Athlon series. The most interesting SKU is actually the bottom-of-the-rung X4 845, a new Carrizo part which is essentially Kaveri paired with AMD’s latest Excavator CPU cores which focus on efficiency. We’ll be testing the flagship X4 880K, which operates at 4.0~4.2 GHz with a 95W TDP, and can be had for the low MSRP price of US$95.


Our A10-7860K sample unboxed.

Our Athlon X4 880K sample unboxed.

Stock coolers side by side.

The chips.

The A10-7860K ships in familiar retail packaging though the stock cooling unit has been upgraded with a single heatpipe design and a distinctive 80 mm red fan; it’s the updated heatsink for new 65W APUs moving forward. The Athlon X4 880K comes in a larger plain box to accommodate a “near-silent 125W thermal solution.” It’s essentially the Wraith cooler without the bothersome LED shroud that weakens its acoustic performance, so no loss there. As we determined in our Wraith review, the more substantial heatsink is fairly effective and can take the place of a mid-range aftermarket cooler, though it doesn’t have a very pleasant sound.

TEST METHODOLOGY

Testing Procedures

Our testing procedures are used to determine the performance and energy efficiency of the CPU and its integrated graphics (if applicable). A series of CPU and GPU-centric benchmarks are used and system power consumption is measured in various states as well as during each CPU benchmark (an average of the first 5~15 seconds).

CPU testing is conducted with a discrete graphics card (a GeForce 9400 GT) to eliminate integrated graphics as a variable, most notably with regards to power consumption. This is necessary to fairly compare CPUs that do not have an onboard graphics chip such as AMD FX/Athlon and Intel “E” models. Default CPU core clock speeds/multipliers are used rather than those prescribed by the motherboard manufacturers.

Motherboards:

  • Gigabyte Z170X-UD5 – LGA1151, Z170 chipset, ATX
  • Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5 – LGA1150, Z97 chipset, microATX
  • Asus Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 – AM3+ socket, 990FX chipset, ATX
  • Gigabyte F2A88X-UP4 – FM2+ socket, A88X chipset, ATX
  • Asus F2A85-M Pro – FM2 socket, A85X chipset, microATX

Common Test Components:

  • Kingston
    HyperX Genesis memory
    – 2x4GB, DDR3-1866 @ 1600 MHz, C10
  • Kingston Fury memory – 2x4GB, DDR4-2667, C15
  • ADATA XPG SX910 128GB or Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB solid-state drive – 2.5-inch, SATA 6 Gbps
  • Seasonic
    SS-460FL
    power supply – 460W, ATX, fanless, 80Plus Gold
  • Scythe Kabuto
    CPU cooler – stock fan at 800 RPM
  • Microsoft
    Windows 7
    operating system – Ultimate, 64-bit

CPU Only Test Components:

  • Asus EN9400GT Silent Edition
    graphics card – 512MB

Test platform device listing (A10-7860K).

Measurement and Analysis Tools:

Video Test Suite:

H.264/MKV 1080p: A custom 1080p H.264 encoded clip inside an Matroska container with a 22 mbps bitrate.

YouTube HTML5 4K: RBG Rainbow, a dead/stuck pixel screen fixer in 4K.

 

GPU Benchmark Suite:

Gaming tests are conducted at two resolutions, 1366×768 and 1600×900 (or the closest allowable screen resolution) with differing levels of image quality. The results we report are for the highest resolution and detail level with which the product can deliver a reasonably good framerate (about 45 frames per second).

CPU Benchmark Suite:

  • Adobe Photoshop: Timed image processing job; A derivation
    of Driver Heaven’s Photoshop
    Benchmark V3
    .
  • foobar2000: Timed audio (FLAC) encode.
  • Windows Defender: Timed anti-virus scan.
  • 7-Zip: Timed file compression.
  • TrueCrypt: Encryption/decryption benchmark; 500MB setting, AES-Twofish-Serpent algorithm, mean result, converted into time for comparison purposes.
  • HandBrake: Timed video (H.264) encode.
  • Maxon Cinebench: Rendering benchmark; CPU setting, converted into time for comparison purposes.

As we will be making conclusions on the energy efficiency of the CPUs compared, some of the power consumption figures have been artificially adjusted to be more “average” to better represent typical energy efficiency. This particularly applies to the Intel Core i7/i5 processor results as they were tested on the Gigabyte Z170X-UD5 and Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5, two unusually energy efficient motherboards according to our extensive power consumption tests of LGA1151 and LGA1150 boards.

Our timed benchmark results have also been adjusted but proportionally (such that relative differences remain the same) to facilitate better chart scaling.

TEST RESULTS: INTEGRATED GRAPHICS

Energy Efficiency

When utilizing its integrated graphics, the A10-7860K exhibits energy efficiency in-line with the older A10-6800K and A8-7600, at least under light load. All three APUs are quite frugal at idle but less so during video playback, drawing a considerable amount of power during playback of an HTML5 4K clip from YouTube. It should be noted that the Gigabyte Z170X-UD5 and Z97MX-Gaming 5 boards are unusually energy efficient Skylake and Haswell boards respectively but under these conditions but the advantage is only about 5~7W compared to average, certainly not enough to account for a 30~40W difference. There’s also a considerable power difference when playing a sequence from the game Lost Planet 2 though under heavy CPU load, the A10-7860K is less wasteful, staying in the same ballpark as the i7-6700/6700K.

The Prime95 stress test apparently takes the A10-7860K right to its power limit as adding FurMark to the mix does not pull any extra juice from the wall. Normally this combination is the most demanding test in our arsenal but due the CPU clock speed drops to about 2.4 GHz to keep the chip within its thermal envelope. Downclocking the CPU frequency manually to the minimum level (1.4 GHz) results in a difference of 38W which works out to about 36W after AC to DC conversion. Under the right conditions, the integrated GPU could potentially account for more than half of the A10-7860K’s 65W TDP.

Gaming Performance

Note: Integrated graphics from Intel and AMD are depicted in blue and red respectively while discrete graphics has been assigned purple.

The A10-7860K features a sizable increase in stream processors, a couple of extra compute units, and a slight boost in GPU clock speed compared to the A8-7600 but this only results in a 2~3 fps improvement in most of our tests, not enough to elevate its R7 graphics into another class. The one exception is in Just Cause 2, where it achieves an additional 9 fps for a 24% bump. Like the other APUs compared and Skylake’s HD 530 graphics, it generally offers a reasonably good gaming experience at 900p resolution.

We arrived at our overall gaming performance rating by giving each GPU a proportional
score in each gaming benchmark with each test having an equal weighting.
The scale has been adjusted so that the A10-7860K’s R7 graphics is the reference point with
a score of 100.

Overall, there’s a modest 10% improvement over the A8-7600, putting the A10-7860K slight ahead of the older A10-6800K.

TEST RESULTS: DISCRETE GRAPHICS

CPU Performance

With its higher clock speeds, Athlon X4 880K slightly outperforms the A10-7860K across the board in the same way the A10-7860K beats out the A8-7600. The 880K is substantially more power hungry though, with our more demanding benchmarks drawing an extra 30+ watts, a sizable difference considering what little extra performance is gained. As usual, none of the APUs come close to competing with the more expensive Intel Skylake, Broadwell, and/or Haswell Core i5/i7s in either regard. The only real surprise comes in the Photoshop test with the X4 880K squeezing past the FX-8350 despite their equivalent clock speed, suggesting that there have some core improvements to the underlying CPU architecture.

Our relative performance figures are calculated by giving each CPU a proportional
score in each benchmark with each test having an equal weighting.
The scale has been adjusted so that the A10-7860K is the reference point with
a score of 100.

The Athlon X4 880K holds a 6% advantage over the A10-7860K, which in turn, holds a 6% lead over the A8-7600.

Energy Efficiency

When paired with the same discrete graphics card, the new AMD chips use more power than their predecessors under light load. The Athlon X4 880K’s higher draw can be explained by its minimum default clock speed, 1.7 GHz rather than the usual 1.4 GHz.

Again, the AMD chips use a considerable amount of energy playing HTML5 content. The APU power figures are much closer to the average power consumption during our benchmarks than the Intel models.

Our “average” power consumption numbers are derived by assuming each CPU/system spends its time performing three activities in equal proportion: sitting idle, playing video (average of H.264/MKV and HTML5 playback), and working (average of all our benchmarks). For this usage case, the A8-7600 is quite competitive with Intel’s offerings, while the A10-7860K trails slightly, and the X4 880K struggles.

To determine performance per watt, we took our relative CPU performance figures and divided it by the “average” power consumption and adjusted the scale again with the A10-7860K as our reference point.

Given their tremendous performance and superb energy efficiency, this metric puts the Intel chips in a league of their own, besting AMD’s offerings by 100% or more.

Value Analysis

When considering the cost of a system, the CPU is only part of the equation
as the price of motherboards and RAM must be added to find the true platform price. In the
chart below we included the prices of the chips compared today and an average compatible motherboard from Newegg
that fulfill this basic barebones set of criteria:

  • Retail models
  • In stock
  • Not extravagantly priced (most expensive models omitted)
  • Major name brand (ASRock, Asus, Intel, Gigabyte, MSI, EVGA)
  • SATA 6 Gbps support in some form
  • USB 3.0 support in some form

According to our parameters, the average motherboard pricing is US$63 for FM2+, US$100 for AM3+, US$96 for LGA1150 (US$118 for the i7-5775C assuming cheaper 8-series chipset boards are incompatible with Broadwell) and US$121 for LGA1151.

Low FM2+ chip and board pricing makes the A10-7860K and X4 880K much more attractive options if you’re on a budget

To calculate performance per dollar, we divided the relative performance scores by the platform costs and re-scaled it, again with the A10-7860K as our reference point.

In terms of pure CPU value, the X4 880K surpasses all the Intel chips, trailing the A8-7600 by a small amount. The A10-7860K’s higher pricing puts it at a disadvantage, making it only a moderately better value than Skylake. Keep in mind both of these AMD chips are unlocked so there’s room for improvement here, though overclocking will push power consumption even higher. The X4 880K also ships with AMD’s “near silent” 125W cooler, making it an ideal choice for this.

To adjust for integrated GPU performance as well, the cost of an equivalent discrete graphics card has been deducted from each chip (US$70 for the i7-5775C, US$50 for the APUs/Skylake, US$45 for Haswell) and everything has been re-scaled once more.

The A8-7600 is actually the clear leader in this category, providing 40% better CPU+GPU value than the A10-7860K. Lacking integrated graphics, the X4 880K actually slips behind the i5-4690K.

FINAL THOUGHTS

With the Kaveri refresh launch, it feels like AMD is just going through the motions, rejigging their budget offerings as if it were simply a scheduled chore on their spring cleaning list. The new APUs don’t bring anything new or exciting, only some slight changes in CPU and GPU frequency. The difference between the various models has always been fairly small, and with these new parts, it’s even more difficult to decide between the various SKUs. The A10-7860K place is fairly clear though, AMD’s new top-of-the-line 65W APU, positioned as a slightly faster and overclockable replacement for the A10-7800. Being multiplier unlocked gives it more flexibility though using this advantage defeats the purpose of having a low TDP. Likes its predecessors, its graphics capabilities are limited though older and less GPU-dependent titles can be played reasonably well at lower resolutions.

The updated Athlon lineup is a bigger advance over the X4 7xx series, bringing graphics-free quad core Steamroller-based CPU cores to the party. The affordable Athlon X4 845 is also the first CPU in all of AMD’s catalog with Excavator cores, the newest revision to the Bulldozer architecture, though unfortunately we haven’t had an opportunity to test it. Generally, these chips are suited for budget gaming builds with a single discrete video card, and the Athlon X4 880K is the best available. It delivers excellent value for a sub-US$100 part, though it’s not nearly as energy efficient as its A10/A8 APU cousins. This is probably less of a concern as overclockability is more of a keystone feature for the Athlon line as it allows penny-pinching DIYers to get as much bang-for-their-buck as possible. It’s also noteable that the X4 880K ships with an updated cooling solution (the new Wraith cooler without the LED shroud) that performs well enough to to compete with modest aftermarket solutions.

Our thanks to AMD for the A10-7860K and Athlon 880K processor samples.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest
AMD Wraith: Upgraded Stock Cooler
Intel Core i7-6700: Skylake i7 at 65W
Skylake: Intel Core i7-6700K
AMD A8-7600 Kaveri APU
AMD A10-6800K & A10-6700 Richland APUs
Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell Processor

* * *

Discuss
this article in the SPCR forums.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *