AMD A8-3870K Unlocked Llano Quad-Core APU Review

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When AMD initially released their Llano-based A-Series APUs, the company targeted cost-conscious consumers looking for highly-integrated, easy to assemble solutions for an entry-level or mid-range PCs. At the time of launch, the flagship model in the A-Series line-up was the A8-3850, which featured quad CPU cores paired to a DirectX-11 Radeon GPU with 400 active shader units. In our coverage of the A8-3850, we found it to offer decent performance for its price, especially in graphics-related workloads where the APU’s relatively powerful integrated GPU was able to stretch its legs. 


AMD Llano Die Shot...

The original A-Series APU line-up didn’t feature any enthusiast-targeted products, but AMD quickly reacted to the A-Series’ mostly favorable reception with a new flagship, dubbed the A8-3870K Black Edition, which we’ll be showing you here today. In its default configuration, the A8-3870K is a slight upgrade from the A8-3850, thanks to a small increase in its default CPU frequency. The “K” in its part number, however, means the chip is unlocked, which makes for some interesting overclocking. When paired to the right motherboard, which features an updated BIOS / UEFI that fully supports the A8-3870K, this APU is able to hang with some of AMD’s fastest quad-core desktop processors, while also offering discrete-class GPU performance. 

AMD A8-3870K Unlocked "Llano" APU
Specifications & Features
Tech / Package 32nm / FM1 905-pin lidded μPGA, 40x40 mm, 1.27 mm pitch
TDP Configurations 100W configurations
Processor Core “Stars” 32nm HKMG process core (up to 4 cores), 128 KB L1 Cache(64 KB Instruction, 64 KB Data) 1 MB L2/Core, 128-bit FPUs, Unlocked @ 3.0GHz
Memory Up to DDR3 1866
Graphics Core Up to 400 Radeon Cores, DirectX 11 capable, UVD3
Displays Digital Display I/F DP0: Display Port, HDMI, DVI
Digital Display I/F DP1: Display Port, HDMI, DVI
Graphics Features AMD Dual Graphics
Blu-ray 3D
AMD Steady Video
AMD Perfect Picture
DisplayPort 1.1a, HDMI 1.4a
Power Management Multiple low-power states
32-nm process for decreased power consumption
PCIe core power gating
PCIe speed power policy
GPU power gating of Radeon Cores and video decode (UVD3)
AMD Turbo Core technology on select models
AMD A75/AMD A55 FCH
Tech/Package 65nm / FC BGA, 605-Ball, 23x23mm, .8mm pitch
TDP Configurations A75: 7.8W, A55: 7.6W
UMI x4 Gen 2
SATA A75: 6 ports at 6 Gb/s, A55: 6 ports at 3 Gb/s
RAID 0,1,10
USB A75: 4 USB 3.0 Ports, 10 USB 2.0 Ports, 2 USB 1.1 Internal Ports A55: 14 USB 2.0 Ports, 2 USB 1.1 Internal Ports
PCIe GPPs 4x1 Gen2
FIS Support A75 only
CIR CIR Receiver
Clock Gen Integrated
Power Rails SVID for VDDCR_CPU & VDDR_NB, fixed voltage for other rails

Software/Firmware
Software Drivers: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Linux


Click to Enlarge

The AMD A8-3870K differentiates itself from the A8-3850 it supplants at the top of AMD's A8 APU line-up in two meaningful ways. First, the A8-3870K has a 100MHz higher default CPU clock, 3GHz (3870K) versus 2.9GHz (3850). Second, as the "K" denotes, the A8-3870K is an unlocked "Black Edition" APU. That means the chip is unlocked for more flexible overclocking. It's not only the CPU multipliers that are unlocked though, but the GPU and memory speed multipliers too. The initial batch of "non-K" Llano APUs were all locked, so overclocking was only possible via base clock manipulation. With the A8 K SKUs, however, overclocking of the CPU, GPU, and Memory blocks is also possible via multiplier adjustment.

Just to paint the complete picture, as we've already mentioned, the AMD A8-3870K APU has a default CPU clock speed of 3.0GHz. Its four x86 cores are each outfitted with 128KB of L1 Cache (64KB Instruction, 64KB Data) and 1MB of L2 cache per core, but no L3 cache is present. Phenom II processors have similar L1 configurations, but only half the L2, plus a large 6MB L3 cache. However, remember, this is an APU, so the A8-3870K also has an integrated DX11-class Radeon HD 6550D GPU core. The GPU runs at a default frequency of 600MHz and has 400 active shader ALUs arranged in an array of 5 SIMDs.

Due to the fact that the A8-3870K's CPU cores are only clocked 100MHz higher than the A8-3850 and the main attraction of this APU is its status as an unclocked Black Edition chip, we did some overclocking right out of the gate using a standard air-cooler to see what kind of CPU and GPU performance gains could be achieved with a bit of tweaking. Ultimately, the A8-3870K ended up being fairly overclockable and attained a CPU frequency of 3.5GHz simultaneously with an 800MHz GPU frequency. These are increases of 500MHz and 200MHz, respectively, over their default clocks. Since those numbers were possible with a basic air-cooler and only a minor .25v bump in voltage, we've included a full set of benchmark scores while the A8-3870K was overclocked on the pages ahead.

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Comments

Comments
cowboyspace 2 years ago

YAY A8-3870K Black Edition smashes intel's HD graphics but A8-3870K Black Edition losses when it comes to General Compute Performance.

 Nice Review!
 

"It's not only the CPU multipliers that are unlocked though, but the GPU and memory speed multipliers too."  

cool because must of the unlocked black edition come with just the cpu multiplier unlocked only. 
Hardcore gamers/enthusiast  won't buy this product...

Hey wasn't intel the first come come with "k" in its processors? Is Amd Copying it? just wonder reply me for the answer :)

OptimusPrimeTime 2 years ago

Very decent chip for the price, with a a better cooler and some time, people will be able to push GPU frequency a bit further and squeeze some extra performance. At first I didn't like it or mis-understood the purpose of theses chips, but I respect it. Would have been cool to see how Battlefield 3 runs on this.

cowboyspace 2 years ago

yea but remember  pushing it a bit further  means more watts and better performance. What do you mean  ''mis-understood the purpose of theses chips''?  you don't know why is it good or what is different from others?

realneil 2 years ago

[quote user="OptimusPrimeTime"]At first I didn't like it or mis-understood the purpose of theses chips,[/quote]

[quote user="OptimusPrimeTime"]be able to push GPU frequency a bit further and squeeze some extra performance[/quote]

You answered your own question except for the "It Costs Less" part. Smile

I have an A8-3850 and a A6-3300 APU too. Both have the hybrid crossfire setup with a Radeon HD6670 in each one of them to bolster graphics performance.

They do not game with settings on full for modern games, but if you turn the eye candy down a little, they game acceptably.

They really shine in an office environment and multimedia applications. They're rockin' USB 3.0 and SATA-III capabilities too. They are both installed into ASRock brand Mainboards that have the ability to charge your USB devices, even when the PS is turned off.

With these PC's, you get completely acceptable performance for not a lot of cash, and ~that's~ their value.

____________________________

[quote user="cowboyspace"]Hardcore gamers/enthusiast  won't buy this product...[/quote]

It isn't geared towards that market. Before these were introduced, there was a gaping hole in the low cost PC segment. You couldn't get a decent low cost PC with good onboard graphics that could do DX-11 properly. These APU's filled that need perfectly, and as such, they are a success story for AMD. Sales are good and AMD is making money from them.

 

stubblep00 2 years ago

thoughts for a home media server. or even htpc?

realneil 2 years ago

[quote user="stubblep00"]thoughts for a home media server. or even htpc?[/quote]

Yes,.......I was originally going to sell these two systems and buy better video cards for my gaming boxes with the money,............but I've decided to set one of them up in my wife's office (the A8) for her to use, and the other is going into my bedroom (the A6) as an HTCP box.

They are fast enough and of good quality too.

 

Marco C 2 years ago

It' a 100W chip, so it may not be ideal for all HTPCs, but if using a chassis that can accomodate a large / quiet cooler, Llano is a good fit. For ultra small form factors, a 35W CPU like the 2100T may be a better fit, although you'd lose some gaming performance, obviously.

realneil 2 years ago

[quote user="Marco C"]It' a 100W chip, so it may not be ideal for all HTPCs, but if using a chassis that can accomodate a large / quiet cooler, Llano is a good fit. For ultra small form factors, a 35W CPU like the 2100T may be a better fit, although you'd lose some gaming performance, obviously.[/quote]

I've got room in an out of the way place for the case that it's already in. So that's not a problem for me. I used a Corsair H50 cooler for it that has two Cougar Vortex PWM fans on it, so it's mostly quiet too.

I will not be using it for games, and decided to use it since I already have it here. Smile

 

cowboyspace 2 years ago

@ realneil Thanks you for your replies :) But i was just making a point for those who doesn't know much about it(novice) i know it isn't geared towards that market, And i have a question can you use an APU and a discrete graphics card together? for better performance? or you have to disable your cpu integrated graphics in order to use the discrete one?

realneil 2 years ago

[quote user="cowboyspace"] i have a question can you use an APU and a discrete graphics card together? for better performance? [/quote]

Yes, it's one of the selling points.

One of the features that an APU based system brings to the table is an ability to run Hybrid Crossfire. The FM1 Motherboards work in conjunction with the AMD APU's graphic's capabilities to deliver ~better than Intel's~ onboard graphics.

Then, if you add the PROPER discrete Radeon video card into your PCI-E bus, you can enable that card to crossfire with your onboard graphics for a faster experiance. The fastest card that works this way is any Radeon HD6670 DX-11 based card. I'm not sure what the slowest one is,....I just bought a couple of HD6670's for my two systems.

Once you install the discrete card and set the BIOS properly, you can boot into Windows and enable crossfire performance from within Catalyst Control Center, or Vision Control Center.

This is not a full blown gaming solution, but it works pretty good for not a lot of money.

 

cowboyspace 2 years ago

Ummmm cool i thought hybrid crossfire was only possible with the MOBO integrated graphics O-o but thanks you i leaened something new today :)

realneil 2 years ago

[quote user="cowboyspace"]i thought hybrid crossfire was only possible with the MOBO integrated graphics[/quote]

That is correct, Hybrid Crossfire IS the onboard graphics being used in conjunction with 1 discrete Video Card at the same time. (note that the onboard graphics are a combination of parts included on the motherboard working together with the GPU that is built into the AMD APU)

That said, note that many of these FM1 boards will run traditional Crossfire with two discrete Video Cards (or three of them) installed at the same time, but the onboard graphics are not part of that equation. (it is disabled by default)

[quote user="DHampton"]have noticed improved physx performance[/quote]

PhysX is not enabled on AMD graphics, it's NVIDIA's technology and only runs with NVIDIA GPU's. (unless some sort of hack is employed to enable it)

 

cowboyspace 2 years ago

umm pretty interesting :) and helpful.

 

"PhysX is not enabled on AMD graphics, it's NVIDIA's technology and only runs with NVIDIA GPU's"  that is correct but i didnt know there were hacks to do enable those things O_O like really lol  (is  to unlock a gpu voltage a hack like the one in msi afterburner?

 

 

realneil 2 years ago

Afterburner is a legitimate program sponsored by a reputable manufacturer.

Hacks are hacks. You do a Google search for them and go to whatever site to get them. They may be on the up & up, but you may be treading on dangerous ground when you navigate to sites that have hacks available.   (this is how some people are infected with new and exciting exploits and malware)

I don't go to such sites, and I don't recommend it either. But they do exist, and they offer all sorts of tweaks that break the rules.

cowboyspace 2 years ago

" You do a Google search for them and go to whatever site to get them" i didn't say i wanted those hacks O_o

realneil 2 years ago

[quote user="cowboyspace"] i didn't say i wanted those hacks[/quote]

Did I say that you wanted those hacks?

 

cowboyspace 2 years ago

did you see  what i quoted? but nevermind you didn't say it i guess :)

realneil 2 years ago

[quote user="cowboyspace"]did you see  what i quoted?[/quote]

THIS: "i didnt know there were hacks to do enable those things O_O like really lol  (is  to unlock a gpu voltage a hack like the one in msi afterburner?"

___________________________________

I suggested Google Search to answer questions you may have, that's all.

We do not provide or allow links to be posted to sites that host hacks here at HH. It's a liability issue. (and yeah, I already know that you didn't post any links to Hacks, I'm just making a point for all)


cowboyspace 2 years ago

i didn't mean to say that msi afterburner is a hack  i just tried to say, if gpu hack is like things that msi afterburner have to unlock the gpu voltage i was  just taking msi afterburner as an example  sorry, but my bad english most of the time confuse native speakers :)

LSanoy 2 years ago

wow. a good performing yet cheaper alternative processor

omegadraco 2 years ago

Very interesting it certainly does seem like AMD is copying Intels Model numbering. But the cool this about that is it makes it easy to tell the chip is unlocked. I would certainly consider one of the AMD APU's for most of my needs. I would love to see the computer labs in my school running APUs like these.

DHampton 2 years ago

For extreme budget pcs they are great processors. Not having to really on some crappy integrated or having to buy a extra video card. Especially with portable devices friend bought laptop and can play any game on it not max settings but for a under $500 laptop to game most games with decent settings and play any game on market is awesome. Especially considering it doesnt take alot of power so you dont have to be plugged into socket almost constantly to use it.

Crossfire is a little underwhelming have noticed improved physx performance and less lag spikes but overall nothing to increase it to much.

LBowen 2 years ago

When it comes to my ideal PC I'm all about gaming performance and speed. The AMD's APU are some great pieces of technology for the price. I have an A6 3500 that I will put in a build most likely in the coming months; I just need to figure out which family member needs it most and will get the best use.

Obsurd 2 years ago

I was walking around future shop a while ago and seen a couple low cost and small cased PCs rocking these was surprised. My buddy just got one and hes been playing Tf2 and borderlands with me and hes not on low settings he said around high -med on most but never maxed which is still impressive considering he paid half as much as me and i just upgraded parts on mine lol.

dangerrenegade 2 years ago

Wow I'm really surprised at the price to performance! Simply perfect for a laptop solution to save power. I think I may be seeing AMD in my future for a laptop...

xmd5 2 years ago

You would think their most expensive unlocked black edition APU would at least come with the same heatsink FX4100 does, but it comes with same heatsink bundled with a sempron

JShamone 2 years ago

All i want to know is the size of the fan included, i want to buy a THERMALTAKE ELEMENT Q MINI-ITX 220W BLACK and it only has 5 cm hight space for the fan...

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