Does AMDs latest APU enable decent quality eSports gaming a new low price?
Earlier this week AMD announced their latest family of GPUs based on their “Fiji” technology which is packed with performance, offering a huge leap in framerate vs power draw. Their Fury Nano model also surprised many due to its compact size mixed with great build quality and rounding off an interesting presentation was some nice Star Wars Battlefront footage. Watch it all here. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MEgJLvoP2U ).
That’s all very cool, but something interesting also happened recently, AMD started talking about how their latest APU lets gamers on an extremely tight budget experience eSports titles with high detail levels and decent resolution. We’re talking $130 here and 1920x1080.
Before we get into the performance figures though, there are probably some of you out there who are wondering “what the hell is an APU?”. So let’s start with that…
An APU, such as the A10-7870K we are testing takes four of AMD’s latest CPU cores and combines them with eight of their latest Radeon Graphics cores. The CPU portion of the chip runs at up to 4.1GHz with the GPU, which supports DirectX 12, running at 866Mhz.
Why do we care about this configuration of CPU and GPU cores? At a basic level, the quad core CPU can perform tasks like converting 2CD’s worth of music to MP3 in 80 seconds but more importantly, software is being released which allows the graphics portion of the APU to assist with processing tasks. So, for example, in the latest video editing software, or in programs like Photoshop, we can speed up the processing of tasks and reduce the time it takes to complete. Essentially we have four CPU cores working with 8 GPU cores, spreading the workload and minimising out time to edit gameplay footage and streams.
And then there is gaming…
The image above shows that the A10-7870K scores at a decent level in 3DMark, but we care more about real world testing. So here are a selection of results, recorded with Fraps, from a few of our recent gaming sessions. We’ve used the ASUS A88X-Pro motherboard, 2x8GB of AMD DDR3-2400, an AMD Radeon SSD and connected them up to a FreeSync capable screen, the MG279Q from ASUS, which runs at 2560x1440, 1ms, 144Hz.
All testing was completed at 1920x1080 High/Very High settings. Then at 2560x1440 with Medium settings (LoL) and Very High (CSS).
Starting with the results above, the stand out graph has to be LoL. In both games the A10-7870K gives admirable performance for a $130 CPU/GPU in a single package. SC2 and DOTA 2 could certainly be considered playable for those dabbling in competitive gaming for the first time. Detail can of course be tweaked to our needs to enhance framerates.
Moving up to 2560x1440 we did just that with LoL, dropping the detail to medium. That gave us the following performance:
It’s fair to say that we’d all love the latest graphics card, and there is no doubt that the likes of the Radeon R7/R9 series offer better performance than an APU for eSports, but for some it is hard to justify the expense. Given what we have seen from the A10-7870K it would seem that AMD are offering a product which could well get those on a budget involved in competitive gaming while also offering a solid experience in productivity/desktop tasks and anything which brings more people into our sport is welcome, right?
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In conclusion, the A10 breaks the financial barrier that frequently halts many potential competitors from entering the arena that is PC eSports. While the APU won't run Witcher 3 at max settings with 15 Chrome tabs in the background and a Flash player, it certainly does the trick in offering adequate performance in some of the most popular eSports titles. Go ahead and pick up AMD's latest APU to experience competitive high-definition eSports at crisp framerates without the damage to your wallet.