APU Final Thoughts
I think the attribute that surprised me the most while reviewing the A10-7800 was its proficiency at its stock settings – especially when compared to the “first Kaveri,” the A10-7850K. I enjoy the process of overclocking and finding the limits of components, so at first I wasn’t too sure about the A10-7800 (although I was very pleasantly surprised to find the integrated GPU clocks were adjustable!). I thought to myself, “why would anyone buy a locked version of the A10-7850K?”
Well, let’s just get this out of the way then – if you’re an enthusiast looking for the highest performance with discrete graphics cards and want to stay with the FM2+ platform, you’ll need the additional speed offered by the Kaveri APUs with unlocked multipliers. In non-HSA instances, you may even find the higher clock speeds of the Richland APUs more attractive. If you’re trying to choose a platform and need the greatest CPU performance available, the A10-7800 doesn’t do anything to change the Intel/AMD equation.
That’s not who this processor is for though – the A10-7800 impressed me more than I thought it would when placed in the tiny SilverStone ML05 HTPC case, where discrete graphics cards weren’t an option. Here, the A10-7800’s GCN graphics cores were a boon to integrated graphics performance and an obvious improvement over previous APUs. Compared to the stock A10-7850K, the A10-7800 almost matched performance at its optimized 65W setting (noticeably reducing noise – the stock cooler didn’t need to spin up near as much) and came surprisingly close in a couple instances at the 45W TDP setting. Essentially, if you have an application where integrated graphics are your only choice, the A10-7800 gives you all the Kaveri benefits and performance of the A10-7850K for less. Less money, less noise, less energy.
And those are all benefits that were realized while testing current-day applications. While you can still extract quite a bit of performance from the Trinity and Richland APU’s higher clock speeds, you won’t be able to take advantage of any HSA-enabled applications that may show up in the future. Unfortunately, while the possibilities are very exciting, AMD doesn’t have that “killer app” yet that makes the Kaveri APUs and their HSA technology a must-have. I think that will change – the benefits of HSA are too strong to ignore, but it will require time for software to catch up, like every other leap in hardware technology.
So what does that mean for the A10-7800? Right now, I think it stands in a pretty niche market, but in that market it’s one of the best options. I mentioned before, those users trying to extract the greatest amount of CPU performance from the FM2+ platform will still need to shell out for the A10-7850K, but for office/home/HTPC machines relying on integrated graphics the A10-7800 is the most compelling option so far in the lineup, other than maybe the A8-7600. Better yet if those users are able to take advantage of the few OpenCL 1.2 / HSA-enabled applications out there (LibreOffice, Photoshop).
When I started this review, I didn’t think I would be able to recommend the A10-7800 over the A10-7850K. After seeing the results, I can now see a few scenarios where I would personally choose the locked version – it was nice that tinkering with extra cooling and testing stable overclocks wasn’t necessary, and the majority of the performance was still available. The A10-7800 includes the best integrated graphics cores yet seen on a CPU, and offers all of the latest GCN/Radeon/HSA features for less. Maybe it’s only suited for a narrow range of uses that enthusiasts wouldn’t necessarily be interested in, but perhaps we need to remember that the market range of uses for the A10-7800 is probably much larger – for those users, the A10-7800 can be a pretty compelling option.
+ HSA-enabled APU
+ Most (if not more!) of the performance of the stock A10-7850K for less
+ Configurable TDPs (65W/45W)
+ Fully-featured GCN graphics cores (TrueAudio, Mantle, etc.)
+ Compute capable graphics
+ Focus on efficiency is noticeable
+ Integrated GPU is still overclockable
– Pure CPU performance, while “good enough” for intended application, still lacking compared to Intel
– Software needs to catch up to unlock full potential
– Not for enthusiasts – narrow range of use, even if within that range there isn’t anything comparable