AMD A8-6600K, ASUS Z87-C

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AMD’s APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) products are all about delivering both computing and gaming performance in a relatively affordable package. The common problem with integrated graphics is its inability to run titles smoothly without making some major compromises, and AMD seeks to alleviate that with the APU. The current desktop iteration, “Richland”, uses improved Piledriver cores (the same cores found in AMD’s FX line), as well as rocking a better integrated graphics solution. So how does it fare when put against Intel’s own integrate graphics?

urlLet’s start with a brief introduction of the chip in review. The A8-6600K occupies a higher tier in AMD’s current APU lineup, and is a quad-core processor paired with an AMD Radeon HD 8570D graphics solution. The default clock speed for the chip is 3.9GHz, followed by a boost clock of 4.2GHz. However, the “K” suffix on the product means that it has an unlocked CPU multiplier, so you can bring it up to higher speeds if you so wish – just don’t use the bundled heatsink-fan combo for cooling, as it can get pretty hot.

Before we proceed to the benchmarks, head on to the next page to read about the ASUS board we’re using for this review – the FA185-V Pro.

[[ASUS F2A85-V Pro]]

The F2A85V-V Pro is an ASUS board that bears the FM2 socket, which plays nice with current “Richland” APUs , and comes in a blue-black colour scheme that echoes past ASUS board designs. The board is capable of supporting a maximum of 64GB in DDR3 memory, and supports a maximum memory clock of 2400MHz. It supports AMP (AMD Memory Profile) out of the box, with XMP (eXtended Memory Profile) compatibility available through a small tweak.

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The board comes with three PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, and is CrossFire-capable. The first two operate in a dual x8 configuration, while the third operates at x4 speed. There are a pair of PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, and another pair of PCI slots. For SATA connectors, the F2A85-V Pro comes with six SATA 6Gbps connectors and one eSATA connector. Suffice to say, this board has got you covered in terms of expansion.

Looking at connectivity, the ASUS board feature four USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports at the back (two of those USB 3.0 ports come from ASMedia, the other pair provided by the chipset). You also find VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, so it caters to displays of all types. There is also the obligatory RJ45 port, and another eSATA port, followed by SPDIF, PS/2 and 6 3.5mm audio jacks to get your surround audio configuration up and running. On the board itself, you can use the USB headers to give you up to eight USB 2.0 ports, and another pair of USB 3.0 ports.

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And with the introductions out of the way, we can now proceed to the benchmarks!

[[Benchmarks: Computing]]

For testing, the setup is as follows:

  • AMD A8-6600K
  • ASUS F2A85-V Pro (courtesy of ASUS)
  • 2 x 8GB Kingston HyperX Beast DDR3 RAM, 2400MHz
  • 128GB SSD
  • No graphics card

For comparison purposes, scores from recent Intel-based solutions (with all the relevant constants) were taken.

Despite packing a quad-core processor, the A8-6600K cannot match up with the Intel Core i7, as seen in PCMark Vantage. The APU only managed to achieved 61% of what the Haswell vanilla configuration can achieve.

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Whether it’s Home, Creative or Work, the APU struggled in PCMark 8. It lagged behind the Intel Core i7, but it managed to put up a decent fight in the Work scenario.

a8-6600k_pcmark8_home a8-6600k_pcmark8_creative a8-6600k_pcmark8_work

The AMD solution was again outperformed by Intel’s latest flagship, and proved lacking even when compared to Ivy Bridge, the previous generation when tested in SiSoft Sandra’s Arithmetic benchmark.

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Again, the A8-6600K was beaten by the Intel competition, only achieving half the performance. That said, the A8-6600K is a significantly more affordable option compared to the Intel Core i7, so it has that going for it.

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The A8-6600K still can’t catch up with the Intel solutions in SiSoft Sandra’s Cryptography segment.

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So far, the AMD APU is lacking in computing performance, but does it redeem itself in gaming performance? Find out in the next page!

[[Benchmarks: Gaming]]

For the gaming benchmarks, each game was configured to run at 1280 x 720 pixels at “Medium” settings.

We start off with Crysis: Warhead. Here, you can see that the A8-6600K manages to beat Intel HD Graphics 4000, but falters when faced with Intel HD Graphics 4600, the current generation.

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Next up is Batman: Arkham City. Here the APU catches up, getting extremely close to what the current Intel processors have to offer, with only a 3fps difference in average framerate.

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The A8-6600K wins in Mafia II, with a solid 10fps lead compared to a Core i7-4770K in ASUS Z87-C motherboard – a 28% performance gap.

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The APU takes the lead again in Resident Evil 5, with a 20% advantage against Intel HD Graphics 4600.

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The lead continues in Resident Evil 6, with a sizeable 51% increase in performance when compared to what Haswell has to offer.

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Unfortunately, the A8-6600K can only match up to Intel HD Graphics 4000 in the recent Tomb Raider reboot, and is left in the dust when compared to Intel HD Graphics 4600.

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And with the benchmarks done, head on to the next page for my concluding thoughts.

[[Conclusion]]

urlThe A8-6600K APU by AMD promised a balance in computing and gaming performance without breaking the bank, and AMD have proved that claim, to a certain extent. Priced at a significantly lower price point than the Intel Core i7, and sometimes the Core i5, the APU is a great purchase if you’re looking to build a decent PC that can run games. Just don’t do anything intensive with it.

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The ASUS F2A85-V Pro offers a lot of expansion options that would please most AMD fans, with opportunities to get a CrossFire setup up and running via multiple PCIe x16 slots. However, the question is, if you could afford a significantly better graphics card, why not plonk down a bit of cash to obtain a better processor (the FX line comes to mind)? But, it’s glad to know that you have a chance to expand your rig in the future without having to re-purchase everything.