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Thread: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

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    Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    I would like to thank Hexus for the competition and AMD for the prizes:

    http://forums.hexus.net/hexus-compet...pu-bundle.html

    My user review will be in a few parts over the next few weeks:
    1.)Unboxing of the bits
    2.)Some build pictures
    3.)Technical Bits
    4.)A few benchmarks and general usage impressions.
    5.)Summary

    Right-Ho! Here it goes! Go-go! Gadget Review!



    CAT's A6-3670K review of DOOM!!


    Part One:Unboxing(also known as the unveiling of shiney)

    The first part which we are looking at is the motherboard,the Asus F1A55-M. This based on the A55 chipset which lacks the native SATA3.0 and USB3.0 ports that the A75 based motherboards have.



    The box is full of marketing buzzzzwords including a number of ECO-friendly ones,namely Protect 3.0 which is meant to be reduce power consumption.



    This is further detailed in the back of the box which explains the ECO-bits more clearly and gives you a specifications list of the motherboard.

    Upon opening the motherboard box,you get the following bits:
    1.)A motherboard
    2.)A single SATA cable
    3.)Backplate
    4.)Driver disk and printed stuff
    5.)An Asus case sticker



    Now looking at the motherboard closely,I would say it looks lovely great considering it is a budget board. All solid capacitors and 6 right angled SATA 2.0 connectors are great additions for the price.





    A closeup of the VRM section and motherboard socket. As you can see,the VRM is a 4+1 jobbie.



    Moving over to the backplate,you can see a great amount of connectivity for a £50 motherboard.



    DVI,VGA and HDMI outputs are included. Asus has also added USB3.0 support via a third party controller.

    Looking underneath the motherboard,Asus has included a metal mounting plate for the heatsinks and not a cheaper plastic one which is great!



    Now,lets move over to the APU. AMD supplied the A6-3670K which is the top level A6 APU.

    Some pictures of the packaging indicating that this is a Black Edition CPU with a unlocked multiplier(yay!).





    The additional bumpf indicates you can Crossfire the IGP for some more gaming goodness(double yay!).



    The seal.



    None shall pass - apart from me!!

    Opening up the box - we are greeted with the included bits.



    Basically,one CPU,one cooler,one printed warranty sheet and an AMD case sticker. AMD gives you a three year warranty BTW.

    A closer look at the cooler. It looks rather square.





    The cooler is 5CM in height.

    A few pictures of the supplied RAM. It is made by Patriot.



    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 31-08-2012 at 06:01 PM.


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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    Finally,we get down to the unboxing of the SSD.

    The Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB comes in a very grand looking box.



    The rear of the box highlight all the salient features and parts included:
    1.)One SSD
    2.)One mount adaptor
    3.)External caddy
    4.)USB cable
    5.)SATA cable
    6.)A screwdriver with two bit.
    7.)Two bags of screws

    Upon,opening the box,you are confronted with the SSD which is in a pleasing gunmental colour. It is also made of metal and appears rather solid.



    An overview of the bits included.





    The adaptor is hidden in the foam packaging under the SSD so it is easy to miss.

    Overall,I am quite impressed by the amount of extras,Kingston has supplied with the SSD.

    Now,that is the unboxing finished - stay tuned for more folks!!

    PS:

    Sorry about the state of the floor in some pictures - I need to do some vacuuming this week!!
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 18-07-2012 at 07:59 PM.


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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    Part Two:The build

    Since,the APU will work best with dual channel RAM,I have substituted a pair of Corsair Dominator 2GB 1600MHZ DIMMs for the single 4GB 1600MHZ DIMM supplied.



    The case being used is an Antec NSK4400 with an HX520W modular PSU.



    As you can see the build has not progressed very far!!

    One annoyance,was that the metal for the backplate was rather thin and it tends to bow out a bit!!
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 18-07-2012 at 07:37 PM.


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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    Odd that i ended up with a 2GB stick and not a 4GB stick like yourself :s



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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    Lack of one or two SATA6 ports is a bit disappointing.

    Will look forward to the rest.
    Kalniel: "Nice review Tarinder - would it be possible to get a picture of the case when the components are installed (with the side off obviously)?"
    CAT-THE-FIFTH: "The Antec 300 is a case which has an understated and clean appearance which many people like. Not everyone is into e-peen looking computers which look like a cross between the imagination of a hyperactive 10 year old and a Frog."
    TKPeters: "Off to AVForum better Deal - £20+Vat for Free Shipping @ Scan"
    for all intents it seems to be the same card minus some gays name on it and a shielded cover ? with OEM added to it - GoNz0.

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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    A picture of the SSD plugged into its matching 3.5" bay adaptor. The SATA cable also has matching branding.



    However,I decided to use on of the SATA2.0 cables supplied with the motherboard instead.

    Finally got all the bits plugged in. Cable management is not one of the strong points of the Antec NSK4400.



    The computer - it lives!!

    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 18-07-2012 at 10:10 PM.


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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    Ohhh, everything's so shiny. It's been years since the last time that I unboxed stuffs like that. *Envy* )

    Doing great, man! Will be waiting for the benchmarks

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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    I am so sad,

    Why do i like the screwdriver the most of all from all the pics.

    Good to finally see boards loosing the ide connectors ( probably been gone for a while) . My board still has it at the mo.
    Better to Burn out than Fade Away
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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    I am getting part 3 sorted out ATM and running the CPU benchmarks ATM - I will be including a Core i3 2100 as a comparison. GPU benchmarks might take longer as it would need me to take apart my mini-ITX rig and I need to download the games too!!


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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    You have set the bar high CAT



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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    Quote Originally Posted by deejayburnout View Post
    I am so sad,

    Why do i like the screwdriver the most of all from all the pics.

    Good to finally see boards loosing the ide connectors ( probably been gone for a while) . My board still has it at the mo.
    I think it's always useful to have one IDE on board.

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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    The Asus F1A55-M has a UEFI BIOS meaning you can use your mouse!!

    The previous screenshot is of the default BIOS screen which greets you. If you want to make any changes,then you need to go into advanced mode.















    By default the RAM runs at 1333MHZ,but I made sure it was set to 1600MHZ to give the best bandwidth to the IGP.

    Installing Windows 7 was relatively quick- no doubt helped by the SSD. However,it seems standard utilities like HWMonitor do not give correct temperature readings. Luckily,Asus provides a comprehensive array of bundled software.







    The Asus AI Suite II is pretty useful and has an application which can read the temperatures properly.









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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    Part Three:Technical Bits

    What is an APU??

    APU is AMD nomenclature for Accelerated Processing Unit, a combination of an X86 CPU and a powerful IGP in one processing chip. For the last few years,AMD has been striving to move to a general purpose chip for the mass markets,which would be good at both CPU and graphics heavy workloads,and Zacate and Llano are the first steps in this future. The powerful IGP has enabled entry level gaming to not be the joke it was merely just over two years ago.



    Eventually,AMD is hoping to move towards a model in which both the CPU and GPU are fully merged giving you the best of both worlds. As a move towards this AMD has also implemented measures to use the IGP for general purpose operations via its Heterogenous Systems Architecture plan, which aims to make application workloads easier to implement across both the GPU and CPU.

    The IGP in entry level systems ATM has been massively under utilised for non-gaming applications in the consumer area and with the intiative,AMD hopes to change this by getting more vendors on-board. Among these are applications such as GIMP and HandBrake which will support OpenCL in future builds.

    A closer look at Llano and the FM1 platform

    Llano being a first generation APU,utilises tried and tested technology from previous generations,albeit in tweaked form.



    The Llano A6 and A8 CPUs have 1.45 billion transistors and are produced on Global Foundries 32NM process. Llano uses 4 Husky cores which have a 6% IPC improvement over the previous generation Stars core found in both the Athlon II and Phenom II. Llano has twice the L2 cache found in both the Athlon II X4 and Phenom II X4 but omits the large 6MB of L3 cache found in the latter. Llano is also the first AMD CPU to implement power gating in its cores meaning improved power consumption under lower loads against previous AMD CPUs.




    The A6 and A8 IGPs are code named Sumo and implement the VLIW5 architecture shaders found in both the HD5000 and the majority of the HD6000 series. There are a total of 400 shaders in the A8 which is the same as the Redwood core found in the HD5500 series. The A6 makes do with 320 shaders. However,Sumo has the improved tesselation unit found in the HD6000 series.



    To improve graphics performance in games,the IGP can also be run in Crossfire mode with lower end AMD discrete cards.

    Both the CPU and IGP have access to a 128 bit memory controller which can run upto 1866MHZ DDR3.



    The Llano CPUs use a unique socket,namely,socket FM1. There are two chipsets available. The first is the cost effect A55 and the second,the fully featured A75.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 22-07-2012 at 03:52 PM.


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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    Part Four:A few benchmarks and general usage impressions.

    Here I will be running a few CPU and GPU performance benchmarks on the A6-3670K. These will be compared to the Core i3 2100 I have currently,although the Core i3 2100 is more in line with the A8-3850 and A8-3870K with regards to price. So note this please!!

    The test systems are as follows:
    1.)AMD - A6 3670K,ASUS F1A55-M,4GB 1600MHZ DDR3,Kingston HyperX 120GB,Windows 7 Enterprise
    2.)Intel - Core i3 2100,Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3,8GB 1600MHZ DDR3,OCZ Vertex 60GB,Windows 7 Enterprise

    OK,the systems are not equal in many ways,but I thought it would still worth comparing them.

    CPU benchmarks



    Maxon CineBench 11.5

    Although,rendering is not an typical use of a sub £100 CPU,CB 11.5 does tend to be a good test of floating point power in a CPU.



    We can see here that the A6-3670K ekes out a victory here.


    x264 benchmark



    Now moving over to a more realworld usage scenario which tests video encoding,the A6 3670K loses in the first pass of the encode,but is victorious in the second pass,which is over 70% of the time where the encoding is present.


    HandBrake 0.9.5.

    HandBrake is one of the most common video encoding applications and is a good test for multi-threaded processing ability.

    The conditions are outlined in this thread:

    http://forums.hexus.net/pc-hardware/...ded-power.html



    The A6 3670K is overall faster than a Core i3 2100.


    7-zip compression/decompression benchmark

    7-zip is a widely used file compression and decompression utility and has a handy built-in benchmark.



    The A6-3670K is faster in this benchmark.


    iTunes 10.6.3.25

    Looking at reviews the Core i3 2100 should be ahead,however, the typical usage scenario of ripping a CD is to use a USB or SATA optical drive and do encoding on the fly. Most reviews are probably using WAV rips on the hard disk I suspect.

    An external DVD drive was used in this case. Error correction was enabled and rips were done to 320KBPS AAC encoded files.



    Interestingly,both the times are the same. Hence,it can be concluded that the optical drive is probably the bottleneck in most cases. At some point I will try an internal SATA optical drive to see if there is a difference.


    GPU assisted CPU benchmarks



    Luxmark v2.0

    Luxmark is a rendering benchmark which can use GPU acceleration via OpenCL. The Intel HD2000 IGP in the Core i3 2100 does not support OpenCL ATM.



    Enabling OpenCL acceleration pushes up the score by over 30% compared to the CPU only score. If this sort of improvement can be seen with everyday applications,it will be very useful indeed.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 22-07-2012 at 03:49 PM.


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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD


    GPU benchmarks



    Diablo III

    With over 6 millions sales in a few months,Diablo III is one of the most popular games to be released this year.

    The game was run at 1440X900 at High settings with shadows and clutter switched off. Using FRAPS,a three minute run was done through two areas in Act I. The first was through the Old Ruins and the fields surrounding it . The second was the Cemetary of the Forsaken which has numerous crypts. Both areas have a decent number of spawned enemies.





    In both cases the game was playable with minimum framerates above 30FPS.


    Hard Reset

    Next up is Hard Rest,a game which embraces the gameplay style of the old school of FPS games like Doom. The game is DX9 and was run at 1440X900 with high quality textures,AF switched off,low shadows,high post processing,high particles,default physics and high debris.



    The first graph is from the internal benchmark which is included with the game.



    A FRAPS measurement of a playthough through the first level until the last boss was also performed.

    Although though there were some dips under 25FPS,the game seemed relatively playable still.


    Civilization V

    Civilization V is one of the most popular RTS games ATM with over 9 million sales. The game has various benchmark modes and among them is the late game benchmarks which simulates the game after 300 turns. A FRAPS measurement of the first 60 seconds was made. The game was run at 1440X900 under DX11 with leader scene quality set to low,low overlay detail,shadow quality switched off,minimum fog of war quality,medium terrain detail,low terrain tessellation quality,terrain shader quality switched off and low water quality and high texture quality. High detail strategic view was enabled. AMD driver controlled tessellation was kept activated.



    Framerates hovered about the 30FPS to 35FPS mark. Zooming into parts of the map did reduce framerates though and was slightly jittery. However,the game should be reasonable playable overall.


    DiRT 2

    The final game tested was DiRT 2,which is a racing game. Using the Adrenaline Racing Benchmark tool,different stages of the game were benchmarked using FRAPS. The game was run at 1440X900 using medium quality settings under DX11 with no AA and 8 cars. AMD driver controlled tessellation was kept activated.



    The first track tested was Battersea which is a stadium track which runs at nighttime.



    The second track tested was Utah which is daytime desert track.



    The third track tested was China which is daytime track with a combination of grassland and forest.

    The game seemed quite playable on all tracks with adequate minimum framerates.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 01-08-2012 at 11:08 AM.


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

  20. #16
    Moosekateer CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    • CAT-THE-FIFTH's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Less E-PEEN
      • CPU:
      • Massive E-PEEN
      • Memory:
      • RGB E-PEEN
      • Storage:
      • Not in any order
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVEN BIGGER E-PEEN
      • PSU:
      • OVERSIZED
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    Re: Cat's Hexus A6-3670K self-build AMD APU bundle REVIEW THREAD

    General usage impressions so far...!

    At least in the few days I have used the system,it has been quite nippy indeed. Running firefox with loads of tabs open,image editing software and watching videos were handled fine by the A6-3670K. Considering that this CPU is under £70,it seems rather good value for money.

    I was a bit worried by reports of the stock cooler being not that great,but TBH it does not seem that bad in the Antec and no worse than the Intel heatsinks you get bundled with their chips. However,if you really want a really quiet cooler or overclock,a third party cooler is really needed.

    The UEFI BIOS on the Asus did get a bit of getting used to,but is quite shiny and for a novice is probably easier to navigate which is important.

    Once,I get to run some games on the system I shall report back in the next week or so.

    Summary

    The A6-3670K is no doubt a good alrounder,it has enough CPU horsepower for tasks such as video encoding,and enough graphics power to run some popular games at 1440X900.

    At under £70 from UK retailers,the A6-3670K is ideal for a budget general purpose family PC,and I am excited to see what future APUs such as Trinity will bring to the table.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 01-09-2012 at 02:59 AM.


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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