Dual Graphics dud: Intel clobbers AMD’s A10-7850K in budget gaming – ExtremeTech
One of the appealing features of AMD’s APUs, particularly for cost-conscious buyers, has always been the ability to hook up a second low-end discrete GPU and combine the graphics performance of both the on-board APU and the discrete GPU. The last time we evaluated Dual Graphics performance, we found that an A10-5800K plus an AMD Radeon HD 6570 was a significantly faster solution compared to an Intel Core i5-3550. As AMD’s on-board APUs have become more powerful and available bandwidth has edged up from DDR3-1600 to DDR3-2133, the combination of on-board GPU and discrete graphics card should be even more potent.
AMD only enables Dual Graphics on GPUs up to the R7 250, and it recommends the DDR3 variant of that card for best results. The recent Radeon price cuts, however, have put a twist on the equation. The DDR3-equipped R7 250 that AMD recommends sells for $90 at Newegg. How much of an advantage does this combination offer? Let’s find out.
Challenged on all sides
There are three significant challenges to AMD’s potential budget dominance. First, there’s the fact that AMD’s top-end APU prices are much higher now than they were back in 2012 when we last did this comparison. At $122, the A10-5800K was reasonable deal. The A10-7850K’s $185 is a much tougher pitch, considering that the eight-core FX-8350 is just $199. The A10-7700K is $25 cheaper, but slightly slower (3.5GHz base, 3.8GHz Turbo). It’s price-matched against the FX-8320 — a Piledriver-class CPU with eight cores and a 4GHz max Turbo speed. Clearly AMD wants consumers to see the integrated GPU as deserving almost as much of a premium as four cores worth of CPU performance.
Second, there’s the recent price cuts to AMD’s Radeon family. At $120, the R9 260X is just $40 more expensive than the R7 250. Granted, there are buyers for whom $40 is the difference between affordable and unaffordable, but budget buyers are at least as interested in maximizing performance per dollar as any other buyer — sometimes more.
Finally, there’s the significant price gap between Intel’s lower-end Core i3 processors and the A10-7850K itself. In 2012, the A10-5800K was $122 compared to $185 for a quad-core Intel CPU. Now, it’s the dual-core Intel Core i3-4330 that clocks in at $140 against the A10-7850K’s $185.
Right now, the price bands for CPU/GPU combinations break down as follows:
- A10-7850K (No GPU): $185
- Core i3-4330 + R7 260X: $260
- A10-7850K + R7 250: $275
- A10-7850K + R7 260X: $305
That’s problematic for AMD, for a number of reasons. The budget Intel dual-core CPU with R9 260X is $15 cheaper than the A10-7850K with the R7 250. We’re going to have to see truly excellent scaling to offset that problem.
Next page: Test setup and gaming benchmarks
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