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That doesn’t mean AMD still can’t give Intel a hard time. While AMD can’t compete with the Core i7-3970X or even the Core i7—4770K, the company’s rush to merge CPU and GPU to make the APU has put more pressure on Intel than Intel would probably want to admit.
AMD’s first Brazos APUs, for example, blew away peoples' sales and performance expectations. Since then, AMD has kept its foot on the gas peddle. While it hasn’t eclipsed Intel’s efficiency per core on the x86 side, the graphics portion of the APUs have always lead Intel’s integrated graphics. The company’s Llano parts have been even more competitive, giving up better integrated graphics and fair x86 performance. From Llano, AMD introduced Trinity and the latest sequel: Richland.
Richland doesn’t bring any fancy new 3D transistors or a fabrication process that’s the envy of the technical free world, but it still offers a pretty compelling message: a high-clocked quad-core chip with graphics that’s surprisingly decent.
Since Richland rolled out just as Intel’s Haswell hit, we had a nice set of systems all ready to go for direct comparison using the latest graphics drivers and UEFIs. Obviously, we’re not making a direct comparison between the $142 A10-6800K, $122 Core Core i3-3220 and three Core i7 procs, but since we had the numbers, we’re including them to give users an idea of how much they’re missing and not missing by spending twice or three times as much on a CPU.
Obviously, you need to dig into the details of our tests. But rather than having you click around looking for the conclusion, we’ll just put it right here. Our impression of Richland is generally good. The graphics performance obviously schools the Intel parts that we’ve seen. Intel’s HD5000 and HD5200 is another story, though, but somehow we doubt you’ll get those in $140 CPUs.
Richland’s big problem from the enthusiast perspective is that we don’t quite get it. The APU, when rolled into a NUC-sized or HTPC mini PC, is a pretty damned decent story. What we don’t get is why you’d ever build with a Richland in a full-sized FM2 board. Our instincts tells us to suck it up and build on AM3+ with discrete graphics for maybe $75 more. Talking to motherboard vendors, though, we’ve heard FM2 boards in full ATX are overwhelmingly favored by consumers. That tells us that most of the people buying FM2 systems have very tight budgets, and putting out another $75 for a GPU is out of the question. And that's really the magic of the FM2 platform and Llano/Richland.
For those on very tight budgets, Richland does the job and it does it very well. For those of us with a bit more scratch, we think AM3+ or even LGA1155 is the better choice for a full-sized desktop box.
Click the next page for our Richland Benchmarks.