If you’re currently using a PS4 or Xbox One, you probably know what an APU is. If you don’t, well then, an APU is an accelerated processing unit. It is basically a standard CPU but where the cores work together to create an as smooth as possible gaming experience.
The world’s main APU fabricator is of course AMD. And they sent us in one of their newer APU’s to review. The AMD A8-7670K.
The AMD A8-7670K is an APU of the Godavari kind. Some other members of the Godavari family are the A10-8850K and the A8-8650K. So you could say the A8-7670K is one of their “brothers”.
But with all those amazing new graphics cards, such as the AMD R9 390X or the Nano, why would you want to buy an APU? Well, the main reason people buy APU’s these days, is money. Most APU’s don’t cost more than $200. And for those 200 dollars, you get both a standard CPU and a “GPU”.
AMD heard the public’s prayers and started producing the A8-7670K. The A8-7670k, currently being sold for $116.93 on Amazon, is one of the cheapest solutions around.
So let’s talk specs here. What makes this APU tick? Well, the clock of course. The AMD A8-7670K has a clock speed of 3.6 GHz. This might seem high for a $117 quad core processor. But a high clock speed is needed when using an APU. The APU has to work much faster than a dedicated CPU to be able to do the graphical calculations, and the go through all the instructions being in the CPU’s register. But to keep this register full, you need to be able to pump in data as fast as possible as well. That’s why high speed RAM is needed when using an APU. Sadly enough, the APU was mounted on a motherboard when I was given it to review. The massive Scythe cooler attached to that motherboard, could not be removed without the proper key, which I didn’t have. So I only got the test the APU using the provided low profile 1600 MHz RAM.
But if you’re planning on buying an APU, make sure you buy the fastest possible RAM you can, and don’t forget to look for a good cas latency as well.
The AMD A8-7670K is a 64 bit chip, such as most processors these days. But let us talk about the more interesting part of the APU, the integrated graphics, or iGPU. The AMD A8-7670K is equipped with Radeon R7 series iGPU cores. These run at a base frequency of 757 MHz and have 384 shader units. It has a solid 10 of these, additional to the 4 CPU cores.But let’s be honest, you’re not going to play any demanding games with it. And before you say: “well you can if you use really high end RAM.”. The answer still is no. When testing the APU I thought to myself: “hey, even though this only has 1600 MHz RAM right now, would it still be able to run a more demanding game, such as Dragon Age inquisition?”. That question was quickly answered by a blue screen, so don’t bother trying. What it will run however, using higher speed RAM, is less demanding games such as Dota, Minecraft and even Skyrim appeared to be playable for a second.
But games such as GTA V, I wouldn’t hope for it. The mere 4 MB of L2 cache, won’t help you either.
When I said: “get the fastest RAM possible”, I didn’t mean DDR4 or anything. Because, as with any budget CPU, there is a limit to how fast the RAM can be. The limit in this case is 2133 MHz, and it can’t be anything else than DDR3. So you are still limited to how fast your RAM is. But 2133 MHz should, in theory, be more than enough. AMD even makes RAM specifically for APU’s, it’s called AMD Radeon memory. If you’re looking for 2133 Mhz RAM, the Gamer Series RAM by AMD will probably be what you’re looking for.
What this APU does excel at, is power consumption. The A8-7670K has a very low TDP value of 95W, making it great for those among us working on a budget that do not want to buy an 850W power supply to run those two 280X’s in a crossfire. Of course, with more power usage, come better graphics. But then again, if you’re solely a MOBA player, do you really need that extra performance?
But all of this means probably nothing to you, you can’t see how well a CPU performs, until you actually test it. So here are some more representative numbers.
For some reason the A8 handled Portal 2 quite well. So we were kind of suprised by that. But all the other games were barely playable when using the 1600 MHz. To see how different the performance would be when using higher speed RAM, we highly advice you take a look at Robbie's review of the A8-7870K here. And for those who want to see how it handled being benchmarked using 3Dmark...
So do we here at BHT advice you to get yourself one of these APU’s? Well, if you don’t mind blatant frame rates every now and then, sure go right ahead. But if you’re a true gamer, we would not advice you get one of these. AMD has many more products available and is known for making amazing graphics cards. So to future proof your PC and just to be better off in the end, you’d rather get yourself an actual dedicated CPU and GPU. AMD has some amazing budget GPU for sale, such as the R9 270. And if you have a bit more money to spend, get yourself an R9 290. But I wouldn’t use this for anything else than a HTPC. As with every item on BHT, that just "does what it's supposed to do", we are giving it a bronze award.