AMD is typically in the looming shadow of Intel, particularly within the previous years. There’s an undeniable gap where processors are concerned, because while we appreciate the ingenuity it’s apparent that healthy revenue and a $16 billion income truly speaks volume. In that respect, AMD is comparatively working with less as the war rages.
But saying that AMD isn’t good because their budget is tighter would be flat out wrong. In fact, that brings us to the A10-7870K A-Series FM2+ Processor which is intended to be a head-on challenger to the popular Intel Core i5, the computing peoples champion against the most expensive Core i3 available. At $139 It offers similar specifications without you having to go broke.
AMD has consistency, and the is A10-7870K unapologetically built from a socket platform called the FM2+. This APU is common and the family lineage has been around in current form since 2013, technically longer if you were to include the original FM1 all the way from 2011. This provides a lot of leeway when pairing the A10-7870K with most AMD motherboards already on sale. However, Intel basically does the same thing — albeit to a slightly less reaching — and pricier degree with their LGA 1150 models.
The advantages are more obvious if you overclock your rig, for which AMD is historically more open towards. We like the fact the A10-7870K will happily let you tinker the base clock speed (3.9GHz/4.1GHz max turbo) thanks to an unlocked multiplier, which will allow you to crank things up within reason (we eventually pushed the A10-7870K up to 4.8GHz). The flipside: you’ll most likely need to invest in an aftermarket CPU cooler to avoid heating issues.
Having a Radeon R7 GPU inside the A10-7870K is another noteworthy perk, although provisional and temporary at best. You’ll get some standard feature which include multi-monitor viewing, FreeSync adaptive refresh synchronization, and CrossFire for simultaneous use of graphic hardware. We also like that AMD does a better job when it comes driver support, with relevant updates and minor performance bumps regularly.
Timing is everything and the A10-7870K does show some age since when compared to Intel systems that were Skylake-based or more evenly matched against existing Broadwell architecture. Our immediate comparison machines were the Intel NUC6i5SYK Core i5, a Dell XPS 13 (Core i5-6200U) and a desktop build featuring a Core i5-6600K processor.
Despite the numbers and the trailing behind Intel, the A10-7870K isn’t necessarily slow and has a level of performance that’s still on par with many laptop and suitable for everyday rigs. AMD even recommends that all money saved from this APU allows you to build around it for extra DDR3 memory and a beefier graphics card.
We moved on to synthetic testing and general benchmarking with FutureMark’s 3DMark software, which often serves as a reference for at-a-glance performance for anything involving graphic rundowns. Here, the A10-7870K and its APU characteristics were roughly in the middle. Our results showed that while good, the AMD was behind the current Skylake-based CPU and its HD Graphics 530.
As stated by AMD themselves, they are proud of A10-7870K’s APU capabilities but completely understand that almost everyone will rely on a separate GPU to handle the workload. And beyond Blu-ray movies and everyday Photoshop tasks, we couldn’t agree more as we played a couple of games. First off was Forza Motorsport 6 Apex which held up well when left to its own devices, 60 frames per second at 1080p (on high settings) was our target but managed at a maximum of 25.45fps, and 38.02fps on the lowest presets. We weren’t surprised by these figures since the amount of detail versus power made the races possible but occasionally choppy.
The most demanding title we decided on was Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 which looks good and firefights that are as busy as they are consistent. This easily taxed the Radeon APU without much effort, and didn’t take much to see the limitations as 1080p on both the high end (17.35fps) and lowest (28.19fps) was feasible but unrealistic to play unless you’re willing to sacrifice more resolution.
Ultra Street Fighter IV served as our basic choice, largely because it’s the oldest game we have and it’s technically simple by design. This is the only title that didn’t disappoint as the gruff, yet slightly-cartoonish visuals wouldn’t exhaust resources. USFIV was the best title for the job of 1080p as high settings netted us 29.36fps while turning the enhancements down ran at 52.93fps. Finally, we have a mostly solid title for this plucky little APU.
Clearly, AMD knows who and what the A10-7870K A-Series FM2+ Processor is intended for. It’s basically a quad-core to undercut the competition. The general performance is on point for a moderate desktop CPU and a value factor that’s hard to ignore…if your budget is super tight. This leaves an APU with tradeoffs in inherent graphical potential, but not in the same league as discrete graphics on a good day. The verdict is this: The A10-7870K works for sub-$500 rigs and a good Radeon card to pair it up with (RX 470/RX 480/R9 390), otherwise your budget build could be somewhat underwhelming.