When looking to build your ultimate gaming PC, there’s definitely a wide range of choices on the market regarding the type of processor to use. There’s the standard central processing unit (CPU), which requires a separate, dedicated graphics accelerator card (GPU). And then there’s chip maker AMD’s Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), which combines both CPU and GPU into one. These can range from low-power and low-speed to truly high-end overclocked units. Accordingly, AMD has split their APU’s into three different product lines, and the type you select will depend on the features you need and the price you’re willing to pay. Things are further complicated by them being broken down into code names (Trinity, Llano, Richland, Kabini, etc) based on which core generational architecture the platform is developed on. Of the three main product lines, only the A- Series are considered worthy gaming APU’s.
AMD A- Series
There are at least two dozen models in this APU series, ranging from A4 and A6 through to A8 and A10 designations. In this case, we’ll examine the higher end A8 and A10 chips as not all of them are appropriate for high-end graphics usage. Most of them offer multi-core CPU’s and GPU’s, making them excellent for graphics but as they run at higher power they’ll likely make a dent in your electricity bill. We’ll take a look at some of them and determine which model makes the best overall AMD APU for gaming.
The A8-7600 is the entry level into the gaming APU niche at a relatively low power level. It’s a 45W chip that incorporates 10 cores (4 CPU, 6 GPU), 3.1GHz clock as well as featuring a 3.8GHz “turbo mode”, varying the clock speed depending on the power requirements. The GPU speed of 720MHz is sufficient for lower to mid-range games, but will struggle with higher end, more intensive gameplay. Still, the model does take advantage of Radeon’s R7 graphics rendering and makes a good entry into the gaming market if you only need minimal graphics requirements.
The A8-7670 is an affordable entry into the mid- to high-end A8 Series. It’s aimed at those looking to create budget gaming PC’s and runs on 10 separate cores (4 CPU, 6 GPU). The clock speed of 3.6GHz isn’t bad, but it isn’t spectacular either. And its GPU speed of 757MHz is no slouch, but faster is available elsewhere. Despite these limitations, it’s still a capable processor, taking advantage of AMD’s Virtual Super Resolution. However, you can expect this chip to run at approximately 30fps, well below the 60fps that virtually guarantees you’ll be able to play any game. It’s at the bottom end of what’s considered playable for all games, so take that into account before you buy.
Ranging in clock speeds from 3.8GHz to “turbo” mode at 4.2GHZ, the A10-5800 is definitely a step in the right direction for any gaming PC. The GPU runs at 800MHz, which is a definite upgrade over the A8 series. This APU is the “budget” version at the higher end A10 level, and it’s an excellent starting point for any serious gamer. Depending on the power setting, and assuming that you provide it with a decent amount of RAM, it’s capable of running between 60 to 80fps, and is more than able to handle most graphics-intensive games. All in all, it’s a great entry-level chip at the higher end of the scale and is very likely to provide great performance for most games.
While the A10-7800 may lack overclocking ability, it’s not to say that it isn’t a very capable APU. On the plus side, it has a lower power mode that will help to avoid taking a chunk out of your wallet while still yielding pretty good performance. Even in lower power mode, it produces 1080p imagery at a fairly decent rate. Depending on the power mode you choose, its clock rate can vary anywhere from 3.5GHz to 3.9GHz. It also offers a choice of power settings, between 45 or 65W. As long as you use medium power settings, it should be able to handle pretty much anything that you throw at it. Finally, it’s one of the first in the line of A- series chips that’s able to handle the newer FM2+ sockets, which is a definite plus to anyone using a newer motherboard. 12 cores (4 CPU, 8GPU) gives it a lot of power underneath the hood. A higher degree of fast RAM is necessary to bring out the best in this APU, but all things considered, its speed, performance, variable power levels and diverse nature makes it an excellent overall gaming APU.
The A10-7870 has many advantages over its A10 brethren, most notably its ability to overlock the unit. The base clock speed comes in at 3.9GHz, however, some users have reportedly been able to overclock it to the point of coaxing as much as 4.7GHz out of it. Not only that but independent tests have shown that it greatly exceeds rival Intel’s HD graphics processors and wins hands down. However, there’s still some speculation as to whether the GPU speed of 866 MHz can handle the most demanding of gaming titles. As for frame rate, AMD claims that it can handle 89fps for certain games. For the price, though, it’s definitely a worthy APU to consider.
My Recommended AMD APU
When choosing a gaming APU, there’s a lot of factors to consider. We’ve looked at such features as price, performance and features, most notably the speed of the CPU portion as well as the GPU ability. Most of these APU’s operate in a range of speeds, but speed alone isn’t the be all and end all. Ultimately it boils down to how capable the unit is with regard to handling the highest level of gameplay. Although the highest-priced APU on this list comes in at around $134 (the A10-7870), the extra cost is not necessarily justified by the extra features. Overall, the APU that represents the best value would seem to be the A10-7800. Coming in at just over $100, it’s less than the 7870 yet falls within the same range of specs. And even though it can’t be overclocked like the 7870, its top speed of 3.9GHz makes it a more than capable chip that should perform admirably in virtually any type of gaming situation.
What Should You Expect When Getting an APU?
If you’re building a gaming PC to play games like Minecraft and LOL (league of legends), then an APU is a great buy as it allows you to keep the costs of a build down dramatically. However, if you’re trying to play triple A title games at anything higher than low settings (maybe medium in some cases), then an APU is not for you. I’m not trying to deter you from getting this; I just want you to know what you’re getting before you end up disappointed. All in all, though, for what you get APU’s are more than worth the cost as they make PC gaming much more affordable for those who don’t have the steep budgets that higher-end gaming PC’s cost
Honestly, While AMD APU’s can be very useful in cheap gaming PC builds, if you’re looking for something that’s going to play games for a long time I’d check out my $500 Gaming PC Build below. It’s not only affordable but also has all the style and power you could want. Not to mention, that there are two PC builds instead of one giving you even more options.
If you have any questions about AMD APU’s or would like to just discuss them, feel free to leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Don’t forget to like and share this post if it helped you in any way!