New Testing Methodology

Every twelve to eighteen months it makes sense to upgrade our test beds in order to best represent what is available on the market. How the upgrade occurs depends on what is being tested, and in the case of our APU reviews it is clear that due to the wide range of graphics options available, as well as at different price points, that we have to adjust our gaming testing.

For 2015 our CPU performance testing regime remains untouched aside from the late 2014 addition of Linux-Bench for a glimpse into Linux based performance. On the gaming side, our games have been updated to the following:

  • Alien Isolation (First Person Survival-Horror)
  • Total War: Attila (Strategy)
  • Grand Theft Auto V (Open World Sandbox)
  • GRID: Autosport (Driving)
  • Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor (Action-Adventure)

Because budgets for gaming graphics cards can vary, or users decide to keep the same card for several generations, we will be testing each of these titles in both low, medium and high end graphics setups. This means we can see where the bottlenecks are for CPU performance at each stage. We have also been able to source both AMD and NVIDIA cards for most of these areas, should one side of the equation scale more than the other.

The GPU sections are split into three based on where they fit in their independent stacks rather than for direct competition:

 - Integrated Graphics
 - ASUS R7 240 2GB DDR3 ($70)
 - Dual Graphics (where applicable)

 - MSI GTX 770 Lightning 2GB ($245-$255 on eBay/Amazon, $330 new)
 - MSI R9 285 Gaming 2GB ($240)

 - ASUS GTX 980 Strix 4GB ($560)
 - MSI R9 290X Gaming LE 4GB ($380)

On the low end, we have selected settings in order to make the current best integrated graphics solutions score between 45 and 60 frames per second. On the mid-range and high-end, we typically pull out 1080p maximum settings or almost-maximum.

The Shadows of Mordor (SoM) benchmark throws up a little interesting teaser as well due to the use of its Dynamic Super Resolution technique. This allows us to render at 3840x2160 (Ultra-HD, or ‘4K’) with our settings despite using a 1080p monitor. As a result, we also test SoM at 4K ultra with our mid-range and high-end graphics setups.

For the high-end setups, as we have managed to source 2 cards of each, means that where applicable we can test both SLI and Crossfire setups. We apply this to Shadows of Mordor at 4K as an extra data point.

For clarity, this means:

R7 240 2GB
Dual Graphics
GTX 770 2GB
R9 285 2GB
GTX 980 4GB
R9 290X 4GB
Alien Isolation 720p Ultra 1080p Ultra 1080p Ultra
Average Frame Rate Average Frame Rate Average Frame Rate
Total War: Attila 720p Performance 1080p Quality 1080p Quality
Average Frame Rate Average Frame Rate Average Frame Rate
Grand Theft Auto V 720p Low 1080p Very High 1080p Very High
Average Frame Rate
%FPS <60 FPS
Average Frame Rate
%FPS <60 FPS
Average Frame Rate
%FPS <60 FPS
GRID: Autosport 1080p Medium 1080p Ultra 1080p Ultra
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate
Shadows of Mordor
720p Low
1080p Ultra
4K Ultra
1080p Ultra
4K Ultra
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate
Average Frame Rate
Minimum Frame Rate

For drivers, we locked down the 350.12 WHQL versions from NVIDIA soon after the launch of GTA V. Similarly, the 15.4 Beta drivers from AMD are also being used. These will remain consistent over the next 12-18 months until the next update.

All of our old (and new) benchmark data, both for CPU and graphics performance, can be found in our benchmark database, Bench.

We have a variety of benchmarks here, including legacy benchmarks such as CineBench 11.5 and TrueCrypt, which are not published in the main review. All CPUs/APUs that have been tested in our new 2015 style will be labeled in the dropdown menus by having its launch price listed, e.g. ’AMD A10-7850K (95W, $173)’. With any luck over the course of the next six months we will be adding new data and re-testing older processors for the database in order for our readers to compare old with new.

AMD A8-7650K Review AMD A8-7650K Test Setup, Overclocking
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  • V900 - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    Nah, you can get a really nice gaming PC for even just 500$... Sure it won't be a octo core CPU, probably not even a quad core, but the performance and graphics will be hard to tell apart from a PS4. Especially once DX12 games become common.

    Yeah, you might get a few more FPS or a few more details in some games on a ps4.

    But just set aside the 10-30$ you save every time you buy a game for a PC vs. a PS4 and you should be able to upgrade your computer in a year or less.
  • V900 - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    For those on a very tight budget, wish for PC games* AND who already have a motherboard that uses the same socket as these APUs, I would add.

    Zen is going to require a new socket, so you're kinda stuck in regards to upgrades from this.

    And if you have to go out and get a new motherboard as well, than it really only makes sense to go for Intel. Yup,

    Skylake is also going to need a new socket, but if you go the Intel route, at least there's a possibility to upgrade to a Haswell i3/i5/i7 from a Pentium down the road, so you have the possibility of a lot more performance.
  • ES_Revenge - Saturday, May 16, 2015 - link

    I don't really get the point of this CPU at all. It comes out, now, in May 2015? And it's really nothing new yet AT bothered to review it? It's a few bucks more than an A8-7600 but it has higher TDP and is otherwise nearly exactly the same. Sure it's unlocked but it doesn't overclock well anyway. Might as well just save the few bucks and the 30W power consumption and get the 7600. OTOH if you want something with better, you'd just go for the $135-140 A10 CPUs w/512 SPs. The 7650K seems to be totally pointless, especially at this point in 2015 where Skylake is around the corner.

    The Dual Graphics scores look pretty decent (other than GTAV which is clearly not working with it), but there's no mention at all in this review about frametime? I mean have all the frametime issues been solved now (particularly with Dual Graphics which IIRC was the worst for stuttering) that we don't need to even mention it anymore? That's great if that's the case, but the review doesn't even seem to touch on it?
  • 1920.1080p.1280.720p - Sunday, May 17, 2015 - link

    For the love of everything, test APUs with casual games. Someone who wants to play something like GTA V is likely going to have a better system. Meanwhile, games like LoL, Dota 2, Sims 4, etc have tons of players who don't have great systems and wouldn't like to spend much on them either. Test games that these products are actually geared towards. I appreciate the inclusion of what the system could become with the addition of differing levels of gpu horsepower, but you are still missing the mark here a bit. Everyone seems to be with APUs and it drives me nuts.
  • johnxxx - Monday, May 18, 2015 - link

    hello , what's the best solution for you ?

    (internet , mail, office , game , listen music and see a movie )

    apu + r7 for dual graphics
    apu + nvidia card
    apu only (oc with a big fan )

    x4 860k + r7
    x4 860k + nvidia card

    or pentium g3xxx + r7
    pentium g3xxx + nvidia card

    or i3 4150 + r7

    thank you very much
  • ES_Revenge - Saturday, May 30, 2015 - link

    A little late but it mainly depends on what R7 you're talking about. If you're talking about an R7 240, then yeah it's better to do dual-graphics, 'cause a 240 on its own is not going to do much for gaming. If you're talking about a single R7 260X or 265 then that's a different story (and a much better idea).

    For gaming, a quad-core CPU really helps for modern games BUT dual-core with HT (like an i3) is quite good too. Dual-core only isn't the greatest of ideas for gaming, TBH. So, ditch the Pentiums and dual-core APUs.

    Out of your choices I'd probably go with the i3 4150 and an R7 260X, R7 265/HD 7850, or GTX 750 Ti. Unless you already have some parts (like the motherboard), this will be the best of your choices for gaming (everything else you listed is no problem for any of those CPUs).

    The i3 4150 is benefits from newer features in Haswell and has HT. Compared to the X4 860K It may still lose out in some [limited] things which really make use of four physical cores, but not very much and probably not anything you'll be doing anyway. The Haswell i3 also uses very little power so it's good in a small/compact build where you want less heat/noise and can't use a large air cooler easily (or just don't want to spend a lot on a cooler).

    If you're talking about an R7 240 though, then go with an A8-7600 and run Dual Graphics. It might be cheaper but it won't be better than the i3 and higher-end R7 card.
  • CVZalez - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    It's time for this so called benchmarks make the scripts and data processed available to the public, for example, is the AgiSoft PhotoScan OpenCL activated in the preferences, if it's not, only the CPU will be used, and it makes an huge difference, we all know what AMD is good at with those APUs, not in the CPU but in the GPU and multithread, I find it hard to believe that Intel i3 had such better results.

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