Video Perspective: AMD A10-4600M vs Core i7-3720QM on Diablo III

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 07:52 AM |
Tagged: video, trinity, Ivy Bridge, Intel, i7-3720QM, diablo iii, APU, amd, a10-4600m

So, apparently PC gamers are big fans of Diablo III, to the tune of 3.5 million copies sold in the first 24 hours.  That means there are a lot of people out there looking for information about the performance they can expect on various harware configurations with Diablo III.  Since we happened to have the two newest mobile processors and platforms on-hand, and because many people seemed to assume that "just about anything" would be able to play D3, we decided to put it to the test.

d3-1.png

In our previous reviews of the AMD Trinity and Intel Ivy Bridge reference systems, the general consensus was that the CPU portion of the chip was better on Intel's side while the GPU portion was still weighted towards the AMD Trinity APU.  Both of these CPUs, the A10-4600M and the Core i7-3720QM, are the highest end mobile solutions from both AMD and Intel. 

d3-2.png

The specifications weren't identical, but again, for a mobile platform, this was the best we could do.  With the AMD system only having 4GB of memory compared to the Ivy Bridge system with 8GB, that is one lone "stand out" spec.  The Intel HD 4000 graphics offer a noticeable upgrade from the HD 3000 on the Sandy Bridge platform but AMD's new HD 7660G (based on Cayman) also sees performance increase. 

d3-3.png

We ran our tests at 1366x768 with "high" image quality settings and ran through a section of the early part of the game a few times with FRAPs to get our performance results.  We did also run some tests to an external monitor at 1920x1080 with "low" presets and AA disabled - both are reported in the video below.  Enjoy!

AMD June Update: Catalyst monthly drops gone, higher clocked 7700, more free games

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 31, 2012 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: dirt showdown, catalyst, amd, 7770, 7750

I just got off the phone with AMD this afternoon as they gave me a quick update on the status of Radeon PC gaming with some interesting news about the low-end HD 7700 cards and the world of Catalyst driver updates going into the future.

amdjune01.png

First up, there a few changes coming to gamers looking at cards in the Radeon HD 7770 series including higher base clocks, higher overclocking potential and the inclusion of a free copy of DiRT Showdown.  When the Cape Verde GPUs first launched in February the default clock speeds were 1.0 GHz on the HD 7770 and 800 MHz on the HD 7750.  Going ahead, the default clocks will be available to AICs at 1.1 GHz and 900 MHz, a 100 MHz clock speed jump for each.  

Along with these base clock increases you'll find that the Catalyst driver will allow you to push the clock speed up a bit higher as well.

Maybe more interesting than all that is many of the new SKUs will be including a free copy of the new DiRT Showdown, a value of $50 according to Steam today.  For a graphics card with a starting price of $109 or $129, a free copy of basically anything is a pretty sweet addition and should entice some people to make the move and upgrade from integrated graphics. 

amdjune03.png

After that good news came some more INTERESTING news about changes to AMD's driver organization going forward.  I have never been shy about sharing my disgust for some of the confusion that AMD's driver numbering systems, in-between and dual releases caused not only reviewers but the consumers we represent.  In an attempt to prevent this again AMD is moving away from the fixed cadence of a monthly Catalyst driver release and instead will move to a "dynamic" schedule.

Starting with driver release 12.6, Catalyst drivers will be released in an on-demand format and will be posted when there is a need for it either with significant performance increases or the release of a new game, etc.  You can see above that they are hoping to make sure that each Catalyst release will "deliver substantial benefit" to consumers as opposed to the monthly releases that might only offer minor changes. 

Here is where I think they are making a mistake: they are still going to be versioned as YEAR.MONTH so you'll see 12.8, 12.11, 13.3, etc types of versions.  But what if you release more than one a month?  Are we going to 12.85?  12.8.1?  If you are skipping the monthly cadence then WHY BOTHER with the "year.month" nomenclature?  Just increase the version in arbitrary amounts like we see with NVIDIA's drivers.  It just makes more sense.

Regardless, I am curious to see how much work AMD continues to put into their driver releases.  When I asked AMD is this meant they were scaling back on resources for the Catalyst team, I was assured that was NOT the case and in anything they were increasing staff in this area.  We'll see over time if AMD's new driver schedule (or lack thereof) benefits gamers.

Source: AMD

Graphics Card (GPU) Stock Check - May 30th, 2012

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 30, 2012 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: stock check, radeon, nvidia, HD 7970, hd 7950, hd 7870, hd 7850, hd 7770, hd 7750, GTX 690, gtx 680, gtx 670, geforce, amd

Due to popular request, I am going to try to keep our readers up to date on the current availability of graphics cards and pricing on the market.  With the recent price drops from AMD, the frequent out-of-stock status of the GTX 680 cards and the release of the GTX 670, I thought this would be a great summary of the current situation.

gtx680_galaxy.jpg

NVIDIA's highest end offering, the GTX 690

We will try to post new updates weekly or maybe more frequently as we see fit.  Newegg is our partner of choice for this today, so let's see what we have.

AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series

Radeon HD 7970 3GB - In Stock
Starting at $469

Radeon HD 7950 3GB - In Stock
Starting at $389

Radeon HD 7870 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $329

Radeon HD 7850 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $249

Radeon HD 7770 1GB - In Stock
Starting at $129

Radeon HD 7750 1GB - In Stock
Starting at $109

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 Series

GeForce GTX 690 4GB - No Stock
Starting at $999

GeForce GTX 680 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $539

GeForce GTX 670 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $399

This week we have some good news!  For two full days (in a row!) NVIDIA has had GTX 680 SKUs in stock at Newegg.com.  The only downside is that two available at the time of this writing (EVGA Superclocked+ and Zotac AMP!) are priced a bit higher thanks to their overclock settings.  The EVGA part has a base clock of 1058 MHz while the Zotac has an impressive 1098 MHz base clock compared to the reference speed of 1006 MHz.  As of this post you can find the EVGA model for $539 and the Zotac option for $549.  We are almost at the point to offering up these cards in our leaderboard...  Gasp!

gtx680_20120530.png

AMD is still doing great on availability with the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950 widely available for the price of $469 / $389 with a set of three free games including DiRT Showdown and Dues Ex: Human Revolution.   

If you are looking for our latest graphics reviews to judge the performance of the above cards, here you go:

AMD and Intel both need to improve their Linux support

Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2012 - 10:00 AM |
Tagged: linux, Intel, amd, Ivy Bridge, llano, opencl

Two different stories today focus on how both major CPU vendors have allowed their support for the new features present in their architectures to fall behind for Linux OSes.  From The Inquirer we hear about the how poor OpenCL support from AMD is leaving APU accelerated computing for Linux to lag behind Windows development.  This goes far beyond purely graphical tasks and the complaints we have heard from gamers as OpenCL is a computing language that can handle far more than just pushing pixels.  The two most common OpenCL applications that people are familiar with are the GPU clients for BOINC and Folding@Home, which enable you to chug work units on your graphics card or the graphics cores on your CPU.  AMD's Neal Robinson who is the current senior director of Consumer Developer Support has taken up the challenge of promoting Linux OpenCL support from within AMD, so keep your eyes peeled for news from his team.

Intel's Ivy Bridge is no better according to Phoronix, as testing shows very little improvement on the default Ubuntu Unity desktop with Compiz.  That is what allows Ubuntu users to show the iconic Desktop Cube on the Gnome desktop environment and using it shows negative effects on the general performance of the system.  Switching to KDE and OpenGL generally resulted in better performance as did Xfce.  Phoronix does not hold out much hope for the improvement of Compiz on Ivy Bridge processors or Intel's open source drivers for the near future, either for graphics or GPU accelerated computation.

xgl-compiz-01.jpg

"For AMD flaky Linux support isn't just a matter of gamers complaining, but now with its APUs, standard applications are simply not making use of the compute power that AMD needs to compete with Intel."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #203 - ASUS N56VM notebook, XFX 7850s and 7870s, Thunderbolt on Windows and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 24, 2012 - 11:59 AM |
Tagged: video, xfx, thunderbolt, podcast, msi, Ivy Bridge, Intel, asus, amd, 7870, 7850, 680

PC Perspective Podcast #203 - 05/24/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the ASUS N56VM notebook, XFX 7850s and 7870s, Thunderbolt on Windows and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano

Program length: 1:12:55

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:02:00 You talked about all the cool stuff last week!
    1. GK110
    2. NVIDIA GRID
    3. AMD Trinity
    4. GTX 670
  6. 0:13:30 Antec High Current Pro Platinum 1000 watt PSU
  7. 0:16:20 ASUS N56VM Ivy Bridge Notebook - our reference system
  8. 0:17:30 XFX HD 7870 and HD 7850 Black Edition
  9. 0:28:25 Unreal Engine 4 Screenshots
  10. 0:31:00 AMD to stop making "needlessly powerful" CPUs
  11. 0:42:00 NVIDIA is not recalling Kepler
  12. 0:45:00 Thunderbolt for Windows from ASUS and MSI announced
  13. 0:48:30 Josh's Banana Phone - VIA $49 Android PC
  14. 0:51:30 Seagate to purchase LaCie
  15. 0:56:30 The discrete graphics card is not dead
  16. 1:02:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Pegasus R4 Thunderbolt External Storage
    2. Jeremy: DeLorean Hovercraft or levitating bed? Or I could go old school.
    3. Josh: Some Thieving Goodies from Way Back
    4. Allyn: Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 - alignment for SSDs integral with partition moves / resizes / etc
  17. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  18. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  19. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  20. Closing

Source:

Graphics Card (GPU) Stock Check - May 23rd, 2012

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 23, 2012 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: stock check, radeon, nvidia, HD 7970, hd 7950, hd 7870, hd 7850, hd 7770, hd 7750, GTX 690, gtx 680, gtx 670, geforce, amd

Due to popular request, I am going to try to keep our readers up to date on the current availability of graphics cards and pricing on the market.  With the recent price drops from AMD, the frequent out-of-stock status of the GTX 680 cards and the release of the GTX 670, I thought this would be a great summary of the current situation.

04.jpg

NVIDIA's highest end offering, the GTX 690

We will try to post new updates weekly or maybe more frequently as we see fit.  Newegg is our partner of choice for this today, so let's see what we have.

AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series

Radeon HD 7970 3GB - In Stock
Starting at $469

Radeon HD 7950 3GB - In Stock
Starting at $389

Radeon HD 7870 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $329

Radeon HD 7850 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $249

Radeon HD 7770 1GB - In Stock
Starting at $129

Radeon HD 7750 1GB - In Stock
Starting at $109

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 Series

GeForce GTX 690 4GB - No Stock
Starting at $999

GeForce GTX 680 2GB - No Stock
Starting at $499

GeForce GTX 670 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $399

In short, nearly two weeks later, nothing has changed.  For NVIDIA neither the GeForce GTX 690 can be found nor can the GTX 680 - a card that launched more than two full months ago.  To say we are disappointed in the capability for NVIDIA to keep up their end of the bargain would be an understatement and explains why we STILL have not used the GTX 680 card in our Hardware Leaderboard!!  The GTX 670 remains in stock though with four models available at Newegg including an overclocked MSI model for hte $399 MSRP.  Considering this might be our new favorite GPU, that is good news at least. 

AMD is still doing great on availability with the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950 widely available for the price of $469 / $389 with a set of three free games including DiRT Showdown and Dues Ex: Human Revolution.   

If you are looking for our latest graphics reviews to judge the performance of the above cards, here you go:

Author:
Manufacturer: XFX

XFX Throws into the Midrange Ring

Who is this XFX? This is a brand that I have not dealt with in a long time. In fact, the last time I had an XFX card was some five years ago, and it was in the form of the GeForce 8800 GTX XXX Edition. This was a pretty awesome card for the time, and it seemed to last forever in terms of performance and features in the new DX 10 world that was 2007/2008. This was a heavily overclocked card, and it would get really loud during gaming sessions. I can honestly say though that this particular card was troublefree and well built.

xfx_r7800_01.jpg

XFX has not always had a great reputation though, and the company has gone through some very interesting twists and turns over the years. XFX is a subsidiary of Pine Technologies. Initially XFX dealt strictly with NVIDIA based products, but a few years back when the graphics market became really tight, NVIDIA dropped several manufacturers and focused their attention on the bigger partners. Among the victims of this tightening were BFG Technologies and XFX. Unlike BFG, XFX was able to negotiate successfully with AMD to transition their product lineup to Radeon products. Since then XFX has been very aggressive in pursuing unique designs based on these AMD products. While previous generation designs did not step far from the reference products, this latest generation is a big step forward for XFX.

Click to continue reading the entire review.

AMD will not chase Intel making "needlessly powerful" CPUs

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | May 19, 2012 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, trinity, cloud computing, cloud, amd

Bloomberg Businessweek reports AMD CEO Rory Read claims that his company will produce chips which are suited for consumer needs and not to crunch larger and larger bundles of information. They also like eating Intel’s bacon -- the question: is it from a pig or a turkey?

Read believes there is “enough processing power on every laptop on the planet today”.

I disagree.

The argument revolves around the shift to the cloud, as usual. It is very alluring to shift focus from the instrument to the data itself. More enticing: discussing how the instruments change to suit that need; this is especially true if you develop instruments and yearn to shift anyway.

amd-new.png

Don’t question the bacon…

AMD has been trusting that their processors will be good enough and their products will differentiate in other ways such as with graphics capabilities which they claim will be more important for cloud services. AMD hopes that their newer laptops will steal some bacon from Intel and their ultrabook initiative.

The main problem with the cloud is that it is mostly something that people feel that they want rather than actually do. They believe they want their content controlled by a company for them until it becomes inaccessible temporarily or permanently. They believe they want their information accessible in online services but then freak out about the privacy implications of it.

The public appeal of the cloud is that it lets you feel as though you can focus on the content rather than the medium. The problem is that you do not have fewer distractions from your content -- just different ones -- and they rear their head once or twice in isolation of each other. You experience a privacy concern here and an incompatibility or licensing issue there. For some problems and for some people it makes more sense to control your own data. It will continue to be important to serve that market.

And if crunching ends up being necessary for the future it looks like Intel will be a little lonely at the top.

Get right to the gaming, AMD vs NVIDIA showdown

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 18, 2012 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: gtx 680, gtx670, hd7970, amd, nvidia

Ryan pitted the GTX670 and GTX570 against each other to show that in terms of gaming performance the GTX670 is a viable upgrade. [H]ard|OCP did something similar, testing the GTX670 and 680 against the HD7970 in a gaming performance showdown.  For those who are only interested in gaming performance they've assembled a great breakdown of four popular games at a variety of resolutions and both at stock clocks and the best OC they could manage.  The results are clear, for gamers it is NVIDIA with the clear win, with the GTX670 being a better value than the HD7970 and the GTX680 being a better performer.

a_winner_is_you_1024.jpg

"Wondering how the GeForce GTX 680 and GeForce GTX 670 compare to the Radeon HD 7970 and Radeon HD 7950 at stock frequencies as well as overclocked? You ask for it and we have done just that. Hold onto your hard earned cash and take note of just how the new GeForce GTX 670 compares with the rest of the competition."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD Launches 2nd-Generation A-Series APU

Subject: Processors | May 15, 2012 - 11:28 AM |
Tagged: amd, APU, trinity

AMD today announced the widely anticipated launch of its 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) for mainstream and ultrathin notebooks, All-in-One and traditional desktops, home theater PCs and embedded designs.

apumodels.png

The 2nd-Generation A-Series APU, codenamed “Trinity”, is a grounds-up improved design over the previous generation, enabling a best-in-class PC mobility, entertainment, and gaming experience. New features of the product design include:

  • Double the performance per watt of the previous generation;
  • The AMD HD Media Accelerator with a unique set of technologies designed to optimize video quality available with premium and Internet video content, and accelerate video file conversion;
  • An increase in CPU performance of up to 29 percent with higher processor speeds thanks to the next-generation AMD “Piledriver” CPU core with 3rd-Generation AMD Turbo Core technology, where power is dynamically shifted between the CPU and GPU depending on application needs, effectively providing a more responsive experience that can boost CPU frequencies to up to 3.2 GHz;
  • AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series graphics for an increase of graphics performance up to 56% over the previous generation. Combined, the CPU and GPU cores deliver more than 700 gigaflops of computing performance – several times more than the fastest x86 CPUs – to boost performance of hundreds of applications;
  • Up to 12 hours of battery life through CPU and GPU power enhancements, with clear battery life leadership in notebook form factors.

“The latest OEM notebooks, ultrathins, All-in-Ones and desktops based on the new AMD A-Series APU enable the best video and gaming experiences, highly responsive performance with AMD Turbo CORE, and accelerate an ever-increasing range of productivity and multimedia applications -- in sleek, stylish designs at price points that make sense,” said Chris Cloran, corporate vice president and General Manager, AMD Client Business Unit. “Our 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU is a major step forward in every performance and power dimension, allowing users to enjoy a stunning experience without having to give up the things that matter to them most. This experience doesn’t stop at mainstream notebooks. It carries over into affordable ultrathin form factors featuring the latest in AMD Radeon graphics.”

The Growing AMD Accelerated Application Ecosystem
The developer ecosystem continues to gravitate to the unmatched level of compute and unique processing capabilities of the APU as more than 100 applications and games are now accelerated by AMD APUs. The 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU gives users superior Web-based video experience thanks to plug-ins for Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer 9 that make it easy for consumers to turn on AMD Steady Video technology. Recent applications that have been optimized for use on AMD A-Series APUs include Adobe Photoshop CS6, WinZip 16.5 and VLC Media Player. AMD A-Series APUs are also well-positioned to take advantage of the upcoming transition to the Windows 8 operating system.

“We are excited for the introduction of the 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU and are confident it will continue the great work Microsoft and AMD have done together on the A-Series APU,” said Aidan Marcuss, senior director, Windows Business Planning, Microsoft Corp. “We look forward to seeing the A-Series APU in action with Windows 8 to deliver a great user experience across a variety of hardware.”

For developers who want to engage in the industry’s move toward heterogeneous computing, the upcoming AMD Fusion12 Developer Summit will offer them a unique opportunity to enhance their knowledge base. More information on AFDS can be found here.

Unmatched Mobility
With more than 12 hours of ‘resting’ battery life, AMD is now an industry leader in notebook battery-life performance. The 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU delivers increased levels of performance, while consuming half the power as its predecessor.

These gains can be attributed to the new power-optimized “Piledriver” CPU core, as well as to AMD Start Now technology, which is designed to maximize system responsiveness by quickly entering and exiting low power states. With AMD Start Now, the computer resumes from sleep mode in as few as two seconds and boots to the desktop in as few as 10 seconds.

In ultrathin form factors, AMD enables an uncompromised visual experience thanks to a power-efficient and premium AMD Radeon graphics engine. Consumers can expect to see ultrathin notebooks based on dual-core 17-watt and quad-core 25-watt AMD A-Series APUs. These products will be easily identifiable by aluminum-styled VISION Technology stickers at a range of competitive price points.

Best-in-class Entertainment
As more and more people turn to their computers as the hub for their entertainment, the visual aspect of computing becomes ever more important. To enhance these capabilities, AMD created the AMD HD Media Accelerator – a unique set of technologies that enable the best video quality on a PC. Key features of the HD Media Accelerator include:

  • AMD Perfect Picture HD – An image, video processing and display technology that automatically makes images and video better with color vibrancy adjustments, edge enhancement, noise reduction and dynamic contrast fixes;
  • AMD Steady Video Technology – A technology that enables smooth playback of jittery video content with a single button click thanks to plug-ins for popular Web browsers and multimedia applications;
  • AMD Quick Stream Technology – A new technology that prioritizes video streaming on PC systems for a smooth, virtually uninterrupted video stream; True HD video chat with up to four people at once;
  • AMD Video Converter – A video compression engine for fast conversion and sharing of media files across multiple formats and devices; Full decode support for H.264, MPEG-2, VC-1, MVC, DivX and WMV.

Gaming Leadership
The 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU builds on AMD’s legacy of gaming leadership with an increase in graphics performance of up to 56% over the previous generation and support for:
AMD Eyefinity Technology – For the first time, this immersive technology is available from an APU without the need for a discrete graphics card Performance-leading DirectX 11 graphics architecture and 1080p gaming a life-like level of detail; AMD Radeon dual graphics support that delivers a performance boost of up to 75 percent when adding a discrete graphics card to the APU.11 The AMD Radeon dual graphics option also offers support for DirectX 9 for older game titles, and uses new AMD CrossFire Technology Profiles for easier updates.

Source: AMD