Video Perspective: AMD A-series APU Overclocking and Gaming Performance

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Processors | July 6, 2011 - 08:15 PM |
Tagged: amd, llano, APU, a-series, a8, a8-3850, overclocking

We have spent quite a bit of time with AMD's latest processor, the A-series of APUs previously known as Llano, but something we didn't cover in the initial review was how overclocking the A8-3850 APU affected gaming performance for the budget-minded gamer.  Wonder no more!

In this short video we took the A8-3850 and pushed the base clock frequency from 100 MHz to 133 MHz and overclocked the CPU clock rate from 2.9 GHz to 3.6 GHz while also pushing the GPU frequency from 600 MHz up to 798 MHz.  All of the clock rates (including CPU, GPU, memory and north bridge) are based on that base frequency so overclocking on the AMD A-series can be pretty simple provided the motherboard vendors provide the multiplier options to go with it.  We tested a system based on a Gigabyte and an ASRock motherboard both with very good results to say the least.  

We tested 3DMark11, Bad Company 2, Lost Planet 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and Dirt 3 to give us a quick overall view of performance increases.  We ran the games at 1680x1050 resolutions and "Medium"-ish quality settings to find a base frame rate on the APU of about 30 FPS.  Then we applied our overclocked settings to see what gains we got.  Honestly, I was surprised by the results.

While overclocking a Llano-based gaming rig won't make it compete against $200 graphics cards, getting a nice 30% boost in performance for a budget minded gamer is basically a no-brainer if you are any kind of self respecting PC enthusiast. 

Source: AMD
July 6, 2011 | 08:39 PM - Posted by Ashwin (not verified)

Love the new video format! The new intro and graphics are much improved :-)

July 6, 2011 | 08:44 PM - Posted by mark (not verified)

Great Video! love the format, keep em comin!

July 6, 2011 | 09:30 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Thanks guys! We worked for a while to find a new intro that wasn't as long as the previous one and I think we found a good mix of "professional" and "edge". :)

July 7, 2011 | 03:14 AM - Posted by wiak (not verified)

what memory speed does it run?, 1866mhz memory gives a nice boost over 1600mhz too

July 7, 2011 | 09:41 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

With the move from 100 MHz base clock to 133 MHz base clock, the memory goes from DDR3-1333 to 1773 MHz or so.

July 7, 2011 | 10:35 AM - Posted by Robert Hallock (not verified)

Really dig the new video format, Ryan. Keep 'em coming.

July 7, 2011 | 02:26 PM - Posted by 30'06 (not verified)

Ryan - excellent video. It is short, to the point while being informative. I especially liked how you showed us what you did to overclock. It appears that Llano has more punch than what is initially thought.

I hope you'll consider doing a segment on the mobile end of things in the near future.

July 7, 2011 | 03:37 PM - Posted by Anon (not verified)

Slick 3D graphs!

July 7, 2011 | 04:58 PM - Posted by lima (not verified)

Is PCIe frequency locked to 100 or it chages with the reference clock?

July 7, 2011 | 06:57 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Yes, it also changes with the reference clock.

July 7, 2011 | 06:32 PM - Posted by Richard (not verified)

Show much more power was used by the PC after the OC???

July 8, 2011 | 12:38 PM - Posted by prinK (not verified)

thanks for the tip pcper! Excellent video.

July 8, 2011 | 12:46 PM - Posted by Acsen (not verified)

you should do a side to side test of how much you will gain by just increasing the DDR3 speed. I think most of the gain was because of that speed (DDR3) increase and not much because of the APU increase speed.

And also include the power before/after the OC
Then again check to see if is worth it (power usage)to just OC DDR3 and not the APU.

Great video!! goes directly to whats important!!!

July 8, 2011 | 04:04 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

We did in our written article actually:

Memory speeds: http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/AMD-3850-Llano-Desktop-Proce...

Power Consumption changes (towards the bottom): http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/AMD-3850-Llano-Desktop-Proce...

July 9, 2011 | 03:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

drop multiplier on sandybridge and up the base clock ..better performance.

July 12, 2011 | 04:49 AM - Posted by stas (not verified)

nice video. well done.

July 13, 2011 | 08:08 AM - Posted by Xtreame96 (not verified)

Ok, so what if you took said CPU, and decided to toss in a $400 graphics card, would the A8 know to offload the work load appropriately to the bigger GPU?

July 17, 2011 | 02:31 AM - Posted by Rebeldawg (not verified)

I believe it all depends on the applications that you use. You could use the integrated gpu to do basic tasks such as
surfing the web, reading emails, ect. on the igpu and when
you do more graphics intensive applications such as games it
powers down the igpu and will use the discreet graphics card
if one is available.

July 17, 2011 | 03:05 PM - Posted by Dillon (not verified)

When overclocking the APU by increasing the BCLK, should I be worried about the northbridge failing? I am a bit worried that speeding up it's clock speeds could result in harmful results, but if you could give me some piece of mind, I would greatly appreciate it!

August 19, 2011 | 07:44 AM - Posted by CeciuS (not verified)

Hi Ryan Shrout, thanks for your great videos!

Can i ask you one question? Im loving watching the new APU performance, and i bought one (3 days to arrive), with these configs:

APU:A8-3850 2.9ghz
Memory: Corsair XMS3 2x2gb DDR3 1333mhz
Motherboard: ECS A75F-A Black Deluxe
Case: Thermaltake V3 Black Edition
PSU: Cooler Master eXtreme Power Plus 400w (its a good one, already had it)

Do you think that this config will run at 3.6ghz with no problem? My memories will have any problem running at 1773mhz, as you said? Thanks! And wish you could do a new video about overclocking both APU and HD6670 to see how it works! sorry for my bad english.

December 8, 2011 | 01:33 AM - Posted by Matt (not verified)

Love this video, exactly what I was looking for.I just had one question, how were the temps after overclocking with the stock fan or did you use an aftermarket?
These APUs are pretty amazing in my eyes and I think they are only scratching the surface of what is to come.
Also, how much of an increase do you think adding one of the discrete cards they recommend would be. More specifically an overclocked Radeon HD6670.

May 29, 2012 | 09:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

k here's my issue i wanna over clock my gpu i have an amd a4 apu 3300
6480
but its a laptop and ive tired afterburn
and so many other programs, but its like its locked at 444mhz and i cant go higher

May 29, 2012 | 09:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i have my amd a4 3300 cpu at 2.8ghz but my gpu is locked on my laptop plz help

March 14, 2013 | 03:48 PM - Posted by Israel (not verified)

i have this amd a8 3850 and the same MB.
After OC the pc doesn´t start, then a warning asking me to restore previous settings. What should i do ?

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