AMD AM1 Platform and Athlon 5350 with GTX 750 Ti - 1080p at under $450

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

AM1 Walks New Ground

After Josh's initial review of the AMD AM1 Platform and the Athlon 5350, we received a few requests to look at gaming performance with a discrete GPU installed. Even though this platform isn't being aimed at gamers looking to play demanding titles, we started to investigate this setup anyway.

While Josh liked the ASUS AM1I-A Mini ITX motherboard he used in his review, with only a x1 PCI-E slot it would be less than ideal for this situation.

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Luckily we had the Gigabyte AM1M-S2H Micro ATX motherboard, which features a full length PCI-E x16 slot, as well as 2 x1 slots.

Don't be mistaken by the shape of the slot though, the AM1 chipset still only offers 4 lanes of PCI-Express 2.0. This, of course, means that the graphics card will not be running at full bandwidth. However, having the physical x16 slot makes it a lot easier to physically connect a discrete GPU, without having to worry about those ribbon cables that miners use.

Continue reading AMD AM1 Platform and Athlon 5350 with GTX 750 Ti - 1080p at under $450!!

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The Gigabyte board will be paired with the same APU that Josh tested, the Athlon 5350. At just under $70, he found this processor to be a quite impressive performing option. Also important is to keep in mind that the TDP of this part is just 25W, making heat and noise virtually unnoticable.

Now that we had the motherboard and the processor picked out, we needed to pick the discrete GPU to pair them with. Since we are going on a power efficiency kick here with a 25W CPU, we decided to go with one of the most power efficient GPUs ever, the NVIDIA GTX 750 Ti.

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In our previous testing of the 750 Ti with high performance CPU platforms, we determined that it could play just about any game at 1080P on high image quality settings smoothly. We didn't quite know what to expect from such a lower performing CPU option though.

What we found surprised me, and provided some interesting commentary on the world of gaming performance.

While we already recently proved that a low end CPU option can still be great for gaming at 1080P, I figured that there was no way such a low-power, productivity-targeted platform could be effective for gaming.

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While there are a few outliers that we will talk about a little later, the performance for most of our standard graphics benchmarking games was impressive. Games like Battlefield 4 and Crysis 3 see little to no difference going from the high-end Intel Core i7-3960X processor to the AMD Athlon 5350. This is an impressive feat, when you consider we are comparing a part that retailed for $1000 when it launched, to a $65 CPU.

If you look at other games on this list like Bioshock Infinite, Metro: Last Light, or GRID2, you see a 8-10FPS gap from the i7-3960X to the Athlon 5350. While a performance decrease like this would be noticable, these tests are being done at the highest image quality settings at 1080P. If you dialed the quality settings down a bit then you could get a perfectly playable experience out of the AM1 platform with the 750Ti.

Then there are the games such as Civilization 5, Hitman: Absolution, and Skyrim. These games are highly CPU-limited and it shows in this round of testing. While you could still adjust settings with these games to get a good experience, you can obviously see that these situations are where a higher end CPU makes a substantial difference.

This discrepancy in results brings up some interesting things about the state of PC gaming performance. While "flagship" titles such as Crysis 3 and Battlefield 4 are highly dependent on your GPU to create great visual effects and seemingly will run on any CPU, there are hugely popular games like Civilization 5 and Skyrim which heavily depend on the CPU to provide their gameplay experiences.

This makes it difficult to strike a good medium between CPU power, GPU power, and price in a low cost gaming machine, and forces you to take an impossible look at what games you may want to play in the future.

  AM1 Platform
Processor AMD Athlon 5350 APU - $65
Motherboard Gigabyte AM1M-S2H - $35
Graphics EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti - $150
System Memory Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 4GBx1 - $38
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB - $50
Power Supply  Cooler Master GX 450W - $50
Case Cooler Master N200 MicroATX - $50
Price $440 -

If you don't already have a copy of Windows, and don't plan on using Linux or SteamOS, you'll need an OEM copy of Windows 8.1 - currently selling for $98

Here is a sample system that we built around the Athlon 5350. As you can see, for under $450 without an Operating System, you can experience the great 1080P performance we detailed above.

Things like the case, amount of RAM, as well as the Hard Drive (maybe put some of your savings into an SSD?) are up to personal choice and will vary from person to person, but this a quick overview of a viable system built around this platform.

The 450W power supply is complete overkill for a machine which should draw about 150W at a maximum, but we thought it important to go with a high quality power supply that will have a lower chance of failing and taking all of your components with it.

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Now here comes the tough question. Would I recommend a similar setup for people looking to build a gaming computer? Probably not. I don't like the uncertainly concerning being able to play all current titles, and games that may be released in the future.

With more powerful CPUs being introduced in the Xbox One and PS4, we may see a trend towards games using more CPU power, and it would be a shame to see this platform not being able to hold it's own after a year or so.

That being said, if the option is between no gaming computer and something built around the AM1 platform, I would probably lean towards the later. By turning down image quality settings, and potentially resolution, you should be able to get at least a playable experience in most games.

I would also look towards the AM1 platform for things like Home Theater PCs or Steam Machines. If you are already looking at building a computer to keep hooked up to your TV, it would be worth it to take a look at the Athlon 5350 and a GPU like the GTX 750 Ti. With little sacrifice for space, power, and heat, you could have a HTPC which can hold it's own while gaming, as opposed to having to depend on a technology like Steam In-Home Streaming.

Regardless, the AMD Athlon 5350 continues to surprise me and I think this is a great preview of what low-power computing platforms can truly be capable of today.

April 21, 2014 | 10:49 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How about throwing in a 780ti or 295x2, as long as we're talking about systems that no one would ever build or buy. You could simultaneously test out NVIDIA's DX11 claims and Mantle using true CPU-limited/GPU-unlimited scenarios.


April 21, 2014 | 10:50 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Not a horrible idea! 

April 21, 2014 | 10:51 AM - Posted by Roshan Kalyan (not verified)

i second what anon said

April 21, 2014 | 01:10 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I would like to see it compared with some equivalent AMD descrete SKU, as any review should always compare AMD's to Nvidia's descrete offerings. Does the athlon 5350 have the ability to crossfire with an AMD descrete SKU on this motherboard?

April 22, 2014 | 11:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Crossfire? no.

May 7, 2014 | 12:27 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

yes it does.. although with the cards it is compatible with.. a discrete gpu would in most cases be much better.

March 16, 2015 | 04:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A lot of people who don't have money use 5350's especially in developing countries. I've seen videos of people getting 30fps with a6 kaveris and 5350's using the chip alone.

Also they're great just for basic media usage and web browsing.
That said, with mantle and vultan. It won't matter what CPU you have anymore.

April 21, 2014 | 10:49 AM - Posted by Roshan Kalyan (not verified)

can you run this test again but see how the mantle performance affects it? in bf4 and thief?

Since this could actually be a usable system for the future gaming with dx12 and mantle both going for better cpu optimization?

April 21, 2014 | 11:25 AM - Posted by Collie (not verified)

It's a nvidia card, mantle is amd gpu only

April 23, 2014 | 06:15 AM - Posted by Roshan Kalyan (not verified)

its only a matter of time like physX

April 21, 2014 | 10:54 AM - Posted by derz

Very interesting find Mr Addison and an easy to read article. We may have the next joshwalrath in the making here guys.

April 21, 2014 | 11:04 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

In addition to the tests suggested in the other comments this would also be a good opportunity for Frame Rating. Some of
those averages look similar but there is no way they are as smooth (as variable).

April 21, 2014 | 12:03 PM - Posted by Searching4Sasquatch (not verified)

Would be interesting to compare with a Core i3

April 21, 2014 | 12:22 PM - Posted by collie (not verified)

but will it blend?

April 21, 2014 | 02:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Do you mean In a Blender, or Blender 3d render? AMD and Nvidia you better get your OpenGL, etc. and other driver ducks in order, The Low cost Open source softwere market will sell a lot of GPU SKUs now that M$ is not the only game in town! Think of Steam OS, and the Boxes, and many people use Gimp, and Blender 3d, for gaming and more, and android just does not fit the bill for everyone on PC/Laptops/tablets, and no Gimp, Blinder3d or inKscape, NO BUY, for me. Full Linux distro(no Unity) or bust. Steam OS is going to be great for more than just gaming.

April 21, 2014 | 02:58 PM - Posted by Collie (not verified)

In a blender. But you do make a good point.

April 21, 2014 | 01:05 PM - Posted by JohnGR

Keep the tests/articles with AM1 coming. AMD has managed to create something really interesting after just too much time. I think AM1 will become more popular as a subject than Kaveri in no time. Of course the absent of A8-7600 in the market is a reason for the limited, I believe, REAL interest in Kaveri.

Also this article shows how wrong are many who usually advice people to upgrade their platforms before going to a faster gaming card thinking that anything from AMD or anything lower than a I5 will utterly destroy the potential of a good graphics card in games.

March 16, 2015 | 05:06 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

My niece bought a laptop with that a8 7600 and it's really good. She does all her schoolwork and plays games on it.

April 21, 2014 | 01:52 PM - Posted by jacobyte (not verified)

could you add arma 3 to your benchmarks.As folk that listen to your reviews are of a higher intellect than your average gamer and arma 3 is one of those games they play ..

April 21, 2014 | 04:32 PM - Posted by snook


employer: so, what hobbies/interest do you have outside of work?

intellectual: computer tech and I play ARMA III.

employer: ARMA III!!?!?!?!?!! which corner office do you want ??? look guys, he plays ARMA III. he is so intellectual!!!!!!!!

crowd faints in awe.


April 22, 2014 | 11:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

LOL, I just pictured it in my head :D

April 24, 2014 | 02:51 PM - Posted by Wingless (not verified)

I'm a Cisco network admin, building gaming PCs is my hobby, and I play ARMA3! Don't make fun gawdammit.

ARMA3 cannot be played effectively by lowly CoD filth...

April 21, 2014 | 06:51 PM - Posted by Maximum90 (not verified)

My honest opinion is that no one should ever consider this platform for a gaming PC. Out of the current cheap builds demonstrated on this site lately, I found the Haswell Pentium option to be the minimum I could recommend. At least that system can be upgraded substantially in the future with i5 or i7 cpus, and it will support graphics cards that need the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 in the future. I gave my old 7-year-old Core 2 duo PC to my wife, and it is still faster than what the AM1 is able to produce. Her computer can run all current games at 1080p above 30 fps and many above 60 fps. The only upgrade I've had to make on it in 7 years was a faster GPU, and the original build was around $600. I don't have much more I can upgrade on it, so she will need a new build in the next couple of years. But looking back, I'm glad I purchased a cpu and motherboard combo that has lasted nearly a decade.

For people who want to get into pc gaming that are truly on a tight budget, I would suggest they start with a strong foundation (even if that means integrated graphics for a few months) as the top priority. That way they can expand on their build over time instead of having to start over again from scratch a year or two later.

April 22, 2014 | 09:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It would be valuable if you could benchmark same platforms and same games at low graphics settings, say, 1280x800 low-quality. It would show which games (if any) don't improve on AM1 due to insufficient CPU.

April 22, 2014 | 05:23 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I think the GTX 750 TI is a bad choice for the price ($150), as you can easily get an AMD card with Mantle support which will be allot faster but use slightly more power.. Which I think is well worth it as this AM1 is about price NOT Efficiency

April 23, 2014 | 12:23 PM - Posted by Jason (not verified)

It would be nice to see a R7 265 thrown into the mix since its more readily available and at this price point. Thanks.

April 24, 2014 | 11:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I would also like to see this explore a bit more. Perhaps some discussion of the potential to upgrade the process in the future. Is the community expecting future updates to include more PCI lanes, dual channel memory, higher clock, or more cores? Could this be a system that could grow as a low-cost steambox project?

April 29, 2014 | 11:48 AM - Posted by Onus (not verified)

There are power-limited situations (e.g. solar systems) where AM1 plus a GTX750 or HD7750 would be the most you'd be able to run for any length of time. Someone who doesn't have $1K to spend on a gaming laptop might find $450 on AM1 to be viable.

May 1, 2014 | 02:39 AM - Posted by Luuk van Maaren (not verified)

if the AM1 can crossfire an discrete gpu I think I then will sell my gaming rig an go for AM1 due my
r9 270x
2x4gb kingston genesis 1600mhz
1tb wd black
hgst 500gb (ps4 hdd)
kingston ssdNow v300 60gb
noctua nh-u12
coolermaster k380

|. uses too much power and it's well it IS the best rig i've ever played on but yea it's too expensive

May 10, 2014 | 03:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This could be great for sub 1080p. Why people are only reviewing it with 4GB doesn't it support more than that?

June 16, 2014 | 01:45 AM - Posted by AM1-owner (not verified)

The AM1 supports up to 16 GB of RAM.
But only 4GB were used probably due to the task of testing a budget system. The AM1 supports only single-mode for RAM, and by using only one slot with only one DIMM the system runs faster.

June 16, 2014 | 02:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How about you do new intel bay trail review. Let's say q1900 with r5 250 for gaming.

August 19, 2014 | 07:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

are there any other alternative power supply that you would recommend?

October 8, 2014 | 04:25 PM - Posted by nissangtr786 (not verified)

Honestly, why not compare it to a g1820 haswell that takes less power and performs considerably better due to insane floating point performance that even surpasses a10-7850k. That would be more interesting then comparing it to an i7 3960x thats getting about 10% utilised.

October 21, 2014 | 05:21 PM - Posted by Scatamonky (not verified)

I recently bought an AM1 PC with the Athlon 5350 and 8GB of Ram. It also came with a Kingston 120GB SSD.

I also just ordered a VTX3D Radeon R7 265 X Edition so I'm really looking forward o seeing the results.

First game I will try will be Shadow of Mordor, my monitor is 22 inch and only goes up to 1920x1080 so it should handle that okay!

I wouldn't have even considered using it for gaming until I read this article !!! :)

November 5, 2014 | 12:20 PM - Posted by Scatamonky (not verified)

Averaging 39 FPS on Shadow of Mordor with all settings on High!

Games plays as smooth as silk.

This is at 1920x1080 ....all for less than £300 !!! :)

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