Review Index:
Feedback

AMD A8-3850 Llano Desktop Processor Review - Can AMD compete with Sandy Bridge?

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: AMD

AMD Llano Motherboards, CPUs and the new FM1 Socket

New sockets, new motherboard, new processors: it is pretty much a routine here at PC Perspective.  The new FM1 socket doesn't differ by much compared to previous AMD sockets like AM2/AM3 and the new AM3+ though we need to define right up front that Llano processors will not work in any previous motherboard or socket!  If you end up deciding to invest in an AMD A-series of APU you will need to get a new motherboard along with it. 

View Full Size

The new FM1 socket

That gap in the middle there is the telltale sign that you are looking at an FM1 motherboard rather than anything for the Phenom line of processors.  The pin count on this new socket is 905 to be exact - just a bit less than the Phenom II processors on the market today which is kind of surprising considering how much more complex the technology on Llano actually is. 

Our review kit from AMD actually shipped with the ASRock A75 Pro4 motherboard and it treated us very well during our testing and evaluation.

View Full Size

ASRock A75 Pro4

View Full Size

ASRock A75 Pro4

We also got in the new Gigabyte A75-UD4H motherboard with DisplayPort output support.

View Full Size

Gigabyte A75-UD4H

View Full Size

Gigabyte A75-UD4H

Of course, all of the standard board vendors that you know and love (or loath) are going to be offering Socket FM1 based options including ASUS, ECS, MSI and others.

View Full Size

For the AMD Llano processor itself, from even a slight distance it would be easy to mistake it for one of its older CPU-only cousins.  Our AMD A8-3850 APU is a full production processor and NOT an engineering sample.  

View Full Size

AMD A8-3850 APU

View Full Size

AMD A8-3850 APU

As described earlier, here are the processors specifications:

  • AMD A8-3850 APU
  • 32nm HKMG process
  • Quad-cores @ 2.9 GHz clock speed
  • 4MB L2 cache (1MB per core)
  • DDR3-1866 memory support
  • 100w TDP
  • Radeon HD 6550D graphics
  • 400 Radeon Cores @ 600 MHz

Physical installation and all of that remain just as simple as you remember from any previous platform configuration.  And if you happen to have a heatsink that is approved for the AM2/AM3 processor sockets then it will also install on the new FM1-based Llano motherboards as well, saving you a bit of money and hassle. 

Now, there is just one more thing to get to before we dive into the many pages of benchmarks and performance metrics...what exactly are we going to be looking for in our evaluation??


June 30, 2011 | 02:48 AM - Posted by codedivine

That load power consumption doesn't look too good. Given that the GPU isn't active in a CPU-only test, one would have hoped that the power consumption doesn't approach the 100W TDP. That raises questions about Glofo's 32nm process.

June 30, 2011 | 10:53 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i digg on them big booty hoe's with them daisy dukes on

June 30, 2011 | 11:46 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Interesting take...

June 30, 2011 | 01:43 PM - Posted by James (not verified)

Considering how little of a CPU the average user uses these days, integrating a CPU into a primarily GPU was a good choice. I would really like to see what the retailers(dell, HP, apple?) do with this chip. Especially if we see some sort of media powerhouse 1 chip Micro-ATX configurations. Right now that kind of field is dominated with some of the Atom type systems which are really lacking in the ability to handle media, if we see price drops in the llano line then it could push atom out of the super-compact media lineup.

Alternatively if it is adapted for mobile processors it could be a cheap solution to integrating discreet graphics on a full size laptop, however that 150W under load would eat a battery in no time.

June 30, 2011 | 04:25 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Actually Llano for the mobile market was launched a couple weeks ago and is already showing up for sale.

http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Processors/AMD-Series-Llano-APU-Sabine-Note...

November 7, 2011 | 10:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Saying this over half a year later, I can confirm this is all true. The atom is currently being destroyed, and apple is rumored to be adopting APUs.

June 30, 2011 | 03:04 PM - Posted by dude (not verified)

AMD is using outdated production process in it's chipsets (65nm) that in part adds to power consumption.

The bulldozer chipset is 65nm.

June 30, 2011 | 06:30 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Eh, that really is not an issue.  The problem with going to a smaller process with these chipsets is really how many transistors they have and need.  Now that we are seeing most of the northbridge functionality on CPUs, there is no real reason to shrink chipset logic.  The problem that we start seeing is that these are already small chips, and if we shrink anymore without adding a bunch of extra features (and therefore transistor count), then we run into the problem of having enough pad space on the die for the substrate and pinouts.  These chips also do not eat a whole lot of power at this time.  Maybe 7 watts at max with two chips?  It was different with the 790GX/890GX chips, as they were in the 15 watt range.  But with the 990FX and SB950 both consuming between 5 and 7 watts combined... not a huge issue for a desktop application.

September 9, 2011 | 05:35 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Read a litle and then write!!!! Both Llano and bulldozer are 32nm like sandy bridge.

July 1, 2011 | 01:03 AM - Posted by Denzil (not verified)

I like the new APU and i want it in some new Del laptops. Please keep a eye on this thanks. I dont like to over spend on any PC for it doing a basic job. thats watching vidio surfing and listting to audio and NO incodeing at all. yet i want to watch UTube and vidio content. I dont want any stutter and good audio. 6 ours batry life is fine 8 would be awsome. It has to have USB 3 ports + Thunderbolt. I think Thunderbalt is dead in the water if you have to buy the lead for 50$ too.

July 1, 2011 | 01:27 AM - Posted by noiserr (not verified)

Why is every reviewer using DDR3 1333Mhz RAM? This review is useless as a result. Llano is very memory bandwidth capped.

July 1, 2011 | 04:23 AM - Posted by funkydmunky (not verified)

Hillarious. So many out of touch. Four cores to do meaneal tasks with actual GFX performance and power consumption that equalls the best. AMD will eat the competition despite reviewers being so removed from the reality of what box stores sales are comprised of. Of course Intel will just use its uber billions to advertise your need for "Intel" in the box, and discount its low end to compete.
Reviewers need to stop focusing on CPU performance when it comes to certain market segments. I have 10+ imidiate family members who could never figure out how to stress a modern CPU if they were offered $$$. But they get pissed in a second when they have crap multimedia. I have yet to hear anyone ever complain that their off the shelf just couldn't keep up with Office for them.
We are all past minimum performance being an issue. Get over it. This new AMD tech struggles in no area, yet the competition has constant issues with price or GFX capability in comparison.

July 1, 2011 | 02:06 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

It is an interesting point of view here. Though I disagree with the statement of "who could never figure out how to stress a modern CPU".

July 1, 2011 | 02:05 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

If you actually read the review you will see a lot of testing done on the graphics side of things with faster memory settings than 1333 MHz.

As for the CPU processing side of things, memory bandwidth makes a noticeable difference in very very few cases.

July 1, 2011 | 09:13 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Quote by reviewer: AMD Dual Graphics is a technology that I think has potential but lacks in some areas that I thought it needed to excel in. The fact that it doesn't support DX9 games completely confounds me and the response from AMD was built around the idea of "time commitments and value propositions." I don't see how DX9 titles, which are still FAR AND AWAY the majority of games out there right now, could not be worth the investment for gaming on the APU.

This is laughable, could not be worth investment for gaming on the APU? The I3 I5 or I7 with HD3000 CAN NOT play the DX9 games, the frame rates are to low. Not only that the image quality is less than video cards from 5 years ago. So which company is lacking an investment on DX9 games? Yes it would be nice to see dual graphics work on DX9 games but the fact is the AMD 6650D IGPU can play them just fine without dual graphics. Maybe you should also note that the HD3000/2000 do not support DX11.

July 5, 2011 | 05:36 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Actually, we mention a few times that only the AMD APU can handle DX11 gaming. But the issue is, DX11 titles are going to be most often run at DX9/10 settings on these performance levels of GPUs.

July 6, 2011 | 08:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This review is lacking. Want to talk about gaming performance, how about a Pentium G620 + $60 discrete graphics?

July 6, 2011 | 10:30 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

That is indeed a good combination there - we just didn't have a chance to test ALL the combinations we wanted too. Soon!

July 7, 2011 | 11:20 PM - Posted by Darren Coull (not verified)

In this video from AMD:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdPi4GPEI74

They were showing how their chip kept plugging away while the mobile i7 ground to a halt due to ineffective multitasking ability.

Does this make any difference in real-world situations? I don't know.

Ryan, have you tried this same test, i.e. comparing the llano when asked to run multiple tasks vs. the Intel i series chips? Just curious if this really is the case, or marketing hype!

July 11, 2011 | 03:22 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

So if you take out the GPU-based gaming from that workload demonstration I think you will find WILDLY different results comparing Sandy Bridge to Llano.

July 8, 2011 | 12:08 AM - Posted by mastrdrver

How well does this multi task though?

While I don't do it, I know several "non gamer" types in my family who like listening to music while surfing the web. I know others do some downloading in the background while playing a game in windows mode so they can switch back and forth between the game and a chat window.

Weird (in my book), but it seems like there are a lot who do these kind of multi tasking things with their systems today.

Love the podcasts by the way. Though, the last couple have had video and audio sync problems (in case you didn't know).

July 17, 2011 | 10:29 AM - Posted by John W (not verified)

Assuming a good watercooling block such as the Corsair h70,and plenty of fans,do you feel this chip has significant O/C capacity?

July 18, 2011 | 06:27 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

In my MC guild, we rolled for gear because we the group was in fact an alliance of 2-3 little guilds operating collectively to create 40-mans achievable. Only merchandise I ever bought was my Pally bracers, a BOE... from the auction home.

October 31, 2011 | 08:13 PM - Posted by Bovinebill (not verified)

That is a totally random comment. What forum were you supposed to be posting that to.

July 19, 2011 | 07:04 PM - Posted by AParsh335i (not verified)

As usual, a very well written article Ryan. I can tell you really spent a lot of time writing it, unfortunately not all the people commenting seem to care about the time you spent to both research the product as well as actually understand it.

My take on Llano is that they should have stuck to only launching it for "gaming notebooks." There was a toshiba on sale last week with the A8-3850 for $500 and that was the first time i saw an AMD notebook in a long time that actually seemed worth buying at a good price.

I also think a good market for Llano would be gaming nettops. A little Lan box that could play games decent, but nothing like a typical "gaming rig."

August 25, 2011 | 07:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i think its good and im buying it next week along with hd6670...i seen few videos on you tube and im convinced its preety great considering price...so...its for ppl that need PC for new games like me and cant afford to give 2k $ for some beast of PC :) in cross with hd6670 it can play crysis 2 on average of 30-35 FPS so im contend with it :) thx for review :)

September 21, 2011 | 07:08 AM - Posted by K.A. (not verified)

Hi there,
I recently got apu3850 + Radeon HD6850. Any chance to crossfire this combination? Tried it according video tips for apu + 6670, but can't see crossfire option anywhere in AMD Vision Control Panel.

September 28, 2011 | 12:18 PM - Posted by ITXGamer (not verified)

AFAIK, the HD6850 is not supported for Dual Graphics. It's far too powerful to benefit from the onboard HD6550. The HD6670 is the most powerful supported GPU.

November 1, 2011 | 11:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm having a similar problem except I have the apu3850 and an HD6770 card... I have the most updated drivers but do not see the "enable crossfire" option in vision center. Any ideas?

October 15, 2011 | 05:16 AM - Posted by geo (not verified)

the APU trades memory bandwidth for more GPU performance; for a weak 64-bit DDR3 6450 it may mean +50% (unlikely), but for a full 256-bit GDDR5 6850 with lots of shaders it may even slow it down ... parallel processing has a cost, if it's added other bandwidth penalty it may be counter-productive ... so NO, you made a pretty bad choice if you miss the 1866 DDR3 support

October 31, 2011 | 08:11 PM - Posted by Bovinebill (not verified)

I think you have missed the whole point of buying an a-series APU.

If you want better performance that what the inbuild 6550 and a pci 6670 card will give you, then just dont bother buying the A-series APU.

Get yourself a decent AMD X4 or X6 chip instead and a motherboard that support AM3 chips.

These chips are faster the the A-series and will team up better with the higher end graphics cards.

November 18, 2011 | 07:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This review is bullshit.
You can't overclock llano more than 3-5%
All you are doing is changing a number with your "overclocks", benchmark and see.

December 14, 2011 | 03:37 AM - Posted by Jhangir (not verified)

This processor is perfect for me. Low price and reliable performance. and discrete level dx 11 and grafichs.

December 18, 2011 | 03:21 AM - Posted by Kaupo (not verified)

this is the future of protcessors!

January 11, 2012 | 12:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I just installed an amd a8-3850 processor, and i was wondering what is the best discrete graphics card to use dual graphics with my cpu. i have been looking at the Visiontek 900485 Radeon HD 6670 Video Card.

appreciate any help :)

January 11, 2012 | 01:08 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

im thinking the most likely card i will buy is the DIAMOND 6670PE32G Radeon HD 6670 2GB 128-bit GDDR3. its a little bit cheaper. and more likely to fit in my case

January 21, 2012 | 01:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I don't think that card will work in Crossfire X. I just got it today, and have spent literally hours trying to get it to Crossfire with A8-3850. I have all drivers installed and still cannot enable the Crossfire on AMD Vision Control Center. I am pretty savvy, but cannot figure it out. Diamond doesn't even list this card on their site anymore. Think they are running from this problem, instead of tackling it!

September 24, 2012 | 04:25 PM - Posted by geniusthmaster (not verified)

hey my bios doesnt have those options im running a laptop and i need to undervolt and overclock. can u shed some help? i may consider attempting e the fact flashing your bios over mine, despite the fact that ill most likely render my pc useless.

September 24, 2012 | 04:26 PM - Posted by geniusthmaster (not verified)

hey my bios doesnt have those options im running a laptop and i need to undervolt and overclock. can u shed some help? i may consider attempting e the fact flashing your bios over mine, despite the fact that ill most likely render my disfunctional. or do u have other suggestions etc etc?

September 24, 2012 | 04:55 PM - Posted by geniusthmaster (not verified)

just thought you would like to know, did some cusstomizations based upon my ELITE settings within my dell vostro core 2 duo westwood 1500 dell intel laptop, and i got this toshiba satellite 8100xlr8x to achieve stable all 4 cores at a 2464 Mhtz, the temparute gain without fan speed control is 1 c per second, the modification are thus:
volt rail 1 at 1.0063

volt rail 2 at 1.0437

turbo core disable

multiplier at 19x

system score on full benchmark :: 6436

March 12, 2014 | 03:14 AM - Posted by شارژ (not verified)

Just wish to say your article is as amazing.
The clearness in your post is just nice and i
can assume you are an expert on this subject.
Well with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep up
to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please
keep up the enjoyable work.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.