AMD has officially introduced its 2013 desktop APU line-up, officially known as Elite A-Series Desktop APUs, but most geeks still call it Richland.
Richland looks a bit like Trinity done right, with a few tweaks and higher clocks. It has more powerful graphics, higher clocks and (slightly) revised Piledriver cores. The process is still the same, 32nm, but more worryingly so is the performance. The first reviews came up with unimpressive figures, showing only a slight increase in GPU performance with a negligible boost on the CPU side.
In AMD’s defence, reviews of Intel’s new fourth generation Core architecture, or Haswell, come up with similar conclusions – it also offers only marginally better performance than Ivy Bridge chips, at least as far as desktop chips are concerned.
However, Haswell is in a league of its own. Richland caters to entry level and mainstream consumers, it is a cheap all-rounder and it offers exceptional value for money. In fact, the range starts with the A4-4000, a £29 dual-core clocked at 3.2GHz.
The top of the range A10 parts aren’t too pricey, either. The A10-6700, a 3.7GHz quad core with 2x2MB of cache and a 65W TDP costs £115. It features HD 8670D graphics with 384 shaders, clocked at up to 844MHz. The A10-6800K Black Edition is a bit beefier. It’s a 100W part clocked at 4.1GHz, but it retains the same GPU, although it ships with an unlocked multiplier. Oddly enough, it costs a bit less than the 6700, and it goes for £109.
Quad-core A8 and A10 parts should meet the needs of most mainstream consumers, provided they are not into serious gaming or compute-intensive applications. They are cheap, yet they pack relatively powerful integrated graphics. However, making the case for a high-end APU coupled with high-end discrete graphics is a bit harder. On the face of it, Richland should be a good choice for businesses, but here’s AMD’s problem – office boxes don’t need speedy graphics, they need CPU performance, and Intel is simply better at that.