AMD's Bristol Ridge AM4 APUs have been out in the wild for almost a year now. The chips were sold to AMD's manufacturing partners months before Ryzen silicon hit the market. System builders looking to put together a system around an AM4 motherboard without buying a discrete graphics card have been out of luck until today. Six different APUs have now popped up on Newegg, ranging from the two-core 3.0 GHz A6-9500E to the four-core 3.8 GHz A12-9800. There's also a single Athlon model based on the same die but with the graphics component disabled: the X4 950.
Keep in mind these Bristol Ridge chips are still based around the same Excavator CPU cores and GCN graphics architecture as the previous-generation APUs. Shoppers looking for APUs with Zen CPU cores and Vega's NCU graphics architecture will have to wait until the release of Raven Ridge late this year or early 2018.
The big news for the latest round of APUs is support for dual-channel DDR4 memory. Given that past AMD APUs have responded quite favorably to increases in memory bandwidth when gaming, we expect that the new silicon should outperform the older generation, particularly when paired with the fastest compatible DDR4 memory modules. We've prepared this handy table for you.
|A6-9500E||2||3.0 / 3.4||2400||R5||576 / 800||35||$55|
|A8-9600||4||3.1 / 3.4||R7||655 / 900||65||$70|
|A10-9700E||3.0 / 3.5||600 / 847||35||$85|
|A10-9700||3.5 / 3.8||720 / 1029||65||$90|
|A12-9800E||3.1 / 3.8||655 / 900||35||$105|
|A12-9800||3.8 / 4.2||800 / 1108||65||$110|
|Athlon X4 950||3.5 / 3.8||–||–||$60|
The $60 Athlon X4 950 model shares the CPU clock speeds of the $90 A10-9700. Doing some rough comparisons, the closest competition to the entry-level A6-9500E from Intel is the 3.0 GHz two-core Kaby Lake Celeron G3950. Intel's dual-core chips don't support the company's Turbo Boost feature, so the base clock speed is the highest rate the chip will ever hit. The Bristol Ridge range-topping A12-9800 is actually a bit more expensive than Intel's $100 two-core, four-thread 3.7 GHz Pentium G4620. While Intel's offerings likely offer substantially better CPU performance, we figure Bristol Ridge's integrated graphics probably come out ahead of Intel's offerings in games.
These Bristol Ridge chips offer a way for buyers without the scratch for both a new CPU and graphics card to get onto the AM4 platform. A builder could purchase a $70 A8-9600 and a modestly-priced B350 motherboard and use them until they save up funds for a shiny video card and an Editor's Choice Award-winning Ryzen 5 1600 CPU. The inflated prices in the mid-range graphics card market right now might support this inchwise approach. Builders who aren't as constrained might want to wait to see what Raven Ridge has to offer.