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Test notes and methods
AMD sent us a complete system with the A8-7600 inside. The machine is based on Xigmatek's Nebula enclosure, which looks like an overgrown Mini-ITX cube. At 13" x 10" x 10", the case is a little big for a mini build. There's room inside for full-sized PSUs, larger coolers, and double-wide graphics cards, though.

The case has some nice elements, including chunky aluminum side panels affixed with a nifty, tool-free mechanism. Popping off the walls exposes the guts on two sides.

Inside lies a Gigabyte F2A88XN-WIFI motherboard, an Antec High Current Pro 750W PSU, a Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD, and 16GB of AMD's own Gamer Series DDR3-2133 memory. And the A8-7600, of course. Despite the fact that there's plenty of headroom inside the case, AMD strapped one of Noctua's low-profile NH-L9a coolers onto the chip.

With Scott in Las Vegas for CES last week, all of our testing was conducted at TR's northern outpost. We don't have access to the test rigs and CPUs in Scott's lab, so we had to make do with a more limited selection of competitors for the A8-7600.

AMD has positioned the A8-7600 opposite the Core i3-4330. We tested the Core i3 on a Mini-ITX motherboard based on Intel's Z87 platform. We also tested a couple of 45W APUs based on the last-gen Richland silicon. Both are quad-core models; the A8-6500T is clocked at 2.1/3.1GHz, while the A10-6700T runs at 2.5/3.5GHz. The A10's higher clock speeds make it the more appropriate foil for the A8-7600, which is clocked at 3.3/3.8GHz in 65W mode and 3.1/3.3GHz in 45W mode.

We tested the A8-7600 in its 45W and 65W modes, both with 2133 MT/s memory. The Core i3 doesn't officially support memory transfer rates over 1600 MT/s, but our Z87 motherboard does, and it had no problem running a pair of DIMMs with the same frequency as the Kaveri rig. Since all of our testing was conducted using the onboard GPUs, we targeted 2133 MT/s for all the configs.

Richland has an 1866 MT/s default memory speed, and we weren't able to push the A10-6700T and A8-6500T any higher, perhaps because the T-series parts lack unlocked multipliers. Even when we set a 2133 MT/s transfer rate in the firmware, the system booted at 1866 MT/s or slower. The A10-6700T was happy at 1866 MT/s, but the A8-6500T stubbornly stuck to 1600 MT/s no matter what we tried. The 6500T is supposed to support the higher speed, so a motherboard firmware quirk may be responsible for the issues we encountered.

To fill out the lineup, we added a Core i7-4770K. This is Intel's fastest Haswell chip, so it's not a direct competitor for the A8-7600 or any of the AMD APUs we've tested. The i7-4770K is meant to provide a familiar frame of reference for the rest of the results.

The timeline for this review was very tight, limiting our ability to test additional configurations. We didn't even get final drivers from AMD until Friday, so we had to work through the weekend just to get these parts tested. More on Kaveri is coming, though. Scott managed to get his hands on the full-fat, 95W A10-7850K during CES. Look for that chip to make its way through our usual CPU test suite soon.

We ran every test at least three times and reported the median of the scores produced. The test systems were configured like so:

Processor AMD A8-7600 AMD A10-6700T AMD A8-6500T Intel Core i3-4330 Intel Core i7-4770K
Motherboard Gigabyte F2A88XN-WIFI ASRock Z87E-ITX
Platform hub AMD A88X Intel Z87 Express
Memory size 16 GB (2 DIMMs) 16 GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type AMD Gamer Series DDR3 SDRAM Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 SDRAM
Memory speed 2133 MT/s 1866 MT/s 1600 MT/s 2133 MT/s
Memory timings 10-11-11-30 2T 9-10-11-27 2T 8-9-10-23 2T 10-11-11-30 2T
Platform drivers AMD Catalyst 13.30 RC2 Intel INF
Intel RST
Audio Realtek ALC889 with 2.73 drivers Realtek ALC1150 with 2.73 drivers
Integrated graphics Radeon R7 Radeon HD 8650D Radeon HD 8550D HD Graphics 4600
IGP drivers AMD Catalyst 13.30 RC2 Intel
Solid-state drive Samsung 840 Pro 256GB Samsung 840 Pro 256GB
Power supply Antec High Current Pro 750W Corsair AX850 850W
OS Windows 8.1 Pro Windows 8.1 Pro

We used the following versions of our test applications:

Some further notes on our testing methods:

  • The test systems' Windows desktops were set at 1920x1200 in 32-bit color. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled in the graphics driver control panel.
  • We used a Watts Up Pro digital power meter to capture power use over a span of time. The meter reads power use at the wall socket, so it incorporates power use from the entire system—the CPU, motherboard, memory, graphics solution, hard drives, and anything else plugged into the power supply unit. (The monitor was plugged into a separate outlet.) We measured how each of our test systems used power across a set time period, during which time we encoded a video with x264. All power testing was done with the Antec High Current Pro 750W PSU.
  • After consulting with our readers, we've decided to enable Windows' "Balanced" power profile for the bulk of our desktop processor tests, which means power-saving features like SpeedStep and Cool'n'Quiet are operating. (In the past, we only enabled these features for power consumption testing.) Our spot checks demonstrated to us that, typically, there's no performance penalty for enabling these features on today's CPUs. If there is a real-world penalty to enabling these features, well, we think that's worthy of inclusion in our measurements, since the vast majority of desktop processors these days will spend their lives with these features enabled.

The tests and methods we employ are usually publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.