Although AMD's second-generation mainstream APU platform, codename Trinity, launched months ago in notebooks the official desktop launch is today. Rumor has it that AMD purposefully delayed the desktop Trinity launch to clear out unsold Llano inventories in the channel. Although selling APUs in notebooks is pretty easy, convincing desktop users to forgo the discrete GPU option (and ignore Intel) has been a tough battle for AMD. I keep going back to two slides that show us where AMD wants to go and the cores it'll take to get there:

The ultimate goal is this beautiful cohesive operation between CPU and GPU on a single die. That future will require a lot of software support, not only at the application level but also at the OS level. And I'm not talking about Windows 8. We're still far away from this APU dominated future, but AMD is marching in that direction. The second slide shows the x86 cores that we'll see from AMD along the way. AMD is still playing catch-up in the x86 CPU space and it's got a lot of lost time to make up for. There's no hiding the fact this is going to be a multi-year effort to simply get close to Intel's single-threaded x86 performance. Through pricing, leveraging its GPU technology and throwing more transistors at the problem AMD can still deliver competitive solutions, but it's not going to be a walk in the park.

Last week we took a look at the GPU side of the desktop Trinity APUs. We looked at the top end 384-core Radeon HD 7660D configuration as well as the slightly slower 256-core Radeon HD 7560D GPU, both of which easily outperformed Intel's HD 4000 and HD 2500. As far as processor graphics go, Trinity on the desktop maintains a healthy lead over Intel. There's still a place for discrete GPUs but that's pretty much at the $100 and above price points.

Today we're able to talk about pricing and x86 CPU performance among other things. The good news on that front is the most expensive Trinity APU is fully unlocked and is priced at $122:

AMD Socket-FM2 Lineup
  Modules/Cores CPU Clock Base/Turbo L2 Cache GPU TDP Price
A10-5800K 2 / 4 3.8 / 4.2 GHz 4MB 384 cores @ 800MHz 100W $122
A10-5700 2 / 4 3.4 / 4.0 GHz 4MB 384 cores @ 760MHz 65W $122
A8-5600K 2 / 4 3.6 / 3.9 GHz 4MB 256 cores @ 760MHz 100W $101
A8-5500 2 / 4 3.2 / 3.7 GHz 4MB 256 cores @ 760MHz 65W $101
A6-5400K 1 / 2 3.6 / 3.8 GHz 1MB 192 cores @ 760MHz 65W $67
A4-5300 1 / 2 3.4 / 3.6 GHz 1MB 128 cores @ 724MHz 65W $53
Athlon X4 750K 2 / 4 3.4 / 4.0 GHz 4MB N/A 100W $81
Athlon X4 740 2 / 4 3.2 / 3.7 GHz 4MB N/A 65W $71

Compare this to Llano's launch where the top end SKU launched at $135 and you'll see that AMD is somewhat getting with the times. I would still like to see something closer to $100 for the A10-5800K, but I find that I'm usually asking for a better deal than what most CPU makers are willing to give me.

AMD's competitive target is Intel's newly released Ivy Bridge Core i3 processors. There are only five Core i3s on the market today, four of which use Intel's HD 2500 graphics. The cheapest of the lineup is the Core i3 3220 with two cores running at 3.3GHz for $125. Intel disables turbo and other features (there's effectively no overclocking on these parts), which AMD is attempting to exploit by pitting its Trinity K-series SKUs (fully unlocked) against them. AMD's TDPs are noticeably higher (100W for the higher end K-series parts compared to 55W for the Core i3s). Intel will easily maintain the power advantage as a result under both CPU and GPU load, although AMD's GPU does deliver more performance per watt. Power consumption is a major concern of AMD's at this point. Without a new process node to move to for a while, AMD is hoping to rely on some design tricks to improve things in the future.

At the low end of the stack there are also two Athlon X4s without any active GPU if you just want a traditional Trinity CPU.

The Test

This will be our last CPU/APU review on the current test platform/software configuration. The next major CPU review will see a move to a brand new testbed running Windows 8. As always you can get access to far more numbers than what we report here if you use our performance comparison engine: Bench. Of course if you want to see the GPU and GPU Compute performance of AMD's Trinity APU check out part one of our coverage.

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V Pro (Intel Z68)
ASUS Crosshair V Formula (AMD 990FX)
Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 (AMD A85X)
Intel DZ77GA-70K (Intel Z77)
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Crucial RealSSD C300
OCZ Agility 3 (240GB)
Memory: 2 x 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1600 9-9-9-20
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 5870 (Windows 7)
AMD Processor Graphics
Intel Processor Graphics
Video Drivers: AMD Catalyst 12.8
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64


Trinity CPU Performance: The Good and the Bad


View All Comments

  • wenbo - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    It would be good to know the price for each of the PC build that was bench marked. Reply
  • owlxp - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Your math seems a bit off here:

    i3-2100 set up:
    cpu - 120
    mobo - 130
    gpu - 70
    ssd - 150
    case - 50
    psu - 50
    memory - 55
    total = 625

    trinity 5800k set up:
    apu - 130
    mobo - 60
    ssd - 150
    case - 50
    psu - 50
    memory - 55
    total = 495

    If we're talking entry level gaming...........I'll take trinity and the extra $130
  • wenbo - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    I meant if you want trinity, don't you want crossfire? So that is 70 dollars at most. And A10 is unlocked that means overclocking, so you need a bigger fan which is 30 dollars. Motherboard is a bit more than 60 dollars, at least I couldn't find one that cheap.

    But I bet you are right, as soon as the holiday season motherboard price will drop to 80 - 90 dollars. If you don't care about overclocking, that's another 30, and yes, you can play most games in medium to low settings with respectable framerate without crossfire.

  • Tech-Curious - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    Why are you paying $130 for a motherboard to be used in a budget i3 rig? Do you really intend to pair a locked, budget CPU with a z77 chipset? Grab up a B75 for $60-70.

    I realize that AMD-chipset motherboards have a long-standing reputation for cost-efficiency relative to their Intel counterparts, but the facts just don't conform with that reputation right now.

    I'm also not sure why you're paying $55 for memory; I grabbed up a pair of 4GB DDR3 1600 Kingston modules a week or so ago for $30 on Newegg. Granted, that was a sale price, but the same modules are only $40 normally. In fact, if we're to compare apples to apples, the memory subsystem will tend to cost you more on current-gen AMD platforms because the AMD platform wants for higher-speed memory.

    (I am, of course, assuming that you're using USA-market pricing. If not, I apologize, but I still don't see why you think it's fair to compare a random AMD bundle deal against your seemingly hat-picked price scheme for a comparable Intel box. There are bundle deals for Intel products too.)

    For what it's worth, the build I just ordered about a week ago (mostly from newegg, unfortunately the shipping's been delayed by Hurricane Sandy) consists of the following:

    Intel Core i3 3220 - $100 (in-store pickup deal at Microcenter)
    ASUS P8B75-M (B75 chipset) - $70
    HIS Radeon HD 7850 (1 GB version) - $165
    2*4GB Kingston HyperX XMP DDR3 1600 (cas 9) - $30 with discount promo code
    Seasonic M12II 520 Bronze power supply - $69
    Intel 330 SSD 240GB - $180
    Windows 7 x64 Home Premium - $80 with discount promo code
    Random cheapo DVD drive - $15

    Total - 709

    Granted, I didn't buy a case because I already have one. Granted, I found a number of limited-time deals. I also splurged (a lot) more than your average budget builder on the SSD and power supplies. (For me, finally, the extra convenience of the larger SSD was worth going over budget by a fair amount. I'm also a shameless fanboy of Seasonic power supplies, and I like to have a little extra power head room.)

    I'm sure more savvy system builders could do more with the money I spent, too. The only reason I'm laying out what I bought is to give people an idea of what can be done if you're willing to hunt around a bit and be patient. You can wring a great deal of performance out of either an AMD or Intel system on a pretty tight budget.

    Sorry for the mini novel.
  • Tech-Curious - Friday, November 02, 2012 - link

    Check this out, for a budget Intel bundle, btw:

    Intel Core i3-3220 Dual-Core, Gigabyte GA-B75M-D3V Motherboard, Mushkin DDR3 8GB Memory, Mushkin 120GB SSD, Gigabyte ATX Mid Tower Case, Rosewill 400W PSU SuperCombo
  • Bob Todd - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Looking through the narrow lens of A10 vs i3, I would absolutely choose Trinity since it fits my needs better. However, there is no upward scalability and there never will be. With LGA 1155 you could start with a < $50 Sandy Bridge based Celeron G530. You can go from there to any price/performance point up to an i7-3770K for $329. Then there's the enormous LGA 1155 motherboard footprint. Newegg has 254 LGA 1155 motherboards listed right now! That kind of competition has put a lot of downward pressure on pricing.

    Even for a cheap HTPC build I'm not sure I could justify an FM2 build vs. LGA 1155, the market is just flooded too heavily in Intel's favor giving you so many options to repurpose whatever you build. Trinity just doesn't make sense for me on a desktop. Mobile Trinity where I won't ever upgrade the CPU/ I've got something to get excited about. In smaller form factors without room for a discrete GPU (somewhere between 10" and 13"), they could have a very competitive product. Give me an X230 successor with Trinity and a 1080p IPS panel and I'll throw money at you.
  • owlxp - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    Well AMD did promise to keep the FM2 socket for their gen 3 cpus. I think Trinity is good enough to get you to 2014. If the gains in the next gen apu's are anything like what we saw from llano to trinity, that extra $130 I saved in going with the trinity build now, just paid for my upgrade a couple years from now.

    However, I completely get where you're coming from. I'm struggling with the same problem as I prepare for my next upgrade.
  • Aone - Tuesday, October 02, 2012 - link

    We have been hearing many times from AMD that iGPU inside APU are so powerful that they would kill off cheap dGPU. That what I have expected to see in the review: Pentium+cheap dGPU vs. APU(w/o dGPU).

    As to cheap prices for APU, we have to keep in mind that 1155 MBs are ~20$ cheaper than FM2 MBs, and APU systems need faster and therefore more expensive RAM than Pentium+d.GPU systems. to get better GPU performance.
  • mikato - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    It will get there in time. I suggest you check how fast the iGPU performance has grown with AMD's APUs. And they're just getting started. You know they do make high end GPUs and now they've proven they can put their GPUs on die with the CPU, so they will be putting this tech into their APUs. Reply
  • Aone - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Who being in his right buys high-end discrete GPU for cheap CPU or APU?

    Plus, those who buy cheap CPUs usually don't have money for high-end discrete GPU.

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