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AMD Motherboards & CPUs Questions or comments on AMD products?

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Old 9th April, 2012, 06:00 AM
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Review of AMD A8-3870K + ASRock A75M-ITX

My complete build list copy and pasted directly from my buy list on Newegg (no links provided):
LIAN LI PC-Q25B Black Aluminum Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case
ASRock A75M-ITX FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI Mini ITX AMD Motherboard
CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 V2 500W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
AMD A8-3870K Unlocked Llano 3.0GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU (CPU + GPU) with DirectX 11 Graphic AMD Radeon HD ...
OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-240G 2.5" 240GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
OCZ Petrol PTL1-25SAT3-64G 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
G.SKILL Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-1866C9D-8GAB
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM
Tuniq TX-2 Cooling Thermal Compound
Scythe SCSK-1100 100mm Shuriken Rev. B 3 Heat Pipes CPU Cooler

Installation was smooth without anything needed to be modified or grinded off. But when I started to overclock, I was running into so many problems that it took me 3 days to narrow down what was wrong and fixing it.

I first tried to overclock and it would not budge over 3.1Ghz and remaining stable with prime95 (stock is 3.0Ghz) I concluded that the temps are too high to achieve a decent overclock. During testing I was able to 3.5Ghz to run OK (but unstable) and also able to see 3.7Ghz as well. (All this testing was all done with adjusting the volts accordingly)

After finishing up the CPU clocking, I overclocked the GPU to what references I found on forums and other reviewers. The system would load with 800-900Mhz but it was unstable during game play for me. I then kept on downclocking until something would play Age of Empires Online for 1 hour without crashing... but the problem was that it couldn't even play on stock settings.

I checked every single setting on the motherboard and disabled and enabled everything in the world to see if I could get it to work. The biggest problem I thought was that the GPU was unable to downclock, and that you can only turn down the voltages, not the frequency. The Frequency's lowest setting was its default setting at 600Mhz.

I finally figured out that the GPU was sensitive to heat and it would lock up or freeze the PC when the GPU temps reach above 40-50C... It took me so long to figure out because I was mislead by the CPU's operation temps. When i was overclocking and testing out stability the CPU itself could run on prime95 with no problems cruising on 70C and higher. I figured that the GPU part of the APU would operate at the same temps as the CPU, but I was totally wrong. The difference between GPU and CPU operation temps (atleast for my APU chip) was 20C difference!!!

This was huge problem as my system would be at 50-60C during game play on BONE STOCK SETTINGS and fans on maximum!

I must have tested it for a full day to ensure that it was the problem.. and did many testings with fans on and off to keep temperate as a control, and crashing as the outcome of my test during Age of Empires Online game play.

I finally bit the bullet and downclocked the CPU from 3.0Ghz (stock) to 2.5Ghz with a decreased volts from the stock 1.4125 down to 1.1500 Vcore... (prime 95 stable of course) and then I turned the fans to max, and used CPUID Hardware to monitor temps during game play... after playing for a WHILE, I checked the logs in CPUID Hardware monitor and the maximum temps was 45C, which is still in operation temps...

I am sacrificing CPU speed just to be able to turn down the volts, to keep the temps stable enough for the GPU part of the APU to work properly...

If I could take it back.. I would have gotten an Intel core i7... EVEN if i wasn't able to overclock and just added a discrete videocard and be done with it. Right now it looks like I might just end up buying a discrete videocard anyways just so I can play games with CPU running at its STOCK settings.

All in all, the case I got is very small.. and I knew what I was getting myself into getting such a small case and motherboard.. but I just didn't plan on going below stock just to have this small form factor and silence (during normal operation.. but its loud during game play because I still need to use the fans to maintain its temps)

I would not recommend the APU's for anyone right now... from my experience it acts just like a CPU and a GPU separately.. and being on the same chip seems like a disadvantage because if one of the 2 has a limiting factor in temperature then the other component is bottle necked at whatever the other component has thermal restrictions on... so my CPU can operate at 70+C but the GPU can only operate normally under game play at 50C... well then I would need to match my CPU down to my GPU so that my GPU would be happy during game play and not lock up the system...

I just hope my review would inform and stop other people from having my same mistakes and assumptions when buying the AMD Socket FM1.

Heres pics of the rest of the system, enjoy:
Epox Nforce 2 + AMD Athlon XP 2800 Barton OCed to a 3200+
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Old 14th April, 2012, 11:46 PM
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Thank you very much for this 411, Vash! For some reason, I haven't seen CPU/GPU integration as a great advancement. And your post made it clear WHY. Thank you for giving us the scoop!!
When the world will be better.
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