O/C Tech: Making AMD's Socket AM1 Viable

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I really want to like the AM1 platform as well, but as far as meeting usage needs, I find that it is surprisingly squeezed between the intel platforms you mentioned and the vastly cheaper/lower wattage raspberry pi 2 (and now 3) systems....or even the Pine 64.

If you're just web browsing, emailing, etc, the pi is adequate. If you need more performance than that, it's likely you need a lot more performance and the AM1 sits in a middle ground there isn't much demand for. It does make a good minimal HTPC for 4K video if you want to run windows on your HTPC, but that's all I can think of. (the just released Pine 64 board supports 4K video playback for much cheaper, but only runs android).

 

salgado18

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That was a great read, thanks. I've always wondered what as AM1 all about.

Could you test the system with one more game, maybe a modern one? These games are a bit niche, and it's hard to compare the system to others. Maybe an Unreal Engine game, like Tomb Raider (the first reboot, not the latest game)?
 

Onus

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I would not have thought to use such an old game in my tests, but after writing this up, I also tried Diablo II (that's 2, not 3) on Scrooge, and frame rates were 11-18; essentially unplayable, which is a darn shame. I had hoped to use Scrooge as my "lab assistant," recording data, researching and capturing product screen shots, etc, then playing casual games while waiting for tests to complete.

Regrettably, my gaming time is so limited these days that I have not bought any new games for quite a while.
 

salgado18

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That's very unexpected. Why is the system good at 3D online games, but bad at old 2D games?

Do you have any numbers of the A4-6300 in similar workloads? It is very close in price, and is a dual-core 3.9GHz CPU.
 

Xaltar

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I would love to see how the Athlon 5350 holds up against Intel's Celeron N3150. While the Intel is an SoC and the Athlon is socketed I don't see AMD releasing new AM1 CPUs for this platform which essentially means that if you already have the Athlon 5350 (the most powerful AM1 option) it may as well be soldered onto the motherboard as there is no further upgrade path. I suspect the N3150 may actually beat the 5350 across the board, including graphics and TDP.
 

Sam Bittermann

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I would not have thought to use such an old game in my tests, but after writing this up, I also tried Diablo II (that's 2, not 3) on Scrooge, and frame rates were 11-18; essentially unplayable, which is a darn shame. I had hoped to use Scrooge as my "lab assistant," recording data, researching and capturing product screen shots, etc, then playing casual games while waiting for tests to complete.

Regrettably, my gaming time is so limited these days that I have not bought any new games for quite a while.
Yikes, I would have hoped it would have been able to play at least Diablo 3 on medium settings with a 750 Ti but that cpu just can't feed it fast enough. Great article and thanks for over clocking numbers!
 

Onus

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I believe HardwareSecrets did at least one comparison article (may have been two) with low-TDP Intel SOCs against AM1 systems. For most tasks, the Intel builds were stronger, but for graphics, AMD won.
If there is interest, I'll write up a G4400 system from the same perspective.
 

Epsilon_0EVP

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Regarding the temperatures, the lower temperature is most likely bugged, since that's a well-known issue with AMD temperature sensors. But the upper temperature may actually be correct at idle. I have seen reports of people running an AM1 APU with no heatsink, and they run just fine. Temps of 40C are still perhaps too low, but this is in fact a very cold chip.
 

joex444

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The bias here is rather disappointing as the author starts with the belief that the system will work for the targeted needs. We see this with "I really want to like this platform" and "Unfortunately, objectivity demands that I grit my teeth and admit that this platform may not be your best choice." One should treat this like an experiment, offering some reason to test the AM1 platform against a G3258 and explaining what purpose the AM1 may offer. Some experiments are performed to compare the two, then an objective conclusion is written devoid of remarks related to the grittiness of one's teeth or the hopes and desires one had going into the experiment. Then we have the memory test where dual channel vs single channel is compared. Obviously no OC is going to overcome that as you need to double the RAM speed in order to even hit parity.

I'm also confused why they believe a DC adapter instead of PSU would yield lower power usage when a PSU is nothing but an AC -> DC converter. Perhaps the system throttles certain components? It was mentioned two SATA drives may be used. Quite frankly, for a system like this I can't imagine why one would have 3 or 4 drives, even if one is a blu-ray drive for an HTPC. With the USB 3.0 ports, external drives should not be slow, you just need decent external drives.

The gaming is clearly not for this system, but I don't understand the point in comparing a G3258 + GT730 to an AM1 + GTX750Ti. The author claims the latter doesn't bottleneck the GPU, but in order to prove this they should provide numbers for the G3258 + GTX750Ti. Any difference is a sign that the AM1 cannot keep up with the GPU, though it could also be the case that the G3258 bottlenecks it as well.

Also interesting is how on the OC the AM1 platform loses points in the PCMark8 Home test. For what appears to be a 12% OC, that's not expected.
 

CarbonK

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That's very unexpected. Why is the system good at 3D online games, but bad at old 2D games?

Do you have any numbers of the A4-6300 in similar workloads? It is very close in price, and is a dual-core 3.9GHz CPU.
That may be because older games usually only utilize a single core while newer games can use multiple cores or threads. Also a factor is the fact that game genres with many objects onscreen tend to be CPU heavy. RTS, MOBA, City-Building/Simulating, or games like Diablo 2 do benefit from a more powerful video card, but generally speaking it's better to have a powerful CPU. Newer 3D games are less CPU intensive and will benefit greatly from a powerful GPU.
 

Onus

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Bias in favor of what, or of whom? I've been working with low-power stuff for a while now (I will be giving a solar power class this Saturday in fact), and hoped that AM1 would be a good choice for an environment in which every watt counts. This was an experiment, to find that out. If Scrooge used 10W less, it might still be worth the loss in performance, especially in non-gaming tasks (this PC might be used in one of those off-grid tiny houses, where gaming at all may not matter), but for my needs, it turned out not to be quite good enough; perhaps "sufferable," but no more. It will be interesting to see (for me, anyway), what the power numbers of a G4400 look like.
A DC adapter could lower the power used due to removal of conversion losses, especially in the intended environment; in particular I was thinking of a 12V->19V auto adapter, in which losses might be trivial because you're removing two conversion steps (12V AGM -> 120VAC -> 19VDC).
This was never a head-to-head comparison of the G3258 vs. the 5350, and I stated a few reasons in the article. Just as a nature photographer may toss a quarter into a picture to provide scale though, I needed something else to serve that purpose. The CPU I'd been using in previous motherboard tests seemed a reasonable choice for that. Insofar as games often rely more on the graphics card than on the CPU, the GTX750Ti vs. GT730 Heaven numbers supported that, even with a stronger CPU behind the GT730. Yes, it's a synthetic, but even +/- a whopping 20% wouldn't change the obvious confirmation.
 

Onus

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That might be a good question for Eric Van Der Linden or Jacob Terkelson, two other writers who have looked at some of the AMD systems (and may have most or all of the parts on hand). Since one of my specific goals was low power, it did not occur to me to look at any 65W chip.
 

Sergio Guzman

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I'm writing this on a 2.52Ghz quad AM1 processor/8 gigs/3 TB HD/ 23 inch 1152p display and it.. works. Not wonderfull but righ now I have open 2 browsers, about 20 tabs, some video aps, some other apps, and its very responsive. I even do some (720p) editing in Vegas with dozens of clips and things get done. I know I can clock it at least to 2.7/2.8, I tested it, but the stock mini-cooler goes mad.
 

LordStreetguru

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I had a 3850 system that worked fine, not sure what you mean by notoriously slow, it's a 25W part running at 2ghz from AMD, it won't be amazing, but it's perfectly valid for an email/facebook machine, though I was able to run minecraft/Source 1 games fine on the integrated graphics, as well as emulation pre PS2 era
 

LordStreetguru

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I like your article, but wanted to point out that there's a similarly-priced Intel board available with a Celeron included and 4 SATA ports http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813135350
or this slightly more expensive model http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157494
Might be worth it to stick to AM1 for USB 3.0 for some people, dunno if there's an intel SoC with it on board
 

hurnii

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For an article with "O/C Tech" in the title, I'm surprised it didn't contain more details on the overclocking. From the screenshots, it appeared that the APU's multiplier was locked (as lack of a "K" at the end of the CPU name would suggest). O/C'ing by means of changing the PCIe clock speed has never been all that effective (read: "stable") on AMD platforms (or most Intel, with some exceptions), it's not surprising that unforeseen issues (like USB3 dropping to USB2 or needing faster memory) arose. Are there any AM1 CPUs with unlocked multipliers (or, any AM1 platforms which can get around the lock)? How well does the GTX 750Ti put up with the increased PCIe speed? Was "3d" mode selectable while not overclocked? Was the video card even run while not O/C? - Thanks
 

cody_mckee

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Just last week I put together an HTPC using a 5350, MSI AM1I motherboard, 2x4Gb Crucial Ballistics 1600 (recycled from a different system), and a WD Black 1Tb(also re-used). It has worked great for a little browsing and playing 1080 content to a Mitsubishi 60 in. plasma TV from ~2006 via DVI / Monlink. I plan to try some emulators on it as well. For my uses, only having two SATA ports is not a problem. I seems like it is going to be a useful low power solution, and the little case I put it in looks good next to the TV when compared to the old laptop that used to be there. Thanks for giving this platform some coverage.

I originally installed Ubuntu and Steam and tried out Half Life 2. It was probably playable, but I wasn't impressed. I ended up installing Windows 7 after Ubuntu would not get along with the TV. Might my bad experience with HL2 be related to Linux drivers, or is this hardware just not up to the task? Is it worth another shot on Windows?
 

Onus

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The AM1 chips are all locked, afaik. The GTX750Ti never complained, and never slowed down, artifacted, or anything else bad. It was installed throughout, in both the non-OC and OC tests.
 

Rookie_MIB

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Just last week I put together an HTPC using a 5350, MSI AM1I motherboard, 2x4Gb Crucial Ballistics 1600 (recycled from a different system), and a WD Black 1Tb(also re-used). It has worked great for a little browsing and playing 1080 content to a Mitsubishi 60 in. plasma TV from ~2006 via DVI / Monlink. I plan to try some emulators on it as well. For my uses, only having two SATA ports is not a problem. I seems like it is going to be a useful low power solution, and the little case I put it in looks good next to the TV when compared to the old laptop that used to be there. Thanks for giving this platform some coverage.

I originally installed Ubuntu and Steam and tried out Half Life 2. It was probably playable, but I wasn't impressed. I ended up installing Windows 7 after Ubuntu would not get along with the TV. Might my bad experience with HL2 be related to Linux drivers, or is this hardware just not up to the task? Is it worth another shot on Windows?
My current HTPC is actually one of the older Intel J1900s (ASRock Q1900-ITX, 2x4GB RAM, Samsung 830 SSD, 42" Visio TV) - and for something rated at 10 watts, it too is surprisingly capable. Youtube HD, 720p/1080p videos on my NAS, browsing the web, it all works quite well.
 

Eximo

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I played with an embedded E350 board from ASUS. Supposed 18W TDP. It didn't go much past 20W when measured playing a FHD video (which it couldn't actually handle), and it was more then enough to play old emulated games. It was suitable for web browsing up until about a year ago. Then every website ever seemed to peg the CPU to ceiling. Even managed to play WoW at something like 1152x864 or some other odd resolution (worked the best for some reason) Never did do a 'from the wall' measurement, but I still have it laying around.
 

Onus

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Well, PvZ and Diablo II are both particularly good, pausable "time wasters" while waiting for tests to complete. Not being able to run those well was enough of a disappointment that I'll be testing a G4400 next. Scrooge will still be useful for off-grid setups, especially with the GTX750Ti removed.
 
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