AMD A8-3870K Black Edition & Hybrid Crossfire Review
It's very easy to get bogged down in the high-end hardware, the cream of the crop, and forget what a joy there is to be had from something that is almost proudly cheap and cheerful. AMD have nearly always been the providers of exceptionally good performing CPUs at a much more affordable price-point than Intel. Of course things rapidly changed a little while ago with the introduction of the LGA115x socket CPUs from Intel, and the relatively disappointing performance of the Phenom IIs, and latterly the FX8150. When you laud your latest CPU as the flagship disappointment is almost inevitable.
The Llano A8-3870K is most certainly not lauded as an Octocore monster. It's a quiet little 3GHz Quad-Core with a decent integrated graphics solution, and it's all the better for it.
Sure the CPU performance isn't outstanding when compared to the Intel options. Even the i5-2405S, the 3GHz Quad Intel equivalent, outperforms it fairly well. But compared to the performance we've been seeing from AMD of late it's exactly where you'd hope it to be. The unlocking of the multiplier helps the overclocking too, and by tweaking both the CPU clockspeed and the HD6550D GPU speed, some decent performance is there to be had.
It's all about understanding the performance available and tailoring your expectations to suit. The Unigine/AvP and Extreme 3D Mark tests don't set the world on fire, but if you were playing at a more realistic 720P resolution (3D Mark P score territory) the 3870K has a surprising amount of power available. Certainly more than we've seen from the latest HD4000 Intel option.
In fact the only real dilemma comes from AMD themselves. Such is the extremely tight gap between the price of this CPU and the price of their full-fat FX8150 that it's difficult to see why you'd choose this model over any others. If you just want the CPU side of things to be decent, then the FX6100 has six 3.3GHz cores for the same money. Or for about twenty pounds less you can retain your AM3 motherboard and grab a Phenom II X4 965. The other limitation is the small selection of GPUs that support the Hybrid-Crossfire. They're all underpowered and overpriced and there are much more powerful options available for around the same money. So although Hybrid-Crossfire is an option, it's not one that makes sense because if you're going to have to buy a GPU you might as well get a better GPU and a better pure CPU to go alongside it, even if you insist on sticking with AMD.
So this has a very small target audience of people who just want a CPU that is a decent performer that will cope with most home tasks without breaking a sweat and has a decent integrated graphics chip for some light gaming at medium resolutions. To these people it's definitely great value for money.