The system being reviewed was provided for free by AMD as part of the AMD Test Drive program.
AMD A10-6800K APU w/stock AMD HSF
MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 Motherboard
AMD Radeon 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1866 RAM
Kingston V300 60GB SSD
LG GH24NS95 DVD-RAM with M-Disc Support
Fractal Arc Midi R2 Case
Fractal Tesla R2 650W PSU
Windows 7 Professional
The assembly went smoothly with one exception. The SSD mounts located behind the motherboard tray on the case are not easy to work with. You can only mount or remove the drives when the motherboard is not installed. You will also either need some standoffs to make the SSD’s sit higher, or SSD power cables that are flatter than those provided on most power supplies. Even the included Fractal Tesla R2 PSU made by the same manufacturer as the case didn’t take this into consideration.
So initially my SSD install was going to look like this:
I ended up having to install them in the lower 3 drive bays that you see on the left. This meant having to remove and remount the motherboard.
In addition to the hardware provided by AMD I also installed my 80GB Intel SSD, 1TB Western Digital HDD, a Lite-On iHOS104 Blu-Ray Drive, and a PCI Wi-Fi card.
The final assembly of the internal components looked like this:
After assembly I proceeded to install Windows 8 Pro (in lieu of the non–Pro version provided by AMD), followed by an upgrade using my Media Center Key for Windows 8 Pro (not provided by AMD). The setup went smoothly and was over within a matter of a few minutes. It was the fastest OS install I have ever completed in approximately 20 years of building my own PC’s.
I installed the drivers for my Wi-Fi card and then installed all of the latest software from the MSI website for the motherboard. After a quick reboot I installed the latest non-beta video drivers from AMD. Everything went exactly as expected with no issues during the installs. I also installed all my programs that I normally use in Windows 8. This includes Netflix, Hulu Plus, Kindle, Nook, & the default Windows 8 apps like Mail, People, Messaging, etc. I then installed Office 2013 Professional Plus (not provided by AMD) and finished by installing all updates for the OS and Office via Microsoft Update.
I enabled Hyper-V as I test system images before I deploy them on production hardware.
One of the first things that I noticed is that I was unable to use Netflix or Hulu Plus. I had known this was the case on my older system, but I had assumed it was due to that system being several years old. It turns out that when you enable Hyper-V on Windows 8 systems that use an AMD graphics solution it causes apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus to not work due to the DRM used to protect the content. The only recourse is to disable Hyper-V when you want to use Netflix or Hulu Plus. I am hoping that AMD develops a solution for this problem soon, as this is not an issue on systems with nVidia or Intel graphics.
Benchmarks demonstrate a vast improvement over the Dell XPS 410 that I owned for 7 years, with some scenarios showing an improvement of over 120%. They also show a solid improvement over the A10-5800k system I had built recently with improvements ranging from 10% up to 30% depending upon the scenario.
I’ve now had this system up and running for a week. Performance around all tasks has been extremely smooth. Office 2013 apps load within 1-2 seconds. Gaming has been nice on the integrated Radeon HD 8760D. All of the games I play perform as expected with no stuttering or glitches at the native resolution of 1680×1050.
The temperature for the system stays fairly low. On a day when it was nearly 100 degrees (37.7 Celsius) the APU temperature didn’t go above 40 Celsius while sitting idle. With an ambient room temperature of 75 degrees (23.8 Celsius) the APU sits at around 35 Celsius at idle. Even pushing the system hard with Prime95 resulted in a max temperature of 56 Celsius with an ambient room temperature of 75 degrees (23.8 Celsius). The system dropped back to 35 Celsius at idle within 60 seconds.
I avoided upgrading my system for the last 7 years due to the rock solid nature of my prior system. It was a system where everything just worked with no real effort needed on my part. With the exception of the Hyper-V issues it seems that this system will also serve me well in that regard. I just hope that a resolution for that issue comes sooner rather than later.