AMD Updates its Desktop Lineup For 2016

New APUs, motherboards, and coolers…

AMD Mobos 2016

Since CES AMD and its partners have been busy rolling out new motherboards with the 990FX, 970, A88X, and A68H chipsets as a kind of greatest-hits-style compilation album. Why would you want to purchase one of these motherboard? Well because you think features like USB 3.1 ports, USB Type C ports, M.2 slots, and NVMe support are worth upgrading for. We all know that socket AM4 is coming soon and coming before the end of the year. I see basically two reasons for buying into AMD’s existing desktop ecosystem at this point in time: cost and replacing dead hardware.

To that end AMD’s pricing structure is as competitive as ever and the new features that these motherboards bring might keep you from jumping ship when your current motherboard dies and you’re not quite ready to give up on your favorite FX or A-Series APU.

AMD 8370 2016

For those considering buying in to a new FX or A-Series PC on the basis of cost then AMD has good news for you too. It turns out, and I know this may seem hard to believe, that AMD actually reads the product reviews that you leave on your Amazon and Newegg purchases. Based on a survey of those reviews they came to the conclusion that they need to improve their stock cooling solutions and things turned out pretty well as Charlie detailed in his piece on AMD’s Wraith cooler.

AMD Coolers 2016

Well AMD is bringing those ideas namely large, nearly silent, constant RPM fans to their other coolers that they package with their 65 and 95 Watt TDP SKUs. To be clear Wraith will only ship with AMD 125 Watt TDP chips and AMD will continue selling the old non-Wraith SKU at a $10 discount compared to the current price and the new Wraith version which will be slotting in at the same price point as the current version of the 8370. AMD plans to roll out Wraith inspired desktop cooling solutions to across all of its desktop product lines by the end of 2016. (Yes, the red plastic fans are real and part of the final design.)

AMD's new APUs 2016

AMD will also be launching four new SKUs in Q1. The A10-7860K which will replace three old SKUs the A10-7850K, the A10-7700K, and the A10-7800. It will also slot in a $120 while offering the same CPU clocks, better GPUs clocks, and a lower 65 Watt TDP compared to all three of these old SKUs. The A6-7470K which is a small speed bump over the older A6-7400K and the Athlon X4 845 which looks like an extremely interesting product because it uses a harvested GPU-less version of the Carrizo die. The Athlon X4 845 has a 65 Watt TDP although AMD claims it was only draw about 50 Watts and will ship with a 95 Watt rated cooling solution to enable overclocking.

There was some speculation that AMD was not releasing Carrizo for the desktop because the use of high density design libraries and its focus on low power efficiency has compromised its ability to either reach clock speeds competitive with AMD’s chips or that it would draw more power than existing AMD products at those competitive clock speeds. The idea being that AMD had knowingly compromised the desktop suited characteristics of Carrizo in order to accentuate its positive laptop focused characteristics. With the announcement of the Athlon X4 845 those claims appear unfounded.

AMD's new APUs 2 2016

The final chip that AMD’s announcing will not be launching today is dubbed the A10-7890K. AMD didn’t detail any specific information about this chip saying that they would have more for us at a later point in time but we did hear that this chip is set to be AMD’s first APU to break the teraflop barrier.

AMD's new AM4 2016

AMD continues to describe its upcoming “Summit Ridge” chip first as a CPU and then as an SoC. This means that at minimum “Summit Ridge” will bring capabilities traditionally found in South Bridge chipsets like various I/O controllers on die. The point of most interest for me personally is whether or not “Summit Ridge” will integrate any display capabilities. AMD has directly confirmed that there will be no Radeon Compute Units (read GCN graphics cores) in “Summit Ridge”. What AMD wasn’t prepared to address at this time was whether or not “Summit Ridge” had any display controllers at all.

I know this kind of seems like a weird thing to focus on but again AMD lists “Summit Ridge” a desktop product. All of the socketed SoCs that AMD’s ever released have included display controllers. It would be rather contradictory to release a product aimed at a market that requires display functionality no matter how minimal (looking at you Intel graphics pre-2013) and call it a system-on-chip. If you need discrete components like a display controller to enable basic functionality for the market your product is being sold into, then you’re not offering an SoC, you’re offering a CPU with an integrated South Bridge.

Don’t get us wrong integration is a great thing and if “Summit Ridge” doesn’t have a display controller that’s fine. More to the point, if “Summit Ridge” was targeted at a market where display controllers are not a basic requirement like the server market, then it would be fair to call it an SoC. But it’s not, it’s a desktop product and it needs to meet the basic requirements for desktop functionally if you’re going to call it an SoC.  With all that said, I for one, welcome our new desktop SoC overlords.S|A

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.