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AMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini AM1 Platform) FS1b APU Review (w/ Sapphire R7 240 Low Profile)

In Kabini, AMD has a solid entry-level APU which tends to the needs of budget-constricted markets. Let's not get ahead of ourselves; Kabini APUs aren't going to break any speed or performance records. But they do offer a low-cost route onto the reasonable AM1 platform while offering decent all-round performance in a number of common workloads.

Performance on the CPU-side of Kabini is reasonable for the usage scenarios of entry-level users. The Jaguar cores are about 50% of the size of Kaveri's Steamroller cores and the Athlon 5350's clock speed is more-or-less 50% of the A10-7850K's. Unsurprisingly that translates the Athlon 5350's CPU performance into roughly 50% of Kaveri's in a number of tests and benchmarks.

GPU performance is where the 25W Kabini APU shows its worth. Sporting a Radeon R3 graphics system with 128 GCN cores across the Kabini range, playing less-demanding games at reduced image quality settings and a 1280 x 720 resolution is a task that the entry-level APUs are able to handle. OpenCL performance is also boosted by the comparatively strong on-chip GPU.

With its system-on-chip design, the real spice of AMD's AM1 platform is brought to the party by the Kabini APUs. SATA 6Gbps, two USB 3.0 ports, support for a discrete GPU, and four spare PCIe x1 lanes are just some of the features that make the platform an intriguing entry-level proposition. Could we see any motherboard manufacturers daring enough to make a feature-heavy board with added controllers and a pumped-up set of components?

MSI added a mini-PCIe connector to its AM1I board, while ASRock has an option with four SATA 6Gbps ports. Those two additions alone outline the AM1 platform's potential as a low-power media server. And the general compute performance of the 25W Kabini chip makes an AM1-based HTPC a tempting proposition.

Price is a key factor for the allure of the Kabini APUs and the AM1 platform. With APUs starting at less than £25 and the flagship retailing for £40, the 28nm Kabini chips offer a low-cost route onto the upgradeable DIY scene. The SoC design also helps keep motherboard prices cheap – mini-ITX and mATX parts are available for less than £25.

Overall, I see AMD's Kabini APUs as a good thing for the desktop market. They provide entry-level users with low-cost access to the build-it-yourself scene without the upgrade limitations of a non-socketed platform. And with a potential board-and-chip cost of less than £55, the AM1 platform offers an uncharacteristic number of features which could tempt users looking for a low-cost system or a secondary machine for dedicated usage scenarios.

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Pros:

  • Low-cost APUs and motherboards.
  • Good range of on-chip features – SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, 4k resolution support.
  • Low power consumption.
  • Strong GPU performance for an entry-level chip.
  • Efficient CPU performance from Jaguar cores.

Cons:

  • Single-channel memory can limit GPU performance.
  • Upgrade route is currently limited – although that will change over time.

KitGuru says: AMD's Athlon 5350 and other Kabini APUs offer an appealing foundation to the low-cost, upgradeable AM1 platform.

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Rating: 8.5.

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