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We have to admit to being mildly stunned by the performance of the AMD A8-3850. It's no high-performance hero, but in terms of bang for buck there's little else that can come close to it.

The fact that both chip and motherboard can be picked up for around £200 all in is impressive, factor in a cheapo discrete AMD GPU, some decent RAM and a low-power PSU (you'll only really need 300-400W) and you've got a decent DirectX 11 gaming machine for less than £400.

It's not all good news though. As ever the early adopters are going to face a possibly frustrating time until the drivers properly mature.

Over the course of the review process new BIOS versions have appeared for a number of boards, though the Asus F1A75-V Pro has remained pretty stable all along, offering the best overclock of the two boards we've used so far.

Asus fm1a75 v pro

But there have been visual artefacting both in-game and occasionally in Windows too. We've also had a few problems trying to use discrete cards on their own without the hybrid CrossFire functionality enabled. On one occasion the USB ports completely froze stopping me from using a mouse at all, even after a reboot or seven.

On the whole performance though has been solid. In raw graphical grunt terms Heaven 2.5 is a great indicator of power, and in that pairing of Radeon HD 6670 and AMD A8-3850 you've got something that's getting on par with a GTX 460. Unfortunately though that doesn't necessarily translate into real-world gaming performance.

Because the GPU is so interlinked with the CPU when it comes to graphically taxing tasks it seems to lessen the power of the processor component. This is evidenced in Shogun 2's CPU benchmark which drops significantly when you put in a discrete card for Dual Graphics.

In normal mode you're looking at 19FPS, but that drops down to 14FPS when a second GPU is dropped into the mix.

This is probably why, despite impressive raw graphical processing power giving decent Heaven scores, that doesn't translate into the same level of performance in games benches that require both GPU and CPU power at the same time.

We're also a little concerned about the lifespan of the platform itself. At Computex this year we were shown the Trinity APU, next year's Fusion offering that will incorporate discrete-class DX11 graphics with a Bulldozer CPU in the mix too.

And speaking with the likes of MSI and Gigabyte they seem pretty sure that's going to need a whole new socket again.

So you're not future-proofing yourself with this Fusion APU as the FM1 socket is unlikely to last anywhere near as long as AM3 has.

Still, for what it is it's a darned impressive offering. The chance to have such a powerful little PC for such a small outlay is rather enticing.

The AMD A8-3850 Fusion APU goes straight up against the Core i3 2100 and soundly whips it in all tests. This is a segment where AMD really has got a tangible edge over Intel for a change. The CPU performance, and overclocking capabilities especially, show up just how good it is in both raw computational terms as well as on the graphical side.

Our issue with the mobile Llano was the CPU component and with that being a real non-issue on the desktop Lynx it's an excellent new platform for AMD.

We liked

For the cost, in both monetary and wattage terms, the AMD A8-3850 Fusion APU is one impressive little beast. Cramming in decent graphical performance with excellent overclockable computational chops, in a single package, is quite a technical feat.

The Dual Graphics function makes it a bargainous base for a gaming rig too, allowing you to pair up a fairly lowly, sub-£100 AMD GPU with the Fusion APU for well over a 33% gain in gaming performance.

The memory performance too is interesting, suddenly making performance DDR3 an enticing prospect once more.

We disliked

It's still not a completely rock-solid offering yet. The drivers may take a little while to mature to a point where everything's locked dow. Still, the gripes we have are relatively minor and shouldn't be a problem to iron out.

As good as the Dual Graphics function is there is still a worry that it detracts from the CPU performance side of the APU.

And the working life of the FM1 socket already seems to be the subject of some speculation too with the announcement of the Trinity APUs for next year.

Final word

We're impressed with the AMD A8-3850 Fusion APU, giving the equivalent Intel offering a kicking in both computational and especially graphical performance.