Our first look at AMD's A-series APUs was a very positive one, with the A8-3850 proving to be capable of playing games at reasonable settings while also adding a fairly good smattering of other results in video editing and image editing benchmarks. While Intel has the lead in the latter, with its Sandy Bridge-based Pentium and Core i3 CPUs outperforming the A8-3850 by quite some margin, the AMD chip was on a different level when it came to games, making it a fantastic all-round APU that's quite at home without a discrete graphics card.
Sadly, availability has plagued the A-series and for the last few months it's been practically impossible to buy them. While we might have expected this anyway given its popularity (well, maybe not - even excellent products should actually be available), but unfortunately for AMD, the short supply was caused by 32nm yield issues at Global foundries - the fabrication plant responsible for manufacturing the A-series.
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The A8-3850's life was cut short, which is a shame because we suspect it would have sold bucket-loads, grabbing a handy share of the super-budget PC market in the process. This wasn't to be, but thankfully, AMD appears to have sorted out supply issues with its latest APU in the range, the A8-3870K - there are currently plenty available from all the usual retailers. What's more, the new APU also sports an unlocked multiplier, meaning it can potentially be even better than the A8-3850. Amazingly it costs about the same too - at £104 at time of writing, this is barely any more expensive than its ill-fated sibling.
The unlocked multiplier also spells an end to issues that have surrounded overclocking these APUs in the past - AMD itself told us success was very motherboard dependant. If the A8-3870K works as well as it should, this will mean that even budget Socket FM1 boards could unleash some much needed extra grunt, which could see it gain ground on Intel's budget CPUs in 2D tests.
Aside from the unlocked multiplier, the A8-3850 and A8-3870 aren't much different - the latter has received a frequency boost to the CPU of 100MHz and now stands at a nice round 3GHz. This has the same amount of L1 and L2 cache (128KB L1 each core and 1MB L2 each core) and it has the same Radeon HD 6550D GPU under the hood, clocked at 600MHz.