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AMD AM1 platform officially launched, could make budget PCs cheaper than ever

Tom Morgan
9 Apr 2014
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AMD's latest budget Athlon and Sempron APUs reach a new entry-level price, with more flexibility thanks to a socketed design

AMD has officially launched the AM1 platform, the latest budget Athlon and Sempron APUs which should give anyone looking for an entry-level PC a value priced alternative to all-in-one systems with the option to upgrade later thanks to a socketed design.

The FS1b upgradeable socket will compete directly with the likes of Intel's Bay Trail Pentium and Celeron CPUs, which ship soldered to a motherboard and can't be upgraded with a more powerful model at a later date. Anyone buying an entry-level Athlon or Sempron APU will have that option.

According to AMD, the majority of low-end PCs equipped with non-upgradeable CPUs struggle to run the full version of Windows, often being limited to 32-bit versions which can only access up to 4GB of RAM. They also struggle when it comes to graphics performance, even when paired with a low-end dedicated GPU. In comparison, the new APUs should outperform their rivals in both 2D and 3D tasks.

AMD AM1 platform

The biggest differences should be seen in Compute-enabled tasks and games, as AMD has included the same Jaguar CPU cores and Graphics Core Next architecture found in its more powerful APUs, as well as the PS4 and Xbox One consoles. Don't expect to be able to play demanding titles, or even big-name games from several years ago, but games like Minecraft, Guacomelee Bastion and Lego Marvel Super Heroes should all see significant improvements over the equivalent Intel Pentium CPU, or Celeron and dedicated GPU pairing.

AMD AM1 platform

At launch, the new line-up will consist of four models; the quad-core Athlon 5350 and 5150, quad-core Sempron 2850 and dual-core Sempron 2650. All four SKUs will include 128 Radeon GPU cores, SATA 6GB, up to 8 USB ports and 2 USB3 ports, and carry a TDP of 25W. The only thing separating the two Athlon chips is clock speed, with the more expensive 5350 running at 2.05GHz versus the 5150's 1.6GHz. The Sempron 3850 runs its four CPU cores at 1.3GHz and has a slower 450MHz GPU clock, while the Sempron 2650 runs its two CPU cores at a slightly faster 1.45GHz. Its GPU clock, however, drops to 400MHz. It only supports 1,333MHz memory modules, whereas the other three chips support 1,600MHz RAM, and has 1MB of cache versus 2MB in the other chips.

AMD AM1 platform

AMD expects AM1 to appeal to anyone on a tight budget, or those looking to upgrade thin clients or workhorse PCs usually found underneath shop counters, receptionist desks and interactive display units. While they are unlikely to appeal to anyone after raw performance, and will likely perform better in Eastern Europe than here in the UK, the price should make them tempting propositions for businesses and the education sector; the Sempron 3850 is expected to cost just $39, while the Athlon 5350 should retail for $59 - £23 and £35 respectively before taxes.

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