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AMD A4-5000 APU review

A Kabini laptop with AMD's Jaguar CPU cores, as found in the new Xbox One and PS4...

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Our Verdict

For

  • Revised cores are an improvement
  • Good battery life
  • AMD's latest graphics technology
  • Good 2H HD video performance
  • Your laptop is almost a PS4

Against

  • CPU performance firmly in ultramobile territory
  • Not enough graphics cores for proper gaming
  • Doesn't dramatically move the APU game on
  • Has us worrying about next-gen CPU performance

The last five years or so for AMD CPUs have been sub-spectacular to say the least. But things are looking up and one of the good news stories very much revolves around the new AMD A4-5000 APU, codenamed Kabini.

More precisely, it's the new Jaguar cores inside this APU that are making waves. That's because they're found in both Microsoft's new Xbox One console and the PlayStation 4 from Sony. Yup, AMD's Jaguar architecture is a very big deal.

So what exactly is it? Our first taste of Jaguar comes in the form of the quad-core AMD A4-5000 APU. It's fitted to what's known as a whitebook laptop. That's basically a non-branded system that exists primarily for the likes of us to assess the new chip and its associated platform (chipset etc) and tell you all about it. So, you can't buy this laptop off the shelf.

As for the A4-5000, it's a variant of what's known as the Kabini APU or Accelerated Processing unit. Thus it has four Jaguar cores and an AMD Radeon HD 8330 integrated graphics core.

The main thing to appreciate about this chip - and one of the things that makes for an intriguing thought in the context of those new games consoles - is that it's very much a mobile processor. In fact, it's pretty much an ultra-mobile processor.

Those Jaguar cores are a replacement for AMD's earlier Bobcat cores and that makes them more a competitor for Intel's ultra-mobile Atom processors than any full-power desktop or laptop CPU. The main difference with Jaguar and thus Kabini being that it's not designed to squeeze into devices as small as smartphones, as the latest low-power Atoms are.

Kabini Whitebook

Instead, super thin-and-light laptops and tablets are essentially the limit for Kabini. That's fine by us. There are plenty of alternatives in the smartphone CPU market. What we want from AMD is something to keep Intel honest in its core market and also provide an alternative in the burgeoning market for tablet PCs running the x86 version of Windows 8, including Microsoft's Surface Pro.

It would also be nice if Kabini could help provide a cut price alternative to Intel's sexy but pricey Ultrabooks - you know, systems like the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A or Acer Aspire S7. And that's exactly what it promises. Time to find out more.

Kabini