I had one goal when I started the AMD Test Drive program: balance. How did I accomplish that with a giant box of components, a hectic work schedule that has taken me to a couple continents, and a rambunctious 4-year-old amped about jamming memory sticks into a motherboard?  I carved out a few hours on the Tuesday that I received my package to do a "project" with my son J.  He's a little Renaissance man who enjoys splitting his time between ancient sports like daddy chase, the arts including Spider-Man watercolors, and the science of beginner computer-making.  Tuesday was computer day.


AMD Test Drive Pic 1 (small).jpgWe ripped into the box and pulled out the ingredients for our favorite dishes.  For J, it was putting him one step closer to streaming his favorite TV shows and wild animal video clips. .  For me, I would be feasting on DiRT 3, Tomb Raider, BioShock Infinite, final edits of our annual family pictures, and a side of “nerdtastic” benchmarking.  The box was not a hodgepodge of parts.  It was a chance for technology to pay off our desire to DO whatever it was we wanted to DO.  The thing I wanted to do that Tuesday was spend some quality time with my son and show him that in a world where everything is becoming more virtual, it was still possible to build something special and tangible by hand.  We did it.  He helped me with the motherboard screws, snapping in the back plate and popping in the AMD Radeon™ Memory.  I took on the cable routing and anything where bent pins needed to be avoided.  Then he pulled the little lever to lock in the AMD A10-6800K APU.  We paused.

 

There are few times in life where I really get to reflect on an intersection between being a marketing guy at a semiconductor company, which is extremely hard to explain to a 4-year-old, and sharing a moment with your kid where you're as awestruck as he is.  When J locked in the processor with the lever we both knew we were close.  We also both knew that daddy's company made that piece, the “brain” of this machine that would unlock cool stuff for both of us.  I'll take a guess that J's thought process went something like this: "I made a computer.  Daddy is a good helper.  That thingy says AMD on it like daddy's work.  I want some juice.  When do I get to watch Sonic the Hedgehog on this thing?"  I'll take that because somewhere in there I gained at least 1 cool point.  For me it was a little different.  It went something like this: "He didn't break the lever, whew.  J thinks I'm the man.  Hope this thing powers on the first time so J continues to think I'm the man.  My company made that APU, I love my job and I love this kid."  Balance.

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It booted right up.  I installed Windows 8 fast.  It was time to see what this bad boy could do.  That was a 2-phase process.  The first phase was testing and installing my AMD Test Drive software pack.  I loaded 2 benchmark suites (3DMark and PCMark 8), a few games, and tested everything at stock frequencies.  The second phase was overclocking.  I'll cut to the chase because this is an experience blog and not a technical review.  The hype is real, bro.  At stock frequencies, I was playing DiRT 3 in 1080p at high graphics settings, no sweat.  My tips for making the most of your APU install are as follows:

 

    1. Memory is key.  Make sure that your memory modules are both on the same channel so that it's picking up full dual-channel bandwidth.  Ensure that in the BIOS your memory is recognized at the right speed.  Last, get yourself some AMD Radeon™ Memory because you can then turn on AMD Memory Profiles (AMP) so that the memory is instantly optimized to pair up perfectly with your AMD APU.
    2. Drivers, my friend.  Go to game.amd.com and get the latest stable release of the AMD Catalyst™ Control Center for every available update of our driver suite packs new optimizations that squeeze outstanding levels of performance out of our APU.
    3. Make sure that any application that supports graphics hardware acceleration has that feature enabled.  Our AMD Test Drive software pack including Corel Aftershot, CyberLink PowerDVD, and WinZip 17 are just a few of the many applications that really unlock the power and speed contained in AMD APU technology.  There's another little software package called Windows 8 that is on the list.  Tell your friends.
    4. Take it to 11.  The A10-6800K is unlocked for overclocking.  At stock speeds it is a modern marvel of CPU and graphics design.  I'm talking about gorging on the 80's-inspired shooter, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon or building the next metropolis on SimCity, but there's a reason why we took the cap off the speedometer.  I jumped in the BIOS and tuned both the CPU and graphics engines embedded in my powerful little APU to my sweet spot, 4.9GHz for the CPU and 1085 MHz for the GPU.  This all varies with your cooling solution and the individual APU, but the power is there if you endeavor to seek it out[1].

 

All the specs in the world in and of themselves do not help me solve the balance issue.  I believe my job as a marketing professional at AMD is to show people how our technology can be a conduit for making their lives better so here's the list that really matters.  This AMD Test Drive and the AMD A10-6800K APU-based kit:

    • Gave me an opportunity to kick it with my son and see again how our tech magic is seen through a 4-year-old’s eyes.  He thought it was cool, ‘nuff said!
    • Allowed me to directly connect with the best fan community in the world (totally subjective) via the AMD North America Influencer Community and even more people via Twitter.  #amdtestdrive Stand Up!
    • Made me 1 of 95 people who shared over 100 blogs, 35 videos, and counting about new and innovative ways to use technology.
    • Provided a nice excuse to buy two new ASUS 24" 1900x1200 IPS monitors because graphics this good should be showcased, right?  My previous monitors did not do it justice.

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Balance is not compromise.  Balance is finding the right mix of ingredients to allow you to do what you need and want without giving up too much in return.  This was just the right combination for me.  I wish everyone well as they continue to turn technology into experiences and to my AMD Test Drivers out there: I have really enjoyed connecting with you and feel free to reach out to me @GCYoungblood anytime.  Happy building!

 


Gerald Youngblood (@GCYoungblood) is the head of North America marketing at AMD.  His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only.  Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

 


[1] AMD’s product warranty does not cover damages caused by overclocking, even when overclocking is enabled via AMD hardware.