So, finally I can run Ashes of Singularity in DX12 mode on the Lenovo Y700 AMD. The Y700 AMD version sports an FX-8800P Carrizo APU (2.1-3.2GHZ, 4C/2M) and a Radeon M385X 4GB GDDR5. You can read my Y700 AMD Review here. Lately, Ashes of Singularity became a more and more mature game and soon, in the end of this month (3.2016) the game supposed to become officially published and out of beta. Now, I want to test it against the AMD hardware.
The AMD hardware in the Y700 is weaker than Intel + GTX 960M for DX11 games and has around the same 3D performance of the GTX 950M DDR3 + Intel CPU (which is nice by itself). However, with DX12/Vulcan around the corner, the Radeon becomes a lot more cost effective and competitive compared the Intel + NV solutions. The most mature DX12 title to date seems to be Ashes of Singularity which was talked a lot about. They basically developed the engine/game with DX12/Vulcan in mind and not simply took some small parts and migrated them. Thief, Civilization, BF4 all had Mantle support for long time now, but the difference in average FPSs was insignificant to non existent usually. The new Rise of the Tomb Raider game does have DX12 support too, but currently doesn’t seem to gain from it really, according to my tests and other sites tests. Ashes of Singularity is not such case – the DX12 mode provide lots of “extra” performance for AMD GPUs in most cases (check this for some info and see this for some later benchmarks).
The Radeon M385X has 896 “Stream Processor Units” or simply – cores. Let’s compare it to AMD’s desktop GPUs, just to get an idea of the 3D stuff he get with such a GPU. This is a specification table with general info, I didn’t include information I’m not sure about regarding the M385X
|Radeon R9 M385X||896@1GHZ||4GB GDDR5@4.8GHZ effective, 128-bit bandwidth|
|Radeon R7 260Xfirstname.lastname@example.orgGHZ||2GB GDDR5@6.5GHZ effective, 128-bit bandwidth|
|Radeon R7 email@example.comGHZ||2GB GDDR5@6.5GHZ effective, 128-bit bandwidth|
Well. we, can see that the mobile part Radeon M385X is on the top-midrange range of AMD’s GPUs, more or less. In short, the fact that the M385X benchmarks till now showed relatively low scores can be explained by mostly by a) AMD’s drivers DX11 efficiency b) Hardware underutilization (again, in DX11) and in the case of the Y700 – c) Thermal/TDP limitations posed by Lenovo.
I wanted to test how much of (a) and (b) is still in the game with the new version of AoS and newest AMD’s drivers. In this case, the AMD FX-8800P APU also comes into play and “thanks” to Lenovos’ algorithm, it downclocks to 2.1GHZ, but mostly stays above it.
Benchmarks and Graphs
Let me start by saying that the benchmarks results have changed vastly over the last few months, with the change in drivers from AMD and NV and with the change in Ashes of Singularity. We’ll probably continue to see some more changes in the near future.
Now, about the tests and info. The M385X + FX-8800P are mine, but the GTX 960M results are from Ashes Of Singularity benchmark database and these are the specific benchmarks I’ve taken from there – 960M Crazy, 960M High, 950M High (DX11, but should be around the same), I7-4720HQ + GTX 850M DDR3 (because it’s the same as the 950M).
Secondly, we see that an I7 + GTX 960M has around 20% advantage over the FX-8800P + Radeon M385X 4GB GDDR5.
Third, we see that the AMD hardware is faster than the I7 + GTX 850M DDR3 by 10% in DX12. At most, they should be the same. Given that you can get the Y700 AMD version for $550-$650 (new or open box), makes it a very competitive laptop in light of these results.
Finally, we see that with DX12 mode, the FX-8800P + Radeon M385X get big increase in FPSs, at least in “standard” and “high” presets, at around 25-30% improvement, just from switching to DX12 mode. That’s very nice.
And now, some info about Wattage, clocks and utilization:
What do we see here? Well, the AMD Radeon M385X core clocks jump between lows and highs with an average just below 800MHZ (you can’t see in the graph, but I’m telling you). The maximal core clocks are 1GHZ for the M385X, 25% higher than the average under AoS, which is around the difference between it and the GTX 960M + I7. Ofcourse, I’m not sure it would have helped, but I bet that a constant 1GHZ core clocks would show. I couldn’t get any overclocking software to work (including AMD’s overdrive). The AMD system is more limted by TDP and Lenovos’ algorithm than all. If the numbers are correct, 80W just for the GDDR5 may be the biggest factor in the TDP limitation.
Finally, few points/thoughts
- AMD’s GPUs pack a lot of power, which is being utilized with DX12/Vulcan now, and that wasn’t the case before.
- The Radeon M385X probably doesn’t fullfill its potential. In this specific configuration, the CPU is probably limiting the 3D performance a bit, in Ashes of Singularity.
- AMD’s partners really hurt AMD’s name in the gaming laptops scene, probably. I bet an I5-U + M385X would be better choice.
- The Y700 AMD version (or any other laptop with such hardware) for $600 is a very good bet. I’d consider it. Software ecosystem is not there yet, but that’s a good bet. However, if you can wait, then wait for next generation GPUs/CPUs. IF you really want one now for $600, I’d say that the Y700 with an IPS, GTX 950M DDR3 performance level and other good stuff is a good way to go (link who helps you find it)
- DX12/Vulcan games need time to mature and stabilize. Drivers too.
- Soon, we’ll have new architectures from AMD (Polaris, 14nm) and NVidia (Pascal, 16nm) for high performance GPUs as well as APUs and CPUs from AMD (Zen) and Intel. All will be new stuff and more suitable for the new VR ecosystem and DX12/Vulcan. No need to really sweat the choice now.
- And… some more links with benchmarks – 1, 2, 3, 4 (remember that they are not from latest versions of the game and drivers)