AMD A4 3400 APU Review

Today we are looking at the low cost, low power AMD APU – called the A4 3400. In terms of the hierarchy of the Llano APUs this particular chip is closer to the bottom of the pile. That said, while it isn’t aimed at an audience who enjoy playing the latest Direct X 11 games at the highest resolution, it caters to a much broader audience and aims to be a jack-of-all-trades in the APU market. At less than £50 inc vat, is this an ideal foundation for a low cost system?
The A4 3400 is a dual core processor clocked at a respectable 2.7Ghz with 160 Radeon cores running at 600mhz. This could form the foundation for a new system … capable of light gaming, while still having enough horse power to handle a variety of tasks.
The A4 3400 and the Gigabyte motherboard under review also support Hybrid Crossfire, with certain AMD graphics cards. To test this potential load-sharing and possible performance increase between the APU and a dedicated GPU, we installed a low-power version of the VTX Radeon 6450, the highest model of graphics card that is supported by this board that allows for Hybrid Crossfire capability.
The Radeon 6450 model we added to test the Crossfire capability has 1Gb of onboard memory.
Today we will see how the AMD A4 handles a myriad of duties, including light gaming and encoding tasks.
Processor Type:AMD Dual-Core A4-Series APU for Desktops
Model:AMD A4-3400 APU with Radeon HD 6410D
Part Number:AD3400OJGXBOX
Socket Type:FM1 uPGA
Power Wattage:65
Processor Bus Speed:Not Specified
Processor L2 Cache Size:1024
Stepping:Not Specified
Fusion Control Hubs:D2/D3 FCH
Direct X Version:11
AMD launched their A-Series desktop platform ‘Lynx’ and their first A-series desktop APU’s in June last year. The initial line up included quad core processors, including the A8 3850/3800 and the A6 3650/3600. AMD also released a triple core version, called the A6 3500 a few months later. The latest range are called the ‘A4 APU’.
While this model isn’t aimed at an audience who enjoy gaming at the highest screen resolutions with a huge framerate, it caters to a much broader audience while demanding a very low power draw at the socket. Does it live up to the “Jack of all trades” tag?
The A4 3400 has a TDP of just 60 watts, the same power requirement as a typical traditional light bulb, which means this low-powered APU doesn’t require a particularly powerful power supply, nor does it require a huge cooling tower that you might see on some higher end processors.
This particular model would most likely be best suited to use in a home theatre PC; however,  we wouldn’t be surprised to see some businesses use this little power-saving chip within a fleet of office desktops. As it consumes so little power – they need not worry about any nasty electric bills at the end of the month.
Here are some of the official specifications by AMD:
Processor Type:AMD Dual-Core A4-Series APU for Desktops
ModelAMD A4-3400 APU with Radeon HD 6410D
Part NumberAD3400OJGXBOX
Socket TypeFM1
Power Wattage65w
Processor L2 Cache Size1MB
Fusion Control HubsD2/D3 FCH
Direct X Version11
GPU Clock Speed600 MHz
GPU Memory512MB
We would like to thank Xigmatek for supplying this case at such short notice, just for this review.
The Gigas case looks sleek and elegant in a brushed aluminium finish that would look very appealing in a home cinema setup. The build quality is sturdy and solid, with substantial aluminium extrusions used for brackets and support rails.
The Xigmatek Gigas normally comes supplied with two 120mm 800 RPM fans, with optional support for two additional fans. These fans were supplied with the review sample we received and although the system didn’t really require them, we used them anyway, as they would add to the overall power requirements.
What we found a little odd was that the case only supports three fans with the supplied fan controller. Therefore you have options to plug the 4th fan into a spare motherboard fan header, install an aftermarket fan controller or use fan splitters to get all four fans running. This is a possible oversight on Xigmatek’s part and full support for four fans as advertised on the box should really have been provided.
That being said, the case is not without issues. The main issue is one that can be applied to many compact cases … there is very little room to work with when installing components.
Those with larger hands may find installing the motherboard a struggle and a magnetic screwdriver is a must, as putting screws in by hand could prove to be very difficult.
We found installation of the motherboard interesting, to say the least. The unique design of the drive bay cages that are supported by a spinal column, meant that the support column and cages had to be removed, to allow sufficient access to install the motherboard. We then had to re-install the rails and cages to install other components, a somewhat time-consuming process that is typical with small form factor cases.
When it comes to the subject of cable management, it’s fair to say that it’s difficult in such a small form factor case. This case is pretty well packed with everything installed, with little spare space available to hide cables. We struggled to find routing for unused cables from the power supply that didn’t foul the CPU or case fans, or that didn’t adversely affect air flow to some components.
Fortunately the system we installed was not a particularly hot-running one, the air flow in the case managed to provide sufficient cooling via the four fans, that were barely audible when running. Cable management and air flow could be improved by the use of a modular power supply, allowing for unused cables to be left out.
The Gigas case provides support for USB 3.0 on the front of the case; unfortunately, we were unable to test this as the system under review did not support USB 3.0. You can buy this case from Overclockers for £89.99 inc vat.
The AE34G1609U2-U Entertainment Edition memory we used for this review is rated at 1600Mhz (PC12800) and assists in the build of a solid all around system.
The AMD Entertainment Edition memory meets industry standards and specifications, and is rigorously tested to ensure quality and reliability, being a perfect choice for cost-conscious “white-box” users and system builders. The AMD memory module is also stated to be compatible with Intel platforms.
The AMD memory is vanilla in appearance, low profile and does not come supplied with any heat spreaders fitted; however, this is not a shock, given that the modules are rated at 1.5v and so produce very little heat. 16x256Mb memory chips per module are installed and the PCB is black in colour. CAS timings are rated at 9-9-9-28, delivering up to 12.8Gb/sec bandwidth.
We reviewed their Performance Edition gaming memory in April and were impressed with the low price point and compatibility across both Intel and AMD motherboards.
The Gigabyte GA-A55M-DS2 motherboard is a compact, Micro ATX board, comprising the AMD A55 chipset and is a generally well-laid out power efficient motherboard.
That said, if you elect to add a dedicated GPU, you sacrifice the PCIe x1 slot, as it is obstructed by the graphics card heat sink and fan, even with a low profile, single-slot design such as the VTX 6450 we used in our testing.
One other PCIx16 slot is fitted to the board. Gigabyte have remained faithful to the company colours, by opting for a blue PCB.
The power connectors are found in the usual top left (40pin) and middle right locations (20+4 pin), with four vertical SATA 3Gb/sec ports, located just below the 24-pin power connector.
The board features two DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting speeds up to 1866Mhz, although 2x4Gb DDR3 1600Mhz modules were used for the testing. A maximum of 32Gb of system memory is supported.
The board features the on/off power charge function, allowing for the charging of USB devices and four rear USB 2.0 sockets are provided, with support for an additional two via headers on the motherboard. USB 3.0 is not supported, however.
We were surprised to see only two system fan headers on the board, one of which is used by the CPU cooler, the other being located at the bottom amongst the front panel connections.
Realtek HD Audio is provided by rear sockets (line in, line out and microphone) and headers for front audio, with up to 7.1 surround sound being supported if an additional front panel HD Audio Module is used. An SP-DIF connection is also provided for optical audio.
PS/2 connectors are provided for keyboard and mouse and video is supported by VGA (D-sub) and DVI-D connectors. Those who may be looking to use this for an HTPC application may be disappointed as no HDMI connection is fitted to the board which means the audio signal will need to be carried via dedicated audio cables. Gigabit Ethernet comes as standard.
The Dual Bios feature is supported, as we have come to expect from Gigabyte motherboards.
In order to test the APU, we are using a mixture of synthetic benchmarks in addition to a series of games; this was intended to test the widest range of the abilities of the system.
The system was housed inside a Xigmatek Gigas case that provides adequate cooling (by way of 4 x 120mm fans supplied with the case) in a small form factor, the size of which could be ideally used to house a HTPC.
All system drivers were up to date at the time of reviewing and we used the latest version of  AMD’s Control Engine software.
The test system specification is below:
Processor: AMD Llano A4 3400.
Cooling: Stock Cooler.
Graphics: AMD 6410D, 160 Radeon cores integrated in the processing unit (Dedicated VTX 1GB 6450 added for Crossfire results).
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-A55M-DS2.
Chassis: Xigmatek Gigas.
Power: ThermalTake Smart 430w.
Memory: 8GB (2x4GB) AMD Entertainment Edition 1600Mhz DDR3 @9-9-9-28  timings (Manufacturered by Patriot).
Storage: 40GB Mushkin Castillo SSD.
The software used was Windows 7 Home Premium Service Pack 1, 64-bit Edition. This version of Windows 7 was felt to reflect the software used on many home user systems, whilst taking advantage of 64-bit support provided by the hardware.
3DMark Vantage is the industry standard performance benchmark for DirectX 10 gaming PCs. It includes two graphics tests, two CPU tests and six feature tests. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark Vantage is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 10 under game-like loads.
While seemingly struggling to maintain a high framerate in some of the GPU related tests, the A4 3400 held its own in the CPU tests and gained a respectable score. The addition of the Radeon 6450 boosted the score by 768 points. Adding a dedicated GPU made a noticeable difference to the overall scores.
3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world’s most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC’s gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.
Unfortunately this benchmark looked like a step too far for this low power APU as every benchmark ran with a low framerate and took several minutes to complete – still, this benchmark is designed to test demanding Direct X 11 performance. When we added the discrete graphics card into the equation, we noticed the framerate increased significantly, mirrored by the results.
PCMark 7 includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed to cover the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete PC performance testing for Windows 7 for home and business use.
The overall score is good, indicating solid all around performance. We added a discrete graphics card and rerun the test, however the scores were much the same.
Unigine Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced UNIGINE™ engine. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands, with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of Steampunk.
It was the first DirectX 11 benchmark released, the original version being released at the time of the launch of Microsoft Windows 7 October, 2009.
This benchmark was completed with the default settings determined by the application upon loading.  The default settings are below.
Although the framerate of the APU alone left a little to be desired, I believe that it was let down more by the lack of of video memory especially at high definition resolutions. With the addition of the 1Gb 6450, the framerate improved considerably and the maximum FPS almost doubled from 12.9 to 22.3 frames per second.
SiSoftware Sandra is a 32- and 64-bit client/server Windows system analyzer that includes benchmarking, testing and listing modules. It aim is to go beyond other utilities to show you more of what is really going on under the hood so you draw comparisons at both a high and low-level in a single product. You can get information about the CPU, GPGPU, chipset, video adapter (GPU), ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals even .NET and Java. The following benchmarks were ran using the 64-bit build.
The results, for such a low power design are actually quite positive, even if they are someway behind the high powered desktop processors we normally review.
Cinebench R11.5 64 Bit is a real-world, cross-platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. Cinebench is based on Maxon’s award-winning animation software Cinema 4D, software that is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. Maxon software has been widely used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.
Cinebench is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.
An Intel ATOM Quad core processor scores around 0.60 in this test. In this regard the A4 3400 is a significantly better performer, even though a more powerful desktop processor would be better suited to serious 3D rendering duties on a regular basis.
Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Ōnin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan. The standard edition of the game features a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.
We are using the built in benchmark which is available via the STEAM client for this game – we opted to use the balanced benchmark option at 1280×720 resolution.
The A4 3400 didn’t complete the test in Direct X 11, aborting before it started. This game is too demanding for the APU, even with a discrete card added in Hybrid Crossfire. A more powerful graphics card would be required to play this game, even at 720p.
Dirt 3 is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the “Colin McRae Rally” series, developed and published by Codemasters. However, the “Colin McRae” tag has been completely removed from this iteration, following the untimely death of Colin McRae.
We used the in-game benchmark to test the performance of the system using the following settings.
Resolution: 1280×720
: None
: Medium
The AMD A3 3400 struggles to maintain solid framerates at 720p, dropping to 13 frames per second in intensive sections of the environment. When we added the discrete graphics card however the game was significantly smoother throughout, maintaining playable frame rates at these settings.
Just Cause 2 is an open world action-adventure video game developed by Avalanche Studios, published by Eidos Interactive and distributed by Square Enix. Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in the original Just Cause game.
The game is set on the fictional island of Panau, an island located in the south-east of Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak “Baby” Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.
To test the system, we used the in-game benchmark and opted to use the following settings:
Resolution: 1280×720
: 8X
: Medium
This is a rather demanding game, especially for lower end hardware such as this. When we add the discrete graphics card, the frame rates suffer a little. We aren’t sure why, however this game runs better without the discrete card added in Hybrid Crossfire.
Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games.
Again we opted to use the in game benchmark tool to put the system through its paces using the settings below:
Resolution: 1280×720
Shadows &
 Geometry: Medium
: 2X
: Off
Disappointing Hybrid Crossfire performance again. We would need to lower the image quality settings further to get this game completely playable. A higher powered discrete solution would help boost the frame rate further.
Metro 2033 is a first-person shooter video game with survival horror elements, based on the novel Metro 2033, by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.
Using the benchmark tool found in the games directory, we ran it using the following settings:
Resolution: 1280×720
Direct X
: 9
: Medium
Texture filtering
: AF 4X
Advanced PhysX
:  Disabled
:  Not supported
:  Not supported
This is an extremely demanding game and we found that it wasn’t perfectly smooth regardless of whether we added the discrete card in Crossfire, or not. We would need to lower the image quality settings further and possibly the resolution, to get a smooth gaming experience.
Street Fighter IV is a 2008 fighting game produced by Capcom, which co-developed the game with Dimps. It was the first numbered Street Fighter game released by Capcom since 1999.
We used the following options for this benchmark:
Resolution: 1280×720
Quality Preset
: Medium
Good results with this game, maintaining smooth frames throughout and averaging 49 frames per second. When we added the HD6450 in Hybrid Crossfire, the frame rates suffered a little, again.
In order to measure the temperature of the APU, the system was booted and left at idle for 5 minutes to stabilise before the idle temperature was recorded. Shortly after, Unigine Heaven benchmark was left to run its benchmark for several minutes, then the on- load temperature was recorded using HWmonitor.
Ambient temperatures were maintained at 19c.
The temperature results are below.
These temperatures are very impressive and a testament to how power efficient the A4 3400APU is.
To measure power consumption, we used a power meter on the mains supply that was attached directly to the system, excluding all other external devices. We loaded Unigine Heaven benchmark, to test the system under a ‘general load’ situation.
These results are even more impressive than the temperatures. The system demands 37 watts when idle and just over 70w at the socket under full load. To put this into perspective, the idle power consumption is less than the majority of traditional filament light bulbs; impressive stuff and potentially attractive to businesses that run a plethora of desktop machines for many hours a day.
The AMD Llano A4 3400 isn’t going to appeal to the high performance audience, but for those people who want a basic, cost effective processor with graphics acceleration then we feel it has a lot to offer.
Ultimately it has been designed for those on a strict budget, and enthusiast users who desire a system with very low power consumption. The A4 3400 is a very tempting proposition due to the incredibly low power drain and efficiency under load.
Additionally, the A4 3400 is it well suited for a home server environment as it delivers solid all-round performance and produces minimal heat. For a farm of low cost machines, it really does have advantages, especially as the asking price is only £49.98 in the United Kingdom today. It is significantly more powerful than the Intel ATOM quad core processors we have reviewed in the last year.
Sadly, our system build did not show any appreciable performance gain by the addition of a Radeon 6450 in Hybrid Crossfire, to support the A4 3400 APU. Future driver updates from AMD may improve the performance of the APU/GPU Hybrid Crossfire combination however.
We wouldn’t imagine many people buying an A4 3400 would demand substantial graphical processing power. For those that do, then there is always the option to add a higher performance discrete card at a later date. We feel a HD7750 would make a capable, relatively low cost upgrade if you wanted to smooth out the frame rates a little at 720p. The VTX3D HD7750 for instance is less than £80, and will assuredly bump overall gaming performance to the next level.
AMD are currently pushing the new A4 range hard and some stores have dedicated pages to supporting compatible components. This page over at DABS for instance highlights a wide range of motherboards to suit the A4 APU, some of which cost less than £50 inc vat. £100 for a new processor including the motherboard really is hard to ignore, especially when you factor in the very low power consumption.
This is clearly the ultimate ‘green’ system setup.
  • Low power consumption.
  • Cool and quiet.
  • Very competitive pricing.
  • Good ‘all-rounder’.
  • Less than £50.
  • Not the ideal solution for playing games at High definition resolutions.
  • Hybrid Crossfire performance is currently disappointing.
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