The AMD FM2+ chipset has been a resounding success in my opinion as it offers an affordable option to gamers whilst conforming to lower than usual TDP; something not really offered with dedicated GPUs. There are of course downsides to the APU chips as they do lack in the compute “grunt” department; something Intel have over AMD when it comes to IPC performance but that isn’t the purpose of today’s review. Today is of course all about the Braebo Hercules and what it offers to the consumers so let’s get right into the conclusion and see what it’s all about…
So the most important factor is surely the performance right? Well you would be correct in thinking that and for what it is, the Hercules actually does a good job. The Hercules utilises the AMD A10 7800 APU perfectly with the inclusion of the AMD Radeon branded 2133MHz memory which not only provides an improvement in memory related functions, but also boosts the on-board graphics performance; something which can’t be ignored. When it comes to gaming performance, if you thought spending £449 was a precedent to play AAA titles at good settings with more than 60fps then you would be wrong; if you however expected 30fps as your staple then this system will surely satisfy you.
That being said, any system which can run Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor at a respectable frame rate surely deserves some credit but for games such as CS: GO, DOTA2, League of Legends and Team Fortress 2, this system will deliver you much happiness for a very affordable price. Touching on the price itself, £449 isn’t a bad deal when you consider the actual purpose of the APU; affordable gaming over pure performance. Another factor is of course things like power consumption and with the A10 7800, the overclocking goes right out of the window which may disappoint some but for those buying a pre-built system, it isn’t something that is going to get much thought before purchasing anyway. For that £449 price tag you aren’t only getting a M-ATX FM2+ system with the latest A88X chipset (full SATA3 (6GB/s) ports), you get a pre-installed copy of Windows 8.1 64 bit all installed inside a very nice chassis; the Aerocool DS Dead Silence in a very vibrant red finish.
That leads me to the next part, the design. Now obviously this system isn’t going to win awards for the most colour co-ordinated build of the year (blue fan on the heat sink in a red case) but with the lack of windows, aforementioned design issues come down to the case itself; it’s a very nice case in my opinion. Couple that with the OEM 500watt FSP PSU, you don’t get much in the way of head room if you do wish to add a dedicated GPU at a later date so no design awards will be handed out today. Braebo however have done a good job with cable management and although it’s not exactly hard in a case like the Aerocool DS, they still pulled it off.
When choosing a system, the first thing you really need to consider is what you want to use it for and then work out your budget; two very linked ingredients for exactly what you need/can afford. There is no disputing that currently, the AMD APU range is pretty quintessential at what it offers but if you do desire more CPU grunt for things like rendering, video editing and even multi-tasking; an 8 core AMD chip or Intel quad core will be more of an appropriate purchase. However if you are looking for something which gives you true “bang for buck” then the Hercules will surely give you something to shout home about.
Overall the Braebo Hercules FM2+ system offers a very affordable option to those gamers and even those wanting a larger and more powerful HTPC. If you are of course and Intel fan boy, this system might not please you but looking at things realistically, you will be hard pushed to find what FM2+ offers at a better price.
A huge thanks to AMD and Braebo Computers for sending the Hercules in today and I look forward to potentially seeing more in the near future.