AMD - add a graphics card or upgrade

I have a AMD A107870K – with combined graphics Radeon 7. I have 16gig ram. Would I see any significant benefit if I added a separate graphics card (any suggestions) or would I be better off upgrading to Ryzen 5 3400G. The latter would mean a new motherboard and ram. There is considerable more cost to the latter.

If you don’t mind buying used components, a decent upgrade from your current machine (while keeping the RAM) would be an Intel LGA1366 platform.


Motherboard (single socket):

New motherboard (single socket, Chinese brand):

Motherboard (dual socket):

The X56xx and W36xx Xeons overclock really well (4 to 5 GHz) while providing the best bang for the buck. W3680 has an unlocked multiplier and is the best option for single socket performance. CPUs are the cheapest on Ebay / Aliexpress, but used motherboards could be cheaper in your local area.

The dual socket variant cannot be overclocked, but two X5670s match some of the Ryzen 5s for rendering. W36xx series Xeons don’t support dual socket configurations.

Speaking of graphic cards, these are decent performers:
Radeon R9 390 8G
Geforce 780
Geforce 980
Geforce 1050 Ti

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I had an earlier A10 Kaveri and it was as slow as a slow dog. Investigating the specification leads to reports that it had no L3 cache (I’ve already discarded the mobo and replaced with a 3400G, and I cannot recall if memtest86 confirmed that or not). But yours appears to have better boost speeds than mine had.

I replaced it with a 3400G which is still working well although I don’t use it for photo editing (it’s connected to a cheap monitor). But for a 3400G, more memory is better IFF you are compiling (particularly large rust packages such as firefox, or qtwebengine) or rendering with blender.

With an A10 (4 cores/4 threads and probably not much of the RAM devoted to graphics, unlike with low-end ryzen mobos which can use 2GB with no options to reduce that) I guess that 16 GB is adequate unless your working set forces you into swap.

There is also a difference in the available instructions - Fam 15h (Kaveri) has at least one op-code which Fam 17 (ryzen) lacks, but against that ryzen, even ryzen1/1+ has extra op-codes. I found a review comparing 7870K and 3200G, which commented that the 7870K had an extra opcode, and that probably software would start to use it .
LOL. And yes, after I removed my Kaveri mobo I installed a 3400G on an A320 mobo - the linux system was compiled with -march=native on Kaveri, getting it to run enough to install a fresh -march=native (i.e. now zen1) system was “interesting”, but for me well worth the effort.

Before that I’d been using the box for compiling (it’s what I mostly do) and wondered why it was so slow until I found reports of no L3 cache.

For photos, why do you thing that using a separate graphics card will help ? I use linux, gimp, nufraw, g’mic so I’m not looking for better GPUs (for me, low power in the GPU is better, I don’t play video games).

If you go with intel, you might need a bigger power supply.

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I am very hesitant to invest any money in my rather old 4th gen i3 hardware. If you can find a very cheap GC, go for it. 16Gb RAM seems sufficient, I doubt you notice a difference to 32Gb.

A lot of new software (also open source) use CUDA cores (for example, photogrammetry-software, AI/neural-networks-software). If you are going to use that, you have to buy a NVIDIA graphics card.

In the end I opted for a secondhand Asus R7 240 off ebay. This has speeded up darktable for me. Thanks for everyones advice.