We were very hopeful about the Bristol Ridge series from AMD back in September when we released a preview on our Dutch site. We had also hoped that the processors would be available for purchase soon, however up until the day of writing the CPUs have yet to be released. We did find a few kits in Germany consisting of an AMD A12-9800 APU and an Asus A320M-C motherboard, which we tested to get an idea of the new APU series.
The A12-9800 is the flagship model of the new APU series, which has been available for a while now in pre-built systems from large manufacturers. The processor is made up of Excavator cores, the last generation of Bulldozer-based cores that AMD has been using since the Carrizo generation. There haven't been any new desktop processors with these cores however, save for the Athlon X4 845.
The graphical improvements to Bristol Ridge are also fairly modest. The Radeon GPU has been upgraded to the GCN 1.2 architecture, in other words the same generation as Tonga and Fiji. This means that H.265 and VP9 video can be decoded on a hardware-level.
It's probably more important to note that this CPU is mounted on a brand new socket. Socket AM4 is a fully new platform with new chipsets and a feature set more fitting of a device in 2017, e.g. DDR4 memory and PCI-Express 3.0 support. A unique aspect of this chipset is that it functions as no more than an extension of the functionality offered by the CPU itself: the Bristol Ridge processors are in fact SoCs, since, among other things, USB and SATA ports come directly from the processor.
The AMD A12-9800 processor and ASUS A320M-C motherboard we're discussing today costs about 200 euros on a German web store, however we're not sure about the origin of the components. If you are contemplating a purchase, then you'd be wise to be aware of the fact that this series has not yet been officially released and that you might run into issues when using the components.
Many thanks to Hardware.Info-user trm0001 for lending his processor and motherboard for this test.