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AMD A-series APUs get tested

Posted on Thursday, June 30 2011 @ 20:36:40 CEST by

Now that AMD's desktop APUs are finally launched it's time to take a look if this whole Fusion concept has what it takes to enable AMD to grab a larger slice of the processor pie.

AnandTech reports Llano is a great solution for entry-level gaming PCs if you want to rely solely on integrated graphics, but if gaming isn't something you're interested in you'll be better off with Intel's Sandy Bridge.
AMD's dual-graphics (asymmetric CrossFire) is an interesting solution to the argument that you could just buy a cheaper AMD CPU and a low end discrete GPU and get better performance. For example, you could get better performance if you bought a Radeon HD 6570 and an Athlon II X4 640 for $175 vs. a A8-3850 for $135. With dual-graphics in play you could add a discrete GPU to the A8-3850 and have better overall performance (in theory) than the discrete card by itself. In practice, limiting dual-graphics to only DX10/11 titles does hurt some of its potential. In my opinion the better solution here would be more aggressive pricing on the Llano APUs. The Athlon II X4 + Radeon HD 6570 is a better buy (unless you want the power savings of the A8), the only way to truly combat that is for the A8-3850 to drop in price.
The site also tested the A8-3850 in a HTPC and found that the chip doesn't have what it takes to make HTPC GPUs like the GeForce GT 430 and Radeon HD 6570 redundant. The GPU performance is too low and there are still a number of issues like full post processing on Blu-ray videos.

The Tech Report also took a look at AMD's A8-3850 and concludes that while Llano has some strengths in the laptop market, the 100W desktop variant it just too awkward. The 100W TDP makes it unfit for SFF and All-in-One systems and while the GPU performance is double that of Intel's Sandy Bridge chips, the CPU performance is slightly worse than the less expensive Core i3-2100 and the Phenom II X4 840.
On the desktop, though, those same questions play out rather differently. The expectations for CPU performance are much higher, for one thing. We'd happily absorb the extra speed we could get out of a quad-core Sandy Bridge chip, if possible. For another, there's not much of a CPU performance gap between the A8-3850 and its closest competitor, anyhow. Yes, the Core i3-2100 is faster, but its true advantage is substantially lower power draw under load. The graphics question looks different, too, in light of the fact that snapping in a $99 graphics card like the Radeon HD 6670 will nearly double your performance versus the A8-3850's Radeon IGP. Consider that you'd save 30 bucks by going for a Phenom II X4 840, and that you could put that 30 bucks toward a discrete graphics card. Suddenly, you're awfully close to making the A8-3850 seem irrelevant.



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