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Old 11-23-2011, 10:28 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2008
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Default Testing out a "Llano" based mobile AMD APU

Bah. Wall of text was just deleted by an accidental click of the back button. Right after I finished typing too.

Anyways, I just got a new laptop run by AMD's A8-3500 APU. I was originally planning on getting an i5 or i7 with discrete graphics, but the A8 was on sale at Office Depot for $479, along with 8GB RAM and a 640GB hard drive, and I felt like that was the best deal I would find for some time. So far, I'm not disappointed.

As far as the CPU itself goes, it's no Intel Sandy Bridge. But you probably knew that already. This chip is a better competitor for Intel's last-gen CPUs, and even then it wouldn't match up to the i7 models. Even a 2nd gen i3 can outperform the A8 in some CPU-intensive tasks, despite the A8 having 4 cores to the i3's 2. A good part of this has to do with the A8's horrible base clock speed (1.5Ghz). On top of that, at least with the A8-3500 that I'm using, AMD's Turbo Core, which supposedly can boost the CPU to up to 2.4Ghz, has yet to show any signs of working. Since the 3500 has a smaller heat capacity than other A8 models, and some of that capacity is taken up by the integrated 6620G graphics, it's possible that the GPU takes up too much heat for Turbo Core to ever come into play. Even with the disappointing CPU performance, though, the A8 is more than capable of meeting the needs of the majority of computer users.

Thankfully, building a chip that's faster than Intel's wasn't the goal of Llano. The A8's main feature, the on-die 6620G graphics card, doesn't disappoint in performance. The integrated graphics can easily match the performance of today's middle-end dedicated GPUs. Needless to say, the 6620G eats Intel integrated graphics ALIVE in anything graphics-intensive. Namely, gaming.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to test any hardcore games on the A8 yet. Minecraft, however, can run on max performance settings with frame rates of 35+--on battery power alone. When plugged in, the on-die graphics consistently cranks out over 40-45FPS on max performance settings. On top of that, the A8 gets impressive battery life even when running Minecraft at max settings. On a full charge, my notebook can play Minecraft at max settings for over 3 hours. By lowering performance settings a little, I can stetch that out to 4+ hours of Minecraft on a single charge.

Since Portal 2 just finished installing, I'm going to go give that a test and see how well Llano handles it. I'll post an update on how it worked later.

AGLA FL15 Pro Circuit Champion - Tank for Hybrid Theory (AGLA) - Captain/Hybrid for Zero Logic (GGL)
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