After spending some time with the AMD A-Series APU and the Lynx platform we must say that we are rather impressed. All of the AMD A75-based motherboards that we have received so far look great and with prices ranging from $99 to $129 they are also very affordable and loaded with the latest features that one would need. When it comes to performance comparing processors is no longer an easy task since the x86 CPU, GPU and Northbridge (memory & PCIe controller) are all located in the APU for the most part. There are numerous tests that can be done and to be honest reviewing a new Intel or AMD processor is almost like a motherboard, CPU and video card review all in one article these days. We did our best to give you a good look at performance and we think our comparison between the Intel Core i3-2105 processor and AMD A8-3850 was a fair one from a price perspective.
|AMD A75 Platform||Intel Z68 Platform|
|Motherboard|| Gigabyte GA-A75M-UD4H
| Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3-B3
|Memory|| G.Skill Ripjaws X
8GB (2 x 4GB) 1866MHz CL9
| G.Skill Ripjaws X
8GB (2 x 4GB) 1866MHz CL9
The price difference between the core test systems was just $15, so it really was a fair look at two platforms that cost roughly the same. The performance we saw from both of the systems was rather impressive for right around $350. Most people that are looking to upgrade their current system would just need to replace the processor, motherboard and memory since their other hardware should still work. The power consumption of both test systems never got over 200W, so a big upgraded power supply really is not needed. With low prices and minimal power supply requirements the AMD A-series APU should do very well in corporate environments and developing countries where price and performance is a concern.
When it comes to performance the AMD A8-3850 proved to be tough competition for the Intel Core i3-2105 processor, but to be fair both of the processors did well in certain areas and not so much in others. The one area that the AMD A8-3850 APU never lost in was when the Radeon HD 6550D GPU inside took center stage. We even used the Intel Core i3-2105 that features the recently updated Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU. If you recall the original Core i3-2100 used Intel HD Graphics 2000, but both the Core i3-2100 and Core i3-2105 feature the same 3.1GHz clock speed. Regardless, the Intel HD Graphics doesn’t stand a chance to the Radeon HD 6550D in game performance. Both the Intel and the AMD platforms do great in Blu-ray playback, so watching videos on either platforms is fine.
The Lynx platform by AMD should do well with mainstream consumers that want a system that does everything they want it to do and without sucking down a bunch of power or draining their wallet. Both general users and corporate IT managers should take notice that with this platform you no longer need a discrete graphics card in order to suit most peoples needs. Another thing we need to point out is that there is just one driver to install and that is AMD VISION. The AMD VISION Engine Control Center is much like CATALYST Control Center and a nice place to make APU adjustments. AMD also plans on having monthly driver updates for the Lynx platform, so expect to hear more about AMD VISION in the years to come.
Since we already touched on platform pricing we might as well talk the prices of the APUs launching today. AMD will be launching two Llano A-Series APUs now and then two more at a later date that hasn’t been announced yet. The flagship APU is the A8-3850, which is priced at $135 and the part that we reviewed for you today. The A8-3850 has a 2.9GHz quad-core CPU, 600MHz GPU w/ 400 Radeon cores, 4MB of L2 cache and a 100W TDP. Not bat at all for $135! The lower end part that we didn’t look at today that was also announced was the $115 A6-3650. The A6-3650 has a 2.6GHz quad-core CPU, 443MHz GPU w/ 320 Radeon cores, 4MB of L2 cache and a 100W TDP. The A6-3650 and A8-3850 are hitting the market any day now, but the ones to keep an eye out for are the A8-3800 and A6-3600 APUs as they feature the same GPU speed of their respective counterparts, but feature lower x86 core clock speeds. These chips feature AMD Turbo Core Technology and due to that and the lower clock speeds they are just 65W parts. AMD has not mentioned any prices for these other two APUs, so we expect that they are a number of weeks away from launching.
One of the questions that always gets asked by readers is how long a new socket is going to be around. We asked AMD to comment on the longevity of Socket FM1 and they declined to answer the question. That right there is usually cause for concern, but we expect this platform to be around for a bit. From the sounds of it AMD is planning to offer speed bumps for Lynx using the Llano based APUs, but the real question is what socket will Trinity based APUs be using when they come out in the second half of 2012 if all goes as planned? This month at AMD Developer Fusion Summit 2011 we were able to personally see a Trinity Notebook running, so with the first production run already off the lines and running the Windows operating system it makes us curious what socket it is using. Since a mobile version of Trinity was shown running so soon we would have to guess that it shares a socket with Llano and that would mean this platform would have an upgrade path for at least two years.
Legit Bottom Line: The AMD A-Series ‘Llano’ APUs have been released for the desktop ‘Lynx’ platform and the performance is enough for AMD to catch up to Intel on similarly priced platforms. We’d call AMD having a competitive platform a success for both AMD and consumers as it will help keep prices fair.