The 6-cell lithium-ion battery in our test system is relatively average for modern notebooks and features rating of 11.1V, 4.84Ah and 53.7Wh. Our standard battery rundown test (Windows 7 Balanced power profile, 70% screen brightness, wireless active, and refreshing a web page every 60 seconds) gave us a total run time of 8 hours and 11 minutes.
This isn't as impressive as the "12 hours" of battery life claimed by AMD but it is a substantial increase over the five hours and 36 minutes we obtained from an AMD test notebook last year running the A8-3500M APU with Radeon HD 6620G graphics.
Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):
At the end of our testing period with the AMD A10-4600M APU, I understood why AMD decided to give this APU the code name Trinity. I expected a rather unimpressive processor and graphics combination, but when I looked at the synthetic and real-world performance, examined the battery life, and actually used it for a few weeks my reaction was, "Holy s#*%! This is actually pretty impressive at this price point." AMD continues to take a big risk by setting aside half of the space on the processor die for graphics instead of dedicating all that room to a multi-core CPU and putting the graphics on another chip. It means there is less room for the dual-core or quad-core CPUs and it means the AMD hardware only "shines" when it's running applications that take advantage of its powerful graphics.
Thankfully, the majority of software developers now recognize the benefit of developing applications that use both the CPU and GPU, and if you aren't going to pay for a discrete graphics card on your Intel-based notebook then you might actually get better overall performance from a lower-cost AMD-based notebook running one of these new Trinity APUs. If our test notebook is indeed representative of what production-level A-series notebooks will deliver, then AMD is on par with the competition in terms of battery life and surprisingly close to the raw CPU performance if you consider what Intel offers at the same price. However, while video playback and gaming looks great the engineers at AMD still need to work on the HD Media Accelerator if they want to compete directly with the video conversion performance of Intel's Quick Sync.
In short, the new AMD A-series APUs should offer plenty of bang for your buck in mainstream notebooks for 2012. Of course, if money isn't a concern you will find better performance from notebooks packed with Intel CPUs and either Nvidia or AMD discrete graphics, but the last time we checked most people aren't exactly throwing money away buying premium PCs. Most consumers want better overall performance but they still want it at $700 or less ... and that is exactly what AMD is doing with Trinity.
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