AMD A8-3500M APU Test Configuration

June 14, 2011 by Jerry Jackson Reads (112,560)

AMD was kind enough to send us a “white box” laptop for testing. A “white box” is an unbranded PC that is typically not sold to the public. Although AMD ordered quite a few of these notebooks from Compal (the company that built the test systems) for testing purposes, it is unlikely that Compal will make this particular notebook available for sale. That being said, the system configuration used in our test notebook will likely be available from one or more notebook OEMs. In fact, it’s highly probable that this configuration is VERY similar to one of the new HP Pavilion notebooks with A-series processors which were recently announced.

AMD (Compal) White Box Test Notebook Specifications:

  • 14-inch 720p (1366×768) anti-glare display with LED backlighting
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • AMD A8-3500M APU with Radeon HD 6620G graphics (1.5~2.4GHz AMD Turbo Core, 4MB L2 cache, 35W TDP)
  • Radeon HD 6630M graphics (which provides Radeon HD 6690G2 graphics in Dual Graphics mode)
  • 4GB DDR3 1333MHz RAM (2x 2GB, supports up to 8GB – 2x4GB)
  • 250GB 7200RPM hard drive (Hitachi Travelstar 7K500 HTS725025A9A364)
  • HLDS CT30L Blu-ray/DVD combo drive
  • 6-cell li-ion battery (11.1V, 5.2Ah, 58Wh)

There are two things to keep in mind about this test configuration. First, AMD didn’t give us a jaw-dropping, high-end configuration. The A8-3500M is the third-best A-series APU that AMD offers and the Radeon HD 6630M is a mid-range discrete graphics card. Likewise, the hard drive is a relatively slow-to-average hard drive for a modern notebook and a faster hard drive or SSD would make this laptop an even better performer. The RAM is just standard 1333MHz memory and the battery is a totally average 6-cell Lithium-Ion variety. AMD says notebooks with A8 APUs should have prices that start around $699.

The second thing you’ll need to notice is that the model name of the Radeon discrete graphics changed as soon as it became “dual graphics.”

The G2 Team?
Just when you thought these new A-series processors made sense, AMD went and developed the most complicated branding structure possible for A-series notebooks that also feature discrete “dual” graphics. If you buy a new AMD-powered laptop with the A8-3530MX APU it features Radeon HD 6620G graphics. If you add a discrete Radeon HD 6770M card to that previously mentioned A8 APU then you now have “Radeon HD 6775G2 dual graphics” inside your notebook.

This notebook therefore has three graphics configurations that might be active at any given time. You might only use Radeon HD 6620G graphics when you’re browsing the web, then you might use Radeon HD 6770M graphics when editing HD video, and lastly, you might use Radeon HD 6775G2 dual graphics when gaming.

Huh?

I guess it wasn’t good enough to simply say “Radeon HD 6770M with dual graphics” when your notebook has a 6770M card … AMD had to give every discrete GPU and APU combination its own Radeon branding. Feel free to read the chart below if you want to make your brain hurt.

AMD vs. Intel?
If you’re like most notebook buyers then you’re probably asking yourself, “What Intel-based notebooks does this AMD notebook compete against?” Well, as previously mentioned, AMD was targeting the $699 and up price range for the A8 APUs while the A4 and A6 chips should land in the $499 and $599 ranges respectively. Our specific test system is designed to compete with or outperform a second-generation (Sandy Bridge) Intel Core i5 notebook. To that end, we’ll benchmark our test laptop against a range of Intel-based offerings in the Core i3/i5/i7 range.

The two notebooks that immediately came to mind for me were the Toshiba Satellite A665-S5176 with Intel Core i3-2310M ($799) and the Dell Inspiron 15R (N5110) with Intel Core i5-2410M ($889) For good measure, I’ll also include comparisons to the Toshiba Satellite E305-S1990X with Intel Core i5-2410M ($899) and the ASUS U31JG-A1 notebook with Intel Core i3-380M and Nvidia GeForce GT 415M graphics ($849).

Let’s see how the latest AMD FUSION technology performs …


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