The 6-cell lithium-ion battery in our test system is relatively average for modern notebooks and features rating of 11.1V, 5.2Ah and 58Wh. 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 five hours and 36 minutes using the A8-3500M APU with Radeon HD 6620G graphics. This is less than I expected based on AMD’s battery life claims, but it is on par with many of the Intel-based notebooks we’ve reviewed in this category.
Another thing worth mentioning in terms of power consumption is heat. Previous generations of AMD processors were heavily criticized for extremely high temperatures (which could be uncomfortable on your lap) but our A8-3500M test notebook remained cool to the touch even when gaming on high settings.
Battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):
At the end of our testing period with the AMD A8-3500M APU, I felt the same way I did about the AMD E-350 APU last year: I was “impressed”, but not “blown away.” AMD took 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 the new AMD hardware only “shines” when it’s taking advantage of its powerful graphics.
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. Raw CPU performance isn’t particularly strong in the A-series APUs and that might impact some productivity in CPU-intense tasks. However, web browsing, video playback, video conferencing, and gaming will all see some impressive performance boosts over the Intel equivalents thanks to the powerful Radeon graphics.
Bottom line, average consumers now have more reasons than ever to buy an AMD-based laptop. Yes, you’ll take a performance hit in some ways but you’ll get a much more attractive multimedia experience per dollar spent. The new AMD A-series APUs will arguably deliver the best multimedia performance you’ll find in a budget-friendly laptop.
Now let’s just hope we see some attractive AMD configurations with good prices from notebook manufacturers in time for the back to school and holiday seasons.