AMD A8-3500M review

AMD's second Fusion processor ups the performance ante with more cores and better graphics

AMD Llano
AMD's Llano APU combines both quad-core processing and DX11 graphics

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AMD's new mobile chip is not a performance heavyweight in a conventional sense. Let's be clear about that. With four rather elderly cores and a clockspeed that doesn't often - if ever - go beyond 1.5GHz, that was always going to be the case.

But this is a chip for compact, cost effective laptops not mega-power workstations or gaming rigs. What it does do, therefore, is deliver an outstanding compromise between performance and efficiency.

We liked

The test system provided by AMD is extremely thin and light. But it has plenty of oomph for daily computing right up to and including one of the more odious demands on consumer PCs, decoding high definition flash video.

And yet AMD claims up to 10 hours battery life. Our testing indicates around six hours when decoding 720p video, so 10 hours idle is very plausible. Then there's the graphics performance. The test system offered both the integrated core and a discrete chip along with the promise of Crossfire multi-GPU for extra performance. In the event, Crossfire failed to function.

But here's the thing. The AMD A8-3500M processor makes most sense in its simplest form without discrete graphics. The integrated Radeon HD 6620G graphics is massively faster than any previous integrated core. And while most decent discrete GPUs remain quicker, the 6620G is still a nice little core for casual gaming. Thanks to Llano, 'integrated' is no longer a dirty word when it comes to graphics.

We disliked

Strictly speaking, this is probably the slowest quad-core PC processor you can buy. We also don't know how much shipping hardware will be as yet - and cost will have a major bearing on the success of this platform.


Never mind that because the best thing about this new Fusion APU isn't any individual feature. It's not the 32nm transistors, the quad-core CPU or that game changing integrated GPU. It's the way the whole thing hangs together in an efficient, cost effective package under the AMD Vision umbrella. With this new Fusion processor on the scene, we confidently predict there will be many more affordable but seriously effective thin and light laptops on the market. Give it up for Llano.


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