AMD A6-3650 Llano APU Review

Author: MAC
Date: August 2, 2011
Product Name: A6-3650
Part Number: AD3650WNGXBOX
Purchase at NCIX: | UK
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Although the $135 A8-3850 is cheap enough in our opinion, and a bargain to boot, AMD will soon be offering a multitude of lower priced APUs as well. At the moment though, the $120 A6-3650 is the only one of the lower-end models that is available on the market. This $15 price reduction comes at the expense of a 300MHz CPU clock decrease and a GPU that is about one-quarter less powerful than the one in the flagship APU - at least on paper. Thankfully, as you will see in the table below, the GPU's performance has generally not declined too much. More importantly though, how does this new processor fare against the competition from Intel?

Let's take a look at these tables:

Now to be fair, the A6-3650 is really meant to compete with the $125 Core i3-2100, but the above situation would not really change much if that processor was included. Intel's mainstream-level dual-core/four-thread Core i3-2100 series simply crushes the native quad-core APUs when it comes to pure CPU performance. As we mentioned in the Llano launch article, the "Stars" K10.5 cores simply cannot compete with the newer Sandy Bridge microarchitecture when it comes to lightly threaded applications. The A6-3650 does occasionally score the odd victory in highly multi-treaded workloads, but even those victories are by a relatively slight margin. To make matters worse, in all of our gaming benchmarks it was a one-sided victory in favour of the Sandy Bridge processor, but only when using a discrete GPU.

Having been very impressed with the Radeon HD 6550D in the A8-3850, we were anxious to see how well the slightly neutered Radeon HD 6350D IGP would run our gaming benchmarks. Surprisingly, despite the 25% reduction in shader cores and 35% decrease in the GPU clock, overall gaming performance was not impacted too greatly. Frame rates were obviously down across the board but they were still significantly higher than what the Core i3-2120 and its HD Graphics 2000 were able to achieve. There were a few cases where the Core i5-2500K and Core i7-2600K posted better frame rates than the A6-3650, but this was arguably less due to their higher-end HD Graphics 3000 and more due to their overwhelming CPU performance advantage. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to compare the A6-3650 to the $140 Core i3-2105, which is the only 'regular' Sandy Brdige desktop chip to feature the HD Graphics 3000 IGP.

Ultimately, our conclusion from the A8-3850 applies here: If you're building a new budget-friendly system from scratch that will be used for medium-level gaming, HD movie watching or a long list of other seemingly benign tasks, this new Lynx platform is a no-brainer. The A6-3650 is a terrific all-in-one chip that provides unmatched value when you consider that the integrated GPU is a whole heck of a lot faster than a $45-50 Radeon HD 6450. Intel's lower-end Sandy Bridge models are absolutely faster in CPU-centric benchmarks, but when you take an overall look it is hard not to come to the conclusion that Llano's graphics capabilities more than makes up for its processing shortcomings. In other words, whereas most users likely will not notice that the A6-3650 is slightly slower than another processor in 2D applications, they will notice that it has much better framerates, decoding abilities and GPU computing performance. To us, that equates to a better overall computing experience.


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