The Llano prototype notebook which we received for the purpose of this preview is based on the AMD A8-3500M APU clocked at 1.5GHz with Turbo Core speeds at a maximum of 2.4GHz. The quad-core APU comes with an integrated Radeon HD 6620G graphics and a discrete Radeon HD 6630M clocked at 485MHz. Under CrossFireX configuration, both the integrated and discrete part would yield a Radeon HD 6690G2 part. The notebook also comes with 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 250GB 7200RPM Hitachi Travelstar hard drive.
We tested the AMD A8-3500M APU and compared 3DMark06 results with the Intel Core i7-2630QM (on the HP dv6 notebook) and the Intel Core i5-2520M (found in the Lenovo X1 laptop). The Core i7-2630QM GPU clock is slightly slower than the i5-2520M, which explains the overall 3DMark06 scores recorded between the two CPUs. It can be seen that when it comes to 3D gaming, the AMD A8-3500M APU is indeed more superior whether it's running directly from the integrated APU or under the CrossFireX configuration with the discrete Radeon HD 6630M.
The AMD A8-3500M APU would support benchmarks running in DirectX11 like 3DMark11, but since Intel's Sandy Bridge does not support DirectX11, we decided to skip that since there's really nothing to compare there.
Far Cry 2 Game
Results from the Far Cry 2 benchmark puts the AMD A8-3500M APU at rather playable framerates although occasionally one might still run into jerky motion when scenes become too complex for the APU to handle. With the CrossFireX running in high performance mode, performance is somewhat better and more acceptable. But with the Sandy Bridge's built-in graphics, Far Cry 2 is probably not the sort of game you want to run without the help of a discrete component.
Finally, we wrapped up our tests with PCMark Vantage, comparing it with the Core i7-2630QM. Although we know it's not a fair comparison since the A8-3500M is targeted against the Core i5, we wanted to show that the new Llano APU is not too far off in terms of performance. Besides, we wanted to compare quad-core processors, not quad (A8-3500M) against dual core (Mobile Core i5).
As mentioned earlier, the AMD A8-3500M is not too shabby when compared with Intel's Core i7-2630QM in the HP dv6. Productivity and gaming scores were quite on par but Intel took the lead when it comes to TV and Movies. The memory subsystem in AMD's new Llano APUs scored better but it did not manage to boost its overall PCMark score. Still, we don't think it's too much of a disappointment as far as PCMark results go.
We also tested the battery life of the notebook by performing our standard DVD playback test and measuring the time it takes to run the battery out. Overall, we could comfortably get close to 4 hours of continuous movie playback from the DVD drive using a standard 5200mAh rated Li-ion battery. The test simply demonstrated the low power consumption of the new APU which makes it quite comparable with some of Intel's 2nd generation laptops.