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The Ultra-thin Platform Battle: AMD Congo vs. Intel CULV

Note the Performance

Note the Performance

We put both versions of the HP Pavilion dm3 to the test using our usual slew of benchmarks: PCMark05, PCMark Vantage and 3DMark06. With the HP Pavilion dm3 (Intel) sporting an Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 (1.3GHz) processor, while the HP Pavilion dm3 (AMD) sports a AMD Turion Neo X2 Dual-Core L625 (1.6GHz) processor. From the looks of it, the faster clock speed should mean a faster processor right? Well, not exactly since it depends on the architecture of the CPU and the cache sizes, of which, the Intel processor has a larger cache.

In the memory department, the Intel dm3 gets a leg up with faster DDR3 RAM while the AMD platform is still utilizing DDR2 technology for now. Both units do have 4GB of RAM, which is a fair enough playing field as we've long established that DDR3 memory isn't necessarily faster than DDR2. However, you'll soon see the performance breakdown to derive your own conclusion. Lastly, graphics performance will be a key factor, and we'll be testing the HP Pavilion dm3 (AMD) machine using switch-able graphics functionality with its IGP and the discrete graphics engines respectively to see how it fares.

Intel CULV platform vs. AMD Congo platform
Specifications / Notebook HP Pavilion dm3 (Intel) HP Pavilion dm3 (AMD)
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo processor SU7300 (1.3GHz with 3MB L2 cache) AMD Turion Neo X2 Dual-Core L625 (1.6Hz with 1MB L2 cache)
Chipset Intel GS45 AMD M780G series chipset and SB750 Southbridge
FSB / HyperTransport Bus 800MHz 800MHz
Memory 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR2
HDD 1 x 320GB SATA 5400 RPM 1 x 500GB SATA 5400 RPM
Video Intel GMA 4500MHD ATI Radeon HD 3200 (integrated) + ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 (discrete)

 

Futuremark PCMark05

Though this benchamark is getting dated, it's still a very functional benchmark that revealed interesting results. With the discrete graphics enabled, the AMD platform based HP Pavilion dm3 scored higher than the Intel unit in the overall System Test suite. Even with just the IGP engine working, the AMD platform held up well, scoring just slightly behind the Intel platform. Specifically focussing on the CPU scores, while both platforms returned close results, the processor still leads AMD despite a slower clockspeed; this is quite likely due to the large difference in cache size that affects simple productivity related tasks which this benchmark concentrates.

 

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

On PCMark Vantage, we start seeing the Intel machine taking the lead over both test runs (IGP-based and discrete graphics) on the AMD platform. Of course, the lead isn't by a large degree, but this more updated and taxing PCMark benchmark shows that overall platform capabilities like speedier DDR3 memory and having more L2 cache in the processor plays a difference. As such, the Intel machine is the winner of this round. Of course the gaming aspect still goes to the AMD platform running the discrete graphics option, but in more multimedia centric tasks like transcoding media content and playback as represented by the TV and Movies suite, the Intel platform with just its integrated graphics pulls out ahead.

 

Futuremark 3DMark06

The results in this synthetic gaming benchmark is pretty much as expected with the AMD platform with the discrete graphics option taking the leader board position here. The difference between the IGP results of the AMD and Intel platforms however are pretty close - in fact it's close enough that we are inclined to say there might not be much real-world difference even for low-end 3D gaming. Having said that the 300-odd points difference doesn't seem significant, it still shows the weakness of the Intel IGP solution. So while the AMD based HP Pavilion dm3 machine is clearly the cheaper alternative, it also offers much better graphics performance. In this case with the unit's discrete graphics option, it allows you to get up to three times higher frame rates for a far smoother gaming experience or notching up the graphics quality options than if you only relied on an integrated graphics solution from Intel at a similar price point.