System Performance

When I started testing these two systems from Puget Systems I honestly wasn't prepared for the kind of tug of war that would occur. Fundamentally, the expected results are on the page: the Intel CPU outclasses the AMD APU at every turn, while AMD's integrated graphics hardware thoroughly outclasses Intel's. I'm not going to lie either, the results are about what you'd expect. What impressed me was just how wide the gaps were. Take a look.

Futuremark PCMark 7

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R11.5

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

While the A6-3500's CPU performance would certainly be fine for a notebook, it's absolutely lousy on the desktop. Granted much of our competition is pretty unfair, with overclocked systems abounding, but look at how badly it even struggles against a last-generation Phenom II X4 955, much less the Intel Core i5-2320 in the Alienware X51. The i7-2600S is consistently two-to-three times faster in roughly the same power envelope.

To be fair, though, these results need to be framed in a more meaningful way than just "the A6-3500's CPU is dog slow." We need to consider the environments in which these systems are going to be used, and at the risk of sounding like an AMD apologist, I don't see many situations where the Intel chip's mammoth lead on the A6-3500 is going to be relevant. The A6-3500 is fine for basic Photoshop work, and neither of these systems are really ideal for serious video editing, where you need a much faster storage subsystem and CPU/GPU than either can provide either internally or externally.

Where a computer is much more likely to see frequent (if casual) use is in trying to run games, and here's where things take a turn.

Futuremark 3DMark 11

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

Gaming Performance

The Intel Core i7-2600S with its crippled IGP can't even run two of our benchmarks, and only produces playable performance in one of them: Portal 2, with its ancient (albeit updated) Source engine. Meanwhile, the Radeon HD 6530D inside the A6-3500 can stretch its legs and deliver playable performance across every game except Battlefield 3, where a dip in resolution or settings will render that game playable as well.

Granted, these are conservative settings at a relatively low resolution, but the point remains that if someone wants to play a game on the A6-3500, they can, and reasonably comfortably. I've seen someone suddenly decide they want to try and play a game only to discover their system's integrated graphics can't handle it at all, and forums are rife with threads of people asking how to upgrade the graphics of their cheap desktops or their notebooks being met with the same answer: "you're screwed." With larger desktop systems, it's a different matter, but for mini-ITX and laptops you have to be prepared to live with whatever graphics the system includes from the factory.

And in the Green Corner... Build, Noise, Heat, and Power Consumption
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  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Seriously people, before you leave angry comments read the ENTIRE article. He addresses your complaints IN the article. As weiran says, it comes down to supply. AMD doesn't have anything better available to buy. My guess is AMD knows the only systems getting AMD chips right now are the cheapest possible systems, so they probably only manufacture a few thousand of their higher end chips; knowing anyone willing to spend that much money on a CPU will probably go with Intel. Why waste the resources on chips that will never sell? At least not for a profit. So they only keep the cheaper CPU's in stock. They have no delusions about the situation they're in; if only their fan-boys were as clear sighted. Reply
  • SteelCity1981 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    We know Intel has the best CPU's as far as performance on the market goes, but Wwat this did show is AMD's IGP is far better than Intels IGP. So it's really a trade off between CPU performance or Graphics performance if you only had those two options in buying a system like this. Things should get a lot better on the CPU side with AMD's APU's with Trinity using AMD's Piledriver Cores instead an old revised version of the Athlon II cores that come with Llano. And not to mention the HD 7000 series on the GPU side that will come along with it. Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Problem is you don't game on an IGP; you buy a dedicated graphics card. Also this is HALF the GPU performance of Intel. He says in the article 6 cores compared to the normal 12. So while the AMD gpu is still a little faster, not by much. And not nearly enough to matter. You aren't gonna game on an IGP, so saying AMD wins because their IGP is better for gaming is moronic. Intels chip is better at literally EVERYTHING, even video rendering. Reply
  • SteelCity1981 - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    What's moronic is the fact that yopu said AMD's IGP is a little better? Are you blind. Intels IGP is way better then intels IGP is the benchmarks clearly showed that.

    So people that do light gaming can't game on AMD's APU?
    Reply
  • silverblue - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    This isn't meant to be a performance machine, it is meant to be a setup for 65W or less. The article points out that whilst the i7 is easily the faster of the two for CPU work (and why shouldn't it be with an extra core advantage, hyperthreading, better turbo, and 8MB L3 cache), in terms of general usage you probably wouldn't notice it that much over the A6-3500. What's more, the AMD machine uses less power and performs far better at gaming. I also feel the need to point out that the HD 2000 requires a clock speed of three times that of the HD6530D yet falls far behind. The HD3000 will help but not enormously so - put simply, only CPU bound games will do better on the Intel side (and we're talking the minority of games). Let's also not forget that Llano performs noticably better with 1600MHz RAM over the 1333 in this build.

    I should also mention that, due to the size of the enclosure and the limited power feed, you CAN'T really add a dedicated card to this setup. So, you have to ask yourself - do you want to use the machine for media or productivity? The AMD machine will handle both whilst costing less, whilst the Intel setup will seriously limp through games but excel at anything that doesn't require a GPU (plus it has QuickSync, of course).

    Having said that, neither system is the most price friendly.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    A bit cruel to pick out a cheap Llano vs a Sandy Bridge most people would be happy with in their main desktop.

    A8-3820 is the fastest Llano inside 65W, and would be vastly quicker than the chip tested.
    I admit it's probably a pain to get hold of (I was trying to find one a while back), but it's not a fair fight without it..
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    You know who said this EXACT same thing? Dustin... IN THE ARTICLE!!!!! Gahhhh!!!! Seriously people, READ THE WHOLE DAMN THING BEFORE LEAVING A COMMENT COMPLAINING!!! Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Ok, so you absolutely cannot game on the Intel system. You can play some games on very low settings and even lower resolutions on the AMD system. Absolutely EVERYTHING else is faster on the Intel system. So, you don't WANT to game on either system. WHY would you choose the AMD system? If you want to game I'm sure a system like this is not your only system. A decent 15" gaming laptop, P151HM for instance. Any desktop that you've built or bought that has a 75 dollar graphics card in it or better. Point being if you want to game you won't do it on either of these. So unless price is all you care about, Intel it is.

    Ever since Intel put that video rendering engine on their CPU's, I forget what it's called right now, the one and only reason to ever consider anything AMD sells is if you play video games. The kinds of video games that require a GPU. Even then a given person might choose Nvidia over AMD. I don't want to see them go under, with the recent legal battles they've won that won't be for a while. But things don't look good. I would love nothing more than to build an AMD system, but I haven't been able to justify it since my Athlon XP. (skipped the Athlon 64 (and X2) era of CPU's). Running E8400 and GTX460 in my desktop, Sandy Bridge 2630 and GTX560M in my laptop. Each one suits all my needs in excess. I cannot see myself buying anything AMD, replacing desktop in 6-18 months. Laptops got a few years left on it. Maybe by 2015/2016 AMD will be a viable option??? Probably not:(
    Reply
  • HW_mee - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I think the question is, why would you pay 1750$ for that Intel system? Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    lol, well, I wouldn't, not even close. But I might build a similar setup myself. I've always liked the idea of a thin client as a HTPC. Reply

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