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AMD Llano laptop - full hardware test

Chris Finnamore
14 Jun 2011
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We test out an prototype laptop equipped with AMD's latest mobile processor - the 'Llano' A8-3500M.

AMD sent us a prototype laptop to test out its new mobile Llano chipset. This rather bland-looking model will never go on sale, but the hardware inside is finalised. This particular model has a top-of-the-range Llano A8-3500M APU along with 4GB RAM. Read our Llano breakdown for more details on the architecture.

We first ran our 2D application benchmarks. The Llano laptop managed 52 in image-editing, 36 in video editing and 37 in multitasking, leading to a score of 39 overall (normalised, as usual, to a score of 100 for a desktop Intel Core i5-2500K). While it could run Windows 7 without a problem and navigating the operating system and browsing the web was smooth, the scores show that even this top-of-the-range Llano chip is slower than even run-of-the-mill Core i3-based laptops such as the Asus K53S - see below.

Application table

CLICK TO ENLARGE - In our application benchmarks, which measure performance across single- and multi-threaded 2D applications, the top-of-the-range AMD Llano A8-3500M was slightly slower than even a low-end Intel Core i3-2410M-equipped laptop. It was, however, far quicker than the low-power AMD E-350 chip in MSI's X370 laptop

It may not be as fast as the Intel competition in 2D tasks, but AMD has banished its reputation for mobile chips with poor battery lives. The laptop came with a 5,200mAh battery, which is fairly standard, but lasted for eight hours and twenty-five minutes in our light-use battery test. This is two hours better than the impressive Lenovo L520 - with its slightly smaller 4,400mAh battery.

Light use battery table

In our light-use battery life test, which simulates web browsing, the AMD laptop lasted longer than Lenovo's ThinkPad L520, which has an impressive battery life for a laptop using a standard-voltage Sandy Bridge chip. It also lasted an hour longer than a laptop equipped with AMD's low-power E-350 processor, and is far faster in applications and games

We were also impressed with the gaming performance of the A8 Llano chip. Once we'd disabled the discrete Radeon HD 6620 graphics, the processor alone managed 26.5fps in our Dirt 3 benchmark, which we run at 1,280x720 with High detail and 4x anti-aliasing. Disabling AA brought the game up to a smooth 30fps - fine for most uses. By contrast, the Intel Core i5-2410M in the Sony VPC-SB1V9E/B could only manage 13.5fps at our standard settings, and we had to drop the detail to the Xbox-like Low preset to get a smoother 26.6fps.

Dirt 3 table

In Dirt 3, the AMD Llano chip is far quicker than Intel's integrated graphics; you can play the latest games smoothly at high detail levels

It's a shame the Llano A8 isn’t quicker in 2D applications - for intensive tasks such as video encoding you're still better off with an Intel Sandy Bridge-based laptop. However, that gap may close in future once we get more widespread use of GPU-acceleration in day-to-day applications.

In summary, the Llano processor's excellent battery life and ability to run the latest games means it could be the basis for an excellent home laptop. That all depends on the price of said laptop of course, and that's something AMD, nor any of its partners, has yet discusssed.

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