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AMD Trinity review – hands-on with a prototype laptop

Does this prototype laptop put AMD back on top?

AMD today launched its new Trinity mobile processors, and we were lucky enough to have been given a prototype Trinity-equipped laptop to test.

The laptop won’t be on sale, but it’s a fairly standard 14in chassis so should give us a reasonable idea of how Trinity will perform in production models.

AMD Trinity laptop

Inside is a top-of-the-range AMD A10-4600M processor and 4GB RAM. The processor has two modules, each of which has two Piledriver cores, for four processor cores in total. The processor has a base clock of 2.3GHz, but this can boost up to 3.2GHz when there’s the power and thermal capacity to spare.

AMD’s launch presentations compare the A10-4600M to Intel’s Core i5-2410M, which is a lower-end Core i5 chip running at the same 2.3GHz base clock speed as the A10-4600M. We didn’t have a Core i5-2410M laptop available for testing, so instead used a Dell Inspiron 14z laptop with a 2.5GHz Core i5-2450M processor for comparison, which is around 8% faster than the i5-2410M in terms of clock speed. We also compared the laptop to last year’s top-of-the-range Llano laptop – the A8-3500M.

AMD Trinity laptop

As the laptop is a prototype, there’s no pricing information available, but the Inspiron 14z in this configuration is currently £579, so that’s the price for this Trinity laptop to beat.

First, we ran our application benchmark suite, which sees how well a PC will cope with intensive 2D tasks. There are three tests; image-editing, which converts a selection of high-resolution TIF files to PNG format, video-encoding, which converts a 1080p AVCHD video to iPhone 4 MPEG-4 format, and multi-tasking, which runs the first two benchmarks at the same time while playing back a 1080p AVCHD video file.

In image-editing, the new Trinity laptop managed 62, which is 10 points clear of the top-spec Llano A8-3500M, but behind the Inspiron 14z with its score of 75. However, the Trinity laptop shone in the video-encoding test, where it managed 44 compared to 36 from the Llano laptop and 41 from the Intel-equipped Dell.

It was Intel’s turn to shine in the multi-tasking test, though, where the Inspiron 14z pulled ahead of the Trinity laptop with 49 to the AMD model’s 43. This led to overall scores of 51 for the Intel laptop, 39 for the Llano and 47 for the new AMD Trinity model. The Intel Core i5-2450M is therefore 8 per cent faster than the AMD Trinity A10-4600M, and seeing as the Intel processor has an 8 per cent faster clock speed this would seem about right. AMD has finally produced a processor that can match Intel’s chips in 2D tasks – at least the last generation; if the performance of Intel’s new Ivy Bridge desktop processor is anything to go by, the mobile Ivy Bridge chips should be significantly faster than both Sandy Bridge and AMD’s new Trinity chips.

AMD Trinity Application Benchmarks
Clock speed for clock speed, the top-of-the range Trinity processor is a match for a mid-range Intel Sandy Bridge – let’s hope the price is right (click to enlarge)

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