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AMD A6-3500 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £64
inc VAT

Fine in 3D games, but the A6-3500 has distinctly budget 2D performance

AMD’s A6-3500 sits towards the bottom of AMD’s range of Llano integrated-graphics processors. We were impressed with the top-of-the-range A8-3850, which combined reasonable 2D application performance with superb 3D performance from its onboard graphics, and we felt the cheaper AMD A6-3650 was also a good buy if not quite as quick in games due to its lower-spec graphics chipset.

AMD A6-3500 front

The A6-3500 has the same graphics technology as the A6-3650, with 320 stream processors running at 443MHz. It has significantly reduced processing power, though, with only three instead of four cores which run at 2.1GHz rather than 2.6GHz. As with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors, Llano cores can boost their speed when they need extra power; this usually happens in applications that are mainly using just one core, so the processor can boost up the speed of that core without overheating. The processor has a lower TDP than the more powerful Llano chips – 65W instead of 100W, so seems to have some thermal headroom; in our lightly-threaded image editing benchmark, the processor stayed at 2.4GHz most of the time.

However, this is not a fast processor. Although 53 in our image-editing test isn’t far behind the A6-3650, the smaller number of cores made itself felt in our multithreaded video-encoding and multitasking tests. While a PC with this processor will be fine for office work and web browsing, an overall score of 38 shows this isn’t a processor for hugely intensive tasks.

AMD A6-3500 rear

The processor still holds its own in games, though. When running Dirt 3 at 1,280×720 with High detail and no anti-aliasing, we saw 28.5fps, which is the same as the A6-3650 managed. This is just about playable and impressive for such an inexpensive processor. For a good value speed boost you could pair the processor with a 512MB AMD Radeon HD 6450 graphics card in Crossfire mode. With this £26 card fitted you get a large increase in 3D performance; we could run Dirt 3 at 1,280×720 with High detail and 4x anti-aliasing enabled and still see a smooth 38.1fps. Strangely, the A6-3500 and HD 6450 combination was slightly slower than the same graphics card paired with the A6-3650, despite them having the same 3D graphics chipset – the A6-3500’s lower overall processing power seems to make a difference. However, when we fitted our reference Radeon HD 5770 graphics card we still saw 34.5fps at 1,920×1,080 with Ultra detail and 4x anti-aliasing, so the processor wasn’t holding back the powerful graphics card.

AMD’s A6-3500 has the usual Llano traits of good on-chip 3D performance and the ability to create a reasonable gaming system with the addition of a cheap graphics card in Crossfire mode. However, its 2D application performance is down to around the level of a budget laptop, so those wanting to do intensive tasks such as video encoding should look elsewhere. It’s a reasonable budget chip, but we’d recommend finding another £30 for the significantly faster AMD A6-3650.

Basic Specifications

Processor core Llano
Rating ****
Processor clock speed 2.1GHz
Processor socket FM1
Processor process 32nm
Processor number of cores three
Processor supported instructions MMX(+), 3DNow!(+), SSE (1, 2, 3, 4A), x86-64, AMD-V
Processor multiplier x21
Processor external bus 100MHz
Level 1 cache 3x 64KB
Level 2 cache 3x 1,024KB
Processor level 3 cache none
Supported memory type Up to DDR3 1866
Processor power rating (TDP) 65W
Price £64

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