Llano vs Sandy Bridge: Which $500 PC is Right For You?

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vrmlbasic

On another front, I'd love to have this in my netbook, instead of the POS Atom N450 I went for last year.  Even though this chip is worlds above what I'm using as a "desktop" right now, it's not going to be good enough to buy for me to justify buying as a main pc.

 

For a netbook, which I prefer to a laptop for mobile computing as the thing is just so easily carried, I'd love to have a chip like this.  Flash-intensive websites cause the Atom to stumble, which is just sad. The Atom struggles on 480p hulu streams (as we all know, 720p on a netbook is useless with a 1024*600 res) and chokes on any old games more intensive than Age of Empires II.  Seriously, the thing can't even cut it in Freelancer, though I admit that's more of a software problem concerning drivers for the intel graphics than a direct fault of the hardware being weak, but the end result is the same: Lllano in a netbook would destroy Atom.

On an interesting note, the Intel Atom's integrated graphics actually score higher on The Windows Experience index than does a Radeon 1150 Xpress.  I'm not sure of the worth of TWEI as a benchmark, but I'm sure it is pathetic to have the "discreet" graphics card of my temporarily-main PC get served by a netbook's integrated graphics in _ANY_ benchmark.

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bpstone

An AMD APU hits the sweet spot for portable laptops geared toward casual users. Saves the battery, yet you still get enough juice to run high definition videos without a hiccup.

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PCLinuxguy

I'v heard about hybrid crossfire mode for the Llano laptops that have a discreet controller that combines the APU's graphics with the discreet card. does that work the same for the desktops?  If so then AMD is going to be a butt kicker in the low end price range. Heck the A8-3850 with a 6790 or 6870 and 8GB of ram would be a pretty good 'entry level' gaming rig that could do pretty well

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fygquas

Why use H67 board Gigabyte when Asrock H61 board costs only $60?

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maddingo

since the A8 onboard graphics are also superior i say dig another twenty out and keep the A8 and get moar /faster ram.

 

=p

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yu119995

I suggested dropping down to an A6 but you're right.  $20 is really nothing when you think about it and the performance increase - based on the information out there - is considerable.  Good call.

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vrmlbasic

What I want to know is how does the Llano compare to my fallback system which is an old Dell running a Turion X2 TL-58 (1.9 Ghz) & a POS Radeon 1150 Xpress?

I know that this system is a real embarassment in the performance department, but I'd like to know by how much this quasi-"System on a Chip" smokes my current rig.  My desktop is dearly departed & I'm trying to hold out for Bulldozer to upgrade, but this pc is so atrocious that I don't know if I can hold out.

Which reminds me, I've long thought that Maximum PC could throw in a "common man's" benchmark, something that even plebes could run on their systems to see how they stack up.  Like geekbench, or even The Windows Experience index.  Running custom benchmarks in Metro 2033 is great and all, but I'd like something that I could actually use, since my current setup can't even run Metro even if I had the benchmark files.

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dgrmouse

It's not a good upgrade for you.  The Sandy Bridge system makes a LOT more sense, since you can always slap your graphics card in.  You can also upgrade the CPU to an i7-2600 with a drop-in replacement.  There will be no comparable upgrade path for the AMD system.

 

AMDs onboard graphics aren't good enough for gamers, and Intel's are good enough for everything else.  It's hard, too, to recommend AMD for HTPCs because Intel wins with performance, Quick Sync, and power consumption in any given price or performance tier.

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Wingzero_x

While I'll agree that given the fact that he is waiting for "Bulldozer" it doesn't make any sense of him buildind a system based on the FM1 socket. However nor does it make any sense for him to build a system based on any Intel processor either. His best path would to build a sytem based on am AM3+ socket motherboard and just get a cheap Athlon II (or Phenom) processor to hold him over till "Bulldozer"

Now one thing I do have issue with though, is you say the the GPU on the AMD is not good enough for gaming. What are you basing this on? I have a Acer laptop with the AMD E-350 with the Radeon 6310 onchip, and it plays games better than I would have ever expected. Games like Call of Duty 4, Company of Heroes, Batman: Arkham Asylem, Dawn of War II, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Halo, FEAR... Granted I have to adjust settings, and most are older games, but they do play at playable frame rates. It also handles HD video beautifully, even when I hook it up through the HDMI to the TV.

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vrmlbasic

Thanks for the reply.

 

I've become "that guy" that Maximum PC talked about in the Dream Machine 2011 article, the guy who waits for "the next big thing" to upgrade his PC, which never truly comes, and becomes the guy using a piece of crap system that's 5-6 years behind the times.  At least I'm not using a P4 like the hypothetical dude in that article is, but I'm down there.

Anything modern is better than what I've got, so I'm sorely tempted to bite at anything better & cheap.  To give some perspective, this PC of mine can't run Windows 7 properly as there are video driver issues, and even with the proper drivers in Vista, playing Tribes 2 (a decade old classic game) on moderate settings at 1024*768 rarely gets above 25 fps in outdoor game worlds.  This is a game that came with support for 3dfx's Glide for crying out loud, but I'm sure that everyone on MPC is familiar with Tribes 2, a gem of PC gaming.  Even in the PC ports of 2d fighting games this system chokes and lags at times.  Guilty Gear & Arcana Heart 3 are playable, but it's a sad showing.  I'm embarassed to even be a MPC reader with a rig as craptastic as this one.

 

I think I can hold out until Bulldozer makes it to the scene, to see if it delivers on performance before I settle on Intel.  AMD is the underdog these days, and "America loves an underdog".

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Brdn666

I like that AMD named their sockets so distinctly. FM1 and AM3+ are very easy to tell apart from each other, unlike Intel's 4 digit number craze they have been on.

I wish AMD could figure out ways to offload more and more CPU tasks to the GPU, and strengthen these low-end chips to make them extremely competitive to Intel on the low-end and the middle.

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JJAckbar

Getting the CPU and the GPU on the APU die to work more in conjuction has a lot to do with software being written that can take advantage of that. AMD is wiggling a few carrots out there to get the ball rolling, however. It is the same situation with multi-threaded applications. Software will really only use as many cores as it is written to use. It certainly seems that in this regard, the hardware is somewhat out-pacing software. As time goes by, and the APU form factor stays out there, there will be more programs that take better advantage of the CPU and GPU combo. Google "Fusion Summit 2011" if you want to know more.

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Nuxes

So I'm looking at upgrading my parents' computer using one of these builds.  Either would be a big step fowards for CPU and RAM, but the current computer has a GeForce 8400.  Are the Sandy Bridge and Llano integrated graphics better than that?  My dad plays some Company of Heroes and needs to get decent performance.

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Wingzero_x

I can play CoH on my AMD E-350 (Radeon 6310), with 8GB, and it runs great.

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bpstone

Llano should have enough juice to play that game. Install a discrete graphics card if needed.

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Cregan89

This review is completely irrelevant since nobody would purchase the Core i3-2100 with the intentions of gaming. The Core i3-2105 only costs $10 more (which is still cheaper than the AMD part) and includes the Intel HD Graphics 3000 instead of the Intel HD Graphics 2000 in the Core i3-2100. The HD 3000 has been shown to more than double the performance of the HD 2000 in many situations.

In short, these two chips are on 2 completely different playing fields making this is a completely unfair and useless comparison... Please redo it with the Core i3-2105 as I'm extremely curious as to how it compares to Llano.

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JJAckbar

The 6550 GPU on the A8 still outperforms the HD 3000 by a fair amount. XBit Labs did a great review using the 65W version (A8-3800). The review even compares a hybrid Xfire configuration. It also goes into real world OC settings and performance. They really get some great performance, even with a locked multiplier. It is worth a read. (http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/amd-a8-3800.html) Now if only AMD would release the 65W parts to go with the 100W. These will go great in an HTPC.

Power users will certainly find the CPU lacking, but this product isn't really targeting power users. Whether AMD can deliver to the hard core enthusiasts (and compete clock for clock with Sandy Bridge) will be seen with the release of the FX series. The Llano is just the start of the fusion line, this first generation seems to be serving as a "proof of concept" for the entire fusion effort. I am very much looking forward to "Trinity" next year, which will pair 32nm bulldozer cores with more advanced graphics.

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yu119995

I'd say downgrade the A8 down to an A6 which is about $115.  Drop the extra $24 ($64 total) into 8GB of Patriot Viper XTreme DDR3 1866.  I bet you'd see a performance increase in both X86 and GPU numbers on the AMD side.  Great comparison btw Gordon.  Thanks!

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Brad Nimbus

If this was your personal box Gordan which one would you take? I'm a current Intel fanboy but a quad core is always welcome :P

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