Rebranded Atom chips follow Intel's Core naming convention
Intel is rebranding its Atom processor line so that customers will have an easier time determining the level of CPU performance at a glance. To do that, Intel is splitting Atom into three distinct levels -- Atom x3, Atom x5, and Atom x7. It's a similar approach to Intel's Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 naming conventions, which follows the good, better, best construct, and it will start with the next generation of Atom CPUs.
Smartphone makers by and large appear to be skipping tri-core silicon and heading straight into four-core territory as they roll out high-end models for 2012. One of those is the X3, LG's upcoming flagship quad-core smartphone that will be powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 chipset and Google's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform. A name change is probably in the cards.
Acer, the second largest PC vendor in the galaxy, continues to gun for the No. 1 spot (held by Hewlett-Packard), and one way to get there is to kick out low-cost models nearly anyone can afford. That seems to be the philosophy behind Acer's new Aspire X3 and M3 Series consumer desktop models, which start out at just $450.
"Our new Aspire X3 and M3 Series desktops are great all-around workhorses offering practical technology in an intuitive design," said Steve Smith, senior business manager of consumer desktops for Acer America. "Engineered to efficiently multitask and tackle digital media, these systems are outfitted with industry-leading components and make an appealing addition to a dorm, bedroom or home office."
Featuring a space-saving chassis, the Aspire X3 series plays both sides of the fence with AMD Athlon II, AMD Phenom II, Intel Core i3, and Intel Pentium E6600 processor options. Other specs include 4GB of memory (standard), up to 1TB of hard drive space, Intel GMA HD graphics, optional Nvidia GeForce 9200 graphics, up to 11 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, and various other accouterments.
Acer's M3 series, on the other hand, come in only AMD flavors, either an Athlon II or Phenom II processor. Sporting a microtower chassis, the overall spec sheet is a little more subdued in some areas and includes up to 640GB of storage, one less USB 2.0 port, and choice between Nvidia's 9200 chipset or ATI's HD 5450 graphics.
What's the first I did upon hearing the numbers for ATI's new HD Radeon 5870 graphics card? I scrambled for benchmarks, because that's the one thing an announcement and subsequent review of a smokin' new piece of hardware can do for a rabid enthusiast: inspire.
It's been a while since I've actually sat down and crunched the numbers for my killer custom PC (that's killer as in legendary, not NICs). I'm not lazy. Rather, I don't have access to the expensive system benchmarks that magazines and Web sites typically use to analyze the all the new hardware that comes out. I don't have all-in-one benchmarks like PCMark Vantage, GPU-punishing titles like Crysis, and--worst of all--preconfigured demo runs for any number of titles that would help ensure the validity and repeatability of the delivered scores.
In short, I have nothing. You might not have nothing, but odds are good that you are similarly ill-equipped to benchmark your graphics card (and any tweaks or modifications you make) in the style of a professional review. Nothing... until now.
This week's freeware roundup will show you five different games that you can use to punish your poor graphics card into frames-per-second submission. They might cost a grand total of zero dollars, but these tests are repeatable and easy to use--the perfect combination of characteristics for aspiring benchmarkers who might not want to get their hands dirty, but still want some kind of way to determine exactly how powerful their graphics card really is.
It can be argued that AMD didn't start to build an enthusiast following until the Barton days. Back then, the company's efficient processors not only held their own in performance, but destroyed Intel when it came to the bang/buck factor, both in regards to processor pricing and the overall platform (you could pick up a high end AMD motherboard for under $200). Ever since Intel finally responded with its Core 2 architecture, AMD has had a tougher time competing on the performance front, forcing AMD to slash prices, and that's what happening again. In addition to price cuts, AMD is also expanding its tri-core line.
The newly announced Phenom X3 8450e comes clocked at 2.1GHz and the Phenom X2 8250e putters at 1.9GHz. Both processors sport 512KB of L2 cache and 2MB of L3 cache, and both also come rated with a 65W TDP, compared to 95W for AMD's standard Phenom tri-core line. No pricing information has yet been announced for either model.
On the higher end, AMD's Phenom X3 8750 Black Edition will bring an unlocked multiplier to the table and cruise along at 2.4GHz. It will come with the same amount of L2 and L3 cache as the 8450e and 8250e processors, but rated at the aforementioned 95W TDP. Pricing has been set to $134 for bulk orders.
So what about the price cuts? AMD will drop it's X3 8450 (without the 'e' designation) down to $104 and X3 8650 down to $119, both in bulk.