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Dual Graphics: Not Always Your Best Bet

AMD A8-3850 Review: Llano Rocks Entry-Level Desktops

I’ve seen plenty of situations where an underpowered processor limited graphics performance. In fact, Metro 2033 on the previous page looked like it was getting held back by AMD’s Stars architecture.

My first thought: if A8-3850’s four cores aren’t fast enough to keep up with the 400-shader graphics engine, adding a Radeon HD 6570 for $80 is going to be of limited utility. If we’re talking about discrete upgrades, wouldn’t it be crazy if matching a Core i3-2105 (similar price as the AMD chip) to the same add-in card yielded better performance, without the benefit of Dual Graphics?

In the following three graphics, Intel's HD Graphics 3000 performance is represented by the blue bar. The green bar is the comparison data from AMD's A8-3850 with a Radeon HD 6570 installed, and the grey bar is Intel's Core i3 running the same Radeon HD 6570.

The DirectX 9 game where Dual Graphics didn’t work anyway demonstrates pretty similar performance if you’re using an Intel-based machine or an A8-3850 with a Radeon HD 6570 add-in. Both configs make playable what was previously embarrassing performance from HD Graphics 3000.

And there’s the money shot. At all three resolutions, the Intel/AMD combination is faster than the AMD/AMD setup, despite the boost offered by Dual Graphics.

But as if to say “back at ya,” World of Warcraft favors the dual-GPU configuration in a big way. Maybe the game prefers four physical cores to two cores, or maybe there is no platform bottleneck in WoW, letting the Dual Graphics technology stretch out more effectively.

Either way, the difference between a Radeon HD 6570 and HD Graphics 3000 is night and day. Clearly, Intel’s integrated engine is incapable of reasonable frame rates at the minimum detail levels gamers want to use.

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