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Benchmark Results: PCMark 7

AMD A8-3850 Review: Llano Rocks Entry-Level Desktops
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In light of AMD’s (and Nvidia’s and VIA’s) recent departure from BAPCo (and my subsequent reaction that I had no plans to use SYSmark in any of my testing anyway), I almost feel obligated to explain the value of starting our benchmarks with a look at synthetic performance from titles like PCMark 7, 3DMark Vantage, and SiSoftware Sandra.

Synthetic measures of performance are most useful when they effectively isolate a subsystem, taxing it in a way that real-world applications might not be able to. After all, real-world apps really shouldn’t aim to be bottlenecked by any particular piece of hardware. Meanwhile, a synthetic benchmark can make it its goal to push as much data across a certain bus, measure the efficiency of a parallelized processor, or evaluate a component’s handling of a specific algorithm.

To that end, PCMark 7 is moderately useful as a synthetic. Because it’s based on components of the Windows operating system, it’s real-world by nature. Futuremark scripts the tests in a way that’d be both difficult and time consuming for us to replicate.

The benchmark adds more comparative value by repeating each component three times and then generating an integer score by multiplying a coefficient value to the geometric mean of each suite’s resulting score. A score close to 5000 means you’re looking at performance close to the reference Core i7-980X, GeForce GTX 580, and Crucial C300 Futuremark used to establish its baseline.

The fact that none of these three systems approach 5000 is a good indication of their relative performance. These aren’t high-end configurations; they’re decidedly mainstream.

With that said, the workloads that comprise PCMark 7 clearly favor a processor-oriented focus over graphics. The Fusion initiative might be all about emphasizing entertainment, but the base PCMark suite is clearly slanted toward more productivity-based tasks.

Drill down into Futuremark’s whitepaper, and you see that this test consists of storage, video playback/transcoding, image manipulation, Web browsing, decryption, and DirectX 9 graphics. We’re actually a bit perplexed by the choice to use DX 9 when other components of PCMark 7 exploit DirectX 10, and indeed the company’s flagship benchmark, 3DMark 11, employs DirectX 11.

And that's why I say PCMark is moderately useful. It's giving us valid results in the tests that it runs, which are Windows-based and consequently relevant. But if you only look at this one page of benchmarks, then you'll miss the point of AMD's design decisions entirely.

The Lightweight suite is even more processor-dependent, given its emphasis on storage, text editing, image manipulation, and Web browsing across three tabs. There is nothing here to tax the A8-3850’s graphics resources, and so Llano falls even further behind.

AMD is defended by its Phenom II X4 965, though, which costs a tad more than the Llano-based chip, but invests all of its transistors into four cores. Those resources are almost enough to catch the dual-core Core i3-2105, but not quite.

Given the results of the PCMark 7 and Lightweight suites, we weren’t expecting much from Llano in a test dominated by productivity tasks: storage, Web browsing, decryption, and text editing.

Sure enough, the A8-3850 takes a last-place finish. But then we have to ask the question: how much horsepower do you really need for fluid Web browsing? Can you really edit text fast enough to make your processor look slow? Those are the questions AMD is hoping potential customers will ask before weighing how much budget should go into a processor, how much should go into graphics, and can a piece of silicon that does both offer compelling-enough performance?

Although the A8-3850 doesn’t overtake Core i3-2105 here, it does demonstrate how a more entertainment-oriented workload favors AMD’s Fusion initiative.

Just bear in mind that PCMark is but one tool in the box of measurements we’ll use today. It’s neither the end-all nor be-all for predicting performance. As a case in point, let’s move on to another Futuremark title, 3DMark Vantage, to gauge gaming capability. Needless to say, the story is entirely different in that metric.

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Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    Yuka , June 30, 2011 5:54 AM
    stardude82That's about all the sense it makes then.


    Actually Llano on the Desktop is (IMO) aimed at HTPC a 100% and, off course, notebooks.

    I would really, really like to see more media features with the Llano parts you guys have if it can be done 8)

    Great article as usual!

    Cheers!
  • 16 Hide
    Anonymous , June 30, 2011 3:23 PM
    Heh, I love these comments - for $150 more than a $135 AMD CPU you can get a better Intel CPU and AMD GPU!

    No shit, really? I wouldn't have thought so, it's just twice the price!
  • 16 Hide
    cknobman , June 30, 2011 2:37 PM
    Good lord reading the comments some of you people are really dense. Do you not understand the target market for these and can take the review in context????? Not everything should be looked at as though you are a custom power cpu/game builder.

    Great review Chris. For the target market AMD is doing a pretty good job here with an old CPU architecture and once they pair this with Bulldozer they should have a killer product.
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    whatisupthere , June 30, 2011 4:06 AM
    Great review! Thanks Toms
  • 13 Hide
    Tamz_msc , June 30, 2011 4:21 AM
    Another win for AMD!
  • 1 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , June 30, 2011 4:24 AM
    So then what's the point of getting the Turbo Core versions when they are going to be Turbo Clocked slower then the none Turbo Clocked versions...
  • 15 Hide
    cangelini , June 30, 2011 4:29 AM
    SteelCity1981So then what's the point of getting the Turbo Core versions when they are going to be Turbo Clocked slower then the none Turbo Clocked versions...


    They don't want you to see better performance from a cheaper APU in single-threaded apps by pushing Turbo Core further ;-)
  • 1 Hide
    Known2Bone , June 30, 2011 4:35 AM
    i really wanted see some amazing gains in the content creation department what with all that gpu power on chip... oh well games are fun too!
  • 12 Hide
    ivan_chess , June 30, 2011 4:41 AM
    I think this would be good for a young kid's PC. It would be enough to run educational software and a web browser. When he grows up to be a gamer it would be time to replace the whole machine anyway.
  • 5 Hide
    DjEaZy , June 30, 2011 4:52 AM
    ... it's may be not the greatest APU for desktop... but it will be a powerful thingy in a laptop... the review was nice... but in the gaming department... would be nice to see a standard 15,x'' laptop resolution tests @ 1366x768... or something like that...
  • 3 Hide
    Mathos , June 30, 2011 5:00 AM
    Actually if you want good DDR3 1600 with aggressive timings, the Ripjaws X series memory that I have does DDR3 1600 at 7-8-7-24 at 1.5v, not all that expensive when it comes down to it either.
  • -2 Hide
    Stardude82 , June 30, 2011 5:04 AM
    This makes little sense. An Athlon II X3 445 ($75) and a HD 5570 ($60, on a good day you can get a 5670 for the same price) would provide better performance for the same price ($135) and not have to worry about the RAM you use.

    So is AM3+ going to be retired in favor of FM1 in the near future? Why are there chipset at all? Why isn't everything SOC by now?

    Otherwise this is a very good CPU. If AMD has used 1 MB level 2 caches in their quads when they came out with the Deneb Propus die, they would be much more competitive.
  • 9 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , June 30, 2011 5:37 AM
    stardude82This makes little sense. An Athlon II X3 445 ($75) and a HD 5570 ($60, on a good day you can get a 5670 for the same price) would provide better performance for the same price ($135) and not have to worry about the RAM you use.

    what about power consumption?
  • -7 Hide
    Stardude82 , June 30, 2011 5:46 AM
    crisan_tiberiuwhat about power consumption?

    That's about all the sense it makes then, for mobile and all-in-one units, but for cheap desktops... eh.
  • 17 Hide
    Yuka , June 30, 2011 5:54 AM
    stardude82That's about all the sense it makes then.


    Actually Llano on the Desktop is (IMO) aimed at HTPC a 100% and, off course, notebooks.

    I would really, really like to see more media features with the Llano parts you guys have if it can be done 8)

    Great article as usual!

    Cheers!
  • -4 Hide
    jdwii , June 30, 2011 5:54 AM
    not bad but can you overclock the graphics core
  • 10 Hide
    fictionforthetame , June 30, 2011 6:11 AM
    I completely agree with Yuka and was thinking the whole way through how amazing these would be (especially the low TDP versions) in a HTPC.
  • 2 Hide
    RazberyBandit , June 30, 2011 6:17 AM
    In regards to dual graphics, the only game that it seemed to work on was WoW Cataclysm. What was the cause, drivers? CAPS?

    And I think you guys may have gotten the min and avg FPS scores for the CoD:MW benchmark backwards... How can the min be higher than the average? Maybe you were actually comparing No AA to 4x AA or something, not min and avg FPS?
  • 3 Hide
    Nintendork , June 30, 2011 6:30 AM
    This review need IGP OC. The Llano GPU overclocks like hell.

    600Mhz to 840/900Mhz? No problem at all.
  • 3 Hide
    frozenlead , June 30, 2011 6:34 AM
    On the COD graphs, the minimum and average FPS bars have to be switched...it's impossible to have a "minimum" data point greater than the average.
  • 9 Hide
    ChiefTexas_82 , June 30, 2011 6:38 AM
    Since when does a 100W CPU and a 6530 need a 850W power supply???

    Anyway, The real show should be bulldozer-based APU's. If they could just get the graphics up to a 5750 level...
  • 7 Hide
    ChromeTusk , June 30, 2011 6:45 AM
    Great article. This really helps me out since I need to replace 2 laptops in the near future.
    As for a higher end desktop, I am waiting for BD and how it affects the market. That will determine which parts I keep and which parts get put into an HTPC.
  • -4 Hide
    fstrthnu , June 30, 2011 7:08 AM
    Definitely looks like a stopgap measure, a product with good execution but no market. Basically, the only people who will buy this are casual/lazy PC gamers - the serious guys would come to sites like this very one to find out that they can get way more for their money than buying Llano. Thing is, at this price point, most people don't even care about games. Like I said on a previous post, any serious, smart PC gamer will build their own or look higher in terms of pricing to get a genuinely strong system.
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