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Benchmark Results: Integrated Gaming

ASRock's E350M1: AMD's Brazos Platform Hits The Desktop First
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Despite its significantly slower processor, AMD’s Brazos platform cruises right past the Athlon II X2 240e-equipped 880G platform’s Radeon HD 4250 integrated graphics engine. The 80 stream processors built into the E-350 help offset the two power-conscious Bobcat cores running at 1.6 GHz.

And while the Celeron/Ion combination proves to be more potent than Brazos in many desktop applications, it’s simply outclassed by both of AMD’s graphics solutions.

If you were wondering how CPU-limited World of Warcraft can be, compare the Celeron and Atom numbers. Both platforms enjoy the benefit of Nvidia’s Ion chipset. However, because Atom lags so far behind, it’s only able to achieve half of the frame rate—which is nowhere near playable at 1680x1050.

Update (1/16/2011): After a number of requests for gaming numbers with a Radeon HD 5000-series card dropped into the E350M1's four-lane PCI Express slot, I re-ran all three of these titles using a 5750. 

In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, AMD's Radeon HD 5750 achieved 45.37 FPS, more than doubling the integrated Radeon HD 6310's performance. Given the ratio of 720:80 ALUs, the discrete card seems fairly clearly bottlenecked by its host platform.

Call of Duty: MW2 gives us an even more constrained performance picture, clocking in with 18.88 FPS (compared to 12.1 from the integrated engine). The upgrade is certainly not worthwhile there.

In Left 4 Dead 2, the discrete card achieved 39.55 FPS, more than doubling the previously-recorded result.

If you were serious about playing Call of Duty, you could probably dial in more viable quality settings than what we’ve tested here to help push frame rates higher. The important takeaway is that the performance story doesn’t change. AMD’s E-350 APU is faster than an Athlon II X2 240e/880G combination, a Celeron SU2300, and an Atom 330. Once again, we also see the hit you incur shifting from Celeron to Atom using the same graphics engine.

Another game, another victory for AMD’s on-die graphics. Just for kicks, I dialed everything down to 1280x768, using Medium quality settings, and managed a fairly modest 32 FPS. That’s not great in the living room, but it could make Left 2 Dead 2 playable on a netbook.

If you’re concerned about the fact that we only ran the 880G-based platform with a single DDR3 memory module (rather than utilizing its dual-channel capability), don’t be. The graphics core isn’t overly bandwidth-starved. Dropping a second 4 GB DDR3-1333 module into the board only bumped frame rates up to 14.21 (up from 13.8).

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