Power Consumption And Pricing
Power is where our performance numbers get put into context. Remember, I threw a pretty wide net here, looking for the best way to quantify what AMD’s Brazos platform could do.
- I used a low-power desktop processor with integrated Radeon HD 4250 graphics for the folks wondering just how much better one of AMD’s current 45 W parts perform. There’s also the comparison between Radeon HD 4250 and Radeon HD 6310.
- I used a Celeron SU2300-based Mini-ITX board with Ion graphics for the folks who’re already using Intel’s ultra-low voltage mobile processors on the desktop. There’s also the comparison between Radeon HD 6310 and Ion.
- I used an Atom 330-based Mini-ITX board with Ion graphics because Atom is E-350’s natural competition. Remember that the dual-core 1.6 GHz Atom 330 isn’t much slower than the newer Atom D510 at 1.66 GHz, and the pounding Atom takes here isn’t going to be mitigated by an incrementally faster clock and more efficient platform architecture.
The Athlon II-based config is unquestionably the fastest, but its idle and the E-350’s load figures barely overlap. They’re in completely different leagues.
AMD’s E-350 is actually more power-hungry than Intel’s 10 W Celeron SU2300 and 8 W Atom 330. No surprise there. But the average power numbers separate all three platforms by less than 4 W. Now, yes, the two Intel-equipped boards have Wi-Fi cards. But you also have to remember that they’re armed with Nvidia’s Ion chipset, while the E350M1 uses AMD’s A50M “Hudson” FCH. Zacate’s 18 W TDP includes graphics. This isn’t the case for Celeron or Atom.
Interestingly Celeron uses more power under load and less power at idle than Atom. So, both Intel-based platforms average about 28 W across the PCMark Vantage run. The Zacate-based setup averages 32 W.
Now, when you look at the power chart and the PCMark Vantage benchmarks, the Celeron/Ion combo would seem to have a modest advantage over AMD’s latest and greatest. But then you have to take pricing into consideration.
Zotac’s IONITX-P-E currently sells for about $200. Its Mini PCI Express card can be found for roughly $20, so we’ll call that $180 for the motherboard and processor. ASRock is planning to sell the E350M1 for $110. That’s 61% of the Celeron board’s price, even if you factor out the wireless module. The E350M1 offers better gaming performance too, thanks to its Radeon HD 6310 graphics. Ion simply can’t keep up.
Comparing AMD’s Zacate APU to Atom is even easier. You’ll pay $190-ish for the IONITX-L-E, and it too includes wireless networking. In every discipline, the Brazos platform destroys it, including (and especially) price. The only compromise is a <4 W average power consumption disadvantage across a PCMark Vantage run.
The desktop platform I built was more anecdotal than anything. We already knew its performance would far exceed E-350, as would its power use. The price is up there, too, though. The 880GITX-A-E sells for $115 on its own, while the Athlon II X2 240e sells for $75 or so.
At the same time, with those numbers in mind, an 880G-based Mini-ITX setup is actually your best bet for performance/$, so long as your enclosure is capable of handling the higher power numbers. The Zotac board doesn’t offer PCI Express expansion, so its options are limited in a gaming context, but Blu-ray movies play back smoothly thanks to the integrated GPU’s UVD2 logic.