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AMD A10-4600M Review: Mobile Trinity Gets Tested

Tripling Your Pleasure With Trinity?

Before we wrap this piece up, have a look at one last chart: a comparison of average performance.

AMD’s Trinity-based APU doesn’t unseat Sandy Bridge from its position of performance supremacy. Nor will it oust Ivy Bridge when third-gen Core i5-based notebooks start to appear. But it sure holds up a lot better than Llano.

Perhaps more significant, though, is that it boosts graphics performance significantly. Although Trinity devastates HD Graphics 3000, it’ll be able to use that extra speed to help stave off forthcoming Ivy Bridge-based parts with HD Graphics 4000, too. If you’re a casual gamer, it’s pretty easy to recommend the Trinity-based A10-4600M over Intel’s Core i5-2450M. Conversely, if you don’t plan on gaming at all on your mobile device, the Sandy Bridge-based Core i5 becomes the easier choice. That’s almost the same conclusion we reached when Llano was launched.

As with many things in life, though, the breakdown isn’t quite so simple. There are some other important factors to consider, such as the fact that Ivy Bridge-based Core i5 notebooks are expected to land within the next couple of months. Intel’s more mid-range 22 nm CPUs are expected to include HD Graphics 4000—an implementation we consider to be Intel’s first serious move against AMD’s graphics dominance. In addition, Ivy Bridge fits within a smaller power envelope and delivers slightly better application performance. As we showed in Core i7-3720QM: Ivy Bridge Makes Its Mark On Mobility, the architecture challenges Llano’s gaming alacrity, while pushing application performance even further. We haven’t tested Trinity against a similarly-priced Ivy Bridge-based Core i5 yet, but, at the end of the day, the difference between each company’s new hardware may parrot the delta we’ve already seen separating the old platforms. We’ll bring you those results as soon as we can get our hands on the right hardware.

What about our pledge to more intently consider features that can’t be benchmarked? Truly, we’re impressed with AMD’s efforts to court software developers and get GPU acceleration implemented as a feature in several different relevant segments and titles—much more so than when we were having this same discussion last year. The only problem is that none of the enhanced applications are universally appealing. For example, AMD Steady Video does a great job of stabilizing shaky video streams. But what if you simply don’t have enough shaky video to pay the feature much mind? Even still, we certainly encourage AMD to continue pushing the adoption of GPU-accelerated software that appeals to broad audiences. Getting GIMP, HandBrake, vReveal, WinZip, and other titles optimized is a great way to demonstrate the benefits of compute-oriented optimizations. Two things, though: first, we’d like to see the impact of GPU acceleration more definitively outpace the performance of a competing processor lacking the requisite support, and second, don’t lock other vendors out of what is supposed to be an open ecosystem.

Finally, what of our promise to consider mainstream end-user tasks when making recommendations about mainstream hardware? Frankly, even power users spend much of their time checking email, browsing the Web, writing in Word, and of course gaming. To be honest, it’s be hard to distinguish between two blindly-configured platforms—one Intel, one AMD—in most tasks. The exception is gaming, where AMD’s Trinity design really shines.

A couple of questions remain: how does Trinity stack up to a comparably-priced Ivy Bridge-based notebook, and when can we expect to start seeing Trinity-based notebooks for sale? We’ll bring you answers to both as soon as possible.