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AMD A8-3850 Llano Desktop Processor Review - Can AMD compete with Sandy Bridge?

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: AMD

Radeon HD 6550D Performance - Llano Integrated Graphics

It should be beyond obvious by now that CPU (x86) performance is not Llano's strength but maybe we will get some better results when we take a look at the other 50% of the transistor count on the die in the form of the 400 Radeon Cores.  The graphics performance on the AMD A-series of APUs promises to be the savior for AMD in this race of low cost processors and to test that claim we pinned the A8-3850 against the integrated graphics found on the Sandy Bridge processors - both Intel HD 3000 and 2000 implementations.  

We are also including results from several different budget discrete graphics solutions including both AMD and NVIDIA.  The Radeon HD 6670 and HD 6450 were included as the most recent examples of lower priced discrete solutions while the HD 5450 and HD 5550 represent last generations options.  The GeForce GT 430 was tossed in simply because we had the results handy.  Here is how the pricing breaks down:

We ran all of these cards (or most) through 3DMark Vantage, Civilization V, Dirt 3, Left 4 Dead 2 and StarCraft II, all of which represent what we considered some "mainstream" games.  We didn't include Crysis 2 because most of the people that want to play that game will want higher level discrete cards, sorry guys.  Resolutions and settings are indicated in the graphs - let me know if you have more questions. 

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Ah, here we go, the A8-3850 is obviously the faster all-in-one solution when compared to the Core i3-2100.  We see a speed up of about 4x (!!) when the HD 6550D graphics is compared to the Intel HD Graphics 2000 and about a 2x advantage when compared against the HD Graphics 3000 option.  

On the discrete front the HD 6550D graphics seems right on par with the NVIDIA GT 430 and Radeon HD 5550.  

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In this test we find the HD 6550D graphics to be only on par with the HD Graphics 3000 found on the much more expensive Core i7-2600K (as well as a much faster CPU to boot!) but about three times as fast as the Core i3-2100.  

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Since Dirt 3 is much newer there aren't as many saved results for it but the A8-3850 APU from AMD is significantly faster than the Core i3-2100 - a speed up of 2.45x is impressive on this title!

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Left 4 Dead 2, what many consider to be an "easy" game on graphics cards and gaming systems, proves to be too much for the Core i3-2100 at these settings.  The AMD APU is able to play it at great frame rates (averaging nearly 50) while the Sandy Bridge part struggles to hit 15.  This gives the AMD solution at the same price point a 3x advantage in performance.  

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StarCraft II sees more of that same result as the A8-3850 gets a 2.6x performance boost over the Core i3-2100 and nearly as much over the Core i7-2600K.

From the perspective of the discrete graphics solutions, the AMD Llano A8-3850 is consistently faster than the Radeon HD 6450 and seems to hover around the performance of NVIDIA's GeForce GT 430.  The Radeon HD 6670 is a much higher performing card though in our testing but keep in mind that it comes in with a $83 price addition to a system whereas the integrated graphics on Llano is "free".  

Another interesting note here is that even though we saw in our CPU-based testing that the A8-3850 was struggling to stay ahead of ANY processor in our results because of added performance of its 400 Radeon Core graphics system, the overall gaming experience was much better than that of the Core i3-2100.  It goes almost without saying that using the same discrete graphics card in each configuration (the A8-3850 and the Core i3-2100) you would get a slightly better experience on the Intel Sandy Bridge CPU.  But for the case of our testing of integrated graphics, there is simply no denying that AMD has the better solution.   

October 31, 2011 | 05:11 PM - Posted by Bovinebill (not verified)

I think you have missed the whole point of buying an a-series APU.

If you want better performance that what the inbuild 6550 and a pci 6670 card will give you, then just dont bother buying the A-series APU.

Get yourself a decent AMD X4 or X6 chip instead and a motherboard that support AM3 chips.

These chips are faster the the A-series and will team up better with the higher end graphics cards.

November 18, 2011 | 04:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This review is bullshit.
You can't overclock llano more than 3-5%
All you are doing is changing a number with your "overclocks", benchmark and see.

December 14, 2011 | 12:37 AM - Posted by Jhangir (not verified)

This processor is perfect for me. Low price and reliable performance. and discrete level dx 11 and grafichs.

December 18, 2011 | 12:21 AM - Posted by Kaupo (not verified)

this is the future of protcessors!

January 10, 2012 | 09:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I just installed an amd a8-3850 processor, and i was wondering what is the best discrete graphics card to use dual graphics with my cpu. i have been looking at the Visiontek 900485 Radeon HD 6670 Video Card.

appreciate any help :)

January 10, 2012 | 10:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

im thinking the most likely card i will buy is the DIAMOND 6670PE32G Radeon HD 6670 2GB 128-bit GDDR3. its a little bit cheaper. and more likely to fit in my case

January 21, 2012 | 10:50 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I don't think that card will work in Crossfire X. I just got it today, and have spent literally hours trying to get it to Crossfire with A8-3850. I have all drivers installed and still cannot enable the Crossfire on AMD Vision Control Center. I am pretty savvy, but cannot figure it out. Diamond doesn't even list this card on their site anymore. Think they are running from this problem, instead of tackling it!

September 24, 2012 | 01:25 PM - Posted by geniusthmaster (not verified)

hey my bios doesnt have those options im running a laptop and i need to undervolt and overclock. can u shed some help? i may consider attempting e the fact flashing your bios over mine, despite the fact that ill most likely render my pc useless.

September 24, 2012 | 01:26 PM - Posted by geniusthmaster (not verified)

hey my bios doesnt have those options im running a laptop and i need to undervolt and overclock. can u shed some help? i may consider attempting e the fact flashing your bios over mine, despite the fact that ill most likely render my disfunctional. or do u have other suggestions etc etc?

September 24, 2012 | 01:55 PM - Posted by geniusthmaster (not verified)

just thought you would like to know, did some cusstomizations based upon my ELITE settings within my dell vostro core 2 duo westwood 1500 dell intel laptop, and i got this toshiba satellite 8100xlr8x to achieve stable all 4 cores at a 2464 Mhtz, the temparute gain without fan speed control is 1 c per second, the modification are thus:
volt rail 1 at 1.0063

volt rail 2 at 1.0437

turbo core disable

multiplier at 19x

system score on full benchmark :: 6436

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