Review Index:

AMD A10-4600M Trinity For Mobile Review: Trying To Cut The Ivy

Author: Matt Smith
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: AMD
Tagged: trinity, radeon, igp, gpu, APU, amd

Performance - Synthetic 3D, Real World Gaming

Performance – Synthetic 3D

It’s obvious that the processor performance of the AMD A10-4600M isn’t great. This comes as a surprise to no one including AMD. The whole “better than the sum of its parts” theme touted by the company has always seemed like a veiled apology. “We’re sorry, we know the processor isn’t that fast, but how about that GPU?”

The problem is that Intel isn’t sitting back and letting integrated graphics languish. Not anymore. It the company over a decade, but Intel has finally figured out the graphics shouldn’t be ignored. The fact that the most popular ARM chips come equipped with impressed graphics performance probably helped this sink in.

Trinity promises a significant improvement in graphics performance thanks to higher clock speeds, driver tweaks and better use of available power. Is this enough to keep Intel HD 4000 at bay? Let’s see what 3DMark has to say.

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The results from 3DMark are good, but not outstanding. 3DMark 06 looks particularly bad – a difference of about 900 points between Intel HD 4000 and the new A10-4600M APU doesn’t seem like a good trade-off for the staggering difference between the performance of a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processor and the four cores found in our Trinity sample. 

3DMark 11 offers more hope, as the gap of almost 350 points represents an overall score increase of about 40%. That’s nothing to laugh at, and it suggests the AMD A10-4600M may have a nice lead in newer titles. Let’s head to the real-world testing to find out. 

Performance – Real World Gaming

We begin our real world gaming with Dawn of War 2: Retribution. Though now an older title with graphics that are considered simple or even out of date, the many physics and AI calculations performed by the game demand a fast processor. Previous Llano-based systems have fallen behind in this game as a result. Does Trinity do better?

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The new AMD A10-4600M has an undeniable advantage over both the AMD A8-3500M and the ASUS K53T, which featured an AMD A6-3400M with a separate discrete Radeon GPU. Even so, in this game the lackluster processor performance keeps the new Trinity part a hair behind the Intel HD 3000 system, and Intel HD 4000 squeaks out a small win.

Next up we have Just Cause 2. This game is the opposite of Dawn of War 2 – it does not seem to be processor constrained in any way and instead relies on a fast and modern graphics solution. Though now about two years old, laptops without a powerful discrete GPU will have trouble running at medium to high detail. 

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Here we see that the A10-4600M is again a big improvement over the A8-3500M. The integrated Radeon HD 7660G isn’t just quicker than the old Llano part – it’s on par with the Llano + discrete GPU solution found in the ASUS K53T. That’s quite a boost! 

The only problem is that Intel has also boosted its performance substantially and as a result Intel HD 4000 scores just slightly better. Realistically, they’re on par – the game plays smoothly on both.

Finally, we’ll wrap things up with Battlefield 3. Regarded as one of today’s most demanding titles, it’s a challenge for almost any laptop even at medium detail and a resolution of just 1366x768. Can Trinity handle it?

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This game came out well after we reviewed the first mobile APUs, so we have no result for the first AMD A8 processor we tested. We do have results for the ASUS K53T, however, which performed well. 

It turns out that all the laptops performance reasonably well. Intel HD 4000 is the slowest, but it’s only a bit less than three frames-per-second behind the HD 7660G. Again, this is a near-as-makes-no-difference result.

Both of these framerates may seem unacceptable, but the game is playable in all cases. Only barely, but if you really wanted to play Battlefield 3 and you only had Intel HD 4000 or Radeon HD 7660G, you could.  

Additional Gaming – Intel HD 4000 vs Radeon HD 7660G

Normally the three games above are the only ones I use during a laptop review. Most of the laptops I review are not gaming laptops, and the games I use for benchmarking been chosen specifically to challenge systems in different ways. 

With that said, it’s important to take a closer look when possible. And since I still have the Ivy Bridge reference system kicking around it’s possible to directly compare the two in a few other demanding games – Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Skyrim and Batman: Arkham Aslyum. 

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Here we have somewhat mixed results, though the wind is blowing in the direction of Trinity. Skyrim is the most significant defeat for Intel HD 4000, with Trinity nearly doubling its performance, but Civilization 5 is also significantly in favor of AMD. 

Only Deus Ex: Human Revolution shows roughly similar results, but the in-game experience was slightly better with Trinity. As you can see in the results, Intel HD 4000 suffered a low minimum framerate. This showed up in-game via a few instances of sluggishness, each lasting a few seconds.

Overall, game testing indications that AMD’s A10-4600M and its HD 7660G graphics solution is superior to Intel HD 4000, but the gap is not always as large as you’d think. In some games the AMD option is nearly twice is quick (Skyrim, Civilization 5), but in other titles AMD is actually a little slower (Dawn of War 2: Retribution, Just Cause 2). 


May 15, 2012 | 01:07 AM - Posted by Saumya (not verified)
Here is the AMD Demonstration of the Next Generation Trinity Fusion APU For Notebooks.
Further here is an Exclusive interview of the Prominent industry analyst Rob Enderle discussing the future of PC benchmarking in advance of AMD's Second-Generation A-Series APU launch.
With next DX11 capable integrated graphics, the new mobile CPU will still maintain a 17 Watt power envelope.

May 15, 2012 | 02:06 AM - Posted by Shashwat (not verified)

waiting for pcper awesome video series :)

Just like you did for LLano

Thanks for the review :)

May 15, 2012 | 02:14 AM - Posted by tbone (not verified)

good improvement over llano!

wow impressed with battery life against ivy bridge.

looking forward to the 17w version in retail

May 15, 2012 | 02:17 AM - Posted by Matt Smith

I agree. While the 17W part is going to have a fairly gimped GPU (compared to this 35W A10) it will be fast enough for on-the-road use and cheap. I'd really like to see a nice $500 Trinity ultraportable... preferably made by ASUS or Lenovo.

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May 15, 2012 | 06:00 AM - Posted by Prodeous (not verified)

Now all we need is for someone at PCPer to take an FX-4100 and downclock it to same speeds and lower voltage accordingly to have a direct (well nearly as the L3 cache difference) comparison between Piledriver and Bulldozer.

As for the review it self, well done Matt.

May 15, 2012 | 07:05 AM - Posted by iExcellero (not verified)

First of all, I want to say I'm a HUGE AMD fan, so this was not easy for me to write...

The Trinity is a BIG disapoitment! Why? Because they (AMD) fail to deliver strong graphics performace with usual lack of CPU power to follow that. Ok, A10-4600 has a decent iGPU BUT that is the fastest one! All others are significantly slower. So HD4000 will be faster over all :( And OMG every Trinity APU has its own iGPU specifications! That will not confuse ordinary customer (who only cares about performanse) at all... NOT! And why the 25W and 17W APUs have bigger model numbers?!
And question that was bothering me from release od Bulldozer, who is the genius, better say wizard, in AMD who thought that AMD should sell processors as 1 module = 2 cores? It is 1 module = 1 core with 2 threads, same as Intel. And if they sold them like that it would lower performanse expectations and actually gave AMD better fighting chance. It's not the same to say "8 core AMD can't compete with 4 core Intel i5" and say "ok, 4 core AMD is little bit slower than Intel's i5". Am I right?!
So, lose - lose situation for AMD. I hope that GCN and Steamroller will be step foward for AMD (GPU's FPU integration with CPU modul and real 1 modul = 2 cores performance).

May 15, 2012 | 09:52 AM - Posted by Daedric (not verified)

Am a bit confused over the results. Anandtech shows Intel HD4000 beating amd in skyrim ??? What driver was used here?
Just wondering ...

The price is what is going to sell this. though I expected better gaming performance , this is gonna get my cash (assuming I manage to avoid pos 1366x768 gloss)

May 15, 2012 | 11:42 AM - Posted by Matt Smith

I don't think our settings were exactly the same, since I used the straight medium detail presets, as they tweaked the AA settings a bit. If I have time I'll try running it again, and seeing if there is any change.

May 15, 2012 | 11:15 AM - Posted by Zanthis

Shout out to my fellow portlander, nice review matt.

May 15, 2012 | 01:30 PM - Posted by Uncle Bob (not verified)

Trinity works for me. It's better in every possible way - CPU/GPU performance and battery life.

Few people use their laptop all day long for number crunching. Unless that is all you do Trinity is by far the better platform and value than Intel even IB with HD 4000 graphics. If you want to pay more and get less, then Intel is the way to go. If you want to pay less and get much more of what typical laptop users need, then Trinity is spot on for the majority of consumers and that's where my paycheck is going.

May 15, 2012 | 01:39 PM - Posted by collie man (not verified)

So, what I take away from this review is if AMD can work this architecture down to a super low heat version {like 40c on full load} than the atom may finally be dead on the cheap silent system. That may be the only chance in hell they have left. Time will tell I supose

May 15, 2012 | 02:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

All is well, but the author of this review forgot about one thing... The iGPU is a standard Northern Islands part, and is going to be CrossFire'able with a discrete AMD GPU part. Why pay for an Ivy Bridge plus a low-to-middle end discrete GPU, if you can have a much stronger Trinity + discrete Radeon dual-GPU gaming rig - for a lower price! I agree it's not going to compete with Intel in raw CPU performance, but in games the Trinity + discrete Radeon combo will be the absolute budget-friendly gaming king. Just as it was with Llano.

May 15, 2012 | 02:52 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

I didn't forget about it. I just can't review what I don't have. I liked the old Llano+discrete system that ASUS K53T put out, and which we use for comparison in this review.

However, those systems are kind of hard to find. There's not much selection. Even the ASUS K53T I reviewed seemed like it was available at retail for a month or two. Then - poof! - gone. Now I can't find it anywhere.

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May 15, 2012 | 02:39 PM - Posted by ChrisB (not verified)

Typo: Trinity is still way behind Sandy Bridge, nevermind Ivy Bridge, in per-clock performance. It's not a stretch to say that Trinity is good enough for many users, but then again, why pay good "more" for less?

I think you want "money" there.

Solid review otherwise, was hoping for an improvement over K53T. (which is an awesome/cheap laptop btw)

May 15, 2012 | 05:04 PM - Posted by Zicoz (not verified)

Also isn't it supposed to be A10-4600M and not A6-4600M?

And anyone know when we can expect to see machines with the 17w part? And will we see computers that are as small as the ultrabooks "from Intel"?

May 15, 2012 | 09:32 PM - Posted by Matt Smith

Thanks, I have fixed this.

May 16, 2012 | 12:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

comparing the 35watt trinity to Ivy which has 45watts a 30% power advantage I'd say Trinity is a huge advancement for AMD

May 16, 2012 | 07:06 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That ivy chip is priced at almost 400 bucks (for the cpu only) and its HD4000 is clocked at 1250Mhz, higher than most dual cores will be no doubt.

Joke of a comparison really. Not Pcper's fault, it's all that intel gave them for a reason.

May 16, 2012 | 03:41 PM - Posted by SEA (not verified)

35W 2 modules/4 threads AMD vs 45W 4 Cores/8 threads Intel is highly biased comparison. Particularly failing to show the 30% better battery live in AMDs notebooks

May 16, 2012 | 10:52 PM - Posted by Uncle Bob (not verified)

Tests have shown that Trinity is way ahead of IB HD 4000 graphics so IB is not going to save Intel in the laptop segment. Only a fool would pay hundreds more to get less performance from Intel.

June 5, 2012 | 06:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Review weak and biased, especially with regard to the gpu. amd drivers are beta / alpha (not sure) of the intel are definitive. llano means already in these reviews. I saw the difference between drivers in a4 330m in 3D Mark06 was 3500pts to 5800pts. learn to predict what will be and not what is pre releases.

February 12, 2013 | 05:46 AM - Posted by VZT (not verified)

Can any1 tell me, if there is a chance/place to buy the same exact laptop that was tested. Or in the worse case scenario the test laptop itself?

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