Integrated Graphics Core Performance
Llano’s performance in a system equipped with an add-on graphics card is not very promising. And it is not only because A8-3800 loses to Core i3-2100 in most tests. The major disappointment was that Llano turned out slower than Athlon II X4.
However, it is not the diagnosis yet. The truth is that Llano is not your regular processor, but an APU with not only computational cores, but also a graphics core inside. Obviously, disabling this core makes Llano much less appealing, but there is also another way to use it, and that is with the integrated graphics up front and center. So, the second part of our test session will focus particularly on graphics performance the new APU can deliver in games and applications familiar with the whole Fusion concept.
To get the most extensive idea of the graphics performance delivered by Llano, we decided to compare our A8-3800 based system with the active integrated graphics core against the same system working with external graphics cards from the lower price range, such as Radeon HD 5570, HD 6450 and HD 6570. Moreover, we also tested Intel systems with integrated graphics built around Core i3-2100 and Core i3-2105. These CPUs have similar features and functionality, but have different graphics core modifications: Intel HD Graphics 2000 and Intel HD Graphics 3000. In addition to that we also tested AMD Dual Graphics technology in action by combining the A8-3800 graphics core with a Radeon HD 6570 in a CrossFire configuration aka Radeon HD 6630D2.
The gaming tests were performed in two modes: in 1280x800 resolution with low graphics quality settings and in 1680x1050 resolution with medium graphics quality settings. If in both these modes A8-3800 did well enough, then we also tested it in 1920x1080 with high graphics quality settings.
This benchmark is pretty popular among gamers and it immediately sorts things out. While in the previous part of our test session where A8-3800 worked with discrete graphics its performance wasn’t that convincing, the integrated Radeon HD 6550D graphics core completely changes the first impression. The integrated system with Llano inside is getting extremely close to that of a 60-dollar Radeon HD 5570 and at the same time is farther ahead of systems with Intel’s graphics cores, which performance received a lot of enthusiastic reviews just recently.
Another advantage of the new Llano processor over its integrated competitors is the fact that Radeon HD 6550D supports DirectX 11. Therefore, A8-3800 based system didn’t have any problems in 3DMark 11 test, while we can’t say the same about Intel products.
At the same time I would like to point out another peculiarity: the processor test score on A8-3800 turns out higher with add-on external graphics than with the integrated graphics core. The explanation of this mysterious phenomenon lies in Turbo Core technology. When the integrated Radeon HD 6550D core is on, the “thermal” budget of the computational x86 cores is smaller, that is why Turbo Core mode turns on not as frequently as it would with the integrated GPU being completely off.