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Power Consumption

Now that we know the performance results, power consumption tests is the last straw that can save AMD Brazos platform for us. Having given in to AMD’s convincing arguments that their Brazos platform was a higher-end solution than Intel Atom and having compared it against junior CPU models from other Intel families, we have to admit that there is no rivalry of any kind here. Yes, AMD platform offers high-performance graphics, but there is no real benefit in it. Games still run slow because of not very fast x86 CPU component, and those applications that should be accelerated by Stream/APP technology, which uses graphics core shader pipelines, speed up very modestly.

During our last AMD Brazos tests, this platform proved exceptionally economical. However, back then we compared it against ION2 with a discrete graphics accelerator. Today we are going to extend our comparison to those compact Intel platforms that use integrated graphics cores.

The graphs below show the full power draw of the computer (without the monitor) measured after the power supply. It is the total of the power consumption of all the system components. The PSU's efficiency is not taken into account. The CPUs are loaded by running the 64-bit LinX 0.6.4 utility. Graphics cores were loaded using FurMark 1.8.2 utility. Moreover, we enabled all power-saving technologies to ensure that computer power draw in idle mode was measured correctly.

What a surprise! The recent energy-efficiency leader, AMD Brazos platform, wasn’t the most economical one in idle mode! Our new hero, LGA1155 Core i3-2100T processor with Zotac H67-ITX WiFi mainboard took away AMD’s leadership. It appears that Intel’s Sandy Bridge microarchitecture turned out to have such well-optimized power management, that it could easily compete against Atom and Bobcat processors. Most importantly, it demonstrates its energy-efficiency in idle mode, in which computer systems spend most of their time. And it means that the Core i3-2100T based compact system may prove to be more energy-efficient in real life than a platform based on ION2 or Brazos.

However, the graph above is not entirely straight-forward. The thing is that we used Gigabyte E350N-USB3 mainboard to measure the performance of Brazos platform in our today’s test session. And this mainboard wasn’t designed with power-efficiency in mind, and its power consumption is significantly higher than it could have been, had the developers really paid special attention to this aspect. One of the good examples could be the recently reviewed MSI E350IS-E45 mainboard, which power consumption in idle mode was only 7.3 W. It means that good AMD Brazos mainboards can in fact beat Core i3-2100T in idle mode when it comes to energy-efficiency.

ION2 is the leader in energy-efficiency under heavy CPU load. The second best, following closely behind the leader, is AMD Brazos. Core i3-2100T based system consumes 10 W more, but we should keep in mind that these 10 watts produce 4 times higher performance. In other words, in terms of performance-per-watt Core i3-2100T is a real jewel.

Intel Graphics 1000 built into Core i3-2100T processor is also highly energy-efficient. Under purely graphics workload, LGA1155 system consumes less power than ION2 and Brazos. However, we have to note one more time that the results of the AMD platform are taken off Gigabyte E350N-USB3 mainboard. Had we used a thoroughly thought-through MSI E350IS-E45, things could have ended up differently.

When all processor resources are loaded simultaneously, Brazos platform becomes the most energy-efficient of all today’s testing participants. However, ION2 and LGA1155 systems are breathing down its neck. And this makes once again admire the fantastic Intel Core i3-2100T processor. Just picture this: a desktop system with a fully-functional dual-core CPU on the latest-generation microarchitecture that consumes less than 40 W under maximum load!

Another type of complex workload – HD video playback. And again Core i3-2100T in Zotac H67-ITX WiFi mainboard outperforms AMD Brazos. The reasons are quite obvious. Intel Quick Sync technology takes over the entire video stream decoding process, while the CPU switches to the deepest energy-saving mode possible. AMD Brazos, however, is only the second best.

It turns out that miraculous energy-efficiency of the AMD Brazos platform is in fact a myth created by smart marketing team at AMD. As we have just seen with our own eyes, it is more energy-efficient than ION2. But if you are all about saving energy, then you may want to go with an even better option. Core i3-2100T processor on Sandy Bridge microarchitecture with 35 W TDP allows you to build a system that will be more energy-efficient than AMD Brazos in most cases, and will be several times more superior than the latter in terms of performance-per-watt.

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