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Graphics Performance

So it is clear that sheer computing is not counted among the Trinity's fortes. AMD itself agrees, stressing the power of the integrated Radeon HD graphics core, available in the entire Socket FM2 APU family, as the key selling point of the Socket FM2 platform. Intel’s approach is different: the Core i3-3225 is the only inexpensive Ivy Bridge processor to feature an advanced integrated graphics core whereas the other models do not promise high 3D graphics performance.

For a general overview of relative 3D graphics performance of the heterogeneous Trinity and Ivy Bridge processors, we will check them out in Futuremark 3DMark 2011. Graphics cores in modern processors are all DirectX 11 compatible and have no problems running this benchmark.

The picture we see in the diagram is completely different from what we've seen in the computing performance tests. Intel's processors are slow whereas AMD's solutions are many times as fast as their opponents. The HD Graphics 4000, the fastest variant of Intel’s integrated graphics core, can only match the performance of the Radeon HD 7480D available in the junior Trinity model. Intel's CPUs with the HD Graphics 2500 or HD Graphics are slower by 50% and more and thus cannot compete with the Socket FM2 platform in this benchmark at all.

It must be noted, however, that a higher performance of the graphics core doesn’t make a better hybrid processor. It is the balance between the computing and 3D graphics parts that's important. We can check this out by benchmarking the processors in real-life games. There are two test modes: Full-HD resolution (1920x1080 pixels) with low graphics quality settings and 1366x768 pixels with average settings.

Although the results may vary between specific games, it is easy to see the overall picture. AMD's A10 series delivers the highest performance in applications of this kind. The Radeon HD 7660D graphics core can be viewed as equivalent to an entry-level graphics card as it can ensure a playable frame rate at Full-HD resolutions. Of course, you will have to compromise somewhat in terms of visual quality, but you have to do this with inexpensive standalone graphics cards as well.

As for the Core i3-3225 with its Intel HD Graphics 4000, this CPU turns out to be much slower than the flagship solutions for the Socket FM2 platform. Intel's integrated graphics core has much lower performance whereas the high computing performance cannot make up for this deficiency. As a result, the Core i3-3225 is generally inferior not only to the AMD A10 but even to the AMD A8 with Radeon HD 7560D. The Intel HD Graphics 4000 is obviously not as good as the Radeon HD 7540D from the AMD A6-5400K APU, but the dual-core Trinity is too slow from a conventional processor’s standpoint, therefore the Core i3-3225 is often ahead of AMD’s A6 and A4 models in real-life games.

By the way, we were surprised to find the junior Trinity products to have some compatibility issues, notwithstanding the declared support for the latest DirectX. Particularly, the sandbox game Sleeping Dogs refused to run on the A6 and A4 series in our tests. Intel’s graphics cores, which used to often have compatibility problems with some 3D games in the past, have improved in this respect and seem to have no such problems now. It looks like Intel has made a big step forward in adapting its graphics core for the modern software environment with the release of the Ivy Bridge and the latest drivers.

Summing everything up, we can say that among hybrid processors the AMD A10 and AMD A8 series and, with some reservations, the Core i3-3225 can be viewed as suitable for gaming applications. Other CPUs with integrated graphics core can hardly be used for entry-level desktop gaming systems due to their insufficient performance.

An integrated graphics core is not limited to gaming, though. It can be used for one more type of applications we will discuss in the next section.

 
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