One of the primary application fields for low-cost computer systems is work with the Internet. Today it implies not only surfing the web: there are numerous online applications and games that utilize actively AJAX and Flash; besides, there is a lot of multimedia content in the web, too. Therefore, real internet related work creates pretty substantial processor load. We are going to check how fast our testing participants can cope with it.
First, I have to say that although it may seem strange, browsers do not need multi-core processors: single-core Celeron 450 and Sempron 140 performed pretty fast. Second, AMD processors again proved to have an advantage over Intel: systems built on these CPUs scored higher in both browsers.
The advantage of AMD solutions is no so obvious here, although they still retain the leadership. However, these are the results of a synthetic benchmark and we didn’t stick just to it. We also checked out the performance of our tested platforms under real Flash-load. For example, during video playback on YouTube.com site, where they have recently introduced HD 1080p content support. The diagram below shows the frames per second demonstrated by our test systems during the playback of a test movie in this format.
As we see, things are not so simple here: the best results belong to the value Intel solutions. Moreover, none of the tested AMD processors from the discussed price range were fast enough to ensure acceptable fps rate. At the same time Celeron E3300 and Pentium E5200 proved quite capable of playing back video with acceptable quality at over 24 fps.
Luckily, the upcoming Adobe Flash Player version 10.1 (its beta version is already available) will have video playback hardware acceleration implemented for the graphics controllers, which should allow watching HD video even on slower CPUs. This is true for both: the AMD based low-end systems where even the graphics core of the integrated AMD780G chipset is powerful enough to accelerate HD video playback via Flash, as well as similar platforms built around Intel processors. The screenshots below show that with the upcoming Flash Player version you will be able to watch 1080p videos online even on the most junior single-core CPUs, like AMD Sempron 140 and Intel Celeron 460.
Adobe Flash Player 10.0
Adobe Flash Player 10.1
At the same time, according to the results of this express test, Flash Player 10.1 is way better optimized for AMD graphics: the CPU utilization is minimal in systems built with AMD components. However, despite 90% CPU utilization HD video will be played pretty smoothly even on Celeron 460.
Another real Flash application that we used to estimate the performance is a three-dimensional multi-player online arcade called Tankionline.
As we see, Intel processors managed to outperform AMD solutions here, too. So, it looks like it would be pretty difficult to make the decision about the best platform choice for a contemporary Internet terminal. However, I think you should still go with Intel Celeron E3300 and Pentium E5200, because these two processors performed better in real Flash applications where performance matters the most.