Fusion-Powered: Application and Futuremark Performance

This was my first experience with AMD's E-350 APU, a chip which has been the subject of some contention around here. Jarred and I are basically in agreement where performance is concerned and the general positive impact the chip can have on the mobile market: it's where netbooks probably needed to be all along, and should hopefully supplant Intel's lackluster Atom platform. Where we differ is our enthusiasm for it: Jarred feels Brazos was long overdue and isn't the quantum leap we were hoping for and expecting, which is a perfectly fair assessment. We needed Brazos a while ago, and AMD is late to this party.

That said, I'm happy AMD finally did show up. You'll see the E-350 isn't a massive jump forward from Atom, but it's enough of one to make the netbooking experience finally enjoyable instead of being a sluggish chore. Subjectively speaking, in regular use I found the dm1z to be nearly as responsive as my Lenovo ThinkPad X100e which is equipped with AMD's first generation Congo platform (though upgraded to an Intel X25-V SSD instead of the still-respectable Western Digital Scorpio Black mechanical drive.) So how does the E-350 actually fare when compared to mobile kit?

The first thing you'll notice is that while the E-350 generally cleans Atom's clock (the dual-core nettop D525 only comes out with a slight lead in the 2nd pass x264 encode), it's also generally about two-thirds as fast as the Nile platform's 1.5GHz Turion II K625. That's not too bad, but this is part of what Jarred's talking about, especially when you think about the Intel Core 2-based CULV kit that periodically kicks around the market (becoming stunningly rarefied). CULV hardware has also floated around the price point the dm1z is hitting shelves at, too, but it was fairly inconsistent. On the flipside, it does beat dual-core Atom equipped with NVIDIA's NG-ION, and this is a trend that's going to continue.

In 3DMark the E-350's integrated Radeon HD 6310 generally hangs out in the neighborhood of NG-ION, but it soundly beats Intel's last generation IGP (with better drivers and more stable performance to boot), and embarasses the Nile platform's Radeon HD 4225. That's not too surprising: in terms of raw GPU power the HD 6310 features twice the number of stream processors and a higher core clock.

If anything, the HD 6310 shows just how long in the tooth AMD's current IGP has really gotten: when it debuted as the 780G, it was a revelation, offering the best IGP performance bar none. The problem is that AMD just let it sit, offering new model numbers with no real performance increase outside of adding DirectX 10.1 support and bumping clocks slightly in some cases while serving us a warmed over Radeon HD 4550 in the form of the Radeon HD 5450 when they really should've just been integrating that hardware into their chipsets.

Ah well. With Brazos here now and Llano on the horizon, the era of AMD integrated graphics parts wearing out their welcomes should come to a close.

The Swankiest Netbook You Ever Did See Almost There For Mobile Gaming
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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    "only thing that hurts about using [it]" is separate from "only major dents [i.e. in the build quality/design]". I took out the last only for you, though. :) Reply
  • mgl888 - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    x120e is out.
    Any thoughts?
    I'm considering cancelling my dm1z order and getting a thinkpad instead
    Reply
  • The Crying Man - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    I read somewhere that the only reason you'd get the x120e is for the matte screen, nipple mouse, and overall look since it runs warmer and has a slightly lower battery life compared to the dm1z. Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Whenever there is an article about Fusion APUs and praising how great it is, Intel fanboys begin to compare it to CULV, and Apple fanboys stand out to say netbook is out of the game and iPad saves the world. Reply
  • swaaye - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    What do you compare it to? You make it sound like it shouldn't be compared to the competition. And, perhaps this hasn't occurred to you yet, but everyone has different preferences. Reply
  • Wieland - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    I find passive aggressive comments like nitrousoxide's just as annoying as the comparisons he mentions, but the issue is that the CULV laptops and iPads aren't the competition of this laptop at all. The cheapest CULV laptops are still quite a bit more expensive than the dm1z, and models with similar fit and finish are around twice the price. The iPad is completely different in form and function.

    It's apparent from nitrousoxide's comment that he understands that people have different preferences. The question is why does everyone feel the need to shout their personal preferences to the world.

    "Happiness is never grand."
    Reply
  • CutControl - Saturday, May 14, 2011 - link

    There's a new f.12 bios that tweaks fan to be much less of an issue! Reply
  • blueboy11 - Sunday, November 06, 2011 - link

    This netbook is the ideal area where it needs to be before Llano makes it debut. Seeing that I only use a computer nowadays for viewing podcast videos in Google Reader along with a little of Youtube, and connect the HDMI on my 32 inch tv, this would be ideal for me. I rarely use my DVD-RW drive, and ironically use more USB sticks for temporary storage, although I could use a 1TB external drive as well for music, videos, etc. I'm not saying this is the netbook king by any means, but a step ahead in the right direction for people who don't need all the flashy features that a laptop offers nowadays. Just my 2 cents on the subject at hand. Thanks for the review Anand, cause this netbook I'll be getting in the nearby future for sure. Reply

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