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What About the Games?

Our HP dm1z review already covered gaming, so we’ll start with a retread of the current status quo for modern games. While the 3DMark results on the previous page may be somewhat useful, they’re no replacement for real games. First up is our usual suite of eight titles from the last year or so, many with support for advanced rendering features like DX11. While the HD 6310M does technically support DX11, so far we haven’t found any games where the feature is beneficial, as performance is too slow with it enabled.

Here are the minimum detail performance results for our test laptops, compared to a recent selection of other laptops. We have everything from Arrandale’s HD Graphics and Sandy Bridge’s HD 3000 Graphics to discrete GPUs like the GT 335M and HD 5650. We’ve also got AMD’s older IGPs (HD 4225 and HD 4250) for comparison, and the MacBook’s 320M thrown in for good measure. This isn’t going to be very pretty….

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

DiRT 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Mafia II

Mass Effect 2

Metro 2033

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

So running at the native 1366x768 found on so many consumer laptops today, the E-350 manages to break 30FPS in exactly zero out of eight games. Ouch. Scores from all the E-350 laptops are close enough that we won’t worry about it too much—the biggest gap is the dm1z lead of 19% in SC2, while there’s also an MSI X370 lead of 15% in DiRT 2; the other titles are single-digit percentage differences. E-350 does manage to beat the HD4250 and HD4225 laptops in every game, with the exception of StarCraft II where the CPU bottleneck is bigger than the GPU bottleneck at minimum details. E-350 is also generally faster than Atom + ION, but ION does lead in ME2 and Stalker. Another interesting comparison is the Dell E6410 with Intel’s HD Graphics; we’re looking at a CPU that’s easily twice as fast as E-350, but with a slightly slower IGP. The result is that (similar to the HD4250 with P660) the only case where E-350 loses in terms of gaming potential is StarCraft II, and even there HD Graphics is only 14% faster.

Move up into the next category of performance, though, and HD 6310M can’t compete. Sandy Bridge is faster than Arrandale, with roughly double the IGP performance, so the high-end i7-2820QM has an easy lead over E-350. Going off the numbers of the newer MacBook Pro 13, the dual-core Sandy Bridge models will be a bit slower than the quad-core in terms of GPU performance, but still 35 to 120% faster than E-350. More importantly, the dual-core SNB managed to break 30FPS in six out of eight titles. (Vivek didn’t test Mafia II or Metro 2033, but you really need a discrete GPU to come anywhere near playability in those games.) Similarly, the 2010 MacBook/MacBook Pro 13 is much faster than E-350, posting frame rates that are 63 to 150% higher. We hardly even need to mention discrete GPUs like the HD 5650, but we will: it’s up to 260% faster with a P520 CPU, and 315% faster with the i7-640M.

It would be interesting to see just how far the HD 6310 could go if it were untethered from the Bobcat core. Ultimately, once Llano launches in a few months it won’t matter, but for now many modern titles need something more than the current AMD IGP. But what about older games? You asked, and I’ve been pulling out a bunch of older stuff to put the E-350 through its paces….

Application Performance: Better than Atom, Worse than CULV Gaming, Circa 2006
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  • Nimiz99 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    I like your review of those games for the e-350.

    I agree, for certain games processor is everything ...but again I think these notebooks are for gaming on the go and shouldn't be a desktop replacement. Im sure eventually we'll get there, right now ppl buying these should know their intended purpose on-the-go/couch consumption.
    Reply
  • ET - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    Thanks for mentioning Guild Wars and Champions Online. I've pretty much stopped gaming for the last month or two, but I will hopefully get back to it (once my 2 year old hits 18 :), and running MMO's anywhere is certainly something I'd like to do. In the past I occasionally played City of Heroes on a 1.2GHz Pentium M with GMA 500 graphics. Not much fun, but still worked okay for door missions. So an E-350 will certainly be an upgrade, and 20 FPS in Champions Online sounds decent enough. Reply
  • ash9 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Seems a SSD drive can add .5 to 1 hour worth of added battery life - couple that with tuned applications could mean renewed life for X86 (graphics /science)- comparing Fusion with any of the CPU offerings, including ARM - one has to realize that the Fusion platform's computing power per wattage/ battery life (mobile) has got to beat all others hands down - lest we forget price. Try and run a Monte Carlo simulation on an Ipad2.

    asH
    Reply
  • DMisner - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Please don't forget to review the Thinkpad X120e! Reply
  • mgl888 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    +1 to this!

    Thanks for the gaming benchmarks.
    Reply
  • Tasslehoff Burrfoot - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    +1 Reply
  • blacklist - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    until now i was expecting all the brazos netbooks to be release in order to buy the best one. i thought the x370 would be the chosen one but... well, the facts are the facts and clearly it is a mediocre ultraportable if that $700+ msrp is real. now i'm waiting for the lenovo s205 to be reviewed (please, don't forget to review it) and find if it's as good as it looks. if not, then i will have to settle for the dm1z. Reply
  • deputc26 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    "Contrary to what you might expect, the 64Wh battery actually more than doubles battery life, suggesting the cells may be higher quality than in the 4-cell option." I doubt that the cells are different.

    One characteristic of Li-Co batteries (and pretty much every other chemistry) is that energy density changes with C rate. Which means that doubling a cell's size will more than double capacity given a static load.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    This is true. The slower you deplete a batteries energy, the more energy you will draw out of it in total. Reply
  • PMing - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I bought this little beauty last week, and have a rather mixed experience with it. The battery should have been better, Sony only provide a measle less than 5 hours of usage, while the new AMD Zacate should be able to perform longer with bigger battery. The keyboard is not exactly spacious enough visually, but it's better once I got used to it. Yet even first generation of Dell Mini 10 outperforms Vaio YB in terms of keyboard ergonomics.

    The AMD E350 beats Intel Atom to the bottom, especially in terms of video performance. I don't play games, so I'm not sure how it will handle them.

    In my region I only got a basic Windows 7 Starter 32-bit, 2 GB memory and 320GB HDD, that is for a steep USD 550. But I guess that is the price you pay if you need a VAIO logo stamped on the lid of your laptop.
    Reply

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