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  • silverblue - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    I really doubt that AMD will release a faster IGP than the 4250 on this type of platform, or even one with more shaders, simply because it detracts from the Fusion initiative. Had they not gone the Fusion route, we probably would be seeing IGPs on the same level as, say, the 3850, by now (one can hope, though Llano should easily meet that).

    At the very least, it'd have been nice to see a 40nm version of the 4250 and not the 55nm versions we've been seeing for a couple of years, especially since Intel is producing their HD Graphics on a lower node.
  • nitrousoxide - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    Llano IGP has 320 shaders, and should run at really high frequency. So it's reasonable to expect Mobility 5650 (or GT425M) level performance. Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    320 ? Umm. More like 400(+) ... Reply
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    ain't that funny arguing about shader count while you actually don't know for sure??? :)

    Liano will have 160-240-320-400 shaders in notebook depending on model, now you know.

    And now it doesn't run really high frequency but indeed the highend will be around Mob 5650 perf and will run circles around anything integrated Intel can offer.
  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    That might be true for lower resolutions... Just remember it still has to use system memory which is slower and of higher latency when compared to a discreet cards own memory subsystem (Plus system RAM's bandwidth is shared between all components.)

    Only so large and complex you can make an IGP before it is essentially pointless, on the bright side compute tasks should be decent.
  • silverblue - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    It'll handle higher loads than Brazos, though Brazos wasn't really positioned as a gaming option.

    A triple channel memory interface would be immensely helpful but unfortunately incredibly unlikely to happen. The real value of Llano should be proven by throwing faster RAM at it; those RAM tests which yielded very little improvement should no longer apply.

    I can't see Llano achieving 5650 performance in bandwidth-limited situations, however one might argue that anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering aren't options suited to such platforms so if you leave those out, it should perform quite well.
  • nitrousoxide - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    1366x768 gaming isn't that bandwidth limited. My laptop runs at 1600x900 with 128bit D3 running at 800MHz. So that's only 25.6GB/s available bandwidth but still managed to run Black Ops/Need for Speed Shift at highest settings and rarely dropped below 30fps. While Llano won't be that fast to handle HD gaming, at 1366x768 (which is the standard resolution for most 14 inch laptops) it should really provide decent gaming experience. Reply
  • drew_afx - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the thorough reviews on this site
    it's really informative and accurate
    but since a lot of people like myself visit here to
    decide on which tech product to choose from,
    is it possible to include a comparison chart of carrying weight?
    I can see the specs on the first page, but
    those i5's and i7 laptops w/ more than double the
    charge capacity of sony's battery should be packing at least
    a solid pound more. Efficiency wise, it would be better to compare
    laptops by weight too, since power vs weight is always good comparison
    in cars(efficiency of engine). As the review noted, this range of laptops is
    suitable for college students who need multitasking, but don't need
    gaming or video encoding power w/ more weight.

    Another good measure of laptop comparison can be the
    practical part of design. Does the vents on the bottom get blocked
    when put on lap?(the pictures w/temps were very helpful) Is it single or dual heatsink/fan?
    Is it easy to disassemble and clean vents later? Can it be
    held with one hand comfortably, both when opened and closed without flexing?
    any sign of lcd distortion when pressed on the back cover? hinge quality?
    keyboard & mouse clicking noise level? I think one of the reasons for
    apple's success in educational notebooks is due to meeting these practical design
  • Malih - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    interesting, it's good to include these kindof daily usage annoyances test, cause that's what we're facing everyday, it will complete the review as buyer's guide Reply
  • Screammit - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Positioning of the vents is one of the first things I look at when I make a laptop purchase. I greatly prefer that the main intake or outtake is not on the bottom. Reply
  • rns.sr71 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    'While Llano's CPU performance doesn't promise to be a substantial improvement over what we've seen here (the cores are basically K10.5)'- now hold it. amd is doubleing l2 cache size, improving prefetchers, improving the mem. controller(hopefully efficiency), and i have to believe that they are increasing the width and/or the speed of the cpu/nb. it could outperform deneb clock for clock then factor in a REAL could be 15-25 percent better than deneb depending on the app. 15-25 percent better than propus across the board. Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    While improvements may occur, there won't be substantial changes in CPU performance for it's still a 3-issue design. And note there's no way Llano can be clocked at, say, 3.0GHz (at least without Turbo) due to TDP limit (Llano should have even higher TDP than quad-core i7s because there's a discrete level GPU packed in it). So you can't really expect a Llano faster than the desktop Athlon II X4 640 today. But anyway, with four cores, it should at least keep up with low-end dual core Sandybridge and would provide much much better IGP performance. I expect the IGP performance to be at the same level of downclocked versions of Mobility 5650 (ones equipped in Toshiba and Sony laptops). That performance is enough for most gaming with high (though not ultra high) settings at 1366x768 resolution. Reply
  • rns.sr71 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    not tryin to argue, but look at this-

    "Quite a lot is known about Llano processor, which is a part of Sabine platform. As reported earlier, AMD Llano accelerated processing unit (APU) will have four x86 cores based on the current micro-architecture each of which will have 9.69mm² die size (without L2 cache), a little more than 35 million transistors (without L2 cache), 2.5W – 25W power consumption, 0.8V – 1.3V voltage and target clock-speeds at over 3.0GHz clock-speed. The cores will dynamically scale their clock-speeds and voltages within the designated thermal design power in order to boost performance when a program does not require all four processing engines or trim power consumption when there is no demand for resources. According to sources familiar with the matter, different versions of Llano processor will have thermal design power varying from 20W to 59W: high-end dual-core, triple-core and quad-core chips will have TDP between 35W and 59W; mainstream chips with two of four x86 cores will fit into 30W thermal envelope and low-power dual-core Llano chips will have 20W TDP." -
  • rns.sr71 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    also, yes it is still 3 issue. but changes to prefetchers, OoO buffer, scheduler efficiency, ect would improve ipc noticeably. i think the doubling of the l2 cache, lower latency, higher mem bandwidth, wider/faster cpu/nb(which has to be improved) would make up for not having an l3 cache. so it could outperform a deneb. maybe by the same amount that deneb outperformed its predecessor. Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    IPC can only be improved with substantial architectural changes, not such minor adjustments. So you can't seriously expect too much CPU performance from Llano, but as I said, it could be as fast, if not faster than dual core sandybridge. Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    I really don't care about blu ray at all, and with this kind of performance of paltry screen...
    I just cannot justify paying more than 400 for this laptop. Either remove the blue ray and drop the price to 500 or less or put in a nice 500:1 contrast 1080p screen with a 6 cell battery.
  • Hrel - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    at 500 bucks with blu-ray I can see a place for it. Even a dollar more though and it's just not worth it. In 6 months every laptop on big box shelves will include Sandy Bridge IGP which greatly outperforms this in every single way. AMD really needs the ramp up their mobile offerings. Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    One thing where it also outperforms even those Xpress 1200 IGP's of old is in driver bugs on Windows and driver non-existence on Linux.

    It is worth keeping that in mind. I'd take ATi Xpress 200 from 2005 over HD Graphics any day. With an SB CPU to chug along, of course ;)
  • MobiusStrip - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    The screen doesn't matter as long is it's an asinine glossy one.

    The contrast ratio doesn't mean anything when the image is covered in a reflective sheen all the time. And it will be, even in a pitch-black room, because at the very least YOU will be reflected in it.

    Unless you do all your computing in a ninja outfit, in a closet.
  • kevith - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Haha, great:-) Reply
  • Akv - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    What a bombasticly huge mistake, adding a blu-ray player in a budget laptop...

    I never buy blu-ray disks, and the only use I have for classic DVD drives is installing software, very rarely.
  • Silver47 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    Hi Dustin

    I work on the electrical department in Tescos here in the UK ( sort of our Wall Mart) and we sell the Sony Vaio EE3E which has a similar configuration. It doesn't have the bluray drive and a gig less of RAM all yours for £499 (~$800). When I first saw the spec and pictures I thought how could you not of seen a budget Vaio before, we have had this one for some time (though granted the EE34 is waaaaaay better value to what we have). I would of thought you would of had something like this in the US most of the time?

    Anyway heres a pic of the mythical beast and personally I thought it was one of the better built laptops we have (this is the most expensive one we stock, if you hate crappy displays you'll have a heart attack in here ;) )

  • Taft12 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    Dustin, I think this was one of your best AT articles yet, and it wasn't a very interesting product - I think that speaks well to your improving writing skills.

    My cousin's wife got a Samsung laptop that was maybe $100 less with no Bluray and the same CPU -- I found myself impressed with the quality of the build compared to low-end Acer and HP, and the battery life was excellent.

    I didn't believe it could be true, but the 25W Athlon CPUs really nail the niche they set out to fill - a middle-of-the-road balance between performance and battery life.
  • GullLars - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    Since you note to begin this laptop has a crappy HDD, i would love to see what potential it holds if you put an SSD in it. Some of us are now moving to our second or third round of SSDs, and may have one left over, or consider purchasing one specifically as an upgrade.
    Also, this notebook has an 8xx chipset, which means it SHOULD support 6Gbps.
    Why not test it with a C300 64GB, and/or the Vertex 3 256GB (a PCmark Vantage run would be more than enough to really put a smile on my face)
  • mino - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    This was a system review, not a platform review. AMD's mobile platform performance is no secret so fitting even RAMdribe in it is not worth the effort.

    On the other hand a nice 320G WD Black drive would up the cost about $10 while providing a sensible benefit.
    Putting in a basic 80G SSD would destroy its value proposition not to mention even more showing its IGP and CPU bottlenecks.
  • cfaalm - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Agreed, just put in the WD320 Scorpio. Even if you buy it afterwards, it would still be a good investement if you also buy a 2.5" external USB housing and place the original Toshiba in there. Nothing goes to waste. I upgraded my 2007 MacBook this way. Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    I changed both of my laptops with SSDs, and the 2 HDDs put in RAID 0 on my PC. They are slow 5400rpm laptop drives but very fast in RAID :) Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    For some of the early adopters of SSD technology and also for people that upgrade frequently we are just about at the point where some enthusiasts might be on their 2nd or 3rd SSD. That creates the time where some people will have second-hand SSD's from say 1st gen tech (Intel 1st gen or, horror, JMicron 1st gen) and basically do this upgrade for "free".

    I know not everyone (or even a majority), but there are those out there that have this as a viable option. Me, for instance, has an 80GB second gen (G2) Intel drive that has been fantastic for the last year and a half. More so than needing a speed boost I want to get one for my laptop that I carry around the house (with it's anemic 5400rpm drive).

    I could see buying a great 3rd gen SSD for my desktop and migrating the 80GB Intel over to my old laptop, and that is a scenario I see becoming commonplace in the near future.

    Just a thought....
  • jabber - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    Especially a cheap one. If you get 4 years then any laptop has done its job. Time to get a new one thats twice as fast and half the price again.

    Commodity items. I'd never spend more than £500 on a laptop ever again. Just a tool to use and abuse.

    You spend £800+ on a uber laptop and you are always worrying you are going to crack it, scratch it etc.

    With a cheap laptop in a ABS type plastic case no worries. The Lenovo G550 series are a prime example of good day to day knock about laptops.
  • mino - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    I spend $1000 average on a laptop because I need it to work. Daily. And it is cheaper than spending twice $600.
    Not to mention much more enjoyable working on a not-crappiest LCD/chassis/KB/touchpad/webcam/WAN/BT/Wifi/eSATA/USB3 configuration ...
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    You don't always need to buy cheap junk. Lenovos aren't too bad though.

    Quick example, my main laptop is a Dell Latitude D800, which still works perfectly now with a new hard disk and 2GB RAM upgrade, and Windows 7, alongside the existing 2GHz Pentium M and Radeon 9600 Pro Turbo (128MB).

    That must be 6 years old. It has a nicer screen than anything I could get now (1920x1200).

    I don't need to upgrade it unless I wanted to play 1080p video or new games.
  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    I too had no clue Sony made a budget laptop period, much less a laptop with an AMD in it. And it actually looks like a pretty nice machine for the price.

    And it was a nicely written review at that.
  • roko98 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    "I've been paid to fix those computers. I don't like doing it anymore. There are bargains, and then there's getting what you pay for. When my dad's girlfriend complains because the illegal immigrant she paid a paltry eight bucks an hour to take care of her front yard didn't do a very good job, she sounds dense."

    Maybe you are right, maybe not. Please keep it for yourself. This comment doesn't fell right for a very professional site like Anand's. If you skip this... good review.
  • Jumangi - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Oh noes!!! Here comes the PC police!

    We all know its supposed to be "undocumented immigrant"...don't want to make the progressives angry...
  • Nfarce - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Exactly why does the phrase "illegal immigrant" get liberals so upset? What part of illegal and immigrant in the phrase "illegal immigrant" is not hard to understand? It is what it is whether one is from South America, Europe, or Indofreakingchina. Get over yourselves. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, February 25, 2011 - link

    I'll be honest, I could care less about PC comments (see the other comments below), but I also agree it just didn't fit in the piece. Seemed to me like an extra paragraph was needed for the article and this fluff was thrown in to pad the page. Not all of us have a great deal of free time and I doubt the target audience of this piece needs/cares about someone complaining about yard work.

    Stick to the substance, and we'll be happy.
  • RaistlinZ - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    So basically, they got all the cheapest components they could find and wrapped them around a Blu-Ray player for $600. This thing offers netbook performance for a higher cost. Why put a Blu-Ray with a crappy screen to watch it on?

    13x7 resolution? 5200 rpm HDD? 10 fps average on games? I don't see a market for this thing. Maybe at $400, but not at $600.
  • Calabros - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    I prefer budget notebooks, cause if it lost or stole or dropped, I loose $600 not 1.5K Reply
  • HHCosmin - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    nice to see sony making an... ahem... less expensive lappie.
    first thing is i think people over value the cpu power. laptops are more about mobility: weight, autonomy, durability and less about horse power. don't like much the optical drives. there a lot of ways to carry data besides optical drives: sticks, online, nas etc.

    runtime... this is one of the things that plagued amd.... but you see notebooks are not made by amd but by integrators: acer, asus, sony etc. so the runtime is not the cpu runtime but the platform runtime. well the platform is the integrator business. since amd was mostly for cheap builds then the integrators cared very little for making a good platform with good runtime. my point is that we get a laptop with same battery, same cpu, same ram amount, comparable hdd, same igp we will get the same perfromance.... but bingo!... not the same runtime. in fact we may get big differences and this is the case with intel too. my hunch is that the lame runtime under idle - low, video play usage of a laptop is the integrator's fault. and the driver makes also.

    so congrats for sony on making a good build and caring about runtime.

    the cpu power is enough, the runtime is at last ok as sony cared about it, the price is ok
  • jabber - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Indeed. Folks cant get their minds out of the turn of the century CPU power struggle that you always have to have more.

    As soon as we got dual core CPUs the power struggle came to an end for 80% of users.

    The needs of the many have long since been met.

    I've been using a 1.3GHz CULV laptop for the past year and its been superb. Never once have I found it wanting. I cant tell the difference performance wise to some of the i3/i5 laptops I've worked on. Its no different in 95% of tasks other than video encoding.

    Oh and did I mention that I get nearly 7 hours running time from it?

    In fact my 3.5GHz quad-core crossfire box has pretty much been relegated to video encoding.

    More power to the low power revolution.
  • Martin Schou - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    When I browse Sony's Danish website, I find 2 E-model laptops with AMD CPUs displayed:

    They're not hidden away or anything.

    I suspect the reason they are hidden on the US website, is that their web designer is on LSD or some other mind altering substance, that makes him think we don't want to know what products they have.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    It's more likely that intel got to him than he is on LSD. Reply
  • HangFire - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    The purpose of this laptop is obvious- to put pressure on Intel and show that Sony can make an AMD laptop if they want to.

    By opting out of the mobility driver program, Sony has assured it won't sell many, nor are they trying to.

    Give it a real keyboard and support it with the AMD's mobility driver program, and I would be interested. As it is, I wouldn't even consider it at half price.
  • nitrousoxide - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    I've been using a Vaio EA200C for six months, the keyboard is great, almost as good as a desktop mechanical keyboard.

    The driver is of course the matter of concern here. I'm forced to use the crappy OEM driver provided by Sony, and they simply never update it after releasing the product. The dfriver itself is poorly built, many problems occur with H.264 decoding, Flash acceleration and OpenCL feature does not work properly.

    Anybody who intend to buy a laptop should be aware of this: if you are a Stream/OpenCL/CUDA developer, or you really need these features in Adobe's CS5 package or other GPU accelerated softwares, skip Sony and consider other manufacturers who offer official driver.
  • futurepastnow - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    I just bought a similar machine, an HP G42-303DX ($429 at Best Buy with the Turion II P540). It'll be delivered on Monday; having played with similar machines my only real concern is with the screen quality and battery life.

    So why not wait for Llano? Because it's been repeatedly delayed and I wanted something now. I figure the performance of AMD's old platform will be "good enough". If it turns out to be a mistake, well, it's a very cheap laptop.

    Thanks for the review of something so similar, though. There are a dearth of reviews of AMD's current platform as it seems almost everyone is waiting for Sandy Bridge and Llano notebooks.
  • futurepastnow - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Incidentally, does this platform support DDR3-1333? Would faster memory impact the integrated graphics performance? Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Nice to see a logical keyboard layout. Why does it seem so many laptop makers are allergic to having the arrow keys drop below the rest of the bottom row and instead do wacky things like have the up and down keys half-sized?

    Otherwise I think this is OK but would make a lot more sense with no Blu-Ray and $100 cheaper
  • jonyah - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    These AMD sony's are everywhere. the model you tested has been going for as low as 499 at places like frys, walmart, best buy etc. They have the new AMD fusion netbook/notebook that looks really cool.

    oh and i love my brand new z.
  • Etern205 - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    Saw a AMD based Vaio for around $500 at BJs around 2-3 weeks ago. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Thursday, February 24, 2011 - link

    This was looking like a nice machine, right up until Sony opted out of the AMD Radeon driver package. I just stopped reading at that point. I'm sure we've all been frustrated by this sort of vendor driver crap in the past, I'm not wasting time on it anymore. Nicely done article though! Reply
  • yyrkoon - Saturday, February 26, 2011 - link

    Sony's higher end laptops aren't particularly known for their reliability either. SO buying a budget laptop from them makes little sense to me. Things like support for different OS's backwards, and forwards are pretty important as well.Here Sony falls short as well.

    So when you can purchase a similar system at a lower cost, that *does* support multiple version of windows ( and perhaps even linux ): From a different manufacturer. It only makes sense. Especially if that company regularly has consistently reliable systems. To find these system however, one has to spend some time reading through reviews, weeding out the idiotic reviews, and then wait for the system to be sold at a reasonable enough price for them to feel happy. At $499 however; You can get an Asus with "discrete" nvidia graphics for $300 more. SO sometimes a hard judgement call to make.

    And yes ! Anyone buying a budget laptop to be used as a tool to beat dents out of their car fender is not very smart. Seriously, when you buy any laptop, it should be treated with care. So why treat a budget laptop any differently ?
  • Sabresiberian - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    I've been paid to fix those computers. I don't like doing it anymore. There are bargains, and then there's getting what you pay for. When my dad's girlfriend complains because the illegal immigrant she paid a paltry eight bucks an hour to take care of her front yard didn't do a very good job, she sounds dense. And that's what consumers who buy cheap PCs sound like when they complain that their computer isn't fast.

    As you said, there is a place for the inexpensive, but I couldn't have said it better myself. Personally, I don't put up with people making whiny little remarks about cheap service and products all the time. "You get what you pay for" certainly isn't an absolute, but there's no substitute for buying smartly rather than cheaply.


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