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  • Rookierookie - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Pricing this at $699 brings this into competition with the Dell XPS 15, which starts at $799 with i5-2410M and a Nvidia GT 525M. You trade off on some utilities, but it's basically a much faster laptop for about $100 more.

    At $599 this becomes a much more attractive option.
  • nitrousoxide - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    No, for that $100 you can get an SSD. And it feels "much faster" than the XPS 15 with HDD. Reply
  • prdola0 - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    SSD with usable size for $100? No. Not really. XPS 15 is a much better choice. Reply
  • JGabriel - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Dustin Sklavos @ Top: "I do honestly think two faster AMD cores would've been a better call than four slow cores"

    For low-end home users, the most common problem I've seen is thread clutter. We're talking about people who aren't very tech literate, and load up their machines with tons of little tech gewgaws to tell them the weather, list headlines, perform animations when they get mail, make their mouse cursor "cute", and so on.

    I suspect this is one of AMD's target markets for Llano. If so, one can see the argument in favor of more slow cores over few fewer fast ones. These are people who don't need to get anything done quickly, they just need a lot of low-demand things done simultaneously.
  • jfelano - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    It will be $599 Reply
  • ckryan - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The contrast ratio chart shows that laptop screens are usually not very good. Not that its newsworthy, but how do manufacturers expect to keep selling even midrange laptops when you can get a tablet with a bitchin screen and better battery life. Not that the two devices roles are interchangeable for many tasks, but I for one won't be buying another laptop until screens get better. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    It is a shame that the Radiance (HP Envy line) screen maker went out of business! madness Reply
  • LordConrad - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    As someone who wears glasses, I personally like my screens with a slightly lower resolution because everything is natively larger. I know you can adjust font and icon sizes in Windows, or simply change the resolution, but I consider these changes to be a last resort option. I loved my last HP dv7 laptop, it was a bit bulky but it had a beautiful 1440x900 screen that was just right for my eyesight. My current laptop is a slightly smaller and less bulky dv6 with a 1366x768 screen, which is also perfect for my eyesight. With both laptops I had the option to get a higher resolution screen, which they probably don't include on the review systems you get.

    Just keep in mind that not everyone has 20/20 (or better) vision.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Actually my eyesight is pretty dire, too.

    The thing is, high resolution screens seem to tend to produce better color, better contrast, and better viewing angles. I'd take one of those at a lower-than-native resolution at this point, just because they LOOK better.
  • ckryan - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    My eyesight is pretty good, and I no longer prefer maximum DPI. A 1920X1200 display is great at 24", but in a 15" laptop it's definitely not for everyone. I told a family member not to get one as an upgrade in a Dell Vostro a couple years ago; She runs it at half the native resolution. It is a pretty good TN screen, much better than the other options, but just way to fine pitched. I'm to the point where I will happily take a better panel display at a lower res than a much higher TN panel. It would be different if WIndows was better about scaling, but you can only do so much by adjusting DPI display settings.

    Still, I'm pretty serious about not buying another laptop until I can get a display in the style to which I'm accustomed these days. Whenever I pick up my laptop I die a little on the inside. The viewing angles are terrible, black level is absurdly high, contrast is low, and this is the upgraded panel in the Dell D630 14" I'm using. At least I have the docking bay for it.
  • Crazymech - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Gotta agree with Dustin here.

    Tho I would like to add that I'm begining to think the problem is that the UI elements of windows aren't really being designed with this resolution in mind. I think Microsoft should start setting a 1920x1xx0 baseline resolution for designing the next UI, so that things wont be too small at our current standard.

    This would allow us to enjoy the higher PPI without straining our eyes to see the tiny details. Like iPhones 4's screen for example. Icon size just the same, just more PPI - lovely to look at.
  • kmmatney - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I have crappy eyes, and a 17" laptop with 1920 x 1200 resolution. I normally run the screen at 1440 x 900, which looks great. I like the fact that I can go to 1920 x 1200 when I really need the extra real-estate, but i can't handle that resolution very long. it nice to have the option, though. Reply
  • seapeople - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I have really crappy eyes too, but I went to this thing they call an eye doctor (i.e. Walmart) and now while wearing these special lens type things I can actually see far away things just like I could when I was younger. I didn't realize this was an uncommon thing? Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The sarcasm is amusing but not entirely appropriate. Some of us with eye problems have a harder time getting them corrected as exactly. Despite my horrifically strong scrip and regular visits to the eye doctor, I still have trouble focusing sometimes. Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    Good comment Dustin. I still have decent vision, but I have had some problems that are not correctable that have decreased my vision somewhat. Believe me, it is really frightening to think that you might be losing vision in one or both eyes. Fortunately, the problem was not as serious as I first thought.

    However, I do know others that have very serious vision problems that are not totally fixable after many thousands of dollars of expensive surgery, much less a trip to Walmart. So I agree that seapeople's comment, intentionally or not, was not appropriate and is offensive to those who have serious vision problems.
  • joe_dude - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    IMHO, the NV75 is much better deal than the Toshiba. It comes with A8-3500m + dGPU. In Canada, it's $700 fully loaded with Blu-Ray.

    I think the A6 is better for low-end 13" to 15" laptops, where Intel + dGPU has a tendency to overheat (e.g. Acer TimelineX) or sounds like a jet engine in games.

    Also, the productivity benchmarks are very misleading. On the NV75 (and I assume the Toshiba as well), the system is very responsive for day-to-day use. The CPU is definitely NOT a bottleneck.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The Gateway NV75, at least the models I've seen, does not include a dGPU. Any Radeon HD with the letter "G" at the end of the model number refers to the graphics built into the Llano APU. That said, you're right, the NV75 does look like a better deal. Reply
  • joe_dude - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The Canadian model has a 6650m with 1 GB of VRAM.

    The smallest AMD A6 laptop I can find so far is the 14" HP G4. Wanna review that one too? :>
  • charliek45 - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Hi Dustin,

    Would you be able to expand on the heat and noise section of this review? I own an old Asus laptop and it gets very hot and noisy while playing games, sometimes to the point of shutting down, so this is one of the most important criteria for me when selecting a laptop. Can you please compare the heat and noise under load to other laptops? In particular, I am interested to know whether Llano is able to run cooler than Intel + dedicated graphics cards when playing games and if so, how much cooler.
  • MrCromulent - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    10/100 Ethernet... are you serious, Toshiba?

    Even for low-end machines that's unacceptable in this day and age.
  • medi01 - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Let me guess. It slows down your web surfing experience, right? I mean pathetic 100Mb LAN socket on a device which 90%+ of the users would never ever use and the rest will use it only because there is no wlan. Shameless... Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The issue is that it's a checkbox feature that shows up on absolutely everything these days, and if you're sharing media over your network as people are doing more and more, it's going to make a difference. The omission is silly. Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Yeah, without this review we are already aware how awful Llano's CPU is. That is a truth given how low the frequency is. I own an Acer AS5560G with A6-3400M and I've done several tests on overclocking and undervolting the Llano.

    The A6-3400M can be safely undervolted from 1.05V to 0.90V without failing LinX stress test. This results in 2W power reduction in HD video playback and internet browsing, 3.5W power reduction in 3D games and up to 8W reduction in stress test. Peak temperature also drops by 12 degrees.

    If you want to trade some battery life for performance, just overclock it to 1.8GHz and it runs stable at 0.95V. Then you get a 30% faster processor without consuming more power than stock A6-3400M. In fact, in stress tests, the overclocked A6-3400M consumes 4W less than stock. What about overclocking at stock voltage? At 1.05V you can bump the frequency to 2.4GHz, but this results in overheating.

    As far as I know virtually every Llano can be massively undervolted or overclocked. It appears to me that AMD is too conservative with Llano's voltage and clock speeds, perhaps due to the fact that Llano is released in a hurry. They could've get a much much faster Llano just with some more tweaks.
  • Novaguy - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    There are a lot of people overclocking and undervolting their HP dv6zqe's into the 2.2 and up ghz range. Apparently the chips are unlocked.

    I have the dv6zqe and it is going well, except the 6750M (yeah, I did the crossfire) sometimes runs hot/noisy. I have not tried overclocking/undervolting but probably will sometime in the future (probably after it goes off warranty).

    I think AMD could have tweaked voltages and clocks on the better chips so that there was model that had a 2.4 stock/2.8 turbo cpu with maybe a 550 or 600 speeds on the gpu portion - that could eliminate the need for a crossfire or perhaps improve the timing so that it is a bit more symmetric. An A8-3550MX or A8-3570MX, if you will.

    The other issue - for those that got MX chips, HP is only using 1333 memory chips, when it looks like 1600 mhz is supported (for the MX llano's) and would give better graphics results. This toshiba looks like it doesn't have MX chips, so 1333 is probably the max memory speed. I wish laptop manufacturers had a 1600 option.
  • Roland00Address - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    It is the newest version of k10stat, correct? Reply
  • Novaguy - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    Yes, it's one of the recent versions of k10stat. Maybe the last two versions, as I vaguely remember reading that a new version came out. There are a whole bunch of tables of volts/speeds on various forums using this program.

    I have not personally tried undervolting/overclocking as I have not installed anything that needs more performance. So far I am just doing browsing and playing early 2000's rpgs (diablo II) and the stock speeds are sufficient. But once I finish that I might move on to something that needs more fps....
  • R3MF - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    "I'd've killed for a Llano-equipped notebook that could run something like Guild Wars on the battery with good performance. There is a market for this"

    True, 3D battery life is a standout for Llano, but I want to see a 35W A8 Llano sporting 400 shaders shoe-horned into a 12" chassis.

    Now that would be made of WIN!
  • Anato - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    At the price point i5-2520M is out of the league. I'd like to see i3-2310m in the chars. Tho results AMD-Intel would be the same, Intel wins CPU-tasks AMD Graphics. Reply
  • oceanrock - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    I can tell you that the i3-2310 w/o dGPU (ACER timelineX 5830T), was faster, but not as smooth (responsive and enjoyable) as an ACER Aspire AS5253-BZ849 equipped with an E350!

    The i3 was constantly shifting its speed and spent most of the time at ~800 mhz and 20%utilization, the E350 spent most of the time at 1.2/1.6 ghz with 50-80%utilization. it still lasted 4-8 hours and kept real cool the whole time. the i3 was a bit louder, jerky, not as cool, but lasted 8-12 hours. Also, it cost $100 more...

    Go figure???
  • gc_ - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Anandtech, could you please find a way to label laptop comparison graphs with the relevant HD/SSD model or specs? In some benchmarks the HD or SSD is more relevant than the GPU, yet the graphs seem to give all the credit/blame to the CPU or GPU. These days the CPU is often fast enough for many office/school tasks and the storage system is the bottleneck. Reply
  • Slaimus - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Can you add a gaming battery life test? I think there is an area where this laptop should have a trump card compared to one with a dedicated graphics card. Reply
  • Beenthere - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I think it's clear that Llano is a good laptop APU and that AMD has created a specific market segment as a result. Llano is OK for an inexpensive desktop systems but low end Bulldozer CPUs and discrete graphics would be far better. Trinity will follow Llano so AMD has many good products in the pipeline, which is great for consumers. Reply
  • DudleyUC - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    People (anandtech staff) are putting too much value in CPU performance. Yes, the SB i7s kick the bejesus out of any Llano in CPU tasks. Truth is, the vast majority of users don't make use of that kind of performance the vast majority of the time (or ever). Good enough performance for less money is a much better choice than more performance than you need for considerably more money. I'll take a Honda Civic for 20k over a McClaren for 1M, because I'm never going to drive at 240mph either way. Reply
  • joe_dude - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    LOL... Intel: faster spell check, can't play games. You winner! Reply
  • BSMonitor - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    You are absolutely wrong. MOST people don't play FPS on their $600 laptop, nor would they EVER want to. That kind of gaming is so niche that it really doesn't register in the grand scheme.

    People want all their applications to run quickly and smoothly. They want their iTunes to convert songs as fast as possible. And they want to do these things simultaneously.

    CPU performance is EVERYTHING. If you want GPU performance, you don't want an IGP or APU, you get a dedicated chip.
  • bji - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    While both yours and the O.P.s points are gross generalizations, I tend to agree with the O.P. more. Everybody knows that CPU speed reached a point of diminishing returns years ago, with the newest, fastest processors hardly distinguishable from budget processors in most tasks. And although I don't know this for sure, I espect that most people who buy laptops, let alone people buying budget laptops, don't do very CPU-intensive tasks with them very often. These two points alone make CPU speed highly insignificant for most users.

    GPU performance is definitely noticeable though; if you do any gaming at all, you are going to easily be able to tell the difference between GPU performance at every level.

    I think that for most people, having a laptop that is "good enough" in every category is a vast improvement over a laptop that is overkill in one department (CPU) and lacking in another (GPU).
  • jabber - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    As I've said before I could put a Athlon II 3Ghz dual core in a PC and i7 in another and my customers wouldnt be able to tell the difference for what they do. They just dont care. Ultimate CPU performance for many is a non issue. As long as they dont keep seeing the old eggtimer like they did with their old single core 3Ghz P4s they are happy.

    What does bug them is slow HDD access. If I put a 64GB SSD in the Athlon box and a 1TB 7200rpm in the i7 box they will take away the Athlon one everytime even if I sold them for the same price.
  • joe_dude - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    For most regular users, accessing e-mail, Youtube and Facebook is all they really need or want. If that wasn't the case, no one would buy MBAs or tablets.

    The A6 and A8 with quad-core is more than smooth enough. AMD demoed it earlier in the year to show how good multitasking is compared to Core IX.

    Raw CPU power is for bragging rights and server applications.
  • DudleyUC - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Oh but I'm not absolutely wrong. Not wrong at all in fact, although I did overgeneralize as bji pointed out. People DO play games on their laptops. They're called college kids (between classes, during classes, always with the world of warcraft/sims/whatever they're hooked on). And like I said, i7 vs. APU is no contest CPU-wise, but both processors run applications quickly and smoothly; it's the HDD that slows you down the most. I'd also wager a bet that more and more websites and programs will start to utilize hardware acceleration (i.e. gpu) more frequently and effectively.

    If you want your iTunes songs converted faster and never want to run anything GPU intensive, go ahead and spend the extra money on an intel cpu.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Where you're completely missing the point is that there's no need to give up CPU performance just to get a better iGPU. So this Toshiba laptop can be had for around $600 ($700 MSRP). Who would pay $700 for an A6 laptop when you can grab an i5-2410M with Optimus GT 540M starting at under $700:

    But it's not quite so simple, is it? Toshiba gives you a Blu-ray combo drive for $600, and that's currently about a $90 upgrade if you do it on your own. Which is of course part of the reason we feel the Toshiba L775D is priced appropriately, at least when you can get the S7226 model for $600. Would you really want to pay $700 for an A6 (or even A8) when you could get Sandy Bridge with Optimus graphics (e.g. faster in applications and applications, with better battery life provided you're not trying to play a game untethered) for the same price? If so, I'd question your judgement, just like I would question the judgement of an average joe going out and buying a $100,000 car he can't afford.

    But that's why we have the Gateway NV55S05u selling for $580 after a $120 instant rebate, and HP Pavilion dv6-6140us for $600 after $100 instant rebate and $50 mail-in rebate. Both of those come with A8-3500M, and the HP gets you Blu-ray combo thrown into the mix. To those that think I/we are biased in favor of Intel, we're not. Llano is a good product for the target market, provided it's priced appropriately. Manufacturers know this as well, so they're dropping prices on Llano laptops and cutting margins, because otherwise the laptops won't sell.

    Your analogy about vehicles, incidentally, is absurd. Sure, a Honda Civic for $20K is definitely more practical than a McLaren F1 for $1M, but that's stupid -- nobody is talking about a McLaren F1 here. If Llano is a Civic, the McLaren F1 would be a desktop GTX 580 SLI with hex-core i7-980X all stuffed into a 13" chassis with an amazing display, but a keyboard that's a bit difficult to use (which obviously doesn't exist because nobody has even tried to make a $30000 laptop). An Alienware M18x SLI notebook is "only" six times the cost of a Llano laptop, so that would be something like a tricked out Landrover or Hummer. And if we're looking at stuff like mainstream $1000 laptops--Dell XPS 15 for instance--we'd be talking about sedans and minivans. Those certainly have a place in the world.

    What if you could find a vehicle that gets better gas mileage than the Civic, has a top speed and acceleration that are twice that of the Civic, and better handling as well, and it's available with essentially the exact same features, size, etc. as the Civic at a very small price premium. Like the McLaren F1 equivalent laptop, such a car doesn't actually exist (that I know of), but if you could have that for $22K, wouldn't you pay the extra $2k (10%) to get improved gas mileage and performance? Okay, you might want a better keyboard than the Acer linked above, so what about if it costs $24K, or $26K?

    And that is the real question you have to answer. It's also why making blanket statements about how Llano is awesome, or Llano sucks, or Intel laptops are too expensive, or Intel IGP sucks, etc. are pointless. Depending on the specific needs of an individual, one or more of those statements might be true, but we are all individuals. Last time I checked, we aren't all clones with identical needs/wants/desires.
  • DudleyUC - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I never said I thought you or any anandtech staff members were biased; I don't think that is the case. I said that too much emphasis is placed on the CPU benchmarks. These synthetic numbers don't afford "real world" bearings and what you end up with is a pissing contest.

    Take the PCMark 7 Entertainment score for example. What unit is that benchmark in and how does that correlate to a users entertainment experience? What will be the observable differences to the user?

    I don't argue the quantitative rigor of these benchmarks, I just doubt they are an accurate measure of the value. While value is in the eye of the consumer (as you said, we're all individuals), I think "twice the performance" according to these tests doesn't account for much in daily use. If I'm wrong on that, please let me know and come up with a way to translate these abstruse numbers into something comprehensible.

    And yes, my Civic vs. McClaren analogy was preposterous. I intentionally chose an absurd comparison in order to succinctly make my opinion clear. I thought it was a better option than going on for two paragraphs.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    You're correct that the application performance results are hard to apply in the real world. If you do 3D rendering, obviously the CPU speed is important; same goes for video encoding (though frankly I'd give up some quality just to use Intel's Quick Sync, because it's so stinking fast -- and YouTube/Vimeo/etc. will munge the quality of your resulting video regardless).

    How much faster is an Intel CPU than AMD CPU for doing email, surfing the web, running Office apps? For a lot of people, it doesn't matter. Now my dad for instance has an Excel spreadsheet with a crapton of data, and he definitely noticed a difference when he upgraded from Core 2 Duo to Core i5 -- saves faster, calculates faster, etc. I'm guessing he'd see a difference between Llano and Core i5 as well for what he does, but I don't have a good way of benchmarking this.

    The other thing is that I really do believe Llano's iGPU is bottlenecked by CPU performance in some games. At higher quality, it doesn't really matter (and isn't playable), but I've actually got a Core i5-2410M with AMD HD 6630M in house for review, so at least we'll be able to put a specific figure on how much the faster CPU matters in gaming soon enough.

    Would I prefer a $600 Llano system or a $700 Intel i5 system? Actually, I'd have to say neither! Personally, I want a good keyboard and a good display first and foremost, so I'd recommend a Dell XPS 15/15z with the 1080p display. Performance is fine, but it's the overall build (particularly of the 15z) that I find compelling. That's another forthcoming review. :-)

    If I had to choose between $600 Llano and $700 for a family member or friend, most of my family doesn't care about gaming performance at all, so the major advantage of Llano isn't its better graphics but is simply the bottom line. $600 for a decent laptop? Yup, that works for me. Then again, I'd start looking at the budget $400-$500 laptops as well to see if there's something "good enough" for even less money than Llano.
  • Roland00Address - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    But when you get an ASUS with an a6+ a dedicated gpu for $450 like best buy had on sale this week

    Staples also has a similar laptop to what you tested here with only two changes for $500. For the lost of $200 dollars mark up you lose the blu ray and you only get a 500gb hard drive.

    Llano is great for the average user. The average user is pretty much buying for price and is going for the $400 to $600 dollar market.

    If you want an awesome screen instead of a crap tn go with intel, for laptops with nice screens they are already costly and once you are spending $800 or more what is another $100 or so for a better cpu and gpu.
  • jabber - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    Hmmm Optimus...from what I've seen its a 50/50 gamble whether it works or not.

    Seen a few customers struggle with that.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    Our experiences with Optimus have been pretty positive. It hasn't been 100%, but it certainly works well enough to be out in the wild. Reply
  • seapeople - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Something as simple as a Windows Update can be CPU limited for a significant portion of the time. Or even reopening that large spreadsheet that you just closed which is reading from RAM. Many of these actions can be blocking actions too, such as waiting for your scheduled Windows Update to do whatever it is that pegs your quad core at 25% processor for some horrible reason so your computer can start up.

    If you're not interested in ultra fast response times, then this may not matter to you. If you're the type of person who just recently realized that 28kbps DSL from AOL is not as great a deal as you thought it was, then you probably won't care about the myriad tasks that complete slightly faster with a fast threaded processor.
  • thetuna - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Maybe I'm missing something here, or maybe I just got a good deal.
    I just picked up an HP dv6 which is superior in every way to this toshiba... for $585.
    A8, 6GB ram, 7200rpm HDD, bluray, gig-e(since when does that even have to be mentioned?).
    The only difference is a smaller screen, which many don't even consider a con.
  • DudleyUC - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Yeah, the dv6 and the g4 (also by HP, but only at best buy) are substantially cheaper than Llano offerings from other manufacturers. Not sure why, I have the g4 and it is the best budget laptop I've ever seen. Reply
  • Novaguy - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The dv6 is what I've got, and I went for the 1080p and 6750M options, plus 640gb 7200 rpm. I did pay for the A8-3530MX, but it appears that either the A8-3510MX or the A6-3410MX are the best bang for bucks if you are going to do the undervolt/overclock thing. And the 3530MX is apparently unavailable. As far as I can tell, there is not much difference in overclocking potential between the MX's with the latest version of k10stat, and the potential gpu bandwidth increase is appreciated for future memory upgrades.

    My feeling on the screen - I really like the 1080p, and for me it's the must buy upgrade because I have no problem reading at that resolution. But if you like/need the 1366x768, do that. 6750M is probably overkill, but you really either want to go with the 6620g/6520g or the 6750M - the 6400M discrete crossfire doesn't seem to work well and I don't think there is much difference between the 6400M discrete and on chip 6620/6520 graphics.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    So what did you end up paying for the dv6 with A8-3530MX, 1080p, and 6750M? Looking at HP's configuration utility, I can't even select the A8-3530MX on the dv6zqe (dv6z Quad Edition), but maybe you used a different model -- link please!

    With the A8-3510MX, dual-graphics (I'm guessing 6750M, though HP doesn't specify), 6GB RAM, 750GB 7200RPM HDD, and 1080p LCD, the price from HP comes out to $1100. That's not exactly an inexpensive laptop at that point, though I suppose it's less than $1150 for a Dell XPS 15 L502x. I configured the Dell with 1080p and GT 540M graphics paired with an i5-2410M CPU.

    So that's $50 in savings to downgrade CPU performance (it's probably pretty close in multi-threaded tasks) and have somewhat faster GPU performance. I'd have to handle both laptops before making that call. Of course, if you paid more like $1000 (or less) for the dv6 you purchased, then it's a much better deal.
  • alxnet - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    There's a number of 30% off or $300 off coupons floating around which gets you a substantial discount off a minimum $1000 custom laptop purchase from HP. Just google HP-30%-Coupon. Got my 9cell dv6z with an A8-3500 and a 1920x1080 screen for under $800. I've got a OEM Vertex 3 240GB which I got for less than $400 after rebate. Combined, it's one hell-uv-a laptop. Eight hours of runtime on average and it boots so quick I don't even bother putting it into sleep mode. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Yeah, that's pretty slick. The SSD is of course a huge upgrade, but even without it, $800 for that sort of setup is far better than most $800 laptops you normally find. Since I'm not usually in the market for buying laptops, I don't scour around for coupons much. Maybe we need a guy dedicated to doing that and making little Pipeline posts? :-) Reply
  • Novaguy - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    My HP A8-3530MX system was $820 pre-tax/shipping using one of the 30% coupon, like alxnet mentioned. Base configuration price was $50 at the time (I should demand a price correction) but that works out to a $35 difference once you factor in the coupon. Not worth the aggravation of spending a couple hours on the phone with customer service.

    If I had to do it again, I might have aimed the processor lower (an A8-3510MX, probably) and maybe skipped the 6750M (maybe, it's kind of fun to have it just to see if it ever works).

    I wouldn't skip the 1080p, though. It's my must buy upgrade, especially since the HP comes with blue-ray and one of things I use the laptop for is a portable DVD/blue ray player for when I travel. One negative - just like the toshiba here, HP has glossy plastic crap on the bezel. Why?

    Also, I think that the 30% coupon only kicks in at the 999.00 base price, so when you get close, there is an incentive to get over it.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    If it runs cool then it should be overclocked. If it cannot be overclocked then it is useless. Again, the benchmark results seem to indicate that the chip only turbos up to 1.8GHz. Clearly the turbo is not functioning as it should. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I'd say the Turbo is functioning exactly as expected. 2.3GHz is the max it can hit, but just like Intel I'm guessing you mostly won't get max -- maybe max minus a bin or two. Then again, with a 17.3" chassis the CPU ought to have more than enough cooling to be able to run faster. Personally, though, I don't believe in overclocking laptops at all. They may work fine for six months, or even two years, but most laptops already start to run pretty toasty when you start running games or other CPU/GPU intensive apps. I never find laptops to be so slow that I'd worry about a 10% overclock, and 33% usually pushes too far (outside of CULV, where that just made a CULV into a slightly lower clocked Core 2). Reply
  • DudleyUC - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I know companies like things in sets of 3, but I'm not sure there's a lot of need for the A6. The A4 gives you 2 cores at a higher clock (1.9 GHz) translating into better performance on single threaded CPU applications. It also gives you a faster clock (444 MHz) but on fewer shaders, yielding only slightly lower graphics performance.

    If you need 4 cores, it's not that much extra money for an A8 that gives you slightly better CPU performance than the A6 and substantially improved graphics performance.

    So what niche does the A6 fill? Does the lower clocked GPU improve battery life? Is this just a marketing tactic (appealing to customers who don't want buy the cheapest option or the most expensive option)?
  • silverblue - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I think I can agree on this one. A proper (read: not with disabled cores) dual core Llano would result in less power usage and lower temperatures, so they could easily afford to throw out a much higher clocked variant. The productivity scores wouldn't suffer (they might actually be an improvement) as long as the Turbo Core implementation isn't significantly reduced.

    Having said that, I still can't help but wonder what a different cache implementation would achieve - unified L2 isn't an AMD thing so we can rule that out, but some L3 cache, perhaps? We've also learned that fast, low latency RAM is a big help for APU performance, and with the relative proximity in terms of pricing, the only thing you'd need to worry about with faster RAM would be the power usage... but again, if we're going dual core, that's nicely offset provided you don't go completely mad with the CPU clock. Manufacturers also have to remember that, with a discrete-level card, we can't have anaemic batteries on these machines, something we saw all-too-often with Phenom II laptops, so it's good to see some common sense with some Llano implementations. Regardless, look at how well they've gotten the power consumption down from 45nm to 32nm.

    Llano is certainly niche, but some people will find value in the principle of a good enough CPU for most tasks paired with a decent GPU. Of course, for those with more money, it won't be as attractive, but not everyone is in that position (especially nowadays).
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    It's been my experience looking at the differences between the Athlon II X4 and corresponding Phenom II X4 that the L3 cache doesn't actually have a major impact on performance, maybe 10% at most. The problem is that the Stars core just sucks. :|

    Also, Llano's memory controller is actually ridiculously efficient for the GPU. DDR3-1600 may help but I don't know how much and I'm not sure it's worth it in a notebook.
  • silverblue - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    Would you say that Llano's revised Stars cores are close in performance to those in Phenom II thanks to the extra L2 and the architectural tweaks?

    Additionally, one thing people have to remember about Llano is that it won't have a DDR2 memory controller taking up space, so that's good for reducing cost.

    You're probably right as regards the memory controller. The laptop version of Llano has a much lower clocked GPU than is present on the desktop so that would reduce the need for faster RAM, but it'd be nice to see the effect.
  • Jawadali - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The article did point this out, but I just want to reiterate that similar versions of this laptop are often on sale. I have noticed that Staples' version goes on sale for $500 quite often (like it is now):

    I think I even saw it for ~$450 at one point. Compared to the one linked at Office Depot, I think the main differences are that is has a 500GB drive (instead of a 640GB), and does not have Blu-Ray. It also doesn't seem to have bluetooth.

    I'd say it's a pretty decent general-purpose DTR in this price range.
  • drumhellar - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Is it feasible to get measurements of display latency on laptop panels? Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    I do like Llano for laptops, but I am frustrated by the people who keep excusing the lousy CPU performance by saying that it is "good enough" for office tasks, web surfing, and e-mail. They then criticize Intel for having lousy graphics.

    However, in the same way that AMD cpu performance is "good enough" for these tasks, I would also argue that the HD3000 is also "good enough" for 90 percent of the casual users.

    Only if you intend to do some light gaming (very limited at that) would the better graphics performance of Llano be of much benefit, in my opinion.
  • AnandThenMan - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    The problem with your argument is the CPU power in Llano IS more than adequate for most tasks, having a faster CPU yields little benefit to the day to day experience. Intel graphics on the other hand are simply too slow, and the drivers quite honestly are garbage. Llano is a more balanced processor, it's that simple.

    I would also say that picked probably one of the worst examples to review, the Toshiba unit is quite poor. Either way, the satisfaction rates of the Llano units so far has been extremely positive, people are very happy with them. Goes to show that synthetic benches are quite useless in predicting the overall experience.
  • frozentundra123456 - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    I agree with you that CPU power in Llano is probably adequate for most tasks.
    And Llano is indeed a more "balanced" processer. In fact as Anand said, it may be too directed to the GPU. My point was that for most users, HD3000 is also adequate qraphically, while delivering superior CPU performance.

    You say the HD3000 is "simply too slow". Too slow for what, except gaming, in which I already gave the edge to Llano? If one wanted the superior CPU performance of Sandy Bridge, what tasks would they not be able to do, other than gaming, because of the weaker graphics? I am not trying to be sarcastic or agrumentative, because I seriously dont know of anything the average user would not be able to do because of the HD3000.
  • DudleyUC - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    frozentundra, you're right. HD3000 is good enough for everything except games. I wonder, what with hardware acceleration available, how many flash and HTML5 games there are/will be that will be too demanding for HD3000. Regardless, if a user doesn't do any gaming, it's a better idea to pick the best CPU at a given price point (taking into consideration build, display quality, etc.). Reply
  • joe_dude - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    Couldn't wait for a review, so I got the HP G4 (same AMD A6-3400m).

    Using K10Stat, it was (relatively) easy to OC *and* undervolt. Speed went from 1.4 GHz -> 1.8 GHz, turbo from 2.3 GHz -> 2.8 GHz, and uses 10% to 15% _less_ power now than at stock (!!!).

    So yes, you can have your cake and eat it too. :)

    Note: It could easily OC above 2 GHz (non-turbo), but the power consumption and heat were too high (Prime95 + Furmark).
  • Hrel - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    blu Ray, seriously? Take 100 bucks off the price and DON'T include blu ray. It ads literally NO value to the laptop. I'd go so far as to say it makes it LESS valuable because now I have to go through the trouble of taking it out, putting in a dvd drive and selling it on ebay. Once you factor in time and effort I'm losing money. IF, that is a big IF, I want 1080p video running on my laptop, I will plug in my external hard drive. Give me USB 3.0, at least 2 ports and drop the price 600 bucks and you've got something. Wanna hit that 700 dollar price mark? 1080p screen please. Reply
  • oraclelaw - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I am amazed at the endless stream of laptop reviews of units sporting the new LLano chips that bemoan the low speeds the apu's are set at, without even mentioning that buyers are, at the moment anyway, not bound by these speeds...huh? Yes its true. These present llano apu's are COMPLETELY UNLOCKED!!

    And this despite EVERY desktop llano review noting the huge performance gains to be had with the slightest bit of overclocking. Now before you all give me the knee jerk response..i.e. "OMG you CAN'T overclock a LAPTOP!!!!" let me put your lock step minds at ease...for while that may very well be true with this herd of reviewers, it is NOT the case with everyone else...WHY? Because not only do the LLano chips overclock like banshee's, they also and at the same time massively UNDERVOLT!!! giving the least technical buyer out there, the opportunity to hugely increase performance while at the same time, reducing voltage, and thus energy use, and thus HEAT. Its all free, and its all built in. Anyone wanting to know what they can really expect out of a LLano laptop should waste no time heading over to the notebookreview HP Pavilion forum where page after page of information on this subject lays it all out.

    Now for the 'hook' about an A-8 3530mx equipped lappie with a discrete amd 6570m running in what amd refers to as 'dual graphics' mode...laying down a 3dmark11 of p2100 plus.....with a Graphics score of just under 2200!!!...That's i series quad and 560m territory folks....but try and find any reference from the 'reviewers' to such possibilities. Now that $699.00 buy in price is looking a little better, eh?...Let me give you a sense of scale here.

    In HP's new Pavilion dv6 line we have nearly identical intel and amd based units to compare. The 'i' based unit with the huge advantage of the intel SandyBridge quad, AND a 'to within an inch of its life' overclocked 6770m (as opposed to the 'z' version's lesser 6750m) along with the requisite 'garage' sized utility fan to keep it from melting, can 'almost' get within 100 points of the 3dmark11 overall score, and almost 300 points of the Graphics score- both put up by the amd based 'z' unit referred to above, a unit (btw) that can game at hours at those clocks sitting on a std two fan laptop cooler, and not get past 78C.

    "But WAIT" u may say. "We're talking the A-6 series here, NOT the A-8's "...well glad you brought that up.
    Turns out its ALSO possible to run an A-6 to the same clocks or better than the A-8's to the point that a 3dmark11 in the 2000's can be had...

    Bottom line, Amd has built a rather amazing little package here, and set it up to run in an extremely conservative manner. I have no idea why. If you have any interest in multi-threaded apps, and/or not entirely casual dx10 or 11 gaming, these LLano based laptops represent the most serious 'bang for buck' to come down the pike in a very long while.
    Something you will apparently never hear from a laptop 'reviewer'.
  • oraclelaw - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I neglected to mention that battery life can indeed run over 5 'real hours' with a std. 6 cell. AND,
    that tho this reviewer's unit is priced at 699, you can find 'other' mfg's fully equipped boxes in the 500's. If you look at the hp's you can (with the obligatory coupon) set yourself up with a full boat 1080p screened model with Blu-ray, a discrete 6750, and a hi-performance 9cell (u do NOT want to hear how long you get on battery:) and the whole nine yards for something around $800.00 Pretty amazing really.
  • oraclelaw - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    Comparable to the subject of the article, but better, i.e. this model DOES have dual graphics..
    Best Buy has the Asus Llano with the A-6 in it for 449.00. At that price you're talking at least a hundred less than a tablet, 50 more than a good netbook...
    Seems like a no-brainer to me :)

  • elrui - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    At 450 bucks Asus offers an A3400 with 1gb discrete graphics. I bought one and am amazed at how capable it is. Reply
  • Novaguy - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    I think I just saw a Toshiba with a A4-3300M out there at Best Buy. I think it was priced at $399, so it was brushing up against E-350 pricing territory.

    I have not heard anything about this chip, though. Would like to get some reviews.
  • Baffo - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    I noticed in the laptop specs, only mention was made for 1x2GB and 1x4GB configurations; is that simply as tested (in which case, was it tested with 2GB or 4GB RAM? Can be big difference for Win7 depending on what is running..), or as available from Toshiba? Since we are talking about an IGP (sorry, iGPU ;-) ), you are contending for memory bandwidth for GPU and CPU access, adding memory bandwidth can only help both. Or is the memory controller not sophisticated enough to accomplish what even early gen Athlon CPUs could do? If so, is DDR-1600 the only way to free up RAM access bottlenecks? Could be a real cheap upgrade and cost savings to buy the 2GB version, and buy an extra 2GB chip to boost performance both due to physical RAM exhaustion and interleaving for collision reduction. Reply
  • Valitri - Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - link

    Just wanted to give my 2 cents to the value of the A6 and why I just purchased one. I grabbed a Samsung 3 series from BestBuy yesterday for $399. It has the A6 3420m, 4Gb ram, 500GB 5400rpm hard drive, 1.3" thick and about 5 lbs. My reasoning for buying this was to take on an overseas deployment where it very well could not make it back. I wanted it cheap, able to skype, but also use it to play some games as my time sink. I've got WoW and about 15 games in steam loading on it as we speak, I'll repost when I can give more input on the performance. So far in windows, just loading webpages in chrome, downloading avast, steam, wow client, it all seems just fine. I'm really curious to see how well it will launch these games. Reply

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