And in the Green Corner...

Meanwhile, from the green team (red team?), Puget Systems offers a system based on AMD's Llano. On paper it's definitely not as compelling as its Intel-based counterpart, but looks can be deceiving. Here's the test configuration:

Puget Systems Echo I (AMD Edition) Specifications
Chassis Antec ISK-110 VESA
Processor AMD A6-3500
(3x2.1GHz, Turbo to 2.4GHz, 32nm, 3MB L2, 65W)
Motherboard ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe
Memory 2x8GB Patriot DDR3-1333
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 6530D
(320 stream processors, 443MHz core clock)
Hard Drive(s) Intel 520 240GB SATA 6Gbps SSD
Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB 5200 RPM SATA 3Gbps HDD
Optical Drive(s) -
Power Supply 80W external
Networking Realtek PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Atheros AR9002WB-1NG b/g/n Mini-PCIe Wireless LAN
Bluetooth v2.1+EDR
Audio Realtek ALC892
Speaker, mic, and line-in jacks, optical S/PDIF
Front Side 2x USB 2.0
Headphone and mic jacks
Top -
Back Side 4x USB 2.0
2x USB 3.0
PS/2
DVI-D
DisplayPort
HDMI
Optical out
eSATA
Ethernet
Speaker, mic, and line-in jacks
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Extras SSD
Wireless-N
Bluetooth
Warranty 1-year parts, lifetime labor and support
Pricing Starts at $747
Priced as configured: $1,408

It's very easy to be underwhelmed by the AMD A6-3500 processor at the center of the Puget Systems Echo I (AMD Edition); the processor aspect is lackluster. Technically if you look online you'll even find that it's theoretically not the fastest 65W Llano-based processor AMD produces, but in practice the faster ones are much harder to come by. In talking to our Puget Systems rep, we found that they were having a hard time sourcing the faster ones, while the A6-3500 is still relatively plentiful. A visit to NewEgg corroborates their story: the fastest Llano chip available in a 65W envelope is the A6-3500.

So just how underwhelming is the A6-3500? The CPU half is three cores running at just 2.1GHz, able to turbo up only to 2.4GHz. These are reworked Stars cores from the Athlon II series now dubbed Husky cores, but they're still substantially slower than Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture clock-for-clock. Worse still, in this comparison the A6-3500 has to do battle with four of Sandy Bridge's cores, and they all run at least 700MHz faster. The CPU side of this equation isn't remotely evenly matched, but where availability is concerned, this is the best AMD has to offer.

Thankfully, the other side of the A6-3500 is much more promising. The Radeon HD 6530D at the heart of the system enjoys 320 stream processors clocked at 443MHz, and while that's not too exciting in terms of raw GPU hardware, it's miles ahead of what Intel is offering in the i7-2600S. The 6530D is essentially the half of the bargain that AMD is banking on; when they talk about a balanced platform, they're talking about a CPU that's "good enough" with a GPU that can hold its own.

The rest of the build is more or less identical to the Intel build on the previous page, featuring the same SSD, same hard drive, and even the same brand and speed of memory. The only difference here is that the ASUS board used in the AMD edition supports full-length DIMMs instead of SO-DIMMs, helping to bring overall system costs down slightly—and of course, that's ignoring the fact that the A6-3500 retails for $79 while the i7-2600S is up at $309. Even connectivity on the back of the system is borderline identical, although the AMD system also enjoys DisplayPort where the Intel version has to make do with VGA; this DisplayPort connectivity also means this system can handle three monitors on its own.

In the Blue Corner... System Performance
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  • sabot00 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    A trip to the Wikipedia page for Llano http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_Fusion#.22Llano.2...

    Shows that the A6-3500 is FAR, FAR from the best AMD has in the 65 W space.

    The A6-3600 and A6-3620 deliver 4 cores at 2.1 and 2.2GHz (another whole core compared to the 3500)

    Meanwhile, in the A8 it gets worse, the A8-3800 and 3820 deliver 4 cores at 2.4 and 2.5GHz WHILE ALSO giving the HD6550D (400 SP's, 80 more than the 3500).

    Leaving AMD 1 core, 400 MHz, and 80 SP's down just feels wrong.
    Reply
  • HW_mee - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    1. This is Anandtech, what did you expect?

    2. Puget only sells the AMD system with an A4-3400 and the A6-3500.
    Anandtech can only review pre-assembled systems as the systems are sold, the fact that Anandtech cares to compare such vastly different system is a different debate.
    Reply
  • Arnulf - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Fine, but it woudl make sense to cobble together their own setup using the best components that still fit same thermal envelope (afteralkl a user might decide to upgrade !). This means fastest 65W APU and fastest memory that is supported by that CPU. Reply
  • HW_mee - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    1st, let me mention that I love prebuild reviews, even when I don't have a chance of buying the reviewed system, but I find that this review is lacking or a bit odd.

    2nd, Adding a DIY system would be as awkward as the existing comparison, 1750$ prebuild Intel system vs 1400$ prebuild AMD system vs. DIY system with 65 watt CPU system?

    I think Dustin has held a good scope by only looking at the top offerings for the Puget Systems Echo an he is very balanced in his praise of both systems.
    Unfortunately I see no reason to compare performance of these systems, AMD will get a beating on the CPU side, again, and Intels horrible IGP is absent from half the test, again.

    3rd, I have not read other Puget system reviews on anand, but I would have preferred the review had an extra page dedicated to the systems and reseller.
    A large markup is mentioned, but an example of how cheap a DIY person can make it is not shown.
    Build quality, noise, temperature etc. is leisurely mentioned but never with anything really tangible.
    I could go on :-/
    Reply
  • silverblue - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Yes, but there's time and there's money. In any case, judging by the power usage of the A6-3500 I think it's fair to assume that you can use one of the more powerful variants and still not get anywhere near the 100W ceiling (though I suppose, with the 3850, it'd get close - but we ARE talking the differences mentioned by sabot00 above plus the 157MHz higher GPU clock). Reply
  • djfourmoney - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    Read the reviews of the 3650 and you'll find under load (just the APU) it will exceed 100W. Under "Normal" use, however it might not see that.

    I don't think that would have helped much. I still don't understand if memory is so important to AMD's performance that they didn't put it inside their systems.

    I smell something, as I said Tom's already did a test of several sticks of memory for APU's
    Reply
  • djfourmoney - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    Only problem is finding a A6-3800 which is the Quad Core 65W. Missing Remote tested one, but I can't seem to find one here or in Europe and I haven't tried Asia yet.

    I already bought an A6-3500 though and since its an HTPC, it will be more than fine with 1600 speed memory and SSD like featured though smaller (64GB), so maybe with a slight OC and OC the memory I can smoke the benchmarks set here.

    There is an A6-3860 which is the revision of the Quad Core but it seems those have all gone to OEM's now.

    Guess this fight will continue when Trinity comes out and hopefully a low TDP Quad Core will be widely available.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    If you guys read the entire article not only would you see some of what you've said here IN the article; but you would know WHY they tested the way they did. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    This is a tired argument and something I've gotten really sick of seeing since I started writing here nearly two years ago. It's very easy to cry foul and scream bias without reading the entire article or thinking about why the material might seem the way it is.

    I will say this once to get it out of my system: nobody here is on anyone's payroll. There is no collective site bias. We report what we find. If you feel otherwise, so be it, but I was an AnandTech reader long before I started writing here and I can tell you I wouldn't have stuck around if things weren't honest.
    Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I found the article valuable for what it was. Thanks.

    It was a shame they shipped the Llano build with DDR3 1333. As an owner of the A3850, even the jump to 1600 provides a fairly noticeable jump in gaming performance. Did the motherboard allow you to bump up the memory frequency? If not, I guess a decent option would be to get this system with the least amount of RAM possible and then buy 8GB of 1600 for $40 and install it yourself. :)
    Reply

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