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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  • Gigantopithecus - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    "When the internet gave everyone a voice, we discovered how few people were actually worth listening to." Reply
  • Halley - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    In my spare time I enjoy listening to music. Music by youtube - 720 or 1080, please - or by Windows Powerpoint .pps files is better sometimes IMHO. Am I better off with a tablet or with this HP dm1z netbook?
    Reading and replying email must be done, too. Without a keyboard, replying would take more time, I guess.
    Tablets are definitely more portable. It's nice to have both - tablet and netbook - but tablets are too expensive to me. If I can afford, I would have both.
  • cyrusfox - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    I second this question, is the other mini-PCIe slot msata compatible? Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    I am expecting a Fusion-based netbook with USB 3.0 support, slightly larger screen (12.1 or 13.3 inch) with better display quality and really low noise (as noise is a matter of concern with dm1z), 4GB RAM packed in a form factor lighter than 3.2lbs while charging me no more than USD500. dm1z is not a perfect choice, ASUS 1215B(USB 3.0+overclocking) or MSI U270(USB 3.0) may be better but they are not shipping at this point. One thing I worry about 1215B is upgrade flexibility as 1215N is extremely hard to disassemble so this may be a problem `cuz I want to install an SSD on it. Hope to see more Fusion-based netbook reviews. Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    I'm right there with ya... Gimme USB 3.0 plus maybe a slightly larger battery and/or screen and I'm sold, though I'd take 11.6" over 13.3", 12" would be ideal. I don't even care if it's a pain to disassemble, I did it with my 1st gen Acer netbook (to install an X25-V), I don't mind going thru it again if everything else (ports, screen, noise) is ideal. Neither the dm1z (couple of small compromises, and frankly I don't care for the aesthetics) nor the X120 (somewhat overpriced) have struck that perfect balance so until then I'll stick to my current netbook. Reply
  • QChronoD - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    Maybe I'm not the typical gamer, but I wouldn't even bother trying to play something that only gets 15 or 20fps on the lowest settings. Looking to replace my old 1.2GHz C2D machine and want to be able to game a little when I have an hour or two between classes.

    I'm more interested in how it scores on some of the older and less demanding games? I would assume that it can play games from 3-4 years ago much better than the ones that you have benchmarked.

    I don't think we'd need exact numbers, but would it be possible to test this level of machine with some older games and just give us a report on whether they ran smoothly at around medium settings? Maybe also test a few of the more demanding flash games, and possibly minecraft.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    I'm working on it with the MSI X370... you'll notice the last paragraph on the gaming page mentions additional testing. HL2 runs okay, though EP2 starts to get sluggish. Quake 4 is another title that runs fine. I figure anything from before that time will also be good, so maybe grab the original Deus Ex (with the enhancement mod) while you're at it. :-) Reply
  • QChronoD - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    Sorry Jarred, reading comprehension fail on my part.

    Keep up the good word on your reviews.. definitely the best in the business!
  • Powerlurker - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    If you're a gamer, you probably wouldn't be looking at a netbook in the first place. The extra graphics horsepower in Brazos is mostly intended for things like video decoding and Flash acceleration. Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    I looked at this very netbook at a local store, and I saw that it came with 71 services running from the factory. It's such a disservice what OEMs do to machines. I can't imagine any machine would feel responsive with that much running in the background. Though I am impressed with the 7200rpm drive on a netbook.

    Did you do a clean install for your tests?

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