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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  • nitrousoxide - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    So first swap the HDD for a value SSD, then do a clean install :) Reply
  • Penti - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    Impossible to do without a retail copy of Windows. Or Volume licensed image. You'll have to go trough the trouble cleaning it up yourself if you want to run a legit copy of Windows. Reply
  • shtldr - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    I have an ACER laptop with Win 7 Home Premium x64 OEM and I was able to swap out the drive for an SSD, then re-install the system (from a retail DVD I also own) using the key from the laptop chassis.
    The only pain was - I had to dial some MS phone number and dial in some numbers using the phone's keypad, then hear and write some numbers back to the activation window.
    After doing this, the clean install of Windows reported it was genuine.
  • nitrousoxide - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    I've seen aother review from engadget with 'only' 6 hours heavy web browsing, wi-fi enabled. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    Yes. We test with WiFi, not off of wired Ethernet. We repeatedly load four tabs in IE8 (AnandTech's old home page, MSN.com, Yahoo.com, and my Facebook page). All are saved versions stored on the AT web server, so they always appear the same, complete with Flash advertisements. IE8 is set to clear Temp files on exit, so the pages actually reload over WiFi each cycle of the test. Outside of video playback in YouTube, this is about as stressful as Internet surfing gets in my experience. Reply
  • Stuka87 - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    A net book that I can actually tell people "Yes you can get this model, and it wont be horrible!"

    This is actually a machine I would consider for myself if I didn't already have a MacBook and a Precision M4500. I just can't justify a third mobile machine when the MacBook handles the mobile side well, and the Precision handles the heavy work.
  • screamlordbyron - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    I've had one of these puppies for three weeks now. I've got to say that calling the dm1z a netbook does it s disservice. It certainly is not mobile gaming rig, but for business productivity, it is a fantastic subnote.

    I use it for word processing, excel, web research, light graphics editing, remote desktop, etc. No stutters, good battery life, good (albeit not excellent) screen, decent track pad, excellent keyboard.

    For anyone but a gamer or graphic artist, who wants a small, light, affordable subnote, this thing is the bomb! :)
  • Computer Bottleneck - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    Are Tablets here to stay or are they merely a stepping stone ARM is using to get into Desktop/Laptop?

    The Mac Book Air video on the Apple website points to the better ergonomics of a keyboard and Apple's glass trackpad when using a LCD screen oriented in the vertical position.
  • Computer Bottleneck - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    My mistake here. I meant this comment to be in response to ganeshts's opening comment. Reply
  • erkerb - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    Well, i jumped on the Netbook wagon about 3 years ago, and i am ready for an upgrade. AMD might be late, but remember being late is better then not showing to the fight at all.. Also there is still a demanding market out-there that i do not think AMD would be hurt that much. It'd be nice to see a USB 3.0, but at this price level and platform, it seems like a luxury addition. I would rather see more USB ports though.. I hope Anandtech will also give a shot to Lenovo Thinkpad X120e soon. Reply

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