Gaming, Circa 2006

I’m still in the process of benchmarking other test systems, and it will probably be a couple of weeks, but I have nearly completed testing of 23 older/less-demanding games running on the E-350. I also tossed in a few titles that are neither old nor undemanding, like Civ5. All of the reported figures are generally from “Low” detail settings, though a few games have slightly modified settings. I also tested many of the titles at slightly higher quality settings to see what would happen. The table below summarizes the performance.

AMD E-350 Performance in Older Games
Title Detail Setting E-350 FPS Notes
Arkham Asylum
Low 29 Sluggish at times and appears mostly CPU limited; anything more than "Medium" is out of the question.
Battlefield 2 Low 50.8 Easily playable at Medium detail as well with >30FPS.
Civilization IV Medium 27 The game is playable and cursor input is separate from the frame rate; however, CPU performance can make later turns in large games take a long time.
Civilization V Minimum, DX9/DX11 9.0/11.8 Even at minimum detail, performance is pretty bad, although DX11 outperforms DX9 at minimum detail. Like several other games in our list, mouse input is handled separately from frame rates, so technically the game is playable. The opening video also stutters and has issues, but it can play back fine in Windows Media Player. Given the slow CPU and GPU performance in this title, I'd recommend skipping this on Brazos.
Company of Heroes Low 44 Average frame rates are good, but performance can drop into the low teens at times.
Crysis: Warhead Minimum 21.6 There's nothing to do for Crysis; it's too much for E-350.
Fallout 3 Low 32.9 Minimum frame rates can drop into the 20s, but in general the game is playable.
Far Cry Low 49.6 Definitely playable; Medium detail still averages nearly 40FPS.
Far Cry 2 Low 21.3 Even at minimum detail, FC2 runs poorly on E-350.
F.E.A.R. Minimum 100 Minimum frame rates were 40; you can definitely increase detail levels.
Half-Life 2 Low 31.9 This is one of the demanding sections (the Strider battle in City 17); elsewhere the game runs faster and is very playable.
Half-Life 2: Episode Two Low 26.8 Episode Two is also playable, but as indicated here you'll get some choppiness in some areas.
League of Legends Low 21.7 22FPS may seem low, but the game is playable since mouse input is separate from the frame rate; too slow for competitive players.
Minecraft Far + Fast 22.5 This is an outdoor test where frame rates were low. Mining, you see performance into the 60+ FPS range. Drop the view distance to "Normal" and you basically double the frame rate.
Need for Speed: World Low 33.5 You get periodic hiccups where the frame rate will drop severely; this seems to be server related, though, and most of the time you'll get 30+ FPS and can definitely play the game.
Oblivion Low 20.2 Ultra Low settings will improve performance but look really poor. This is an outdoor area with lots of trees, and even at 20FPS Oblivion is manageable.
Quake 4 Low 57.3 No problems at low detail, as Q4 is one of the first id games to support SMP; at higher settings it still breaks 30FPS.
STALKER: SoC Static + Min 53.2 Turn off static lighting and performance plummets into the 20s.
Supreme Commander Low 12.6 Far too CPU intensive to run on the E-350/Bobcat core.
Team Fortress 2 Low 37.8 Even at maximum detail, performance didn’t change. This may be a driver bug, but you can at least play TF2 casually.
Torchlight Netbook 45.7 Netbook mode runs great; at maximum detail without AA, you'll still get 22FPS, so somewhere in between minimum and maximum detail is the sweet spot.
Unreal Tournament 3 Low 29.7 UT3 is too demanding on the CPU for competitive play, but you can game casually. You'd want to go for UT2K4 for optimal performance from an Unreal Tournament game.
World of Warcraft Fair 49.6 I played through level 25 without trouble; even with Fair settings and maximum view distance I didn't have any problems. I can't speak to the performance in later raids, but casual players should be fine.

You can see the results of testing a broader selection of games are about as expected. Unreal Engine has always been a bit harder on the CPU than the GPU, so performance is lower than other games of that era. Quake 4 is the other side of the spectrum: it wants more GPU memory bandwidth than CPU performance, and the E-350 delivers enough to make everything besides anti-aliasing viable (at least for single-player). Several of the titles have somewhat low frame rates, but they’re still enjoyable because of the way the game is designed. Both Civilization games fall into this category, along with League of Legends.

Out of the 23 titles tested above, only three are definitely not playable at native resolution: Crysis, Far Cry 2, and Supreme Commander. [Update: Civ5 should probably be skipped as well.] The former two are somewhat newer titles, but I had requests to run them so that’s why they’re in the list. (Dropping to 800x600 might bring performance up to 30FPS, but I doubt many users are really interested in going that route as there are plenty of other options.)

Overall, gaming in the 2006 and earlier era is very doable on E-350, and you can even play some recent less-demanding games. Need for Speed: World for instance ran well enough that I played it for a few hours without any serious complaints—network lag was a bigger problem than frame rates. If you’re looking for gaming options, you might consider checking out the March issue of PC Gamer where they list their top 100 games of all time. At a quick glance, I’d say at least 80% of the games they listed would run well enough on E-350 to be enjoyable.

What About the Games? Battery Life and Temperatures
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  • Nimiz99 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    I like your review of those games for the e-350.

    I agree, for certain games processor is everything ...but again I think these notebooks are for gaming on the go and shouldn't be a desktop replacement. Im sure eventually we'll get there, right now ppl buying these should know their intended purpose on-the-go/couch consumption.
  • ET - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    Thanks for mentioning Guild Wars and Champions Online. I've pretty much stopped gaming for the last month or two, but I will hopefully get back to it (once my 2 year old hits 18 :), and running MMO's anywhere is certainly something I'd like to do. In the past I occasionally played City of Heroes on a 1.2GHz Pentium M with GMA 500 graphics. Not much fun, but still worked okay for door missions. So an E-350 will certainly be an upgrade, and 20 FPS in Champions Online sounds decent enough.
  • ash9 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Seems a SSD drive can add .5 to 1 hour worth of added battery life - couple that with tuned applications could mean renewed life for X86 (graphics /science)- comparing Fusion with any of the CPU offerings, including ARM - one has to realize that the Fusion platform's computing power per wattage/ battery life (mobile) has got to beat all others hands down - lest we forget price. Try and run a Monte Carlo simulation on an Ipad2.

  • DMisner - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Please don't forget to review the Thinkpad X120e!
  • mgl888 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    +1 to this!

    Thanks for the gaming benchmarks.
  • Tasslehoff Burrfoot - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

  • blacklist - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    until now i was expecting all the brazos netbooks to be release in order to buy the best one. i thought the x370 would be the chosen one but... well, the facts are the facts and clearly it is a mediocre ultraportable if that $700+ msrp is real. now i'm waiting for the lenovo s205 to be reviewed (please, don't forget to review it) and find if it's as good as it looks. if not, then i will have to settle for the dm1z.
  • deputc26 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    "Contrary to what you might expect, the 64Wh battery actually more than doubles battery life, suggesting the cells may be higher quality than in the 4-cell option." I doubt that the cells are different.

    One characteristic of Li-Co batteries (and pretty much every other chemistry) is that energy density changes with C rate. Which means that doubling a cell's size will more than double capacity given a static load.
  • tipoo - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    This is true. The slower you deplete a batteries energy, the more energy you will draw out of it in total.
  • PMing - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I bought this little beauty last week, and have a rather mixed experience with it. The battery should have been better, Sony only provide a measle less than 5 hours of usage, while the new AMD Zacate should be able to perform longer with bigger battery. The keyboard is not exactly spacious enough visually, but it's better once I got used to it. Yet even first generation of Dell Mini 10 outperforms Vaio YB in terms of keyboard ergonomics.

    The AMD E350 beats Intel Atom to the bottom, especially in terms of video performance. I don't play games, so I'm not sure how it will handle them.

    In my region I only got a basic Windows 7 Starter 32-bit, 2 GB memory and 320GB HDD, that is for a steep USD 550. But I guess that is the price you pay if you need a VAIO logo stamped on the lid of your laptop.

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