What About the Games?

Our HP dm1z review already covered gaming, so we’ll start with a retread of the current status quo for modern games. While the 3DMark results on the previous page may be somewhat useful, they’re no replacement for real games. First up is our usual suite of eight titles from the last year or so, many with support for advanced rendering features like DX11. While the HD 6310M does technically support DX11, so far we haven’t found any games where the feature is beneficial, as performance is too slow with it enabled.

Here are the minimum detail performance results for our test laptops, compared to a recent selection of other laptops. We have everything from Arrandale’s HD Graphics and Sandy Bridge’s HD 3000 Graphics to discrete GPUs like the GT 335M and HD 5650. We’ve also got AMD’s older IGPs (HD 4225 and HD 4250) for comparison, and the MacBook’s 320M thrown in for good measure. This isn’t going to be very pretty….

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

DiRT 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Mafia II

Mass Effect 2

Metro 2033

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

So running at the native 1366x768 found on so many consumer laptops today, the E-350 manages to break 30FPS in exactly zero out of eight games. Ouch. Scores from all the E-350 laptops are close enough that we won’t worry about it too much—the biggest gap is the dm1z lead of 19% in SC2, while there’s also an MSI X370 lead of 15% in DiRT 2; the other titles are single-digit percentage differences. E-350 does manage to beat the HD4250 and HD4225 laptops in every game, with the exception of StarCraft II where the CPU bottleneck is bigger than the GPU bottleneck at minimum details. E-350 is also generally faster than Atom + ION, but ION does lead in ME2 and Stalker. Another interesting comparison is the Dell E6410 with Intel’s HD Graphics; we’re looking at a CPU that’s easily twice as fast as E-350, but with a slightly slower IGP. The result is that (similar to the HD4250 with P660) the only case where E-350 loses in terms of gaming potential is StarCraft II, and even there HD Graphics is only 14% faster.

Move up into the next category of performance, though, and HD 6310M can’t compete. Sandy Bridge is faster than Arrandale, with roughly double the IGP performance, so the high-end i7-2820QM has an easy lead over E-350. Going off the numbers of the newer MacBook Pro 13, the dual-core Sandy Bridge models will be a bit slower than the quad-core in terms of GPU performance, but still 35 to 120% faster than E-350. More importantly, the dual-core SNB managed to break 30FPS in six out of eight titles. (Vivek didn’t test Mafia II or Metro 2033, but you really need a discrete GPU to come anywhere near playability in those games.) Similarly, the 2010 MacBook/MacBook Pro 13 is much faster than E-350, posting frame rates that are 63 to 150% higher. We hardly even need to mention discrete GPUs like the HD 5650, but we will: it’s up to 260% faster with a P520 CPU, and 315% faster with the i7-640M.

It would be interesting to see just how far the HD 6310 could go if it were untethered from the Bobcat core. Ultimately, once Llano launches in a few months it won’t matter, but for now many modern titles need something more than the current AMD IGP. But what about older games? You asked, and I’ve been pulling out a bunch of older stuff to put the E-350 through its paces….

Application Performance: Better than Atom, Worse than CULV Gaming, Circa 2006
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  • arthur449 - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    One of the biggest issues I see with Anandtech.com isn't the lack of information in the bar graphs; it's the time it takes to look at the graphs and determine what you're looking at. The color coding for this review is extremely helpful in this regard.

    Green: Models being reviewed
    Black: Models in direct competition
    Blue: Other/Older models with similar performance in the database

    In the future, it would be great to add the ability for users to choose from a list of pre-tested systems in their Anandtech.com account preferences. Those systems chosen would fill in the models typically listed in Blue, while the Black (chosen by author / editor) and Green would appear regardless. So, for example, users could choose a notebook, smartphone, GPU, CPU, SSD, and monitor that directly compares to what they consider a benchmark in that particular market.

    Anyhow, that's just my 2 cents.

    TLDR: I like what you did with the graphs.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    Agreed, it was a very easy read. Keep up the good work guys, this review (and more importantly the text discussions regarding the data) were excellent.
  • yudhi717 - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    the X370 already on sale in Indonesia at $489, there is also the U270 Light at $399, I don't know the configuration / spec.
  • Samus - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I've had mine for two months and already noticed two design flaws. The right speaker grill is peeling off, and the screen bezel interfers with the keyboard and the keys are slowly chipping away at the bezels' plastic.

    A Thinkpad it is not, but flaws aside, I enjoy the laptop, but have reservations in recommending something with such build quality.
  • JGabriel - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I applaud the addition of a section on older, less intensive, games. While I doubt anyone is planning to play the latest DX11 shooters on this type of platform, it's good to know what kind of performance can be expected from slightly older eye candy like Oblivion, HL2, and Quake 4.

    It might be a nice touch to add Prey and/or Portal to the list. Portal, in particular, seems like the kind of lighter weight game that might be popular on this type of platform.
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I found this a very strange review, for the first brazos review you compare the HP all the time against the atom, which is the target to start with.

    Now you drag along any culv - SNB - macbook or wathever against it most of them in a way higher price range and start complaining about performance against others?

    Its OEM who define how they will build the systems, with a small margin of AMD defining the upper limit, not like Intel who hard limits all bits and pieces on there platform.

    So now you have it, OEM create some designs which to my opinion are not meant to be for brazos, those are netbook cpu's.

    Anything higher can soon be equiped with E2 and A4 LInao which will knock down any CULV performance wise but AMD should do some platform research and speedbinning for lower TDP bins to compete on all aspects.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    How many Atom systems do you need to see? I put in three netbook Atoms, plus the Mini 311 (Atom) where I had results, plus the nettop D525 in the 1215N. Then I added to that CULV, ULV, SNB, MBP13, and a several others for good measure. It's called perspective, and never once did I say that Brazos should be faster than Sandy Bridge. The problem for some of these systems is that we're going to start seeing dual-core Sandy Bridge priced around $700 for a decent setup (4GB RAM, 500GB HDD) and that's useful to put into the charts.

    My thinking here is that I wanted to include every reasonable contender in the IGP space. So that's why the MBP13 comes along (both versions), and why CULV is in there, and why Arrandale and SNB are in there. CULV and the MBP13 also compete pretty directly against Brazos in battery life, which is another good reason to bring them along. It's one thing to get two or three times the performance but 1/3 the battery life for twice the cost; it's quite another to get double the performance, similar battery life, and pay only 50% more, don't you think? But of course, I should only show Brazos against systems where it can come out ahead, because that's what it's "meant to compete against."

    What's funny is that you state that the "first Brazos review compared HP to Atom". Um... did you look at the graphs? http://www.anandtech.com/show/4187/ I have over twice the number of Atom systems in this time; I just added some other points of reference. The result? In my 15-item application charts Brazos sits around the middle, compared to third from last in Dustin's HP review. In games, we already know Brazos is going to get clobbered, but it's still important to show how modern titles run on the platform. However, I added a whole page of 23 additional, older/less demanding titles (several days of work there!) just to give a clearer picture.
  • sebanab - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I'm very happy to hear you will also be covering the Ontario.
    I own one (Ao522) and there is one issue I would like to bring to your attention:
    With Brazos, AMD has also introduced what they call "Dynamic contrast and brightness adjust". Problem is that the features are on all the time and can't be turned off. And they can get really annoying while surfing the web.
    I think it's a bug while there are some options regarding this in CCC but they don't have any effect.

    I'm also very curious for the X120e , while I have heard that the LCD is actually acceptable.
    (also please check the fan speed settings)
  • L. - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I've personally come to hate HP for their lack of decent products, and their very efficient modern capitalist view (read : designing computers to break right after the 1-year warranty), and my guess is that should heavily influence someone's choice in a new computer/toy.

    On my side, every HP laptop I have seen has had issues (except one that is 12 years old), several from an outsourcing deal at a client's had their mini-fans die twice in a year, my father's hp laptop had to go in RMA even before the first year, my little sister's HP just the same, my godfather's laptop ... again.

    So seriously, I don't know what everyone's perception of HP is, but from my side those people are unable to provide reliable laptops (and I would never not build a desktop).

    In that sense, if anyone comes to me asking for a reference for laptops, I always start with : "Take a decent brand, like Dell, or Asus, or ..."

    Also, my personal experience again, but I had two MSI motherboards and both of them lived only one year, another reason for me not to go there either.

    As a summary : my point of view is surely of little interest, but a track record of actual reliability of manufacturers could be an interesting input to your reviews (as in how HP fails at delivering stuff that holds for 5 years, or how that HDD company's failure rates are unacceptable etc.) as that has some influence on customer's perception of service (like if my HP laptop is in RMA every 6 months for 2 weeks, I need a second laptop).

    Also, thanks for the reviews.
  • olbrannon - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    It too runs the 350 brazos w/ Windows 7 @64 bit

    I love the size if the screen and the keyboard is -huge- paid $399 + tax. One of the game's I am not seeing here that I play is Dragon Age. It seems quite playable with only some occasional lags on loading areas and some minor frame dropping on occasion. No hdmi out thought only vga. I also have Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2 haven't tried to play them yet.

    I did get a chilpad for it though. thing can get kind of warm running these games.

    It's my first purchase ever of an off the shelf system of any kind quite happy with it so far.

    Speakers aren't bad for such a small laptop either

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