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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  • arthur449 - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    One of the biggest issues I see with 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 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? 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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