The AMD A8-3850 Review: Llano on the Desktopby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 30, 2011 3:11 AM EST
Both the A8-3850 and Intel's Core i3-2105 are built on a 32nm process and both feature extensive power and clock gating. By virtue of having lower power cores the A8 manages to beat the Core i3 in idle power consumption. Under CPU load however the A8-3850 does consume more power as it simply has more cores that can be loaded up. We also see higher power consumption in 3D gaming, but we do get much higher performance and as a result much better performance per watt.
|Power Consumption Comparison|
|AMD A8-3850||Intel Core i3-2105|
|GPU Accelerated Video Transcoding||126W||85W|
|3D Gaming (Metro 2033)||126W||101W|
|CPU Load (x264 Encode)||123W||87.6W|
If you're building an entry level gaming PC and have to rely solely on integrated graphics, it's clear that Llano is the only solution on the market today. You easily get 2x the frame rates of Intel's Core i3-2105 and can use that extra headroom to increase resolution, quality or sometimes both. The performance advantage is just one aspect of what Llano offers in this department. You do also get better overall game compatibility, DX11 and GPU compute support although the latter is still missing that killer app.
AMD's dual-graphics (asymmetric CrossFire) is an interesting solution to the argument that you could just buy a cheaper AMD CPU and a low end discrete GPU and get better performance. For example, you could get better performance if you bought a Radeon HD 6570 and an Athlon II X4 640 for $175 vs. a A8-3850 for $135. With dual-graphics in play you could add a discrete GPU to the A8-3850 and have better overall performance (in theory) than the discrete card by itself. In practice, limiting dual-graphics to only DX10/11 titles does hurt some of its potential. In my opinion the better solution here would be more aggressive pricing on the Llano APUs. The Athlon II X4 + Radeon HD 6570 is a better buy (unless you want the power savings of the A8), the only way to truly combat that is for the A8-3850 to drop in price.
If gaming isn't something you're going to be doing then you're better off with Sandy Bridge. And at that point there's no need to spring for the Core i3-2105, the standard 2100 will do just fine.