AMD Fusion for desktops review
Though these scores are low by graphics card standards, they’re the best we’ve yet seen from an on-chip GPU. For comparison, Intel’s Core i5-2500K processor, with its HD Graphics 3000 GPU core, managed only 38fps at 1,366 x 768 with Low detail, plummeting to 13fps at Medium detail. Regular Sandy Bridge parts, with the HD Graphics 2000 core, can be expected to achieve frame rates around 30% lower.
It’s worth noting that by default, the onboard GPU grabs 512MB of your system memory to use as a frame buffer. To help graphical speed, A6 and A8 processers officially support DDR3 frequencies up to 1,866MHz (our scores above were obtained at this speed).
AMD points out that the A-Series’ graphical powers can also be turned to non-gaming applications, such as video conversion – though we’re not yet convinced that GPU computing is as versatile or attractive as GPU manufacturers make out.
Striking the balance
The A-Series certainly isn’t a me-too rival to Sandy Bridge. Intel’s chips deliver stunning desktop performance but only lightweight 3D graphics; now, AMD offers a distinctly different balance.
Whether it’s a better balance is a subjective question. If your priority is 2D performance, an Intel processor is a better buy. Conversely, if you’re a 3D-gaming enthusiast, you’ll enjoy higher resolutions and more detail if you pay a little more for a system with a standalone graphics card.
But if you’re looking for an all-rounder, an A-Series chip could be just the thing. Desktop performance is fine for everyday use, and even the notoriously demanding Crysis is perfectly playable. The integrated Fusion approach keeps things affordable, simple and fairly power-efficient too: our A6 system idled at 49W, and peaked at 125W, while the A8 hit 52W and 147W.
Since our benchmarks show only a small performance difference between the two chips, we wouldn’t be too concerned about spending the extra £10 to get the top-end A8-3850. After all, for a mere £90 inc VAT the A6-3650 is a great all-in-one processor for the casual computer user.