AMD Trinity for laptops review
Our test platform came plastered with AMD logos, but there was no hiding the laptop’s origins: this was clearly an unbranded Dell Vostro 3400. Inside its unassuming grey 14in chassis, we found one of the high-end Trinity APUs in the shape of the A10-4600M. Based on a quad-core architecture, the A10-4600M four cores operate at a nominal 2.3GHz, boosting up to 3.2GHz in single-threaded operations, and are partnered with a Radeon HD 7660G GPU.
We put it to the test with our Real World Benchmarks, and found the A10-4600M’s raw computing performance rather underwhelming. While AMD’s own material compares Trinity against Intel’s Sandy Bridge-generation Core i5 CPUs, we found the A10-4600M performing closer to the Core i3 range. The responsiveness portion of our tests puts it squarely between the two Core i3 CPUs, and it continued to drag behind in both the media encoding and multitasking tests. With an overall result of only 0.58, it’s a modest debut.
Just as we found with AMD’s Llano, however, it isn’t until you bring the GPU into play that these APUs really step up a gear. Gaming performance is, by the standards of integrated GPUs, outstanding. The Radeon HD 7660G GPU embedded into the A10-4600M managed a smooth 47fps at low settings in our Crysis benchmark. Pushing the resolution up to 1,600 x 900 and upping Crysis detail settings to Medium saw a similarly impressive effort – the AMD returned an almost playable 20fps. By comparison, the integrated graphics of Intel’s Core i3 and Core i5 mobile processors struggle to break 30fps at low settings, and barely stray into the teens at higher resolutions and medium settings.
Compared to a low-end discrete graphics chipset, such as Nvidia’s GeForce GT540M, the Radeon HD 7660G’s gaming performance remains modest, but that’s to be expected. Indeed, the graphical performance of AMD’s Trinity APU bodes well for systems that can’t fit a dedicated GPU into their budget, or indeed the thermal limitations of their chassis. With the possibility of pairing the integrated GPU with a discrete AMD GPU in CrossfireX mode, Trinity is capable of powering the beefiest of gaming laptops.
Battery life is one area where Trinity’s advances over the previous generation are particularly tangible. Dell’s Vostro 3400 is equipped with a standard-capacity 42Wh, 4800mAh battery, so we were impressed to see AMD’s A10-4600M keep ticking over for 7hrs 2mins in our light-use battery test. Pushing all four cores to 100% with our looping Cinebench test saw a similarly impressive result: with every core running at a constant 2.3GHz, the laptop kept going for 1hr 56mins.
Intel has had an easy ride in the laptop market, but Trinity may finally be enough to turn the tide, and the forthcoming Sleekbooks based on the new technology could even challenge Intel’s Ultrabooks for supremacy. It depends on the prices: if they’re low enough, many people will be willing to forgo the superior grunt of Intel’s CPUs in favour of Trinity’s all-round gaming prowess. With the first AMD Trinity-powered laptops due to arrive in June, we can’t wait.