/ Sign-up

Test Setup And Benchmarks

The AMD A8-3500M APU Review: Llano Is Unleashed

Llano presents us with a number of testing challenges we generally don’t encounter when it comes time to review a new processor or graphics solution. AMD doesn’t have (or at the very least, doesn’t want to share) a tool to report actual clock speeds during operation. So, we have no easy way of telling whether or not Turbo Core is working, how often it’s working or how far it’s accelerating our sample. You’ll remember that when Intel debuted the Nehalem architecture, it distributed a Turbo Boost monitor for tracking the feature’s activity in real-time. AMD needs something similar.

To help us examine this limitation, we’re including benchmarks of a Phenom II X4 at 1.5 GHz and 2.4 GHz, the nominal and Turbo Core limits of the A8-3500M CPU we’re testing today. Not only does this show us if Turbo Core is working, but it gives us an idea how closely the new version of the Stars CPU core compares to Phenom II.

In addition, we’re pairing that Phenom II X4-based system with a Radeon HD 5570. As you now know, this graphics card has the same number of shader cores as the A8-3500M APU, and for our tests, it’s under-clocked it to 444 MHz GPU and 666 MHz DDR3 memory. This allows us to compare APU performance with a discrete graphics card using the same specifications and clocks.

Last but not least, we’re testing a system based on Intel’s mobile Core i5-2520M CPU. This should give us a good idea what similarly-priced laptops based on similarly-priced Intel products can accomplish. Or at least, similarly-priced according to AMD’s not-necessarily accurate estimations.

There are three popular notebook resolutions we’ll focus on for testing games: 1280x800, 1600x900, and 1920x1080. When a particular game struggles with 1280x800, we add 1024x600 as a lower-resolution alternative to see if it fares any better.

Since AMD Dual Graphics only works on DirectX 10 and 11 game engines, we are benchmarking some games more than once, using different code paths in order to see what difference Dual Graphics makes. These games are Metro 2033, F1 2010, and HAWX 2.

AMD Llano A8-3500M
Test System
AMD Phenom II X4
Test System
Intel Core i5-2520M
Test System

AMD A8-3500M (Llano)
Quad-Core, 4 MB L2
1.5 GHz (2.4 GHz Max Turbo)

AMD Phenom II X4 (Deneb)
Quad-Core, 6 MB L3
@ 1.5
GHz and 2.4 GHz

Intel Core i5-2520M (Sandy Bridge)
Dual-Core, Hyperthreaded, 3 MB L3
2.5 GHz (3.2 GHz Max Turbo)


Chipset: AMD A70
Fusion Controller Hub
With USB 3.0 Support

Gigabyte 880GMA-UD2H
Chipset: AMD 880G

ASRock HM65-HT
Chipset: Intel HM65
Onboard Gigabit LAN controller

4 GB DDR3 1333 MHz
  2 x 2 GB, timings unknown

4 GB DDR3 1333 MHz
  2 x 2 GB, CL 9-9-9-24-1T
Kingston 99U5471-001

4 GB DDR3 1333 MHz
  2 x 2 GB, CL 9-9-9-24-1T
ASint technology C1RETSR4HGF


Radeon HD 6620G (Integrated)
444 MHz GPU, Shared DDR3 at 667 MHz
Radeon HD 6630M
444 MHz GPU, Shared DDR3 at 667 MHz
(Considered Radeon HD 6690G2
when in Dual Graphics mode)

Radeon HD 5570
underclocked to A8-3500M specifications:
444 MHz GPU, 1 GB DDR3 at 667 MHz

Intel HD Graphics 3000
650 MHz GPU,
Shared DDR3 at 667 MHz

Hard Drive

Hitachi Travelstar
250 GB

7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s

Western Digital Caviar Blue
1 TB

7200 RPM, 32 MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s

Western Digital Scorpio Black
500 GB

7200 RPM, 16MB MB Cache, SATA 3Gb/s

Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 x64
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics Drivers

Intel Core i5-2520M Test System:: Intel Graphics Driver
AMD Llano A8-3500M Test System: AMD Catalyst 11.6 BETA
AMD Phenom II X4 Test System: AMD Catalyst 11.5

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Metro 2033
Version, DirectX 9 and 11, benchmark tool, Low Detail,
No AA, 4x AF, advanced physX disabled, tessellation disabled, DOF disabled
Crysis 2
Version 1.5, FRAPS run
High Settings, No AA, No AF
H.A.W.X. 2
Version 1.0.1, DirectX 9 and 10/11,
Highest Settings, tessellation Off, In-game benchmark
F1 2010
Version, DirectX 11, in-game benchmark
Medium Detail Preset
Just Cause 2
Version, DirectX 10, Concrete Jungle Benchmark
  Medium Details, textures High, Object Low, 16x AF
High res shadows, point light specular, SSAO, bokeh Filter & GPU Water Simulation off
StarCraft 2
Version:, High Details
Tom's Hardware Guide Benchmark V2
Audio Benchmarks and Settings
iTunesVersion:, 64-bit
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min., Convert to AAC audio format
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3
Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 kb/s)
Video Benchmarks and Settings
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.94
Video: Big Buck Bunny (720x480, 23.972 frames) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept Reference v2
MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio:
MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Application Benchmarks and Settings
WinRARVersion 4.0 Beta 4
RAR, Syntax "winrar a -r -m3", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
WinZip 14Version 14.0 Pro (8652)
WinZIP Commandline Version 3, ZIPX, Syntax "-a -ez -p -r", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
Version 9.2
LZMA2, Syntax "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5", Benchmark: 2010-THG-Workload
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010
Version: 10 x64, Rendering Space Flyby Mentalray (SPECapc_3dsmax9)
Frame: 248, Resolution: 1440 x 1080
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5
Video length 2min 21s, Export to H.264 Blu-ray
Source 960x720, Output 1280x720
Adobe After Effects CS5
Create Video which includes 3 Streams
Frames: 210, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously: on
Version 11.5 Build CB25720DEMO
CPU and OpenGL tests
BlenderVersion: 2.54 beta
Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, Resolution: 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing: 8x, Render: THG.blend frame 1
Adobe Photoshop CS 5 (64-Bit)Version: 11
Filtering a 16 MB TIF (15000x7266), Filters:, Radial Blur (Amount: 10, Method: zoom, Quality: good) Shape Blur (Radius: 46 px; custom shape: Trademark sysmbol) Median (Radius: 1px) Polar Coordinates (Rectangular to Polar)
ABBYY FinereaderVersion: 10 Professional Build (
Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
PCMark VantageVersion: Patch 1901
3DMark 11
Version 1.0.1
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version: 2010.1.16.10
Processor Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwith, GPGPU/GPCPU Processing
Display all 6 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 1 Hide
    Jay_83 , 14 June 2011 12:42
    Hmm. Mixed feelings about this one. One the one hand, it's less impressive than I wished for. On the other, it's obvious AMD has done some good work here, in more than one direction.
    Ultimately, We'll have to wait and see what Trinity has to offer to give the final word. Here's hoping Bulldozer throws a serious punch. I'm sure we'd all like to see AMD back in the game, and not just in notebook space.
  • 1 Hide
    aje21 , 14 June 2011 21:50
    If you want us to look at this as the end of entry level discrete GPUs for light gaming, how about comparing it to the GPU running at its real speed? Once you have a real price for an APU+M/B you can put it up against a similar spec/price CPU+GPU+M/B to see how they compare.
    If the transcoding performance was worth having (and supported by Windows 7 in Media Center) then this could be an HTPC route...
  • 3 Hide
    daglesj , 14 June 2011 22:04
    Chaps, you are wasting your time commenting on the UK version of the article. All the comments are over on the US version.

    Why they cant pull the 'shared' article comments together I dont know.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , 15 June 2011 09:22
    Seems like the Turbo CORE was simply turned off... Perhaps it needs more than enabling it in the BIOS. Like in case of Cool'n'Quiet, that you has had to enable in Windows, as well?
  • 1 Hide
    silverblue , 15 June 2011 19:36
    ajaraSeems like the Turbo CORE was simply turned off... Perhaps it needs more than enabling it in the BIOS. Like in case of Cool'n'Quiet, that you has had to enable in Windows, as well?

    Yeah, by selecting Minimal Power Management in XP or Balanced in Vista/7.
  • 0 Hide
    wild9 , 24 June 2011 23:31
    daglesjChaps, you are wasting your time commenting on the UK version of the article. All the comments are over on the US version. Why they cant pull the 'shared' article comments together I dont know.

    I've often thought the same..I wish all the UK and US comments could be combined. I discovered the duality by accident, and also noticed that the UK version of the article has 4 comments, whereas the US had 4 pages. I am grateful for all this tech news..I just wish the comments section could be combined. Also, if they could send the spammers to Mars..that would be a nice bonus.