System Performance

When I started testing these two systems from Puget Systems I honestly wasn't prepared for the kind of tug of war that would occur. Fundamentally, the expected results are on the page: the Intel CPU outclasses the AMD APU at every turn, while AMD's integrated graphics hardware thoroughly outclasses Intel's. I'm not going to lie either, the results are about what you'd expect. What impressed me was just how wide the gaps were. Take a look.

Futuremark PCMark 7

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R10

3D Rendering - CINEBENCH R11.5

Video Encoding - x264

Video Encoding - x264

While the A6-3500's CPU performance would certainly be fine for a notebook, it's absolutely lousy on the desktop. Granted much of our competition is pretty unfair, with overclocked systems abounding, but look at how badly it even struggles against a last-generation Phenom II X4 955, much less the Intel Core i5-2320 in the Alienware X51. The i7-2600S is consistently two-to-three times faster in roughly the same power envelope.

To be fair, though, these results need to be framed in a more meaningful way than just "the A6-3500's CPU is dog slow." We need to consider the environments in which these systems are going to be used, and at the risk of sounding like an AMD apologist, I don't see many situations where the Intel chip's mammoth lead on the A6-3500 is going to be relevant. The A6-3500 is fine for basic Photoshop work, and neither of these systems are really ideal for serious video editing, where you need a much faster storage subsystem and CPU/GPU than either can provide either internally or externally.

Where a computer is much more likely to see frequent (if casual) use is in trying to run games, and here's where things take a turn.

Futuremark 3DMark 11

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

Gaming Performance

The Intel Core i7-2600S with its crippled IGP can't even run two of our benchmarks, and only produces playable performance in one of them: Portal 2, with its ancient (albeit updated) Source engine. Meanwhile, the Radeon HD 6530D inside the A6-3500 can stretch its legs and deliver playable performance across every game except Battlefield 3, where a dip in resolution or settings will render that game playable as well.

Granted, these are conservative settings at a relatively low resolution, but the point remains that if someone wants to play a game on the A6-3500, they can, and reasonably comfortably. I've seen someone suddenly decide they want to try and play a game only to discover their system's integrated graphics can't handle it at all, and forums are rife with threads of people asking how to upgrade the graphics of their cheap desktops or their notebooks being met with the same answer: "you're screwed." With larger desktop systems, it's a different matter, but for mini-ITX and laptops you have to be prepared to live with whatever graphics the system includes from the factory.

And in the Green Corner... Build, Noise, Heat, and Power Consumption
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  • BSMonitor - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Why wouldn't they go down the road of using a mobile CPU for these types of systems?? They are already using customized motherboards. Seems like there are plenty of Core i7's with HD3000 in the $310 CPU range.
  • frozentundra123456 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Sounds like a great idea to me. A mobile chip with the HD3000 might even be a better balanced Intel system than the one they tested which if too strongly biased toward the CPU.
  • silverblue - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    A mobile CPU would make plenty of sense here on both sides, along with SO-DIMMs for the AMD setup.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Considering the price differences and the different markets the AMD APU and Intel CPU play at, these results are expected. It would have been nice to see the A8 65W APU with its superior IGP and more cores and higher clock. But that thing is seriously hard to get.

    I settled for a A6-3500 in my HTPC. It was much cheaper than any Intel solution at the time, the IGP is more important to me than more CPU power and undervolted it uses about as much juice as any Intel CPU. And this way I can support AMD some and increase competition (I use Intel in my desktop machine and my Laptops).
  • krumme - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    For me Dustin just writes the best review currently on the web, far from the usual we need 7870 oc to get the job done, that doesnt reflect normal user behavior.

    This review, as the others from Dustin, is usufull for recommending solutions for family and friends,
    except the minor detail i dont think they would care about the next wonder from AMD or Intel the same way we do :)

    Interesting products. Then add we got some surprising power numbers.

    All delivered in delightfull english

    Thank you
  • Jamahl - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Thanks for this review, I've been looking at the A6-3500 as a possible build (as a reseller) and I'm pretty happy with the results here - especially the power draw ones.
  • Jamahl - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    What exactly were you running while testing power consumption btw?
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    AIDA64's stress test, hitting the CPU and GPU simultaneously.
  • Luscious - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I'm really REALLY surprised why the writer didn't push Puget for not using the i5-2405S in such a build - lack of knowledge?

    The 2405S is also a 65W part, slightly slower at 2.5GHz, only has 6MB Cache, but it does dish up HD3000 graphics. If I were building a mini-ITX system for a HTPC, this would be the CPU I would choose.

    If 1080p gaming was my concern, I wouldn't even look at a mini-ITX enclosure...
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    Our thought process working with Puget was to just crank out the most powerful systems we could on the AMD and Intel sides. What's interesting, I think, and I touched on this a little in the can't really say anything's just "the most powerful" anymore, and the review proves it. As a result, the comparison did suffer a little, but I'd like to think the information gleaned was useful nonetheless.

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