And in the Green Corner...

Meanwhile, from the green team (red team?), Puget Systems offers a system based on AMD's Llano. On paper it's definitely not as compelling as its Intel-based counterpart, but looks can be deceiving. Here's the test configuration:

Puget Systems Echo I (AMD Edition) Specifications
Chassis Antec ISK-110 VESA
Processor AMD A6-3500
(3x2.1GHz, Turbo to 2.4GHz, 32nm, 3MB L2, 65W)
Motherboard ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe
Memory 2x8GB Patriot DDR3-1333
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 6530D
(320 stream processors, 443MHz core clock)
Hard Drive(s) Intel 520 240GB SATA 6Gbps SSD
Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB 5200 RPM SATA 3Gbps HDD
Optical Drive(s) -
Power Supply 80W external
Networking Realtek PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Atheros AR9002WB-1NG b/g/n Mini-PCIe Wireless LAN
Bluetooth v2.1+EDR
Audio Realtek ALC892
Speaker, mic, and line-in jacks, optical S/PDIF
Front Side 2x USB 2.0
Headphone and mic jacks
Top -
Back Side 4x USB 2.0
2x USB 3.0
Optical out
Speaker, mic, and line-in jacks
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Extras SSD
Warranty 1-year parts, lifetime labor and support
Pricing Starts at $747
Priced as configured: $1,408

It's very easy to be underwhelmed by the AMD A6-3500 processor at the center of the Puget Systems Echo I (AMD Edition); the processor aspect is lackluster. Technically if you look online you'll even find that it's theoretically not the fastest 65W Llano-based processor AMD produces, but in practice the faster ones are much harder to come by. In talking to our Puget Systems rep, we found that they were having a hard time sourcing the faster ones, while the A6-3500 is still relatively plentiful. A visit to NewEgg corroborates their story: the fastest Llano chip available in a 65W envelope is the A6-3500.

So just how underwhelming is the A6-3500? The CPU half is three cores running at just 2.1GHz, able to turbo up only to 2.4GHz. These are reworked Stars cores from the Athlon II series now dubbed Husky cores, but they're still substantially slower than Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture clock-for-clock. Worse still, in this comparison the A6-3500 has to do battle with four of Sandy Bridge's cores, and they all run at least 700MHz faster. The CPU side of this equation isn't remotely evenly matched, but where availability is concerned, this is the best AMD has to offer.

Thankfully, the other side of the A6-3500 is much more promising. The Radeon HD 6530D at the heart of the system enjoys 320 stream processors clocked at 443MHz, and while that's not too exciting in terms of raw GPU hardware, it's miles ahead of what Intel is offering in the i7-2600S. The 6530D is essentially the half of the bargain that AMD is banking on; when they talk about a balanced platform, they're talking about a CPU that's "good enough" with a GPU that can hold its own.

The rest of the build is more or less identical to the Intel build on the previous page, featuring the same SSD, same hard drive, and even the same brand and speed of memory. The only difference here is that the ASUS board used in the AMD edition supports full-length DIMMs instead of SO-DIMMs, helping to bring overall system costs down slightly—and of course, that's ignoring the fact that the A6-3500 retails for $79 while the i7-2600S is up at $309. Even connectivity on the back of the system is borderline identical, although the AMD system also enjoys DisplayPort where the Intel version has to make do with VGA; this DisplayPort connectivity also means this system can handle three monitors on its own.

In the Blue Corner... System Performance
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  • ggathagan - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    As mentioned in the article:
    "Puget hasn't qualified any 8GB DDR3-1600 DIMMs for deployment in any of their builds, and so they erred on memory capacity instead of speed. In conversations via e-mail, they even admitted this was probably a mistake in this instance. The problem is that they also don't offer any 2GB or 4GB DDR3-1600 DIMMs for the AMD-based system, either, when they do have 4GB DDR3-1600 DIMMs qualified for other builds."
  • compcons - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Although I am not claiming a bias, it is a real shame you had to test that Llano with crappy 1333. Although I wouldn't recoomend rolling your own system to run in this silly race, I think it would be very enlightening to see how this would do with fast RAM (1800). I myself was really dissappointed after reading how crappy the AMD did in the CPU tests until I got to the end of the article and realized it was slow RAM. Not o be too harsh, but based on the price and poorly conceived system configuration, I'd tend to not buy anything form these guys...

  • JKflipflop98 - Monday, March 26, 2012 - link

    I would be very interested in a future update to the article testing if swapping out the memory modules actually do make that big of a difference.

    There's only one way to find out. . .
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Ditto on my end. These endless accusations of bias and/or corruption devalue hours of work on the part of writers and prevents the reasonable discussions that AT commenters are more than capable of having.
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    ...and these comments are on an article that actually recommends the AMD system over Intel's. :-)
  • ImSpartacus - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    While I cannot disagree with the content of this post, might I suggest that Anandtech staff not respond to critical (errr trolling) comments?

    I come to Anandtech for a cold and completely objective look at the consumer technology of today and tomorrow.

    Sometimes, it isn't possible to hold an objective discussion with commenters. Impassioned (albeit respectful and 'correct') comments can slowly damage the image of a journalist and their distribution channel.

    If this site starts falling apart, I won't have anywhere to go. Can we nip this in the bud?
  • Tchamber - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Availablility is the issue, they even mentioned that in the article. What mainstream, trusted website were you going to pick that 65w A6 3600 at?
  • BSMonitor - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Clearly Puget is going for two different market segments with each system. It makes perfect sense to me.

    The Core i7-2600S is $100 more expensive than the Intel Core i5-2405S, but comes with half the graphics computing power. They simple chose the best CPU performance they could fit in 65W. It would make no sense to have two identical product lines with the only difference for the customer to choose AMD or Intel. So the AMD side is left for the best iGPU performance at hand.

    On one line, they are going for low end gaming. On the other, raw computing power. Intel vs AMD is superficial to them. With the mini-gaming rig they also make more $$ as the APU costs $150-70 less.

    And please, don't make me laugh.. You could dump 20 Llano cores into the thing and it wouldn't touch Sandy Bridge quad cores. Grow up.
  • jgutz20 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    That is true about the AMD cpu used is far from its best, And while the AMD chip has the best GPU of the 2, I'd like to see a "slower" intel chip, be it a i3 or an i5, whatever they have within power envelope that has the HD3000 graphics as that would even the playing field a bit more.

    I guess what i would like to see is Anandtech re-doing this comparison but with their own build so as to ensure they get the best parts available, not the best parts this company offers in this form factor. Get the MB/CPU/RAM for each setup and re-use the case, HDD's etc.

    That is what i would like to see as a follow up to this article!
  • medi01 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    At least they couldn't test low power AMD CPU with 1000 watt PSU this time, lol...

    1500$ for these, you must be kidding me...

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