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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  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Seriously people, before you leave angry comments read the ENTIRE article. He addresses your complaints IN the article. As weiran says, it comes down to supply. AMD doesn't have anything better available to buy. My guess is AMD knows the only systems getting AMD chips right now are the cheapest possible systems, so they probably only manufacture a few thousand of their higher end chips; knowing anyone willing to spend that much money on a CPU will probably go with Intel. Why waste the resources on chips that will never sell? At least not for a profit. So they only keep the cheaper CPU's in stock. They have no delusions about the situation they're in; if only their fan-boys were as clear sighted.
  • SteelCity1981 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    We know Intel has the best CPU's as far as performance on the market goes, but Wwat this did show is AMD's IGP is far better than Intels IGP. So it's really a trade off between CPU performance or Graphics performance if you only had those two options in buying a system like this. Things should get a lot better on the CPU side with AMD's APU's with Trinity using AMD's Piledriver Cores instead an old revised version of the Athlon II cores that come with Llano. And not to mention the HD 7000 series on the GPU side that will come along with it.
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Problem is you don't game on an IGP; you buy a dedicated graphics card. Also this is HALF the GPU performance of Intel. He says in the article 6 cores compared to the normal 12. So while the AMD gpu is still a little faster, not by much. And not nearly enough to matter. You aren't gonna game on an IGP, so saying AMD wins because their IGP is better for gaming is moronic. Intels chip is better at literally EVERYTHING, even video rendering.
  • SteelCity1981 - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    What's moronic is the fact that yopu said AMD's IGP is a little better? Are you blind. Intels IGP is way better then intels IGP is the benchmarks clearly showed that.

    So people that do light gaming can't game on AMD's APU?
  • silverblue - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    This isn't meant to be a performance machine, it is meant to be a setup for 65W or less. The article points out that whilst the i7 is easily the faster of the two for CPU work (and why shouldn't it be with an extra core advantage, hyperthreading, better turbo, and 8MB L3 cache), in terms of general usage you probably wouldn't notice it that much over the A6-3500. What's more, the AMD machine uses less power and performs far better at gaming. I also feel the need to point out that the HD 2000 requires a clock speed of three times that of the HD6530D yet falls far behind. The HD3000 will help but not enormously so - put simply, only CPU bound games will do better on the Intel side (and we're talking the minority of games). Let's also not forget that Llano performs noticably better with 1600MHz RAM over the 1333 in this build.

    I should also mention that, due to the size of the enclosure and the limited power feed, you CAN'T really add a dedicated card to this setup. So, you have to ask yourself - do you want to use the machine for media or productivity? The AMD machine will handle both whilst costing less, whilst the Intel setup will seriously limp through games but excel at anything that doesn't require a GPU (plus it has QuickSync, of course).

    Having said that, neither system is the most price friendly.
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    A bit cruel to pick out a cheap Llano vs a Sandy Bridge most people would be happy with in their main desktop.

    A8-3820 is the fastest Llano inside 65W, and would be vastly quicker than the chip tested.
    I admit it's probably a pain to get hold of (I was trying to find one a while back), but it's not a fair fight without it..
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    You know who said this EXACT same thing? Dustin... IN THE ARTICLE!!!!! Gahhhh!!!! Seriously people, READ THE WHOLE DAMN THING BEFORE LEAVING A COMMENT COMPLAINING!!!
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Ok, so you absolutely cannot game on the Intel system. You can play some games on very low settings and even lower resolutions on the AMD system. Absolutely EVERYTHING else is faster on the Intel system. So, you don't WANT to game on either system. WHY would you choose the AMD system? If you want to game I'm sure a system like this is not your only system. A decent 15" gaming laptop, P151HM for instance. Any desktop that you've built or bought that has a 75 dollar graphics card in it or better. Point being if you want to game you won't do it on either of these. So unless price is all you care about, Intel it is.

    Ever since Intel put that video rendering engine on their CPU's, I forget what it's called right now, the one and only reason to ever consider anything AMD sells is if you play video games. The kinds of video games that require a GPU. Even then a given person might choose Nvidia over AMD. I don't want to see them go under, with the recent legal battles they've won that won't be for a while. But things don't look good. I would love nothing more than to build an AMD system, but I haven't been able to justify it since my Athlon XP. (skipped the Athlon 64 (and X2) era of CPU's). Running E8400 and GTX460 in my desktop, Sandy Bridge 2630 and GTX560M in my laptop. Each one suits all my needs in excess. I cannot see myself buying anything AMD, replacing desktop in 6-18 months. Laptops got a few years left on it. Maybe by 2015/2016 AMD will be a viable option??? Probably not:(
  • HW_mee - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    I think the question is, why would you pay 1750$ for that Intel system?
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    lol, well, I wouldn't, not even close. But I might build a similar setup myself. I've always liked the idea of a thin client as a HTPC.

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