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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  • djfourmoney - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    Same here, I need to buy some USB stuff since I have DirecTV and internal PCI HDTV Tuners. Just adds to the budget, I really can't afford to spend the extra $135 (Case, USB Combo Tuner, $15 extra for Mini-ITX)
  • Mothergoose729 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    In the review, the power consumption of each platform was tested only under CPU load. This is inaccurate and unfair because the GPU power consumption contributes a lot to heat and detracts from efficiency. A combination of furmark GPU torture test and a CPU intensive load tester is needed to get an accurate measurement of the power consumption of these chips.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Incorrect. The systems are tested under load, CPU and GPU combined. I ran the stress test in AIDA64, stressing the CPU, GPU, and system memory. Previous results used whatever the most stressful situation I could find was to maximize power consumption; sometimes it was Mafia II, sometimes it was Left 4 Dead 2, sometimes it was AIDA64. My goal is consistently to maximize the power consumption, and the CPU and GPU are being stressed in tandem here.
  • Mothergoose729 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    In the review, both CPU fit a 65 watt envelope. While it is true that AMD A8 processors feature more cores and better graphics, they also have a much higher TDP. To my knoweledge, the A6 processor in this review is the fastest or one of the fastest chips that is under 65 watts.
  • BornDaemon - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Registered just to post this - this is a SFF with a low noise output and small energy footprint. Why was this not tested as a HTPC, looking at different outputs, image quality analysis between HD2000 and the AMD chip, etc? Seems a lot more likely it will be used hooked up to a TV than as a gaming rig, in my mind.
  • HW_mee - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    I believe Anadtech already has a comparison of the Intel HD graphics and the Llano GPU somewhere on the site making such an analysis worthless.
  • chuckula - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    How DARE you only "lean" towards Llano!! This just shows that Anandtech is an evil Intel SHILL operation bought and paid for with evil Intel Blood Money!

    Any *objective* review would never have even considered using parts that aren't blessed by the holy elders of AMD! It's disgusting that you would even write an article that insults AMD by using the word Intel in it! And to have the nerve to suggest that people should choose a system based on their needs instead of just signing over their children and life savings to AMD is absolutely appalling!

    I will never read this site again after such a twisted and disgustingly biased article! GOOD DAY SIR!

    P.S. --> To the two people who were dumb enough to take this seriously, yes I am joking. It does show that the AMD cultists who constantly bash Anandtech don't have a clue though, they don't realize that the easiest way for Anandtech to give better reviews of AMD products is for AMD to actually make better products.
  • Mayuyu - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    IMO, you should have reviewed the video image quality difference between Intel and AMD. It is a much more relevant test than gaming for this system.

    Stuff like how much frames can Quicksync vs AMD decode a 1080 H264 40Mbps stream at.

    MadVR Performance..., etc.
  • chuckula - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    Quicksync has exactly 0 to do with video decoding, this keeps coming up over and over and it's a little depressing how uneducated most people are. I can (and have) done full H.264 1080P video decoding with a 3 year old Core 2 notebook with x4500 graphics over an HDMI output with audio under Linux, so video playback is a piece of cake.

    Quicksync is for video *trans*coding which is 1. usually done offline and 2. often done on a separate box from the HTPC. The HTPC plays back the video *after* transcoding.
  • zebrax2 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - link

    A good review. Some of the commentators seem to forget that this is not a processor review rather a system review. Dustin reviewed what was available, it is not his problem that a certain processor is not available for the system rather it is Pudgets.

    I actually think this review put AMD in good light. Even though the the processor (possibly also the ram) used in the system was not the best that one can get it still managed to impress the reviewer.

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