AMD Trinity A8-4500M Graphics Performance Review

Trinity A8 APU

After the relatively successful; launch of the Llano APUs last year, AMD has come out with the successor, the Trinity APUs. While we’ve had a quick peak at the A10 APU’s performance, today we get to take an in-depth look at how well the A8-4500M performs in the real world.

Our review unit was an HP Pavilion G6, which came with the AMD A8-4500M APU (@ 1.9GHz), 6GB of DDR3 RAM and HD 7670M GPU with 512MB RAM (which CrossFire’s with the integrated HD 7640G GPU on the processor). The hardware is pushing pixels on a 15.6-inch screen with a resolution of 1366×768.

The Competition

Coming at $800, the Pavilion G6 is just in line with the Acer Timeline Ultra M3 I reviewed back in March. The M3 came with the Sandy Bridge Core i5-2467M (@ 1.6GHz), 4GB RAM and the GeForce GT 640M Kepler GPU with 1GB dedicated memory.

In essence this will be a standoff between the Nvidia GT 640m and AMD HD 7460G + 7670M (in CFX mode). Of course, the former is a discrete GPU with 1GB dedicated memory, while the latter is a combination of two cards (integrated GPU and discrete) with 1GB shared memory between the two cards. Not exactly apples to apples, but with the price of the notebooks being the same, there’s not much else to look at as far as the end-consumer is concerned.

Benchmarks

Now before I head into the actual benchmarks, let’s have a quick look at 3DMark 11, which is the only benchmark with the same settings across the board. While a good CPU certainly helps, the majority of the numbers are coming from the GPU itself.

We see that the AMD A8-4500M with 7670M is about 5% slower than the dedicated GT 640M, and just 7% slower than the HD 6850M dedicated high-end GPU from the previous generation. Let’s see if the close gap in synthetic test remains in real world games.

For testing the games, the following benchmark settings were used:

All of the above tests were run at the native resolution of 1366×768 with Sync turned off.

Gone is the miniscule 5% gap between the GT 640M and the HD 7460G + 7670M. Instead, what we see is the dedicated Nvidia GT 640M GPU leading the CrossFire AMD GPUs by a margin of about 29%. Unigine is the only place where the gap was 15%, but that too is a synthetic test.

Interesting to note is that with Medium settings of Battlefield 3, on the GT 640M an average frame rate of 36 was achieved, while the HD 7460G + 7670M would only show a blank screen and not even load the game. Unsupported drivers, no doubt, but another let down from AMD.

Except for Dirt 3, the AMD CrossFire solution fails to even touch the basic 30FPS requirement for smooth gameplay, while the low-end Kepler GPU from Nvidia consistently delivers well above the 30FPS mark.

Conclusion

I will say that while the A8-4500M is a decent processor to use in daily tasks, such as surfing the net, doing office work and watching HD videos, one of AMD’s highlight of the Trinity APUs is the graphical performance. In this department it is certainly trumped by Nvidia, who are pushing their mid to low-end GPUs, especially the GT 640M and 650M on the $800 to $ 1,500 range of notebooks. While I don’t have a Trinity A10 APU to benchmark, on the lower end at least, the A8-4500M AMD is severely lacking.

Given the choice, I would most definitely recommend an Nvidia GT 640M equipped laptop over any AMD A8 specced machine. The A10 may certainly be an improvement, but it’s beyond the $800 to $1K market we’re looking at here.

Jumbo Electronics unveils new Bravia television series

June 12, 2012 by  
Filed under News, TVs & Projectors

Press Release: Jumbo Electronics, the UAE-based consumer electronics giant, today unveiled the new BRAVIA® television line-up comprising two distinct series – the flagship HX series and the mid-level EX series. The new Sony Bravia series features an improved picture enhancement technology, X-Reality PRO, which enhances lower quality signals taking them closer to HD quality, as well as making 2D and 3D images clearer. The new HX and EX series also offer more channels, apps and connectivity options in the online TVs.

Sony’s HX855 series carries forward Sony’s distinctive Monolithic design incorporating Gorilla® Glass by Corning®, making the screen material thinner, lighter and stronger. Complete with X-Reality PRO and Motionflow XR 800, the HX855 is a fully Internet-connected television with built-in 3D, delivering a premium viewing experience. Furthermore, the stylish design makes the TV a valued addition to the home décor. Consumers wishing to step into internet-connectivity and Edge LED backlighting will not lose out on picture quality with Sony’s out-of-the-box Wi-Fi-ready EX650 series. The EX series uses Motionflow XR 200 processing, delivering superior Full HD 1080p resolution, and integrates the Clear Resolution Enhancer to provide vivid, clear and life-like picture.

Rakesh Khanna, Head of Sony, Jumbo Electronics says: “At Sony, we have always believed that the best part of the TV has been and will always be — the picture quality. This is where Sony rules the roost and the new series promises ‘Premium picture’ along with the many additional features. Each model of the continues our tradition of bringing trailblazing technology to consumers, allowing them to see the true beauty of whatever it is they are viewing.”

The new BRAVIA models offer new enhancements and additional innovations. Select models incorporate Dynamic Edge LED with local dimming that deliver brilliant Full HD (1080p) picture with increased brightness and outstanding contrast, particularly in superior deep blacks. Sony’s exclusive OptiContrast panel elevates the picture to the front surface of the TV and creates a dark background for rich, vibrant, high contrast pictures even in well-lit rooms.

The picture quality is further enhanced with Sony’s X-Reality PRO and X-Reality digital video processors. The dual-chip X-Reality PRO optical engine optimizes video sources by utilizing a vast database of signal patterns and comparing incoming signals with ideal scenes to display unprecedented detail and astonishingly vibrant colours. The X-Reality picture engine separates incoming video into its constituent parts of outline, texture and colour/contrast, and then applies image enhancements to deliver outstanding picture. Additionally, Sony’s newest version of Motionflow XR technology reduces blur caused by quick camera movements, enhancing sharpness and creating a smoother viewing experience for fast-paced sports and movie programming, as well as gaming. From the Sony Entertainment Network portal, consumers can find a variety of applications for online entertainment and information such as news, weather, games, and videos from YouTube™ as well as access to social network.

The DNLA-certified and Wireless LAN built-in HX models easily connect to and share content from mobile devices and computers, as well as allow consumers a wide variety of control options via Sony’s Media Remote and Remote Keyboard apps. Viewers can ‘throw’ a browsed website from a Smartphone to the BRAVIA for easier viewing. The application allows control of the web cursor with one thumb, tapping for selecting links, and pinching in and out to enlarge or shrink the viewable areas. The apps, available for download from both the Android Market and Apple App Store, also function as a full remote control with keyboard, allowing easy online content search and playback.

My thoughts on WWDC 2012

June 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, Blogs, Industry

Apple wrapped up their Worldwide Developer’s Conference last night announcing major upgrades to their operating systems as well as a hardware refresh for some of their products. Let me take you quickly to what was revealed and what I think of it.

The event started with a refresh for the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro bringing them up to speed with Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs and HD Graphics 4000. The laptops also received a USB3 upgrade but other than that, there were no surprises for the current line up. What was a surprise was the introduction of the new MacBook Pro. Apple has only introduced a 15.4” version for the time being but it is a beast of a machine along with being a beauty.

Starting off, the retina display comes to Apple laptops with the 15” panel featuring an unheard of 2880×1800 resolution screen. Needless to say, everything from text to images will look super crisp on this display. Helping power up such a power-packed display is the NVIDIA GeForce 650M Kepler GPU and a quad core Intel i5 or i7 processor along with 8GB RAM and up to 768GB SSD. Apple has also cut the fat and the optical drive out of the MacBook Pro reducing it to 0.71” in thickness. If you currently own a 15” MacBook Pro then this is an upgrade designed for you.

For me, a 15” laptop is too big- I currently carry an 11” MacBook Air and am very happy with it. I might have thought about upgrading had the new MBP been available in a 13” screen but I just cannot see myself going back to lugging a 15” laptop. I am pretty sure that the 13” MBP will see an upgrade to the retina display sooner than later. Sadly no updates to iMac whereas the Mac Pro received a minor bump. What is awesome is that these new models are already available in the UAE.

Next up was Mountain Lion and it’s going to be available as a $19.99 upgrade for not only Lion users but also Snow Leopard users which is a good thing. Integration with iOS devices is pretty tight and you’ll be able to play in Game Center with someone on an iOS device. Apple has updated many of the built-in apps to support retina display on Mountain Lion.

Last but certainly not the least, Apple formally introduced iOS 6 that should be making it’s way to iPhones, iPads and iPods later in the year. Sadly 1st gen iPad owners are left in the cold but anyone with an iPhone 3GS or later as well as the 4th gen iPod Touch should be able to apply the update.

News things in iOS include Maps with turn-by-turn navigation and Apple has ditched Google Maps for their own solution and whether Middle East maps are on it is not completely known. Other than maps, Siri has been updated to launch apps as well as work with sports and movies queries. Apple has also added some phone features to silence it during certain times or send an SMS/reminder when ignoring a call. A new app called PassBook has been added that lets you add your passes such as an airline boarding pass or Starbucks pass to pay for coffee.

Overall, I’ll say that it was a satisfying WWDC for Apple fans- good new hardware, decent software updates. Now we have to wait until launch details for the new iPhones is announced later in the year.

Apple’s new MacBook price comparisons

June 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Apple, Features, Laptops, News, Spotlight

Apple announced their new lineup of MacBook laptops at WWDC last night, both the Air and Pro lines. And to be sure the most impressive reveal was the Retina Display MacBook Pro, and perhaps the lack of 17-inch models which have ceased to exist.

Now all existing and potential MacBook owners probably want to buy one as soon as humanly possible, so let’s see how the entire MacBook range is being sold in UAE. Now in the price comparison table below I have used an exchange rate of AED 4 per 1 USD, taking into account shipping costs and custom/tax charges. In fact, if you look at the price of the base MacBook Pros 13-inches, Apple themselves have used a flat conversion rate of AED 4/USD. I have highlighted the slight increase in price Apple has charged on certain models.

The pricing of the high-end MBP 15 and base MBP 15 with Retina Display is the same, but I highly doubt anyone will go for the former, when you get a 256GB SSD instead of a 750GB 5,400RPM HDD. Also the Retina Display, despite a slower processor (by 300MHz).

So at the end of the day, the base MacBook Pro with Retina Display seems like a great deal, given the high-end specs. The only problem is, as of posting this article all new variations of MacBook Pro and Air are available in stock, except for the MBP Retina Display, which has an estimated shipping time of 2 to 3 weeks.

iOS 6 announced, will have more than 200 new features

June 12, 2012 by  
Filed under News

At WWDC yesterday, Apple announced and detailed iOS 6, a new version of the operating system for its iPhone and iPad devices. Below is a round-up of what users expect can out of the new OS when it releases this Fall.

Maps

If you like the Google Maps app on your device, I think it’s time to start saying your goodbyes and comforting sentences like “it’s going to be alright”. When iOS 6 releases, Apple will be replacing it with one of it’s own. It’s simply called Maps, and unlike Google Maps will feature full turn by turn navigation, 3D navigation and real-time traffic updates. Also, an option to “soar over cityscapes to see the sights from the air in amazing, high-resolution quality.”

Siri


Apple’s lovely voice recognition app can now show sports stats, movie timings, make restaurant reservations, and even open app for the lazies. It also knows more languages and works in more countries.

Shared Photo Streams


Users can now share photos exclusively with the folks they want to. Users on the ‘shared’ stream can access those photos from their iOS device, Apple TV or on the web, comment on the picture, and even ‘like’ them. Users sharing the photos will obviously use Apple’s iCloud service, but fortunately, your photo streams will not be counted against your iCloud storage.

Passbook


Throw away your airplane tickets, boarding passes, loyalty cards and cash coupons, your iOS device should be able to handle all of those now (disclaimer: our suggestion to throw your tickets and cards was meant metaphorically. Do not actually do it – not until iOS 6 releases.) Passbook will be your single-stop shop for all the aforementioned needs. It’s even programmed to keep track of time and location, so if you have your boarding pass stored in your Passbook, it will bring it up to your lock screen when you check-in to the airport.

Facebook Integration


Like Twitter, Facebook will now be natively integrated into iOS. This means users can share photos directly from the camera or photo roll, post locations right from Maps, share high score from Game Center, etc. Facebook events will also be integrated into the Calendar app, along with all your friend’s profile information into Contacts.

More options when you get a call



A much need feature, this. Now when you receive a call, you have a number of options to deal with it – either reply with a pre-defined or custom SMS, or tell your device to remind you later to call back. Never miss a missed call, eh?

Do Not Disturb


Another much needed feature. Your phone can be annoying when you are in a meeting, beeping and bopping with all the messages and calls it receives, even while it’s on silent mode. Well, not anymore. The Do Not Disturb feature will silent your phone completely – no more beeps and bops, and needy nudges to check it out. It will suppress all incoming calls and notifications, while still continue to collect them. You can create a whitelist, however, which allows your selected contacts to bypass the DNB firewall.

Better Mail


iOS 6 will now allow you to set up a VIP list so “you’ll never miss an important message from your accountant, your boss, or your BFF.” It will also be much easier to add photos and videos into email messages.

Guided Access


iOS 6 will make using Apple devices easier for people with vision, hearing, learning, and mobility disabilities. The Guided Access apps allows a parent or a teacher to disable the Home button to keep the user focused on the content. It will also allow users to restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen. The screen reader app VoiceOver is also now integrated with Maps, AssistiveTouch, and Zoom.

Find My iPhone Bettered


The Find My iPhone app will able to do more than just finding your ‘misplaced’ iOS device. It will allow users to lock their phone and show a contact number for any good guy greg who must have found it. It will also keep track of where the phone is and keep sending reports back to the user.

Remodeled Stores


The iTunes store, Appe Store and the iBook store will receive a face lift and a couple of new features, too. One of the features include a ‘history’ tab that keeps track of what you previewed for easy access to find the apps you were looking at before and buy them.

As mentioned before, iOS 6 will release sometime in the Fall. If you would like to try it out immediately, you will need an Apple developers account to access the beta.

Lamborghini flaunts $2,300 Android phone

June 12, 2012 by  
Filed under News

If you can’t afford a Lamborghini but you’re a fan of bling then this is for you.

Not content with lending their name to laptops, Lamborghini are now flaunting a $2,300 gold plated Android phone trimmed with crocodile skin. The real kicker? It’s running Android 2.3.

There’s also the Lamborghini L2800 tablet, which offers a 9.7-inch screen, a 1.2GHz processor and 512MB RAM for the price of $2,400. There’s a promise of an Ice Cream Sandwich update as well, but we’re not holding our breath.

Google dismantles antitrust claims, suggests to use Bing if you don’t like them

June 12, 2012 by  
Filed under News

Google’s senior vice president Amit Singhal has posted a ‘claim and fact’ rebuttal of the antitrust allegations fired against the search giant for skewing search results to favor advertisers.

What prompted Singhal to “set the record straight” was Wall Street Journal’s recent article, “Google’s Monopoly and Internet Freedom“, written by Nextag CEO Jeffery Katz. In it, Katz called Google a manipulating search engine which “has shifted from true search site into a commerce site”.

Laying the fact down on that allegation, Singhal said, “let me be very clear: our unpaid, natural search results are never influenced by payment. Our algorithms rank results based only on what the most relevant answers are for users — which might be a direct answer or a competitor’s website. Our ads and commercial experiences are clearly labeled and distinct from the unpaid results, and we recently announced new improvements to labeling of shopping results. This is in contrast to most comparison shopping sites, which receive payment from merchants but often don’t clearly label search results as being influenced by payment.”

He also dismissed the claim that Google changes its algorithms to punish its competitors. ” As we’ve said many times before, we built search to help users, not websites. We don’t make changes to our algorithms to hurt competitors. We make more than 500 changes a year (each one scientifically evaluated) in order to deliver the most useful results for our users – and we now publish a monthly list of algorithm improvements. Every one of those changes moves some websites up and some sites down in the rankings, but the most important thing is that users are happy with the results,” he said.

Surprisingly, Singhal suggested that if users do not trust Google’s search results, they can simple use other services like Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, or Google Minus Google. He even provided links to each one of them.

Personally, Google has always been my goto search engine if I needed answers. I have never been distracted or forced to view an advertisement or a sponsored video. Of course, this is an individual case, and other companies that may get slanted from Google are certainly in for a loss. It is unclear if Katz’s claims are true or not. Google has been registered to answer to the EU’s antitrust concerns. They have till July 2nd to do so.

Getting serious about gaming with ORIGIN PCs

June 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

For as far back as I can remember, PCs and laptops were the most boring things to look at. PCs were a dull beige color, while laptops tended to lean towards murky shades of grey. As the 90s progressed, we saw a few companies try and stand out from the crowd such as Creative with their black tower PCs, or Compaq with their then-trendy colored snap-on covers.

But looks certainly weren’t everything, and soon people were passing up on ready-assembled PCs in favor of putting together their own powerhouse computers. And thus the era of custom PCs was born. The thrill of swapping around RAM sticks and hard drives to create the ultimate PC continues until today, with overclockers and tech enthusiasts constantly looking for the perfect combination of hardware to deliver the best performance.

It’s with this mindset that I sit down to have a chat with Origin PCs, a company that is slowly but surely becoming a fan favorite among PC gamers and enthusiasts. Founded by former Alienware execs, the company aims to return to the roots of custom-built PCs, something that was previously catered to by Alienware themselves, until they were purchased by Dell and the customization options fell drastically. Origin PCs aims to change that by offering custom gaming PCs that play the latest games while at the same time meeting strict build, performance, and quality tests.

Talking enthusiastically about Origin with me is Eddy Piedra and Jorge Percival, and it’s clear from our first few minutes together just how passionate they are about the company. “Our company is called Origin because we’re going back to the origins of cusom-made PCs. We put in a lot of effort and detail into our machines – each order that is placed with us is built from the ground up, and we can cater to most requirements from the latest processors to liquid cooling to a custom paint job. We’re committed to providing a top level of support and service to our customers as well, and we pride ourselves on having a dependable 24/7 support desk to answer customer queries.”

Of course, what they say rings true – how many of us have had exasperating phone calls to support desks that simply follow a script or can’t help without assigning you a ticket?

When asked if Origin PCs will ever hit retail stores, Piedra says that it would be a great accomplishment but it also poses a challenge. Because the company currently only takes orders via its website, customers have a much larger selection of components to choose from, and can also request specific parts. “It would be hard to stock a retail configuration that would appeal to a variety of consumers, so at the moment it’s working great through the website” adds Percival.

The company’s success is quite clear, with orders taking at least a month to process and deliver due to the influx of customer requests. And while the company does all of its assembly and manufacturing in the United States, it does ship worldwide. Despite being considered a newcomer to the market, the founders of Origin have a collective 30+ years of experience in PC manufacturing, and it’s this wealth of experience that is fast propelling Origin to become the preferred PC manufacturer for gamers and power users. In fact, the company’s ‘Big O’ gaming rig is probably the most souped-up thing you’ll ever see, encompassing both a high-performance PC and an integrated Xbox 360 system. Yes you read that right, a PC and Xbox available side by side in one mammoth case.

I think I’ve died and gone to gaming heaven.

For more information on Origin’s lineup of laptops and desktop machines, check out their website here.

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