From now on it's a safe bet to assume that the vast majority of mainstream processors from Intel and AMD will include both a CPU and GPU segment on each chip. We know this because Intel, which controls around 85 per cent of the desktop CPU market, has already transitioned its Core 2011 processors to a CPU-and-GPU architecture, while AMD, which accounts for the vast bulk of the remaining 15 per cent, has brought its own brand of integration to market, called APUs, through the release of A-series chips.
AMD views CPU-and-GPU A-series processors as value propositions. The headline part, A8-3850, benchmarked here, is available for £100 right now. Common sense indicates that any lower-specified parts should cost less.
Said slower parts are now filtering through to the retail channel. The A6-3650 is now available for £89, or £15 below the A8-3850. Question is, what kind of performance drop-off is incurred when saving just over a tenner?
Keeping it simple and comparing it to the A8-3850, A6-3650 is a slower-clocked version of the headline chip. The quad-core CPU portion runs at 2.6GHz, compared to 2.9GHz, and the integrated graphics is shod with fewer cores - 320 vs. 400 - and operate at a significantly slower speed.
Following our course of logic, it's reasonable to presume that A6-3650 APUs are ones that don't make the gold standard required by A8-3850. In fact, the cutbacks on this particular APU are quite severe, judged from a performance standpoint, and the £89 asking price seems steep, especially as it doesn't have any mitigating attributes such as Turbo CORE support or a lower TDP.
But it would be wholly wrong to pass judgment on such a chip without testing it fully, and this is exactly what we've done on the forthcoming pages.