Integrated graphics performance
Now that we've beaten the CPU performance horse to death and well beyond, let's take a look at integrated graphics performance. Before we start, I should mention a few considerations.
First, you'll notice below that we've added the Core i3-2105 to the mix. We didn't include it explicitly in the CPU performance tests because its CPU specs and performance are identical to the Core i3-2100's. However, the 2105 has better integrated graphics and is probably the closest match, price-wise, to the A8-3850.
Next, we've added a few more configurations. We've tested both the Core i3-2100 and the A8-3850 with a relatively low-priced discrete graphics card, the Radeon HD 6670. We used the 1GB GDDR5 version of the 6670, which currently sells for $99.99. Having this card in the mix allows us to see how a relatively inexpensive discrete GPU compares to the IGP solutions. The 6670 is capable of running in a Dual Graphics team with the A8's integrated Radeon, so we've included that, as well. We also benchmarked the A8-3850's IGP while using 1600MHz memory (rather than the 1333MHz speed we used everywhere else.) This config will give us taste of how faster RAM speeds affect IGP performance.
Finally, although we are comparing the performance of the Llano and Sandy Bridge IGPs head to head, there are in fact major differences in texture filtering and image quality between them. The Intel IGP isn't doing as much work and is producing a much lower quality result. For more on this issue, see this page of our mobile Llano review.
Bad Company 2
Yes, we used a relatively high resolution of 1680x1050 for much of our IGP testing. That's in part because we had some trouble finding a common resolution exposed in the different video drivers we were using. We'd probably have tested at 1440x900, had it been consistently available.
Regardless, the A8's IGP cranks out acceptable frame rates, with a low of 25 FPS. Our seat-of-the-pants evaluation during testing was quite positive. Obviously, the Intel IGPs can't keep up; the HD 3000's frame rates are roughly half the A8's and are nowhere near playable.
Bumping the memory clock up to 1600MHz doesn't do wonders for the Llano IGP, nor does it make that IGP much more competitive with the discrete Radeon HD 6670, which is unquestionably superior. That big gap between the Radeon HD 6550D IGP and the Radeon HD 6670 discrete GPU probably helps explain why there's not much performance gain when Dual Graphics is enabled. Most likely, the two GPUs aren't splitting work evenly; instead, the 6670 probably renders two frames for every one rendered by the IGP. That means performance won't scale as well as it would in a true 1:1 teaming config.
Dual Graphics doesn't make an appearance here because, unlike regular CrossFire setups, it's not compatible with DirectX 9 games like this one. At these settings, the A8's IGP can't really deliver acceptable performance, and the Intel IGPs are hopeless.