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If we want to consider the A8-3800 solely as a desktop processor, we can summarize its value proposition with one of our famous scatter plots.

At $129, the A8-3800 offers only slightly higher performance than the Athlon II X3 455, which is a $76 chip. A host of other processors occupy the A8's price range with substantially higher overall test scores, including the A8-3850, the Phenom II X4 840, and the Core i3-2100 and i3-2105. On the price-performance front, Llano's desktop incarnations continue to seem rather unfortunate, especially for brand-new 32-nm silicon.

Among those desktop CPUs, though, only the Core i3 chips share the A8-3800's 65W TDP rating. That's important to note because a 65W processor can go places that a 95-100W CPU can't—into smaller form factors with quieter cooling and more economical power supplies, for instance. Inside of such systems—some of them, at least—integrated graphics is likely to be the solution of choice. And in some cases, in such systems, the A8-3800's vastly superior graphics may well be more highly prized than the Core i3's superior CPU power.

All of which takes us back to where we left off with the A8-3850 several months ago, when we had trouble finding a sensible home for a 100W chip with a burly IGP. As a 65W part, the A8-3800 ought to make sense for a certain class of relatively cheap, compact computers. Those computers probably aren't the sort that would be built by PC enthusiasts—even in a mini-ITX enclosure, we'd prefer a Core i3 and a cheap graphics card—but they exist in various forms, including the increasingly popular all-in-one systems that follow the iMac template. For fairly basic computing needs, Llano's integration of four slower cores and AMD's Radeon technology could end up providing a better user experience than Intel's Sandy Bridge CPU-IGP hybrid. We suspect PC makers who adopt the A8-3800 won't be paying anything close to AMD's $129 list price, either.

With that said, we'd still like to see AMD lower prices on its retail boxed A-series APUs or, better yet, raise the performance bar while keeping TDPs steady once those pesky manufacturing issues are resolved. The A8 isn't far from being more broadly appealing, but some tweaks would alleviate our doubts. Here's hoping those happen soon, or it may fall to the next-gen Trinity APU to close the gap. TR

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