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The Trinity whitebook
Our Trinity APU sample is enclosed in the following 14" whitebook:

The system looks and behaves almost like a retail product, but it isn't one. It's etched with AMD's corporate logo instead of a vendor's badge, and it lacks the fit and finish of a commercial system. One tell-tale sign is the optical drive, which sticks out a little past the lower edge of the system's body—not enough to snag on something, but enough to make it clear this is a prototype.

Unlike the Llano whitebook we reviewed last year, this one lacks a discrete GPU. The APU's two memory channels are fed with two 2GB DDR3 SO-DIMMs clocked at 1600MHz. AMD threw in a 128GB Samsung 830 solid-state drive, as well. We ruthlessly replaced it with a 500GB WD Scorpio Black hard drive to keep our benchmark comparisons fair.

Speaking of benchmark comparisons, we had some trouble gathering adequate contestants for this match-up. The 13" Llano whitebook made a return appearance, as you'd expect, but the dual-core Sandy Bridge notebook against which we compared it last year wasn't available for an encore. We do, however, have a couple of quad-core Intel notebooks on hand: one based on Sandy Bridge, and another based on Ivy Bridge.

Those two notebooks are detailed below. They're both larger than the Trinity and Llano whitebooks, with 15" displays and thicker, heavier frames. Both are outfitted with GeForce GT 630 discrete graphics, which we didn't use in our tests, and both have twice as much RAM as the AMD whitebooks—eight gigs—but we don't expect memory capacity to be a constraint in any of our tests. The most notable difference is that the Intel notebooks have 45W processors. Keep that in mind as you see the results on the following pages; the Intel parts ought to have a built-in handicap since they have a 10W larger power envelope.

Our testing methods
We ran every test at least three times and reported the median of the scores produced.

The test systems were configured like so:

System AMD A8-3500M test system AMD A10-4600M test system Asus N56VM Asus N53S
Processor AMD A8-3500M APU 1.5GHz AMD A10-4600M 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3720QM 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-2670QM 2.2GHz
North bridge AMD A70M FCH AMD A70M FCH Intel HM76 Express Intel HM65 Express
South bridge
Memory size 4GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs) 8GB (2 DIMMs) 8GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz
Memory timings 9-9-9-24 11-11-12-28 11-11-11-28 9-9-9-24
Audio IDT codec IDT codec with drivers Realtek codec with drivers Realtek codec with drivers
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 6620G + AMD Radeon HD 6630M
with Catalyst 12.4 drivers
AMD Radeon HD 7660G with Catalyst 8.945 RC2 drivers Intel HD Graphics 4000 with drivers
GeForce GT 630M with 296.54 drivers
Intel HD Graphics 3000 with drivers
GeForce GT 630M with 296.54 drivers
Hard drive Hitachi Travelstar 7K500 250GB 7,200 RPM WD Scorpio Black 500GB 7,200 RPM Seagate Momentus 750GB 7,200-RPM Seagate Momentus 750GB 7,200-RPM
Operating system Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Windows 7 Professional x64 Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Thanks to Asus for volunteering a quad-core Sandy Bridge laptop, and thanks to AMD and Intel for providing the other systems.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The tests and methods we employ are usually publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.