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Tuesday, 03 August 2010 09:53

AMD offers strong back to school notebook lineup

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Vendors embrace affordable mobile parts
AMD has been doing quite well lately and the company seems keen to recover some ground in the mobile market as well. Traditionally AMD lagged behind Intel in the mobile segment due to a variety of factors, both technical and PR-related.

However, AMD has managed to secure quite a few significant design wins in recent weeks and months, so there are already a number of very tempting offers to choose from. Major players like Acer, HP, Lenovo and Asus have all introduced new AMD-based notebooks based on a variety of processors.

Most vendors use AMD parts in mid range and entry level notebooks, as they offer somewhat better value for money than Intel processors. In fact, the vast majority of new AMD-based notebooks is based on the Athlon II P320, a 2.1GHz part with 1MB of L2 cache and a 25W TDP. This is a no-thrills processor, but it’s available in €350 machines and you also get integrated HD 4200 graphics to boot. Check out the Lenovo G555 or HP625 for the best bargains. The single core V120 is also available, but it doesn’t offer much in terms of value for money. For more performance you can turn to Turion II and Phenom II dual-cores, with 2MB of L2 cache and higher clocks. The downside is higher pricing and limited choice, as fewer vendors offer them on fewer models.

Despite the focus on mainstream products, demanding users can also take a peek at AMD’s mobile lineup. There is more than a dozen triple-core notebooks to chose and with prices starting at around €600 they offer quite good value. Nearly all of them feature DirectX 11 discrete graphics in the form of HD 5400, and 5600 series mobile Radeons. This should be enough to sweeten the deal.

Of course, Intel does not offer tri-core processors, but it still dominates the quad market with its pricey Core i7 series parts. Although notebooks based on AMD’s quad-cores are few and far between, they are much better priced than anything Intel has to offer. Basically a notebook based on AMD’s Phenom II X4 N930 at 2GHz costs around €100 less than an Intel-based rig.

Although AMD is still a long way behind Intel in the mobile market, the company is doing much better than in 2009 or 2008. AMD’s new 45nm mobile CPUs have managed to gain back some ground and the outfit has scored quite a few potentially very lucrative design wins. A year ago we would have had a very hard time recommending any AMD mobile part, but the company has managed to make quite a bit of progress since then and it’s always good to see some healthy competition.
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