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AMD Llano vs Intel Sandy Bridge

Which is the best notebook buy?

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Best value system?

I couldn't compare the graphics using 3DMark 11 as the Intel laptop can't handle that test, and 3D Mark Vantage is fussy about the resolution of the screen it's running on, so I fell back on the aged 3DMark 06 test.

3DMark 06

AMD Llano vs Intel Sandy Bridge 3DMark 06

Longer bars are better

3DMark 06 per pound

AMD Llano vs Intel Sandy Bridge 3DMark 06 by price

Longer bars indicate better value

I also used Cinebench 11.5 but this reinforced the status quo as the Intel hardware can't run the OpenGL test - AMD can - and Sandy Bridge dances all over Llano in the CPU test.

Moving on to Intel's favoured test of video recoding with CyberLink MediaEspresso 6.5, it's a clear victory for Sandy Bridge. The AMD CPU run flat out at 100 per cent and still takes significantly longer than Core i5 to convert video to iPhone format.

This looks impressive but is a demonstration of the fact that "MediaEspresso 6.5 takes advantage of Intel Quick Sync Video technology built into second-generation Intel Core processors to provide unprecedented video conversion speeds". QSV is also supported by Arcsoft's Media Converter 7.

If you regularly recode video with your laptop, this is the hardware you want on your desk.

I asked AMD about the best way to showcase Llano and was pointed us towards Microsoft's FishIEtank IE9, a site that demonstrates the features in Internet Explorer 9. AMD's logic is that recoding video is all well and good but most people actually use their laptops for mundane tasks such as browsing the web.

MS Fireflies HTML 5

AMD Llano vs Intel Sandy Bridge FishIEtank

Longer bars are better

MS Fireflies HTML 5 per Pound

AMD Llano vs Intel Sandy Bridge FishIEtank by price

Longer bars indicate better value

As it happens there was very little to choose between the two laptops using the IE9 tests.

Stepping away from the benchmarks for the moment, my impression is that the Intel laptop is fast and responsive while the AMD hardware suffers from a small amount of lag and latency. That said, this is nowhere near being a problem, and don't forget, the AMD-based machine had 4GB of memory to the Intel laptop's 6GB.

Verdict

On balance, Sandy Bridge is the more desirable hardware. However, there is a sting in the tail: as I've said, the Intel laptop retails for about £629, while the AMD version only costs £500. Windows 7 rates the latter with an Experience Index of 5.9, the former with just 5.3.

That's a significant difference, and if I was laying out my own cash to buy a new laptop for the household, I would choose Llano as it offers better value for money. ®

Download the full test results in PDF form

Thanks to HP for the two review samples

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