The first reviews are in for AMD's new A8-3850 Llano accelerated processing unit (APU), which combines CPU and GPU cores on a single die, and the big question is: Can this $135 chip offer a viable alternative to Intel's lower-end Sandy Bridge processors?
The answer: Yes, it can, but with a few caveats.
As you might expect from a solution that emphasizes the GPU as much as Llano does, the A8-3850 smokes the latest Intel Core i3 and even the Core i5-2500 processors on low-level gaming tests, thanks to its integrated Radeon HD 6550D graphics. That's especially true if you get a system equipped with a discrete Radeon card that works in conjunction with the integrated GPU. You also get built-in DirectX 11 support, something you don't get from Sandy Bridge's integrated graphics.
On the other hand, Intel's chips still outperform the A8-3850 on basic computing tasks and CPU-intensive benchmarks. If you're more concerned with media encoding or everyday multitasking, the Core i3 family may be a better bet.
Here are some of the first reviews of the A8-3850:
With its Fusion APUs, AMD's clearly betting that you're going to be relying more on graphics performance for computing circa 2011 and going forward. Is this Llano chip an attractive offering to you for your next desktop build? Let us know in the Comments section.