AMD takes the budget gaming market part 2: The cheap gaming laptop.

Posted: August 26, 2011 by ryanlecocq in Features, Technology

Brown Sugar

 

I hate to be a fanboy, but AMD is really impressing me with their new APUs.  I built the E-350 HTPC as soon as I heard about them and a couple of weeks ago I built a mid-size desktop to test out the A8 with Hybrid Crossfire.  Both of those systems met and exceeded my expectations in every way and this week’s project is no different.

I heard rumblings on the internets of a new A6 powered Asus laptop that could run any game at decent settings that could be had with descounts for under $500 (the normal MSRP is $699, still cheap).  That’s not the sort of thing I hear every day, so naturally I made gathering the pennies an A-1 priority.  Here’s what I got:

 

Asus K53TA  

AMD A6 m3400 quad-core @1.4GHz/2.3GHz turbo

4GB DDR3 1333MHz RAM

AMD Radeon HD6720G2 (HD6520 on APU+HD6650 dedicated card)

500GB HDD

15.6″ 1366×768 screen

On paper it’s a pretty impressive set of specs.  As I do with any new tech, I ran it through a full battery of tests.  With a lot of help from users on several forums, I’ve thoroughly tested the max performance.

I’ll start with the bad news:  The Crossfire so far works only marginally.  All games ran fine with Crossfire on, but I almost always got better framerates using only the dedicated HD6650.  There were a few exceptions, but for the most part, just turning Crossfire off worked best.

Other than that, it’s all good.  I was able to undervolt and overclock the CPU cores to run at 2.3-3.0GHz while staying under 75C.  There are several guides on how to do this, just Google the model.  Every game I played, including Deus Ex: Human Revolution, ran at good framerates in med-high settings at native resolution.  Here are a few examples:

Deus Ex: Human Revolution – 35-50fps Med-high settings

Fable III – 30-50fps Med settings

Alice: Madness Returns – Max settings 30fps (capped for some reason, this game always runs at 30fps)

RIFT – Med-high settings with tweaks 30-60fps

Crysis 2 – Gamer settings 30-50fps (poor DX9 peformance!  Make sure you have the latest Crysis 2 version)

Fallout: New Vegas – High settings 40-60fps

Portal 2 – Max settings 30-60fps

So there you have it.  It took a little tinkering to get the best performance, but it wasn’t too difficult.  There has never been, to my knowledge, a better deal on a laptop for gaming.  The quality of gaming on this laptop simply can’t be beat at even hundreds of dollars more.  In the past any laptop that could really, feasibly play current games came at not only a high price but a lot of inconvenience.  Low battery life, large size, high heat etc. are not a problem with this notebook.

I really hope that what AMD is doing will bring PC gaming back into the mainstream.  Laptops are a huge part of the inexpensive computer market and gaming has previously not existed at this price point.  The increasing popularity of games like The Sims among casual PC users has made inexpensive graphics solutions a competitive market.  This chipset does more than compete, it creates a new class.  Now the question isn’t “How cheap can I get a computer that runs The Sims?”  It’s “How cheap can I get a computer that runs everything?”  If you asked that a year ago, the salesperson would have hemmed and hawed and told you “over $1000.”  Today they would point you to the K53TA.

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Comments
  1. cafefadein says:

    I bought one of these too. You get a lot for your money especially if you’re a gamer!

  2. sacman says:

    I want one now but they are like $750 now??????

  3. ryanlecocq says:

    The K53TA is no longer available at $450 in the configuration I bought. The next best thing is unfortunately the A53TA for $600. It’s just the exact same thing but rebranded with a higher price tag. Still a good deal, but considering the K53TA was the same specs for less, also kind of a ripoff. No worries though, more models will be aiming at this price point soon. There is an Acer model right now that has a slightly (very slightly) weaker dual graphics combo for $520. There’s another fairly comparable Acer i3 plus GT520 system too for $500, but the GT520 is only equal to the dedicated card of the other one, things that benefit from dual graphics will still be better on the 6470m one. Links below.

    $520 w/ Radeon dual graphics
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834215113

    $500 with GT520
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834215191

  4. momoko says:

    I hope more and more APUs with powerful GPU (dedicated or DualGraphics) flooding all the segments.
    We still use expensive Intel laptops for absolute CPU performance such as Photoshop etc, but other than that AMD laptops rock!

    Interestingly APUs somewhat had longer battery life than intels, must confirm again for that issue

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