AMD Optimized Laptop /RANT

AMD Optimized Laptop /RANT


I can’t quite understand why it has to be the way it is, I understand that this rant comes from a place of naivete and ignorance but I have to say it and this is my website dammit. I assume you build to your strengths and compensate for weaknesses, the situation with AMD powered laptops seem counter-intuitive. I am going to go over a few examples of this and what I’d like to see.

Ideal Specs:

  • 1080p – IPS – 30-96Hz freesync
  • Greater than 8GB DDR4-2133 (max supported)
  • 128GB M.2 SSD / free M.2/Msata port w/ easy access
  • WiFi 802.11ac M.2 wireless
  • Greater than 40WHr battery
  • Backlit keyboard
  • 45W capable cooling solution w/ user accessible cTDP controls
  • Price range $399-799

Optional Specs/ Accessories:

  • 4k/high color display
  • 4g Wireless
  • Noise Canceling mics
  • finger print reader / biometric scanners
  • extended battery
  • workstation dock

The display is usually the main attraction and the 1st major component a prospective buyer will notice. Having a sub-FHD display is simply unacceptable. Most online content is now 1080p, so having a display that can’t view the added detail of all that content is very anti-consumer. The secondary aspect of the display is the tech behind it, namely IPS or TN. IPS is preferable for the color rendition, viewing angles and brightness(among other characteristics). TN is probably cheaper and a high quality TN panel can produce pleasing quality images, all that is to say that for cost reasons TN would be acceptable but at greater than 1080P. Value adders could be professional color displays and variable refresh displays. The inclusion of Freesync could be a way to differentiate your product and help in the user experience of the product.

Shifting gears a bit, I’ll take a look at 2 offenders. The horrible thing about this is that these are the best AMD notebooks you can buy today. They are very flawed conceptually speaking and I’ll go over some of these flaws.

The HP Pavilion (as seen here), is the entry level brand and has a pleasing visage though quite bland, a design for the every man. There are options to customize it and they are the features I have been championing for.

hpcus1 hpcus2

Looking at the specs, you can see the addition of what I think should be standard features for a decent price. The selection was enough to satiate my preferences save for a few trouble spots. The battery and the DVD player. My opinions on the matter are that the battery is too small, the DVD player is useless (at least here in the US.) and I would much rather that space being dedicated to extra storage via 2.5″ drives or additional battery capacity.

hpcus3Now, onto a more grievous offense The HP ENVY X360. It is a very sleek design, bright screen but has a charming design flaw. I’ll let it sink in…unlike the the previous model which sported an AMD A9 dual-core chip that only has single channel memory. The ENVY sports an AMD A12-9700P which has 2 memory channels, of which only 1 slot is populated. So Instead of easily using 4GB DIMMs they opted to use a single 8GB DIMM. This negligence is throwing away up to 20% 3D performance. That might seem small but that is the difference between this APU outperforming and being recommended over its Intel and Nvidia counterparts.



It is also curious why none of these products have 35W TDP APUs, instead opting to use a throttled 15W APU with an equivalent (if not slower) mGPU. This I can’t Understand, it actually baffles me. THIS Acer Aspire is the prime suspect, good specs yet I can not fathom why ACER would decide to pair a 512 shader and 128bit DDR4-2133 iGPU with a 320 shader and 64bit DDR3 oland mGPU, WHY!? Not only that but why have the mGPU when the 15W APU should already be matching if not surpassing the mGPU if all you had to do was raise the TDP of the APU? That project/product manager truly needs some product knowledge.

Another trend is the lack of any other sizes than 15″ notebooks, now tablets, netbooks and sub notebooks simply don’t exist for AMD. I remember a few years ago when I bought an AMD powered netbook, it was quite the performer. After the fall of netbooks it has been very hard to find such devices. THIS Thinkpad x140e and its ilk would be awesome if they were to be updated with the latest APUs. Going back to my first AMD netbook, it was the ACER 522 with the C-50 APU, since then the the A4-1200 would come to replace it while using less than half the power, less board space and higher performiance. I’d love to see THIS E2 APU in a 10-11.6″ netbook, It’d be very competitive with current ARM and INTEL netbooks.