AMD's integrated graphics were reinvigorated when the company launched its 32nm Llano desktop processors earlier this year. With an integrated Radeon HD 6550D graphics processor, the AMD A8-3850 APU eliminated the need for many discrete low-end graphics cards and made Intel's HD Graphics 3000 engine look stupid.
Although the A3, A6 and even the upcoming A4 series APUs from AMD have completely lost their L3 cache, they have a beefier L2 cache to compensate. While the Phenom II range is equipped with a massive 6MB L3 cache, each core is only supported by 512KB L2 cache. By discarding the complex and performance-hungry L3 cache, AMD was able to double the L2 cache capacity per core.
As a result, the quad-core A8-3850 received a 4MB L2 cache, which significantly increased performance compared to a similarly clocked Athlon II processor. With improved overall processing and graphics performance, the Llano range represents exceptional value as the A8-3850 costs just $ 140 while the A6-3650 retails for $ 120 at the time of writing.
Additionally, the Llano platform offers a wide variety of affordable AMD A55 and A75 motherboards. A75 products are particularly attractive because they fully support USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gbit / s (up to four or six ports). In comparison, Intel's H67 / P67 / Z68 only supports two SATA 6 Gbit / s ports and no USB 3.0.
Although AMD A75 boards start at around $ 70, we decided to check out three more attractive and inherently more expensive options. The best-featured A75 motherboards include the Asrock A75 Extreme6 ($ 130), the Asus F1A75-V Pro ($ 130), and the Gigabyte A75-UD4H ($ 123). Right now, the Asus F1A75-V Evo is the most expensive A75 board at $ 140.
At this price point, AMD is clearly targeting the household market – and in our opinion dominates it. The underdog's new flagship desktop platform is available for $ 300 or less. When you factor in 4GB of RAM ($ 25), a 1TB hard drive ($ 55), and a decent case and power supply combination ($ 55), you have the option to do this at an entry-level gaming Computers for around $ 500.
While a rig like this won't break the benchmarks, you have full flexibility to add 6 Gbps SSDs, USB 3.0 devices, and multiple high-end GPUs to your liking. The Llano platform is a great way for budget gamers to get their foot in the door and make room for future expansion. With that in mind, let's three of the best …