AMD Kaveri Laptops Sightedby Jarred Walton on July 28, 2014 9:07 PM EST
While AMD's Kaveri APUs initially launched on the desktop at the beginning of the year, for many the APUs looked like a better fit for laptops and notebooks. In early June, we were able to preview the performance of the first mobile Kaveri APUs in the form of a prototype laptop running the FX-7600P. Nearly two months later, laptops with Kaveri are starting to show up online. Interestingly, several of the first laptops to use Kaveri aren't consumer devices but instead target business users and in most cases opt for the PRO series of Kaveri APUs.
If you missed our coverage, the PRO series of APUs is essentially the same as the consumer models, only they're guaranteed to be available for a longer period of time so that businesses in particular don't have to worry about validating new processors or platforms. There are three PRO APUs, the PRO A6-7050B, the PRO A8-7150B, and the PRO A10-7350B. Note that all three parts are Ultra-Low Voltage models (17W for the A6 and 19W for the A8 and A10), and their intended competition is Intel's Core i3 and i5 ULV parts. Along with the PRO APUs, the first consumer laptops are showing up as well. All of the Kaveri laptops at present are using ULV APUs, which we haven't had a chance to test yet, but the improved Boost clocks should make them fairly competitive, and if you happen to use software that can leverage the GPU portion of the APU then Kaveri could prove a compelling option.
For those mostly looking at Kaveri as a decent budget laptop, let's start with the consumer models as prices are quite a bit lower. I couldn't find anything with the entry-level A6-7000, but there are a few options with the A8-7300. HP's ProBook 455 G2 (covered in more detail below) is priced at $572 with 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, 1366x768 LCD. Acer has a 15.6" E5-551-89TN with 6GB RAM and a 1TB HDD starting at $480, which is the best price for a Kaveri laptop so far, though Amazon has a 4GB RAM/500GB HDD version listed for pre-order at $399. A10-7300 laptops include the Lenovo Z50, a 15.6-inch model with 1366x768 LCD, 8GB RAM, and 1TB HDD starting at $570, while Amazon has two more Acer models available for preorder: the E5-551-T5SV starts at $500 (4GB RAM and 500GB HDD with 1366x768 LCD) and the E5-551G-T0JN has 8GB RAM, a 1TB HDD, and Dual Graphics with a Radeon R7 M265 for only $600. That last one is certainly going to be the highest performing option, and the inclusion of a discrete GPU means even better gaming potential.
Sadly, while there are quite a few budget laptops with Kaveri now shipping (or shipping in the very near future), at present I have not been able to find any models with the new FX APUs. The 35W standard voltage (SV) Kaveri APUs are also missing right now, which is interesting as in the past it was often the SV parts that launched first with the ULV parts following a few months later. Both AMD and Intel seem to now be focusing more on ULV parts, which isn't a bad thing. That said, none of the laptops listed above appear to be going after long battery life; most are claiming five hours of battery life, but they're also doing that with 3- and 4-cell batteries. It would be good to see a few models with 6-cell batteries and 8+ hours of battery life, so hopefully someone will provide an appropriate model in the future.
As for the laptops that are shipping with the PRO APUs, let's quickly run through the current options. At present there are four offerings from HP using two of the PRO APUs. At the low-end of the pricing spectrum is the HP ProBook 455 G2, equipped with the PRO A6-7050B, 2GB RAM, 500GB HDD, and a 15.6" 1366x768 display with a price of $476. The one clear concession to the business class of laptops is the presence of a fingerprint scanner on all of these laptops (it's optional, but most of the models for sale at Newegg appear to include the fingerprint scanner). The price isn't too bad, but obviously the lack of RAM and the relatively large display mean this one isn't going to win any performance or portability competitions. The next step up in terms of price is the EliteBook 755 G2 with the same A6-7050B APU but sporting 4GB of RAM and running Windows 7 Professional, priced at $737.
Moving on to the HP models with the A10-7350B, there are three options: the same EliteBook 755 G2 is available with either 4GB RAM and a 1366x768 LCD for $843, or if you want a 1080p touchscreen and 8GB RAM the price jumps to $1091. A 14-inch version is the next option, with the EliteBook 745 G2 listed in three varieties (all with the A10-7350B): 4GB RAM and 1366x768 display priced at $820, 8GB RAM and 1600x900 display will set you back $906, or there's a third model listed at $1090, but some specs are missing so it's not clear why it costs so much more (it likely has an SSD, and a 1080p touchscreen is also a possibility). Last is the 12.5-inch EliteBook 725 G2, again in three variants: 4GB RAM and 1366x768 for $898, ditch the 500GB HDD for a 180GB SSD for $1100, or add a 1080p touchscreen for $1196. Pricing on all of these laptops is obviously quite a bit higher than what consumers would consider reasonable for the hardware, but for businesses the laptops might make sense.
Of the currently shipping Kaveri laptops, if you're itching to get your hands on one I'd say the Lenovo Z50 looks to be the best of the bunch. I like the styling more than some of the other offerings, and while I really would prefer an SSD, at least you do get 8GB of RAM and a large 1TB hard drive at a reasonable price of $570. If you're not in a rush, however, holding out for one of the Acer Kaveri-based laptop will get you a lower price. For those that don't really need a faster GPU, the $400 A8-7100 E5-551-86R8 will certainly suffice, while the A10-7300 mostly improves the GPU performance by increasing the number of GPU cores from 256 to 384 (with a slight boost in GPU clock speed as well). Spending $100 more to go from an A8-7100 to the A10-7300 is a bit much, and if you need more GPU performance at that point you might want to just go for the $600 Acer E5-551G instead. Regardless, it's good to see quite a few Kaveri laptops now shipping, and keeping the prices of the A8 and A10 models well under $600 will certainly help with sales.
Post Your CommentPlease log in or sign up to comment.
View All Comments
monstercameron - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link768p screens should just be banned.
Flunk - Monday, July 28, 2014 - linkYou really have to wonder what the price difference would be, if they can afford to put 2560x1600 screens on $400 tablets.
JarredWalton - Monday, July 28, 2014 - linkThe price at the component level would be about $10 more for 1080p is my understanding. Sadly, all the OEMs like to order cheap parts in large quantities so they have thousands (or millions even) of cruddy 1366x768 panels but 1080p panels are "special" still. 1366x768 really needs to die on anything larger than 11.6 inches.
zodiacfml - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link$10 only?! Im baffled. I recently bought a notebook with a 14 screen and it is "not" a pleasure to use compared to my Nexus 5's screen.
Krysto - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - linkLaptop displays are garbage compared to modern day smartphone displays.
niva - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - linkAlways pick laptop based on screen first. This is so disappointing to see because these little AMD chips are decent for everyday usage, watching videos and office work. Too bad that they are being bundled with junk.
odell_wills - Thursday, October 9, 2014 - linkI don't think it stands a chance to some of the top laptops that are out there. /Odell from http://www.consumertop.com/best-laptop-guide/
Ortanon - Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - link*anything larger than 7 inches
MonkeyPaw - Monday, July 28, 2014 - linkYeah, it's hard to get excited when budget tablets are outshining the budget laptop market. With CPU power being more that sufficient these days for many users, you'd think that the laptop market would be shifting to better panels and modest SSDs. As an OEM, what would make your product look the best on the floor at Best Buy? Having the nicest looking screen and the snappiest load times. The PC market just doesn't have a shot if they can't get the perceived quality up. Many models feel like they are made from the same plastic as those kiddie cell phones that are actually just full of candy.
JarredWalton - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - linkWhile it's true that budget tablets can compete in many ways with budget laptops, there's still a big gap in certain functionality. If you want to do any serious work (typing and such) on a tablet, you need a keyboard and that means more money. Performance is still quite a bit different as well, though the difference in OS makes up for a lot of that. As for SSDs, eMMC storage doesn't hold up long-term nearly as well as true SSDs. In fact, many tablets start to feel worse than HDDs after a while thanks to the storage bogging down, which is pretty bad considering they run a lightweight OS.
The sad reality is that Best Buy doesn't really care about what's fastest, best looking, or anything like that -- they just want to make a sale and earn money, and if they can either move more units or sell higher priced units, they're happy either way, but usually it's easier to sell lots of inexpensive devices vs. fewer expensive ones. Best Buy (and other large retail outlets) is a big part of the reason we have lousy budget laptops. They tell an OEM, "We want a laptop we can sell for $399" and the result is the OEM starts looking for areas where they can cut costs.
Fundamentally, there's more "stuff" in a laptop which is why they end up costing more than a tablet. You have a larger motherboard, keyboard and touchpad, hinges, fans, larger battery, etc. to worry about. I'd guess the profit margin on a $400 tablet is actually quite a bit higher than on a $400 laptop. If you want the true laptop alternative to a tablet right now, Chromebooks are probably a better comparison, and not surprisingly the Chromebooks with 1366x768 displays are hitting sub-$300 price points (and even $200). I wouldn't be surprised if the next generation of Chromebooks -- or perhaps two or three generations out -- Windows laptops really start to feel the crunch.