Inspiron 11 3189: AMD A9 9420e version. Gaming netbook attempt #7

Discussion in 'Dell' started by ryanlecocq, May 23, 2018.

  1. ryanlecocq

    ryanlecocq Notebook Consultant

    Reputations:
    52
    Messages:
    231
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Ever since pretty much the days of the MSI Wind netbook, I've been trying to game on netbooks. Every time some new configuration comes out, I have to see what it can do. So when Dell released these, I ordered one as soon as I could get it below the $300 limit that I set to call it a "netbook." After all, these days if it was just about being under 13" I could just get a Lenovo Ideapad or Dell XPS, run Overwatch at 720p and call it a win.
    Anywho, on to the new scrappy contender.

    Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 (3189)
    AMD A9 9420e APU w/ Radeon R5 graphics.
    4GB DDR4 2400 (@1866, see below)
    500GB HDD
    Same as all other Inspiron 11s in every other way. Same 11.6" touchscreen, webcam etc. as the past several years.

    What is an A9 9420e?
    There's a bit of confusion about that because it isn't really a thing. AMD doesn't make a 9420e, they make the A9 9420, normally at 10-25W TDP. Dell managed to limit it even further to 6W by underclocking literally everything including the RAM speed.
    Here are the proper specs for the "e" version as Dell decided to call it:
    CPU Freq: 1.8GHz base, 2.7GHz boost (vs. 2.5/3.4 in standard 9420)
    GPU Freq: 720MHz (vs. 800 in standard 9420)
    Memory Controller: 1866MHz single-channel (vs. 2133 in standard 9420)

    What the heck?
    I know right? AMD already makes an APU for that TDP, the E2. Dell just took a slightly more expensive part and crippled it to roughly the same performance as an E2. Why would anyone do that? As far as I can tell, strictly for video professionals. The A9 is the lowest AMD chip that can handle 4K decoding and also is significantly faster at rendering with that extra GPU compute core. Running at 6W, the benefits to gaming are not worth the added cost, especially after slowing the RAM down even more. So Dell made this thing so video pros can have something to dump footage into on the road, that is cheap and disposable. That's the best reason for this machine I can come up with.

    I'm going to try to play games on it anyway.

    Just upgraded the RAM and HDD. I only had a chance to test a couple of games last night. Fortnite is a no-go IMO. It runs at playable framerates, but the shared VRAM is so slow that trees and crap are popping up while you run and it actually harms gameplay. I did pull off Skryim and New Vegas just fine at low settings in 720p. They weren't exactly gaming PC smooth, but easily as good as playing them on Xbox 360 or PS3, so playable in the eyes of most. Any normal "netbook" games were no problem at all. It handles games like LoL, WoW or Dota 2 easily.

    IMG_0878.jpg IMG_0875.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 24, 2018
  2. ryanlecocq

    ryanlecocq Notebook Consultant

    Reputations:
    52
    Messages:
    231
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Just replying to myself to save room for more updates in the OP. Not trying to obsessively bump or anything.

    I just submitted my first synthetic bench results to 3Dmark, PassMark etc. For most things I'm now close to the middle of the pack for same hardware (which is sad because that lumps me with all Stoney Ridge R5s, meaning I'm now in the middle of the pack vs systems at full TDP). For CPU though, since PassMark and 3DMark treat the "e" model as a different chip, I have the highest results. A blistering 2092 in PassMark CPU lol!

    I need to do more testing before I'm satisfied they're final, but then I'll add them to the top post.
     
  3. DoctorRzepa

    DoctorRzepa Notebook Enthusiast

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Is it possible to overclock RAM and processor to make it as efficient as standard 9420? Maybe there is a way to increase TDP and gain more power.
     
  4. ryanlecocq

    ryanlecocq Notebook Consultant

    Reputations:
    52
    Messages:
    231
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Very unlikely for this system. There have been a few cases with AMD APUs like the Llano and Early Bristols that could be overclocked with software like k10stat or Overdriver. The only other way would be by overclocking the entire system FSB like people used to do with SetFSB. Not easy to do at all on an APU, beyond my ability.

    Beyond that, I'm already pushing it as much as the cooling setup allows. Unless you drill holes in the bottom and put in a fan, it would get too hot with anything but a very conservative overclock. It's actually very efficient, because it's doing this at half the Wattage of the normal chip. It may not compare to the same APU in a 15" laptop, but it destroys the overall performance of all other passively cooled competitors like the Pentium ULV. I'm pretty amazed.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2018
Loading...

Share This Page