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williamcll

Is it really worth getting a dedicated GPU this low? - New thinkpad with "new" polaris GPU

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Posted · Original PosterOP

AMD has a series of lower end laptop graphics card that goes from RX 610 (that still uses GCN 1.0 on 28nm) to 640 (polaris 12), recently the ThinkPad E was released with the latter dedicated processor bundled with an i7-10510U as well as a PM991(!) NVMe SSD, however, the performance shown are rather lackluster.

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In contrast to the smaller Lenovo ThinkPad E14, we are reviewing a configuration with the dedicated AMD GPU. The reviewed sample model 20RD0011GE contains an Intel Core i7-10510U, the AMD Radeon RX 640, 16 GB RAM, a 512 GB SSD as well as an FHD screen. This is a high-end configuration that costs 1,019 Euros (~$1,093). The changes of the ThinkPad E15 compared with the E590 mirror the changes to the ThinkPad E14: The chassis of the ThinkPad E15 is thinner (1 mm) and lighter (roughly 200 g) than the preceding model. The keyboard design has been changed as on the smaller E14, which means that the keyboard (which has a numpad on the 15.6-inch model) is not easily repairable anymore. Different from the E14, the bottom of the ThinkPad E15 is still made out of plastic. Aluminum is only used for the display lid. As with the Lenovo ThinkPad E14, there is no more microSD slot. On the other hand, there is a new mechanical camera shutter (the ThinkShutter) and the fingerprint-reader is now fused with the power button. Since the ThinkPad E15 is a lot like its predecessor ThinkPad E590 otherwise, we point to the older model for more information about the connectivity and the input devices.

Four different Comet Lake CPUs from Intel are offered by Lenovo, from the Core i3-10110U to the Core i5-10210U and the Core i7-10510U. The six-core CPU Core i7-10710U is available as well, but not in Europe. There are three GPU models: Just the Intel GPU or a choice of two additional AMD Radeon GPUs (Radeon 625 and Radeon RX 640). The CPU and GPU are complemented by up to 16 GB DDR4 2400 RAM and up to 1 TB SSD storage as well as 1 TB HDD storage. While the E15 is as flexibly upgradable as the ThinkPad E590 in terms of storage, this is not the case anymore for the RAM. Instead of two SO-DIMM slots, there is only a single one. Accordingly, the maximum RAM capacity decreases from 64 to 32 GB.

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The results of the GPU benchmarks are disappointing. In all benchmarks, the Radeon RX 640 performs worse than the Radeon RX 550X of the predecessor ThinkPad E590. The Nvidia GeForce MX250 of the ThinkPad T590 can be beaten in 3DMark 11, but the AMD GPU of the ThinkPad E15 is slower in the 3DMark Firestrike test. When the ThinkPad is solely powered by the battery, the GPU performance is limited. Instead of 4,998 points, the ThinkPad laptop only scored 3,631 points in 3DMark 11.

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Furthermore, they've noticed the laptop was not handling cooling well, only carrying one fan and one pipe:

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Shortly after receiving the Lenovo ThinkPad E15, we discovered that the affordable Lenovo E15 has  a massive problem with heat management. Nearly 70 degrees Celsius at the bottom is a result that we do not want to see, ever. Even though this result comes from an extreme scenario, it is still unsettling. In the less demanding Witcher 3 test, the chassis was not a lot cooler. In our comprehensive review, we revealed that the high temperatures are are not the only issue of the cooling system. The performance suffers as well, since Lenovo seemingly uses a much too weak cooling system. The combination of the Intel Comet Lake CPU and the AMD Radeon GPU is simply too much for the single fan with its solitary heat-pipe. This problem already revealed itself in the gaming benchmarks, as the AMD Radeon RX 640 suffers from spontaneous performance drops. When both the CPU and GPU are stressed, both chips have to lower their clock rates, the CPU even to 400 MHz. Immediately after the stress test, the CPU is not running as fast as it normally does. All of this lets us surmise that we can not recommend the Lenovo ThinkPad E15, at least not when it is configured with an AMD GPU. Without the dedicated GPU, it could be an interesting choice. Another review of this ThinkPad laptop could certainly be of interest, as the difference between the AMD and Intel GPU versions might be huge.

Source: https://www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo-ThinkPad-E15-Laptop-Review-Too-much-performance-with-too-little-cooling.457719.0.html

https://www.notebookcheck.net/Cooling-system-of-the-Lenovo-ThinkPad-E15-is-overtaxed-with-AMD-Radeon-RX-640.458483.0.html

Thoughts: Considering I've seen laptops with far better performance on the price and weight, I think this laptop is a no-go, I bet the whole coin mining craze meant that AMD still have millions of last generation graphics processors lying around like Nvidia did.


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My personal rule of thumb is a computer part has to be 50% better than the already installed part.  If these things aren’t beating apu/iGPUs by 50% they’re probably not worth having.


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The ultra-low end dGPU in laptops is always curious. Team green's MX150 (and refreshes) weren't stellar performers, and this under-performs even that? It would be interesting to see more of a comparison between the stock iGPU and these parts. Does Polaris offer any significant feature that Intel integrated doesn't? Personally I'd view 1050 level or equivalent as entry level for 1080p60 gaming, and we're nowhere near that. Is there significant value outside of gaming?


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11 minutes ago, porina said:

The ultra-low end dGPU in laptops is always curious. Team green's MX150 (and refreshes) weren't stellar performers, and this under-performs even that? It would be interesting to see more of a comparison between the stock iGPU and these parts. Does Polaris offer any significant feature that Intel integrated doesn't? Personally I'd view 1050 level or equivalent as entry level for 1080p60 gaming, and we're nowhere near that. Is there significant value outside of gaming?

It could.  My understanding is even a desktop 730 beats the pants off the best iGPUs out there.  These laptop ones are much lower power though.  There’s this assumption that why would an engineer even put in a discrete gpu if it wasn’t a massive performance advantage but marketing is involved in this stuff too.


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How does it compare to similarly priced alternatives?

 

I could say a 5700XT sucks compared to a 2080ti, but they don't even cost the same


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16 minutes ago, huilun02 said:

How does it compare to similarly priced alternatives?

Depends on what you consider to be an alternative. There are definitely faster laptops for cheaper but they're probably thicker and poorly built - though the E series isn't stellar in those departments either so in a direct comparison with something equivalent it may still not be a good buy. In my opinion if you're looking to spend over $1000 you shouldn't be looking at low end models like this. For little more you can get a refurbished X1 which is much better on every front.


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41 minutes ago, schwellmo92 said:

Even though these are low end they're much faster than the regular Intel iGPU, and are only placed in very budget builds.

Not really, that's the point. Integrated graphics have made a bump, and for example Iris Plus on the 10th gen i7s does 625 on Time Spy graphics while this does 990.

Yes it's about 30% more but it's nothing to write home about, and arguably not worth the additional power consumption.

 

If you get better performance but it's still not good enough to run anything that would require more performance it's kinda pointless.

 

That said the CPU in that machine has UHD graphics that are less powerful (625), but they could have used one with Iris Plus instead.


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1 hour ago, schwellmo92 said:

Even though these are low end they're much faster than the regular Intel iGPU, and are only placed in very budget builds.

What about an apu?  And Would there be a price difference then?


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44 minutes ago, Kilrah said:

Not really, that's the point. Integrated graphics have made a bump, and for example Iris Plus on the 10th gen i7s does 625 on Time Spy graphics while this does 990.

Yes it's about 30% more but it's nothing to write home about, and arguably not worth the additional power consumption.

 

If you get better performance but it's still not good enough to run anything that would require more performance it's kinda pointless.

 

That said the CPU in that machine has UHD graphics that are less powerful (625), but they could have used one with Iris Plus instead.

These are Comet Lake parts they do not have Iris Plus. The Ice Lake parts with Iris Plus are expensive.

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16 minutes ago, schwellmo92 said:

These are Comet Lake parts they do not have Iris Plus. The Ice Lake parts with Iris Plus are expensive.

This one is too... the Ice Lake equivalent to the CPU in this thing is just $17 more as per ARK. 

I'd expect the separate GPU and its implementation isn't better.


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Price? It has to be price. These things are probably so cheap to fab, that they cut the cost of the difference between APU/iGPU and bare (cut down/deactivated/custom no graphics) CPUs.

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1 hour ago, Kilrah said:

This one is too... the Ice Lake equivalent to the CPU in this thing is just $17 more as per ARK. 

I'd expect the separate GPU and its implementation isn't better.

The Ice Lake CPU would require them to design a new motherboard and use more expensive RAM. By using Comet Lake it is almost drop-in, they would’ve just slightly revised their prior motherboard and used cheaper RAM. Ice Lake is only in expensive laptops for a reason.

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What's the point really if the next gen APU would be way better choice especially for price.. Also the dGPU should perform at least twice of iGPU to see it worthy. 


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