|AMD Athlon-II X4-640 CPU ADX640WFGMBOX|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Friday, 02 July 2010|
Page 12 of 13
AMD Athlon-II X4 Final Thoughts
The launch of the Athlon II brand marked a complete 45nm refresh of AMD's mainstream and enthusiast processors. On the high end, we have the Phenom-II X4's and X3's. Below that comes the recently launched Phenom-II X2 series, although some of these may actually be faster than the low end X3's in single-threaded applications. That leaves the Athlon-II's one notch lower, sitting directly in the mainstream market segment. These budget processors bring quad-core processing to under $100. The latest releases, just 100MHz speed bumps on the older versions of the same processors, will help fill in the gaps in the AMD processor line, providing a perfect fit for nearly any user.
Our tests have been focused on looking at the Athlon-II X4-640 as a potential purchase over the Athlon-II X3 models that sit at just $35 less expensive. The quad-core processor market is quickly building its consumer base, and many games and programs are taking notice and designing their applications to take advantage of multiple cores. Even so, dual-core usage is still the highest on the Steam hardware survey. Throughout our testing, we have proved very consistently that the Athlon-II X4-640 can outperform the X3-445, especially in multi-core applications. While this doesn't come as a huge surprise, it is very interesting that the improvement from X2-260 to the X3-445 was consistently near 40% to 50%. The improvement from the X3-445 to the X4-640 was still impressive, but only about 30%. With the price difference from X2 to X3 at only $11 and the difference from X3 to X4 at $35, it seems that the upgrade to the quad-core might be less valuable then the upgrade to the triple-core.
Of course, for users of entry-level processors, there isn't as large a need for multi-core usage as there is amongst enthusiast and high-end gamers who are going to opt for a quad-core processor anyway. Only the latest, most resource intensive games even utilize more than one core at this point. This is rapidly changing, and most new games coming out take advantage of extra cores, but it is still a new trend. As the trend continues, I think we will see more entry-level users opting for quad-core processors over low-end dual-core processors with the prices being as enticing as Athlon-II X4-640 at $122.
With the Athlon-II X4-640 priced as it is, it offers a great option for upgraders or individuals on a budget looking to get a new computer for basic home uses. AMD suggests using the newly released Athlon-II processors with the 890GX chipset. The new chipset really isn't all that different from the 790G chipset, in use now for quite a while. The main difference is the addition of built-in compatibility with SATA 6Gb/s. Given the extremely limited amount of hardware available that takes advantage of the new SATA standard, the compelling reasons to move to the 890GX chipset at this point are few. Look out for our upcoming reviews of new 890GX motherboards for more information on this.
That being said, I tested the Athlon-II X4-640 in a 785G motherboard. I did this because I had more luck overclocking and better overall test results with the 785G over the 890GX. While this may be limited to only the two motherboards I used, and other 890GX motherboards might perform better, I think I can safely conclude that the benefits of upgrading to the 890GX chipset right now are not necessary. I highly recommend using the Athlon-II X4-640 in the 785G chipset. It works particularly well in the ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO motherboard. I would definitely look for a motherboard that offers the 128MB of DDR3 sideport memory if you are planning on using the onboard GPU. The Athlon-II X4-640 processor offers an excellent entry point for any budget minded user.