AMD Athlon II X4 620 review

£80
Price when reviewed

Away from the hullabaloo surrounding the swanky Intel Core i5s and AMD Phenoms, the chaps behind the latter have been quietly working on a way to keep the old Athlon brand alive and kicking. We might have expected a new Black Edition perhaps, or a lower power draw and smaller manufacturing process; what we didn’t see coming was a quad-core Athlon.

Called the Athlon II X4, it shares much of its architecture with the existing Phenom II. It’s a Socket AM3 part with a 95W TDP (thermal design power), and its four cores each come with 512KB of L2 cache; the big difference from the Phenom II is the absence of L3 cache. This makes it more or less a budget Phenom II X4, so we were intrigued to see what effect that omission had on performance.

There are two parts being released initially: on review here is the X4 620, with a 2.6GHz core clock speed, but there will also be a top-end 2.8GHz X4 630. In an AMD 790FX motherboard with 2GB of DDR3-1066 memory and a Western Digital Caviar SE16 hard disk, the 2.6GHz 620 scored 1.45 in our real-world benchmarks.

It did so while drawing a low 78W when idle and 128W at full pelt, although it’s worth pointing out that last month’s Core i5 system scored 1.85 but was even more frugal, drawing just 60W and 124W respectively.

But the real headline grabber is the price. AMD is launching the Athlon II X4 620 with an SRP of $99 and we’ve already seen early retail listings at around £80 inc VAT. This puts it right up against existing quad-core parts: an old 2.3GHz Phenom X4 9650 will set you back the same amount and scored an identical 1.45 but with a 65nm die size, while the cheapest Phenom II X4 part will cost you at least £110. Then there’s Intel, whose cheapest Core 2 Quad, the 2.33GHz Q8200, costs around £105 for a slower score of 1.37.

Pair it up with one of AMD’s 785G-based motherboards, which were launched last month as the company’s mainstream range, and you have a very affordable route to a quad-core system. True, it’s not exactly a revolutionary leap from its Phenom roots, but as long as the price keeps going down and the performance keeps rising the Athlon brand looks to have plenty of life in it yet.

Specifications

Cores (number of) 4
Frequency 2.60GHz
L2 cache size (total) 2.0MB
L3 cache size (total) 0MB
FSB frequency N/A
QPI speed N/A
Voltage range 0.9V-1.425V
Thermal design power 95W
Fab process 45nm
Virtualisation features yes
HyperTransport frequency 4,000MHz
Clock-unlocked? no

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.45

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