Low priced quad-core tested

Athlon II X4 620: AMD's new Quad-Core CPU reviewed

Up to now quad-core CPUs could be found in the upper class only. But with the Athlon II X4 AMD introduces a processor with for cores for less than 100 Euros. PC Games Hardware reviews the new X4 620.

Athlon II X4 620
Athlon II X4 620 [Source: view picture gallery]
More and more quad-core gaming PCs are based on quad-core processors, but for the mass market such CPUs are still too expensive: For Intel's smallest quad-core - the Core 2 Quad Q8200 - you have to pay about 115 Euros and the AMD counterpart - the Phenom II X4 810 - costs about the same.

But this situation has come to an end no: With the Athlon II X4 AMD introduces the quad-cores to the entry-level market. The first model of this series, the X4 with 2.6 gigahertz, is currently offered for about 85 Euros - a direct challenge to Intel, whose forthcoming Core i3 processors are intended for the same market sector but have only two physical cores plus SMT. Another new CPU is the Athlon II X3 with three cores.

Athlon II X4 in Detail
The Athlon II X4 (codename Porpus) has four physical cores each of which has 512 KiByte L2 cache. Thus the L2 cache of the cores is only half as big as it has been in the dual-core Athlon II X2 (2x 1,024 KiByte), even if the overall size is the same. The X3 offers 3x 512 KiByte L2 cache - all in all only 1.5 MiByte. Nevertheless The Athlon II X3 and X4, just like the X2, don't have L3 cache - the only difference between a Propus and a Phenom II (Deneb).
The Propus Die in detail: four cores, but no L3 cache
The Propus Die in detail: four cores, but no L3 cache [Source: view picture gallery]

So it suggests itself that AMD sells Deneb processors with a defective L3 cache as Athlon II X4 - reports about successful reactivations of L3 cache in Athlon II X4s apparently confirm this thesis. But actually the X4 should be based on the Propus, an own chip design without L3 cache, what would make such unlocking attempts impossible. Unlocking L3 cache of our own sample of the X4 640 did not work - the imprint "AADAC” identifies the CPU as a Propus. It is most likely that only few shipped X4 are not real Propus processors so unlocking the L3 cache won't work in most cases.

With the Athlon II X3/X4 AMD's new array of 45 nanometer based products is complete. The chart below gives an overview.

The Athlon II X4 600 will be available in four versions from the power efficient 600e with 2.2 GHz and 45W TDP to the 630 with 2.8 GHz and 95W TDP. The first model on the market will be the 620 with 2.6 GHz, which we also had a sample of four our tests, while the other versions will follow later this year. The X3 series contains four models, too. From the 400e (2.2 GHz) up to the 435 (2.9 GHz). None of the Athlon II processors will be offered as Black Edition with an open multiplier, even if this had been the case with the predecessor Athlon X2 7750/7850 BE (Kuma).

Like all current AMD models the Athlon II X4 is a socket AM3 processor and supports DDR3 RAM up to DDR3-1333. But it is also compatible to AM2+ motherboards if the BIOS supports the processor - in this case it can only use DDR2. The chip is produced in a 45 nanometer process like the Phenom. PC Games Hardware has tested the newcomer with the usual processor benchmarks and tested how the missing L3 cache affects the performance and how the 620 deals with the competition from Intel. On the next pages you can find benchmarks with games and applications.

Author: Henner Schröder (Sep 16, 2009)

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