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AMD Athlon II X4 641, Athlon II X4 651

Nice, affordable processors, no matter what kind of graphics you prefer.

July 27, 2012



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Video Encoding

Back to multi-threading now, so the more expensive Core i3 and FX series again become the only full-fledged competitors of Athlon II X4. Not unreachable, though, because 133 points is exactly what FX-6100 scores, and it's formally positioned as a hexacore solution.

Office Suites

This is nearly the only case when Athlon II X4 645 justifies its processor number and even turns out to be better than expected. On the other hand, this is only of theoretical interest, because office suites are better off with graphics-enabled CPUs. If performance in office suites is unimportant for you, just remember that any today's CPU, even a single-core one, will do for those.

Java

This is yet another group of multi-threading benchmarks, and traditionally it doesn't favor both the FX-4100 and Core i3-2120, not to mention the Pentium. Athlon II X4 CPUs are quad-core, after all.

Games

Llano's CPU part might not be outstanding in terms of performance, but it does a good job when coupled with fast discrete graphics. Our standard GeForce GTX 570 is a kind of overkill, of course. But while Core i5-3450, for example, scores 25% more points with it, slower graphics leads to a smaller difference. This is food for thought if you need to choose between a Core i5-3450 + $200 graphics and Athlon II X4 651 + $300 graphics.

Multitasking Environment

This experimental test has proven stable and predictable enough to use it more often. The idea of the test is simple: five benchmarks are run one after another in 15-second intervals; all tasks are sent to background (none of their windows are active). The result is a geometrical mean of completion times.

These benchmarks look similar to other multi-threading tests, but there are certain nuances. That the Pentium is the slowest is obvious; that the quad-core models are better than quad-threaded is also understandable. But! FX-4100 does catch up with Athlon II X4 645, while Core i3-2120 even outperforms this Socket AM3 model. Yet, both Athlon II X4 CPUs for the Socket FM1 are slightly faster. Most likely, due to the increased L2 and improvements in the architecture. The support for high-speed memory also helps, but not much. However, this is budget segment, and the results clearly show there's no reason to develop this series further: the extra 500 MHz the Athlon II X4 651 gets after overclocking offer just a bit more than the 200 MHz difference between it and Athlon II X4 641 in the reference mode.

Overall Score and Final Thoughts

The main conclusion may seem a bit unexpected: there's nothing left for the Socket AM3 platform in the budget segment. The old Athlon II X4 600 series has put up a good fight, but that seems to be it. And the new dual-module FX series has turned out to be worse that expected. What's even sadder, both are not quite cheap, at least compared with Athlon II X4 6x1. The full-fledged Llano-based CPUs will be a good choice, if you need the built-in graphics. Going without it, however, lets you save money (if you already have a discrete graphics card). This makes the FM1 platform a good choice for both cases: if you plan to use the built-in GPU (and that of A6/A8 is one of the best) and if you prefer discrete graphics (with four cores, Athlon II X4 CPUs are still positioned on a par with dual-core Pentiums).

The only fly in the ointment is no prospects for FM1 whatsoever, while the AM3+ and LGA1155 platforms allows for some future upgradability. On the other hand, that doesn't guarantee anything as we've all witnessed and will witness in the future.

The initially limited performance is a factor that guarantees that the platform will remain in the budget segment. Although the Athlon II X4 651 provides enough performance for most users, especially when overclocked. And overclocking is very easy, which is nice. Besides, it's one of the cheapest CPUs with the unlocked multiplier today (along with A6-3670K). For comparison, prices for Intel processors for overclockers start at about $200 (prices for models which can be overclocked at all start at $150). And the alternative is bus overclocking which adds 5% tops. Meanwhile, $100 and even cheaper solutions from AMD can be easily overclocked by 15-20%.

In other words, the new Athlon II X4 CPUs are quite a success. Not a breakthrough in performance, no, but that's budget segment we're talking here.

We thank Corsair, Palit for providing PC parts for our testbeds.


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