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Conclusion

Athlon II X3 435: AMD's Three-Core, 2.9 GHz, $87 Triple-Threat
By

Let's look at all the results, diluted into one simple chart:

Here's where it all comes together. Look at the Athlon II X3 435 versus the Phenom II X3 720. For three-quarters of the price, the Athlon II X3 435 offers identical encoding ability, less than a three percent disadvantage in gaming, and less than a five percent disadvantage in productivity metrics.

Now let's look at performance per dollar for all of these CPUs, based on existing Newegg pricing for the available units and $87 MSRP pricing for the upcoming Athlon II X3 435:

Here is where the Athlon II X3 435 really shines. Yes, the Athlon II X2 250 has a marginally better price/performance ratio, but remember that multitasking will cripple the Athlon II 250, while the Athlon II X3 435 will fare much better with its extra CPU core. In addition, the Athlon II X3 435 beats the Athlon II X2 250 by about ten percent across the board--a significant performance increase. Compare this to the Phenom II X3 720, which costs one-third more to deliver essentially the same performance as the Athlon II X3 435.

Yes, the Phenom II X3 720 has an unlocked CPU multiplier, and that's worth something. But if you have a high multiplier to work with, like the Athlon II X3 435 does, you can achieve overclocking results equally impressive. It takes a little more effort, and in the case of our test sample, it didn't take much effort at all.

In the final analysis, this author can recommend AMD's new Athlon II X3 435 as the best budget CPU for the dollar available at stock clock rates. We haven't properly compared all of these CPUs when overclocked, so we'll leave that judgment for a future review. Regardless, the Athlon II X3 435 is a fantastic buy, and obviously offers reasonable headroom to the overclocking fans out there. We can't help but speculate that the Phenom II X3's days are likely numbered with the Athlon II X3 offering comparable performance for a lower price and on a more affordable die for AMD to manufacture.

Aside from that, AMD has introduced a number of low-power CPU options likely to be quite attractive to the power-conscious contingent, and with a maximum draw of 45W, the Athlon II X4 605e presents the lowest demands of any quad-core consumer-level CPU, potentially idea for home theater PC deployments.

Moving Forward

While AMD is currently able to demonstrate dominance in the sub-$120 CPU market, we have to wonder how long the company has to continue without serious competition from Intel, which has been leaning on derivatives of the older Core 2 architecture thus far. Intel has scheduled the release of its entry-level Core i3 early next year, a processor based on its Nehalem architecture, and it remains to be seen how competitive the Athlon II will be against this new threat.

Having said that, next year is months away (a long time when it comes to PC technology). For now, AMD has an impressive product in the Athlon II X3 435. With low prices, a great deal of selection, and good scalability, these CPUs are sure to score AMD favor with the value crown in the months to come.

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Top Comments
  • 29 Hide
    wintermint , October 20, 2009 4:29 AM
    AMD CPUs been appealing to budget builders lately :) 
  • 25 Hide
    ominous prime , October 20, 2009 4:47 AM
    AMD is really thriving in the budget sector, I wonder how the i3's will affect the market. I hope AMD can get back to head to head with Intel on the high end though.
  • 22 Hide
    JonathanDeane , October 20, 2009 6:09 AM
    3 cores at almost 3Ghz for this cheap? Hmmm not a huge AMD fan but this is plenty of CPU for most people. I would snap one up if I was building a system right now.
Other Comments
  • 29 Hide
    wintermint , October 20, 2009 4:29 AM
    AMD CPUs been appealing to budget builders lately :) 
  • 21 Hide
    invlem , October 20, 2009 4:36 AM
    I think my HTPC just found its new processor, been running a 5200+ for the last while
  • 25 Hide
    ominous prime , October 20, 2009 4:47 AM
    AMD is really thriving in the budget sector, I wonder how the i3's will affect the market. I hope AMD can get back to head to head with Intel on the high end though.
  • 22 Hide
    rdawise , October 20, 2009 4:47 AM
    Smart move by AMD by attacking the budget crowd (especially around the holiday season). I am surprised how well this thing did against the X2 550! Seems like a good candidate for a budget gaming/multipurpose build. Any release dates available (for NewEgg)?
  • -8 Hide
    tacoslave , October 20, 2009 5:31 AM
    this is awesome but (and its a big one) i kinda wanted to see something that pwns intels core i7 in everything. Kind of like what they are doing in the graphics department but total domination. How long will i wait!!!
  • 2 Hide
    lemonade4 , October 20, 2009 6:04 AM
    http://media.bestofmicro.com/O/H/227681/original/Athlon%20II%20X3%20CPU-Z%20Stock.jpg

    2 cores 2 threads?
  • 22 Hide
    JonathanDeane , October 20, 2009 6:09 AM
    3 cores at almost 3Ghz for this cheap? Hmmm not a huge AMD fan but this is plenty of CPU for most people. I would snap one up if I was building a system right now.
  • 6 Hide
    DokkRokken , October 20, 2009 6:24 AM
    That's one impressive little chip! Pair this with a 770 chipset and you'd have the basis for a cheap and cheerful gaming PC!
  • 1 Hide
    cleeve , October 20, 2009 6:33 AM
    lemonade4http://media.bestofmicro.com/O/H/2 [...] 0Stock.jpg2 cores 2 threads?


    Aha! Thanks for catching that. After I had done the testing I was playing around with disabling CPU cores in the OS, and I forgot to turn them back on to take the screenshot. Fixed!
  • 1 Hide
    sonofliberty08 , October 20, 2009 7:26 AM
    did the disable core of Athlon II X3 435 can be unlock ?
  • 3 Hide
    wh3resmycar , October 20, 2009 8:08 AM
    a mobile version of this = PWNAGE.
  • 1 Hide
    mitch074 , October 20, 2009 8:09 AM
    The RAR and 7z archive formats make use of a large size 'dictionary': a small store of patterns that, when used on a solid archive, can help achieve very high compression ratios. If this dictionary can be made to fit in fast memory (ie. cache), then comparing its patterns to currently compressed data can yield tremendous speed improvements:
    - the dictionary doesn't have to be called from RAM on every new data page, which frees memory bandwidth
    - when the dictionary is half the size of cache, then uncompressed data can fit in cache too, thus actual compression doesn't need 'paging' from memory.

    As an example, the PKZIP algorithm (used in .zip files) has a fixed dictionary size of 64 kb; .zip can't handle solid file compression either (the same algorithm can be found in gzip, but when used with the tar archiver, can in essence achieve solid file archiving, which can yield non negligible compression improvements).

    In 7-zip, when creating the archive, try setting up the dictionary at a size lower than half the biggest consolidated cache the least gifted CPU has, and compare again: performance will in fact be rather close. However, if you go over the cache's size, performance plummets.

    About AVG appreciating core counts better than CPU speed: this could be explained by how I/O intensive a virus scan is; and since Vista sucks at I/O, what's left to compare are how many file handles can be opened and used simultaneously. A test that could be done:
    - Install AVG on Vista, XP and Linux
    - Run a scan on the same file set (be mindful though that the Linux file set should be put on an ext3 filesystem, NTFS access still being rather CPU intensive on Linux)
    - see if there are differences.
  • 8 Hide
    wh3resmycar , October 20, 2009 8:32 AM
    with mutlicore cpus reaching sub $100 pricepoints, do developers still have an excuse that "not everybody" has a multicore rig?

    even an atom netbook can do 2 thread simultaneously.
  • 5 Hide
    cyberkuberiah , October 20, 2009 8:36 AM
    kudos to amd for launching budget options ... look at core lga775 prices they havent moved as expected even with lynnfield ... htpcs are going to benefit especially with the low power options ... 3 cores great for encoding and bluray playback etc ...
  • 1 Hide
    virtualban , October 20, 2009 9:02 AM
    And I thought I would wait till new year for an extra build for my household. Great AMD!
    I really hope they get their act together and hit Intel hard on their flagships just as they did with Nvidia.
  • 6 Hide
    shubham1401 , October 20, 2009 9:52 AM
    This way no one will buy Intel for budget rigs...
  • 2 Hide
    amdfangirl , October 20, 2009 10:12 AM
    Go AMD!
  • 0 Hide
    zinabas , October 20, 2009 10:17 AM
    "We will also be simulating an Athlon II X3 720 with a Phenom II X4 965 by lowering the CPU multiplier and disabling the forth CPU core"
  • 2 Hide
    zinabas , October 20, 2009 10:19 AM
    "We will also be simulating an Athlon II X3 720 with a Phenom II X4 965 by lowering the CPU multiplier and disabling the forth CPU core" Close but not quite, heads up.

    Nice article by the way and I haven't even gotten to the benchmarks.
  • 1 Hide
    jj463rd , October 20, 2009 11:45 AM
    Pretty amazing performance for such an extremely low price.
    Looking at the gaming benchmarks I'm impressed.
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