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Test System And Benchmarks

Athlon II X3 435: AMD's Three-Core, 2.9 GHz, $87 Triple-Threat
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We chose the Asus M4A785TD-V EVO motherboard for our CPU benchmarks, as it supports all of the Athlon II and Phenom II CPUs that we will be testing. In addition, the integrated 785G graphic chipset will allow us to test power usage at the wall without a discrete graphics card present.

We'll be pitting the new Athlon II X3 435 against a host of AMD CPUs: the Athlon II X4 620, the Phenom II X2 550 BE, and the Athlon II X2 250. We will also be simulating a Phenom II X3 720 with a Phenom II X4 965 by lowering the CPU multiplier and disabling the forth CPU core (this is a method we have proven valid in the past, although it doesn't allow for power measurements).

In addition, we will be testing power consumption of some low-power models like the Phenom II X3 705e, the Athlon II X4 605e, and the Athlon II X2 240e.


AMD Test System
CPU

Athlon II X3 435 (2.9 GHz, No Shared Cache)
(Overclocked: 3.77 GHz)
Athlon II X4 620 (2.6 GHz, No Shared Cache)
Athlon II X2 250 (3.0 GHz, No Shared Cache)
Phenom II X2 550 BE (3.1 GHz, 6MB L3 Cache)
Phenom II X3 705e (2.5 GHz, 6MB L3 Cache)
Athlon II X4 605e (2.3 GHz, No Shared Cache)
Athlon II X2 240e (2.8 GHz, No Shared Cache)
Phenom II X3 720 BE* (2.8 GHz, 6MB L3 Cache)

*Phenom II X3 720 simulated with a Phenom II 965 by lowering the multiplier and disabling the fourth CPU core

Motherboard

Asus M4A785TD-V EVO
AMD 785G, BIOS 0410

Networking
Onboard Gigabit LAN controller
Memory

Mushkin PC3-10700
  2 x 2,048 MB, DDR3-1066, CL 9-9-9-24-33 1T
Overclocked: 1386 MHz @ CL 9-10-10-25-34 1T

Graphics

ATI Radeon HD 4890 Reference
900 MHz Core, 1GB GDDR5 @ 993 MHz

Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s

Power

ePower EP-1200P10-T2
1,200W, ATX 12V, EPS 12v

Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 x64
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics Drivers

ATI Catalyst 9.9

Benchmark Configuration

3D Games

Crysis

Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Medium Quality, No AA

Far Cry 2

Patch 1.03, DirectX 10, in-game benchmark
Ultra High Quality, High Physics, Fire, and Trees, No AA

World In Conflict

Patch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo
Very High Details, No AA / No AF

Audio/Video Encoding

iTunes

Version: 8.2.1.6 x64
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min
Default format AAC

LAME MP3

Version: 3.98.2, wave to MP3
Audio CD "Terminator II" SE, 53 min

TMPGEnc

Version: 4.7.3.292
Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9

DivX 6.8.5

Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search

Xvid 1.2.2

Display encoding status = off

MainConcept Reference 1.6.1

MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)

Productivity

Adobe Photoshop CS4

Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image
Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates

Autodesk 3ds Max 2009

Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)

Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8.5

Version: 8.5.287, Virus base: 270.12.16/2094, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files

WinRAR 3.90

Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings

3DMark Vantage

Version: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores

PCMark Vantage

Version: 1.00 x64, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646

SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4a

Version 2009.9.15.130, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark

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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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