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AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500 Review: The Budget CPU Showdown

Zen 2 little, Zen 2 late?

AMD Ryzen 3 4100
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

AMD's Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500 are based on an aging design that isn't competitive with Intel's potent Core i3-12100/F, losing by large margins in gaming and other important performance criteria. You should look to more well-rounded previous-gen Ryzen alternatives or a modern Intel chip.

Pros

  • +

    Bundled cooler

Cons

  • -

    Sub-par gaming performance

  • -

    Sub-par single- and multi-threaded performance

  • -

    Price-to-performance ratio

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    Limited connectivity/PCIe 3.0

AMD is on the cusp of refreshing its top-end parts with the Zen 4 Ryzen 7000 chips that arrive later this month. But the company employs its Zen 2 architecture for its latest low-end chips, the Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500, and all signs point to these chips being the company's budget offerings well into next year. The $99 quad-core Ryzen 3 4100 and the $129 six-core Ryzen 5 4500 are designed to challenge Intel's potent $122 Core i3-12100 and the $99 graphics-less 12100F that have become the go-to budget chips for gamers. The new AMD chips came as part of the company's broader launch of seven new Ryzen 5000 models that aim to shore up its rankings in CPU benchmarks and retake its position on the Best CPUs for gaming list. 

The Ryzen 5 4500 and Ryzen 3 4100 are part of AMD's new strategy of using its monolithic (single-chip) Zen 2-powered 'Renoir' APU silicon to tackle the sub-$150 market that Intel has dominated with its Alder Lake processors. AMD's low-end lineup leverages one full-fledged APU model with active integrated graphics, the Ryzen 4600G, and two models with disabled Vega integrated graphics, the 4500 and 4100. 

AMD Ryzen 2022 Update
Price Street/MSRPDesign - Arch.Cores / ThreadsBase/Boost (GHz)TDPL3 Cache
Ryzen 5 5500$159Zen 3 - Cezanne6 / 123.6 / 4.265W16MB
Ryzen 5 4600G (APU)$154Zen 2 - Renoir (Vega 7)6 / 123.7 / 4.265W8MB
Ryzen 5 4500$129Zen 2 - Renoir6 / 123.6 / 4.165W8MB
Ryzen 3 4100$99Zen 2 - Renoir4 / 83.8 / 4.065W4MB

The Ryzen 5 4500 and Ryzen 3 4100 still come with the efficient 7nm TSMC process, and their monolithic design allows AMD to hit lower price points than possible with the more expensive chiplet-based Ryzen processors. However, that results in some tradeoffs — the chips only support 20 lanes of the PCIe 3.0 interface and DDR4 memory. In contrast, Intel's competing Core chips support up to PCIe 5.0 and either DDR4 or DDR5 memory, giving Intel the connectivity edge. That's not to mention that AMD's Renoir APUs have the aging Zen 2 architecture that debuted back in 2019. 

AMD's chips come with bundled Wraith Stealth coolers and benefit from the robust AM4 motherboard ecosystem that's teeming with plenty of affordable options. AMD also allows overclocking on these lower-end SKUs, an advantage over Intel's Core i3. 

AMD's lowest-end chips are long overdue, arriving a year and a half after the first wave of Ryzen 5000 chips, but they're badly needed. Intel's Alder Lake launch caught AMD uncharacteristically flat-footed, wresting away AMD's performance and pricing lead. Intel's aggressive pricing also brought superior value in every price range while exploiting AMD's glaring lack of any sub-$250 Zen 3 chips. AMD's tactic of bringing single-chip Renoir silicon to market serves as the counter, even if it leverages older tech to lower price points. Here's how the low-end Ryzen chips stack up. 

AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500 Specifications and Pricing

AMD and Intel Mid-Range Specs and Pricing
Price - Street/MSRPDesign - Arch.Cores / ThreadsBase/Boost (GHz)TDP / PBP / MTPMemory SupportL3 Cache
Ryzen 5 5500$159Zen 3 - Cezanne6 / 123.6 / 4.265WDDR4-320016MB
Ryzen 5 4600G (APU)$154Zen 2 - Renoir6 / 12 3.7 / 4.265WDDR4-32008MB
Ryzen 5 4500$129Zen 2 - Renoir6 / 123.6 / 4.165WDDR4-32008MB
Core i3-12100 / F$122 - $99 (F)Alder Lake4 / 8 (4P+0E) 3.3 / 4.360W / 89WDDR4/5-3200/480012MB
Ryzen 3 4100$99Zen 2 - Renoir4 / 83.8 / 4.065WDDR4-32004MB

The Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500 are nearly identical to the graphics-armed Ryzen 4000G models that AMD brought to market for OEMs and SIs back in 2020. However, these models come with a disabled iGPU, so you'll need a discrete graphics card. 

The $99 Ryzen 3 4100 is a Renoir model that slots in with four Zen 2 cores and eight threads that operate at 3.8 / 4.0 GHz base/boost clocks. The 65W chip comes with 4MB of L3 cache and has a disabled Vega graphics engine, positioning it to compete with Intel's graphics-less Core i3-12100F. In many respects, the quad-core 4100 essentially replaces the Ryzen 3 3100 that was never really available at retail due to shortages during the pandemic.

The $129 Ryzen 5 4500 has six Zen 2 cores and 12 threads that operate at a 3.6 / 4.1 GHz base/boost frequency. Like the 4100, this chip has a 65W TDP but comes with 8MB of L3 cache. Even though it doesn't have an active iGPU of its own, pricing dictates that the 4500 competes with the full-fledged $125 Core i3-12100 that comes with an iGPU. The 4500 effectively replaces the Ryzen 3 3300X that wasn't ever widely available at retail.

Aside from the disabled iGPU, these chips have the same Renoir design as the OEM-only Ryzen 7 4750G (hit the link for the full architectural details), including support for PCIe 3.0 instead of PCIe 4.0. As a result, this chip will make a great pairing for older, lower-end AM4 motherboards (you definitely don't want to pay for functionality you don't need by pairing it with a PCIe 4.0-supporting motherboard).

The Ryzen 5 4500 and Ryzen 3 4100 come with a bundled Wraith Stealth cooler sufficient for stock operation and supports up to DDR4-3200 memory. In addition, these chips are fully unlocked for overclocking the CPU cores, memory, and fabric. In contrast, Intel's non-K models only support memory overclocking, though Intel's nonsensical decision to keep certain voltages locked still restricts memory overclocking headroom.

Paul Alcorn
Deputy Managing Editor

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.

  • Chris Fetters
    All these year or more late CPU reviews recently are absolutely freaking useless Paul... 😑🤦‍♂️ Either do the reviews ON TIME when the CPU's ACTUALLY RELEASE or don't review them at all. 🤷‍♂️
    Reply
  • geko95gek
    Yeah haven't these been out a while? Seems pretty pointless to even talk about them tbh, lowest AMD CPU of this generation anyone should even consider buying is the 5600. 😂
    Reply
  • King_V
    No, it's not "useless" . .

    First, except for a brief period when only one vendor had them, going by the PCPartPicker price history, the 4500 has always been less than MSRP.

    Second, for someone already on AM4, and with a low-to-mid 1st gen Ryzen CPU and having to fit a really tight budget, it's an upgrade. I know one person for whom this is the case, and the extra (at this time, extra $25) for the 5500 would actually be problematic.

    The real issue is, as is correctly pointed out, is the 5000 series. The 5500 is usually available for not much more. That's what can cannibalize the sales of the 4000 series unless the price drops more, relative to the 5500.


    AND.. on a final note, I really am looking forward to the update to the CPU hierarchy to see exactly where these two slot in, relative to other low-end Ryzen chips, performance-wise.
    Reply
  • waltc3
    Pretty funny article...;) Both these CPUs came out years before Alder lake and neither was designed to "tackle Alder's Lake"...which did not exist when these originally shipped.

    Looking forward to your upcoming cacheless Intel Celeron CPU comparison with AMD's Zen 4 CPUs...when is that due for publication? To see what Intel has to "tackle Zen 4"...;)
    Reply