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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)

AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500 Power Consumption and Efficiency

The Intel Alder Lake chips still suck more power than AMD's Zen 3-powered Ryzen 5000 series chips, but pairing the Intel 7 process with the hybrid architecture brings big improvements, particularly in threaded work. However, Intel's decision to dial up the power limits as it pushes for performance supremacy results in higher peak power consumption and less efficiency. 

The quad-core Ryzen 3 4100 draws a stunningly-low amount of power during the heavy HandBrake and y-cruncher power measurements, but that results in the slowest performance of our test pool. However, that also results in superior overall efficiency, as we can see in the renders-per-day-per-watt metrics. 

Meanwhile, the six-core Ryzen 5 4500 unsurprisingly pulls more peak power than the quad-core Ryzen 3 4100, but its faster performance results in better efficiency profile than the Core i3-12100 in some scenarios. 

Here we take a slightly different look at power consumption by calculating the cumulative energy required to perform x264 and x265 HandBrake workloads, respectively. We plot this 'task energy' value in Kilojoules on the left side of the chart. 

These workloads are comprised of a fixed amount of work, so we can plot the task energy against the time required to finish the job (bottom axis), thus generating a really useful power chart. 

Remember that faster compute times, and lower task energy requirements, are ideal. That means processors that fall the closest to the bottom left corner of the chart are best. 

Test Setup

We tested with Windows 11 on an X570 motherboard to maintain a comparable test environment with the rest of the processors in the test pool. Of course, you wouldn't pair this chip with this class of motherboard, but even lower-end 300-series motherboards should provide enough juice for full operation. We also tested with secure boot, virtualization support, and fTPM/PTT active to reflect a properly configured Windows 11 install. We have a breakdown of the test system configurations at the end of the article.

Our overclocks were rather straightforward — we enabled the auto-overclocking Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) feature with 'advanced motherboard' settings and adjusted the scalar setting to 10X. Additionally, as outlined in the table below, we matched our memory overclocks with a 1:1 FCLK/memory clock ratio to keep latency low, which games love. We tested the Ryzen 5 4500 and Ryzen 3 4100 in two different configurations each:

  • Ryzen 5 4500: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Disabled, DDR4-3200
  • Ryzen 5 4500 PBO: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Enabled, Scalar 10X, DDR4-3800, FCLK 1900 MHz (1:1 Ratio)
  • Ryzen 3 4100: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Disabled, DDR4-3200
  • Ryzen 3 4100 PBO: Corsair H115i 280mm water cooler, PBO Enabled, Scalar 10X, DDR4-3800, FCLK 1900 MHz (1:1 Ratio)

Core i9-12900K and Core i5-12600K Test System Configurations
Intel Socket 1700 DDR4 (Z690)Core i3-12100, Core i5-12400
2x 8GB Trident Z Royal DDR4-3600 - Stock: DDR4-3200 14-14-14-36 / OC: DDR4-3800
AMD Socket AM4 (X570)Ryzen 5 4150, 5600, 5500, 4600G, 4500, 3600, Ryzen 3 4100, 3300X

MSI MEG X570 Godlike
2x 8GB Trident Z Royal DDR4-3600 - Stock: DDR4-3200 14-14-14-36 | OC/PBO: DDR4-3800 (5600X, 5600), DDR-4000 (5500), DDR4-4400 (5600G),Second-gen DDR4-3600
All SystemsGigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Eagle - Gaming and ProViz applications
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FE - Application tests

2TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

Silverstone ST1100-TI
Open Benchtable
Arctic MX-4 TIM
Windows 11 Pro
CoolingCorsair H115i, Custom loop
Overclocking noteAll configurations with overclocked memory also have tuned core frequencies and/or lifted power limits.
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. 🤷‍♂️
  • 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. 😂
  • 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.
  • 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"...;)