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

The 'New' Athlon II X3

There is really nothing new to talk about when it comes to the X3 flavor of the Athlon II. AMD is simply leveraging the existing quad-core Athlon II die to fit into another market segment by disabling one of the four CPU cores on-board. The triple-core version of the Athlon II die is code-named 'Rana.'

Leveraging the same architechture means that the Athlon II X3 will have similar per-core specifications as the Athlon II X4 with which we're already familiar: 128KB of L1 cache per core, 512KB of L2 cache per core, and none of the shared L3 cache from the premium Phenom II family.

Of course, the new Athlon II X3s retain the same great AM3 upgradeability; they can be used on older AM2+ motherboards as an upgrade option, or on a brand new AM3 motherboard.

While the specifications are old hat, what might pique your interest is the price/performance ratio of the new Athlon II X3 lineup, specifically the new 435 model CPU:

Athlon II X3 and Phenom II X3 Product Lineup - Standard Models
CPU:
Athlon II X3 425
Athlon II X3 435
Phenom II X3 710
Phenom II X3 720
Black Edition

Codename:
Rana
RanaHeka
Heka
Process:
45nm
45nm45nm45nm
CPU Cores:
3
3
3
3
Multiplier:
13.5
14.5
13
14 (unlocked)
Clock Speed:
2.7 GHz
2.9 GHz
2.6 GHz
2.8 GHz
Socket:AM2+/AM3
AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3AM2+/AM3
L1 Cache:
3 x 128KB3 x 128KB3 x 128KB3 x 128KB
L2 Cache:
3 x 512KB3 x 512KB3 x 512KB3 x 512KB
L3 Cache:N/A
N/A6MB6MB
Hypertransport:4,000 MHz4,000 MHz4,000 MHz4,000 MHz
Thermal Envelope:95W
95W95W95W
Price:
$76 (MSRP)
$87 (MSRP)
$100 (Newegg)
$119 (Newegg)


Here is where things get really interesting. We already know that, at $120, the Phenom II X3 720 BE is one of the best performing CPUs for the money. We also know that the shared L3 cache featured by the Phenom II models is nice to have, but it doesn't always offer a notable clock-for-clock performance increase over the Athlon II family.

Isn't it compelling, then, that the new Athlon II X3 435 has a 100 MHz clock speed advantage over its Phenom II X3 720 predecessor, yet costs only three-quarters of the price? Surely that 100 MHz clock speed advantage will offset a good portion of the L3 cache disadvantage.

We strongly suspect this combination of triple-cores, high clocks, and low price will result in a three-punch knockout (though it's still unclear whether Intel will be the sole recipient, or if there will be collateral damage in AMD's lineup as well). We'll have to wait for the benchmarks to confirm that, but before we do we have a handful of new CPU models from AMD to look at--the new low-power variants designed to fill holes in the company's portfolio.

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  • wintermint
    AMD CPUs been appealing to budget builders lately :)
  • ominous prime
    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.
  • rdawise
    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)?
  • Other Comments
  • wintermint
    AMD CPUs been appealing to budget builders lately :)
  • invlem
    I think my HTPC just found its new processor, been running a 5200+ for the last while
  • ominous prime
    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.
  • rdawise
    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)?
  • tacoslave
    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!!!
  • JonathanDeane
    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.
  • DokkRokken
    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!
  • cleeve
    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!
  • sonofliberty08
    did the disable core of Athlon II X3 435 can be unlock ?
  • wh3resmycar
    a mobile version of this = PWNAGE.
  • mitch074
    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.
  • wh3resmycar
    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.
  • cyberkuberiah
    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 ...
  • virtualban
    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.
  • shubham1401
    This way no one will buy Intel for budget rigs...
  • amdfangirl
    Go AMD!
  • zinabas
    "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"
  • zinabas
    "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.
  • jj463rd
    Pretty amazing performance for such an extremely low price.
    Looking at the gaming benchmarks I'm impressed.