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

Today AMD introduces what might turn out to be the ideal budget CPU, with three cores for multi-threading, a relatively high 2.9 GHz clock speed, and an impressive sub-$90 price tag. How does it stand up to the rest of the company's Athlon and Phenom IIs?

After the launch of the Athlon II X2 and Athlon II X4 CPUs, it would be difficult to feign surprise at the introduction of the new Athlon II X3. We all knew it was coming, we even mentioned the upcoming X3 flavor of Athlon II in our Athlon II X4 620 launch story.

While the shock and awe might have been spoiled, the Athlon II X3 certainly isn't. AMD's vanguard model is the Athlon II X3 435, and it combines two very compelling components: a relatively high clock speed of 2.9 GHz (that's 100 MHz faster than the top-of-the-line Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition), and a relatively low MSRP of $87.

AMD already has the sub-$120 CPU market sewn up with a glut of Athlon IIs and Phenom II X2s and X3s, but at under $90, does the new Athlon II X3 435 offer the best value in the bunch? Let's find out.

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  • 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.
  • grimjester
    cyberkuberiahlook at core lga775 prices they havent moved as expected even with lynnfield


    Especially as i3 is scheduled for next year. I don't understand why Intel doesn't lower prices. It also seems the X3 435 is underpriced compared to the other processors. A small drop in prices across the board is probably coming.

    Price differences of $10 don't excite me very much. AMD seems to crowd the low end market. Intel owns the $200+ market, since AMD has nothing that can compete with Nehalem before 2011. The current situation adds up to a complete lack of competition between manufacturers - the only products competing at similar price levels are AMD processors with different core counts and cache. This is not good for consumers.

    The low power (sub-83W TDP) segment also seems tied up by AMD. Not sure if there is any reasonable competition on 65W TDP. It may well be that even that small niche is divided into Intel C2Q for high performance and AMD for low price.

    articleThis has always puzzled me, and I'm considering exploring it for a more in-depth explanation. Apparently, AVG isn't strongly affected by clock speed or cache;, it only wants to work across multiple cores.


    Looks like it divides out a fixed amount of work per time to each core. The (time spent * amount of cores) doesn't add up to 16m for the dual cores though. If a single core takes 14 mins, it might vary the workload depending on if you have 1-2 or 3-4 cores. For 5+ testing, how does it work with Hyperthreading?
  • FoShizzleDizzle
    "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."

    And shouldn't the chart itself reflect that fact anyways, making that statement moot? Maybe I'm missing something here but that comes off as something rather unnecessary to say. It was as though you came into this expecting the 435 to be the best value for performance, then realized based on your methods that you were wrong, so gave an extra nod to the 435 with that statement when the chart itself shows otherwise. The chart itself is SUPPOSED TO account for the affects of an additional core.

    Other than that, very nice review. I really wish the 435 was around sooner so I could've nabbed it.
  • voltagetoe
    Wth is it ? I've never seen a CPU that would strike so hard so cheaply. Looks like I can afford to upgrade two machines instead of one now.

    Oh man...
  • grimjester
    FoShizzleDizzleThe chart itself is SUPPOSED TO account for the affects of an additional core.


    A straight division of performance by price will always favor the cheaper part. I agree it could have been better explained, but if you look at the actual source numbers, there's a noticeable difference in multitasking performance and the price difference is just $10. The price/performance numbers are close, so it makes sense to have a look at the worst case differences and decide based on those if they are tangible enough to pay the extra money for.