Review: Athlon II X4 620

Discussion in 'AMD x86 CPUs and chipsets' started by mAJORD, Nov 1, 2009.

  1. mAJORD

    mAJORD Member

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    Review: Athlon II X4 620

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    The Athlon II X4 Launched about a month or so ago now, but due to other comitments (Japan!) I had to put off any decent testing of these new Budget Quads.

    Now however I'd like to share a deeper look at what they have to offer, both stock performance, but more importantly the overclocking AND undervolting performance for those after energy efficiency.


    So What's an Athlon II X4?



    Athlon II X4 is codename Propus - A Quad-core Phenom II in every way, but with NO L3 Cache.
    that's really all there is to it. The plus side though, is that the die size is considerably smaller:

    Deneb: 6MB L3 4x512kb L2 - 258mm2
    Propus: 0MB L3, 4x512kb L2 - 169mm2

    End result.. more chips can fit on a single wafer.. many more infact, so they can be sold a LOT cheaper. Good for us.


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    L3, does it really matter?


    The following table Shows the effect of no L3 on These Quads.. at the same clockspeed, same RAM timings, Same everything.

    Note: % Advantage = for Deneb (6MB L3 Cache)
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    So dispite the considerably smaller die, the L3 gives only around 7% extra performance on average.

    Iy should be remembered though that some applications, and games take a bigger hit. The Everest Photoworxx benchmark for example took a massive 29% blow. An extreme example.

    Archiving, took 20% which is probably the maximum of non synthetic apps, but alas You really have to stop and think what you're using a machine for before deciding whether the savings are worth it.. This applies for the all important Dual Core Vs Quadcore decisision as well.


    Power consumption.



    I've split power consumption up into two graphs. Reason being, I've just started including both C-state and Cool&Quiet modes, whereas before I've purely looked at the CPU's consumption at its default clock and voltage.

    So what exactly do the C-states do, and how do they Differ from Cool n Quiet / Speed step?

    Well, on both the AMD and Intel platforms, they involve clock gating, that is, switching off the clock to parts of the CPU when at idle, and in Intels new implementation also lowering VID, even at top frequency..

    All the AMD CPU's now include on-chip C1E state. The Power saving in this mode yeilds about 8-10 watt @ the wall @ idle .

    Looking at my results, I can't help but wonder how many reviewers aren't enabling C1E.


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    Overclocking.


    Stock Heatsink, Stock Voltage:

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    Vcore: 1.40 (Stock)
    Vnb: Stock
    Stable Frequency: 3.38GhzNB Freq: 2.00Ghz

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    With the stock heatsink strapped on, and leaving the Core voltage at the standard 1.4v the chip was easily stable jud shy of 3.4Ghz.. to around 3.38Ghz.. I was actually able to lower the Vcore to 1.375v and remain stable.

    Without Better cooling this is as far as It would really go. Typical of AMD 45nm, Adding Voltage will only add heat, and barely makes any difference. The stock heatsink is very small, so you become Thermally limited.

    AfterMarket cooling, Increased Vcore:

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    Vcore: 1.50
    Vnb: +0.25
    Stable Frequency: 3.66Ghz
    NB Freq: 2.55Ghz


    With a Noctua U12P on board things change. With Vcore pushed to fairly safe, but geting toasty 1.50v, 3.65Ghz was achived with good stability.
    I was able to Benchmark at up to 3.75Ghz, but it was not really 100% stable, so the Benchmark results to follow are at 3.66.

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    NB Clock:

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    With a small +0.75v increase on the CPU-Northbridge, I was able to increse its frequency from a stock 2Ghz, to 2.55.. unfortunatly less than the X2 for some reason. but it

    does help add some IPC in some cases, so always worth getting what you can out of this often forgotten part.

    Undervolting!


    As I mentioned Some were hoping for lower TDP's to accompany the lack of L3.. it's not bad by any means, and inline with the core i5, but it's not a 65w CPU either.

    However, with a bit of undervolting that can certainly change..



    stock frequency, minimum Voltage.
    Frequency: 2.6Ghz
    Minimum stable Vcore: 1.10v
    Nb Vcore: -0.05
    I was able to drop the Vcore down to a cool 1.08v before hitting any instability.. To be practical, Runing a bit higher, at a stability tested 1.10v.

    The CPU-Nb voltage was also lowred by 0.05v. This has a small effect on power consumption, especially idle, so always worth doing.

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    At these Voltages, it easily eclipses the 905e 65w I reviewed not too long ago.. Not bad, and not too far off a 45w Chip at this point.

    It's worth mentioning there's also a 45w 2.3Ghz AII X4 available now


    Performance..


    Most have probably read your standard reviews, but I've decided to see how an overclocked $120 Quad can fair against AMD's flagship quad, The 965 and it's competiton the Intel core i7 750. Both of which retail in the $250AU region.. more than twice as expensive.

    WE also see how a Dual core X2 550 fairs with these Benchmarks, many of which will favour a quad core.

    Final Overclock details..

    Core speed: 3.65Ghz (Prime stable)
    NB Overclock: 2.55Ghz
    MEmory: DDR3-1450 8-8-8-20

    Now I could have pushed the memory into CAS 7 timings here, but This at least keeps overall memory performance similar to the standard systems, after all this is a CPU review.

    System Setup:

    AMD CPU's:

    Phenom II X4 965 3.4Ghz
    Phenom II X2 550 3.1Ghz

    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA770T-UD3P
    RAM: G.Skill pi, DDR3-1333 7-7-7-18
    Video card: AMD HD4890 @ 950/1000

    Intel CPU:

    Intel Core i5 750 2.83-3.20Ghz (Turbo On)
    2.66Ghz (Turbo Off)

    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2P
    RAM: G.Skill pi, DDR3-1333 7-7-7-18
    Video card: AMD HD4890 @ 950/1000



    Results:


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    Two contrasting results here.. In Super Pi, Despite a clockspeed adv, the OC'd 620 can't quite match a Phenom 965 due to its lack of cache. The core i5, as always has a heavy advantage in this benchmark.

    At stock clockspeed, the equally priced X2 550 shows its strength in this single threaded benchmark, with both Cache, and Clockspeed working for it.

    In Pov Ray however the tables Turn, with the OC'd 620 beating everything.


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    Here Memeory+Cache performance counts once more, and the 620 has trouble keeping up, but respectable nonetheless.


    So How Cheap can you make a Quad box?


    Well, as a preview into the next thing I'm reviewing. I threw the 620 into one of the few low end, 760G mATX boards with some DDR2.

    The 760G is the Budget IGP Chipset, and It shares the 780G's graphics core, Downclocked to 350Mhz, and with AVivO HD decoding disabled..

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    This mobo is the Gigabytes GA-MA78LM-S2, and straight up it managed a 9 hour prime stable 3.3Ghz Overclock, again on the stock heatsink, and without raising the CPU voltage.

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    Power consumption was Less than a standard 965, so this board should be able to handle such an OC without a hassle.

    Total cost?

    CPU: $125
    Mobo: $79
    4GB DDR2 RAM: $80

    Total: $284

    With a mild OVerclock like this (This board cannot be overvolted with a Quad without risk!) , you get performance not far off CPU's that cost as much as the whole running system. Just throw in some peripherals and a case!



    Summary..

    Everyone likes value for money, and I don't think there's any argument on the value of these new CPU's. They're The cheapest Quad cores available by far, and their performance even at stock is very reasonable.

    Overclocking potential was impressive, and easy to do. No odd behaviour or heavy tweaking needed to achieve the frequencies here.

    Of course, they're not perfect, There's some cases where a higher end Quad will be te better choice still and worth the extra money OR, in the same price range, maybe even a higher frequency Dual core..

    As a budget build / upgrade for an older AM2/Am2+ system though, If you'd like a Quad, I don't think you can go wrong IMO.

    Thanks for reading
     
  2. hj47

    hj47 Member

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    Nice review man :thumbup:

    The 620 is definitely a superb chip for the price.

    Quads for the masses :leet:
     
  3. slobber

    slobber Member

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    Damn fine review......thanks mAJORD :thumbup:
     
  4. Ghost of Lauda

    Ghost of Lauda Member

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    Nice review. :thumbup:
     
  5. C-BuZz

    C-BuZz Member

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    Great review mAJORD, thanks :thumbup:

    C-BuZz
     
  6. Agg

    Agg Lord of the Pings

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    Great review. :) Posted to news page.
     
  7. hdkhang

    hdkhang Member

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    mmm Cheap render nodes :)

    Excellent review btw.
     
  8. gmturner

    gmturner Member

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    to be fair though if your gonna compare overclocked you should really at least mention what the core i5 can overclock to, aint looked much into them but ive seen a few threads titled core i5 750 @ 4ghz havent i? would bet she would give the amd a fair beating(to perhaps justify twice the price).

    Otherwise, excellent review.
     
  9. shadowman

    shadowman Member

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    I was looking at a 720BE just last week, would this be a better chip for the budget, considering I'm probably not going to overclock (really just need a replacement cpu/mobo/ram as my computer is really struggling as of late)?

    I assume the 720BE sits between the 550 and the 965 in performance? If you have them, I would love to see a comparison between this and the 720BE (given that the 720BE has been THE choice for bang for buck systems over the last few months).

    Other than that, great review :thumbup:
     
  10. kogi

    kogi Member

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    In different circumstances yes, but you can't go wrong with any of those processors.

    720BE - 3core - 6mb L3 - 2.8ghz - $150
    620 - 4 core - NO L3 - 2.6ghz - $130
    550BE - 2 core - 6mb L3 - 3.1ghz - $120

    550BE - Gaming (hope for core unlock)
    620 - good for running multiple apps
    720 - good compromise between the above , but extra $20-$30

    Great review!
     
  11. goofy21c

    goofy21c Member

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    Wow I didn't think quad cores can be ever this cheap. :)
    Can you tell me how loud the stock heatsink fan is under load and overclocked?
     
  12. shadowman

    shadowman Member

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    So the 550BE is probably better for gaming than the 720BE? I've been looking for a 720BE in Perth for about two weeks now and everywhere is sold out, might just drop the cash on a 550BE.

    I'd like to know this too, since I'm up for a budget upgrade, additional/aftermarket cooling is just going to take away from somewhere else.
     
  13. kogi

    kogi Member

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    IF your games do not support multi-core AND your not overclocking. Yes
     
  14. gazzamcgazza

    gazzamcgazza Member

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    Great review, thanks!!

    Nice cheap setup. Seems like a VERY tempting budget upgrade option for the missus. mobo + cpu, and keep the old DDR2 ram etc.
     
  15. leebaldock

    leebaldock Member

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    Go AMD! :thumbup:
     
  16. eklipze

    eklipze Member

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    death to AMD:Pirate:
     
  17. kogi

    kogi Member

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    Lolz, If it wasn't for AMD we'd still be stuck with intel netburst
     
  18. eklipze

    eklipze Member

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    yeah i know, just trollin'
     
  19. VIP3R

    VIP3R Member

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    Great review. :thumbup:
    Might grab that combo to build my parents a new pc
     
  20. millsy_c

    millsy_c Member

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    Awesome review, thanks heaps, changes my mind about something I was planning on doing...
     

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