AMD has been attacking the mainstream PC segment lately with a slew of modestly priced processors and chipsets. The attack started with the new Athlon II X2 value processors back in June, which were a much needed replacement for the out-dated Athlon X2 series. Then a few weeks later, AMD released their new mainstream chipset, the 785G, which we found to be an excellent complement to the new Athlon II's. Today AMD is adding the final piece to their new mainstream desktop platform with the release of a line-up of value-priced quad-cores; the Athlon II X4 series.
At first the announcement of Athlon II X4s doesn't seem too interesting. Especially since they have been rumored for some time and it wasn't much of a stretch to imagine that AMD would get around to releasing quad-core Athlon II processors eventually. Not to mention the Athlon IIs are in many ways just Phenom IIs with the L3 cache removed, so there isn't a ton of brand new tech under the hood to ogle at. However, things get a lot more interesting when you hear the list price.
Consider for a moment the prospect of full, native quad-core capabilities at a palatable mainstream price normally associated with dual-cores. Pleasant thought, isn't it? Well now AMD is making it a reality. The new Athlon II X4s will start at just $99, making them the cheapest quad-core processors on the market. A quad-core with a two digit price tag, interested yet?
AMD Athlon II Processors
| Athlon II X2
|| Athlon II X4
||Athlon II X4|
HyperTransport 3.0 Technology Link
TDP (Thermal Design Power)
Number of CPU Cores
Core Voltage (VID)
Total Die Size
AMD PowerNow! Technology
256KB (2 x 128K)
2MB (2 x 1MB)
512KB (4x 128KB)
2MB (4 x 512MB)
512KB (4x 128KB)
2MB (4 x 512MB)
AMD is making two models available immediately for the Athlon II X4 launch, the 2.6GHz 620 and the 2.8GHz 630. The higher clocked Athlon II X4 630 will have an initial MSRP of $122 while the Athlon II X4 620 will come in just under the magic $100 price point, at $99. This puts them in direct price competition with Intel's high-end dual-cores, low-end quad-cores, and even AMD's own Phenom II X3 triple-cores.
While the new Athlon II X4 620 undercuts every currently available quad and triple core processor on the market in cost, the 630 will be butting heads with the Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 and the Phenom II X3 720. This makes for some interesting benchmark match-ups as you'll see in the coming pages. If the new Athlon II X4 processors can stand up against Intel's cheapest quad, the Q8200, AMD could have a winner on its hands.
AMD Athlon II X4 front & back
The Athlon II X4s are based on the new Propus processor die which differs in a several ways from the Deneb dies used in existing Phenom IIs. However, the new Propus die is still very similar to Deneb in most respects. We've covered the details of Phenom II processors and supporting chipsets a number of times in the past, so we won't do the same again here. We would, however, recommend taking a look at a few of our previous articles if you'd like a refresher on all of the pertinent details regarding the Phenom II. Here is a list of recommended reading:
The Athlon II processor series is AMD's mainstream processor offering and they are well complimented by AMD's own mainstream chipsets, the latest of which is the recently released 785G. We will be pairing up the new Athlon II X4s with the 785G chipset in our benchmarks, so be sure to check out our AMD 785G chipset review if you'd like a refresher.