A Closer Look and Overclocking
AMD's new Athlon II processors feature lower power consumption than standard parts. And the energy saving aspects of the processors are accompanied by increasingly competitive pricing. With a TDP of 45W these green chips are notated with an "e" at the end of their model number. Only two of the new Athlon models are still rated at 95W, one being the X3 435 that we're also testing here.
The heatspreader design and markings found on the latest Athlon II chips are very similar to the current crop of AMD processors. The chip utilizes AMD's Socket AM3 938-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA) packaging, which is backward compatible with Socket AM2+. Pictured above are the markings found on top of the heatspreader.
Like all previous socket AM3-compatible processors that have been introduced over the last few months, Socket AM3 Athlon II processors are designed to work with both DDR2 and DDR3 memory types, and with Socket AM3 or AM2+ motherboards. Socket AM2+ processors do not have the ability to work with DDR3 memory though, so AMD made some changes to the Socket AM3 pin configuration to prevent AM2+ processors from being plugged into AM3 sockets. Socket AM3 processors have 938 pins, whereas socket AM2 processors have 940; two pins have been removed. Keying the processors and sockets in this way prevents AM2+ processors from being installed on AM3 motherboards, but allows AM3 processors to be installed on either type of motherboard.
Athlon II X2 240e Overclocked to 3.80GHz
Athlon II X3 435 Overclocked to 3.84GHz
To overclock the processors, we left their multipliers at their maximum levels and raised the host clock in order to increase CPU frequency. The 240e reached 272MHz while the 435 hit 265MHz. In both cases, we overclocked to 3.8GHz using only air cooling and with a limited amount of effort. Needless to say, we were impressed with the overclocking headroom these chips possessed, especially considering their low prices.