I want a new PC and I don’t want to have to pay a lot of money for it!!” That seems to be a very common demand when potential clients discuss system builds and upgrades with me. The economy and current trends in price reductions have brought about the era of computer user that needs performance, yet needs a price the fits their current financial situation. It has been harder and harder to build these PCs to meet this demand without having to utilize older technology to meet the price constraints, which has lead to some performance losses for the overall system. With this growing trend, I couldn’t help but wonder to myself whether the major CPU manufacturers had abandoned the budget class.



AMD had always been a go to company for me when I needed a CPU that would perform well but not cost a lot for the system I was building. Over the last year, there hadn’t been much in the way of advancement of the budget class, however, which led me with the choice of better performance from using a Phenom II based system or suffering a performance loss and sticking with an AM2+ CPU and DDR2 memory. Over the summer, AMD released an Athlon II AM3 chip, which gave me hope that there might be a resurgence in the budget CPU market by AMD. That day has finally come.


The AMD Athlon II X3 435 and X2 240e are the latest releases to the budget AM3 family. The Athlon II X3 435 and X2 240e feature boosts in overall performance with high efficiency in mind, especially with the “e” series green chips. The anticipated performance characteristics and ability of utilizing DDR3 memory on a budget system make these chip releases a big deal for the budget PC market. Finally there are choices for those on a budget that don’t have to fit into the category of “low” performance.


<hrdata-mce-alt="Technologies and Efficiency" class="system-pagebreak" title="Technologies and Efficiency" />

Technologies and Efficiency


The Progression of the Athlon II

The Phenom die structure allowed for L3 cache to be integrated into the CPU die for quicker data processing performance. This gave a performance boost over the Athlon chips but came with the higher cost of producing the larger chip die to accommodate the L3 cache. This gave the better performance, but the higher costs associated with it as well. The Athlon die was updated to the newer AM3 socket with the same architecture as the Phenom II’s to allow for this family to grow with the newer memory technology earlier this year with the release of the Athlon II 250. This update came at an important time in the progression to DDR3 memory, as the prices on RAM are coming down.

Now that the Athlon II has been born with the introduction of the 250, the family is now seeing a first for the AMD line of processors. The introduction of the Athlon II 620 brings with it the first Athlon II quad core that features the price point of a $100 processor, but with it the true quad core design. The Athlon II family has held the economical standing for AMD by featuring low costs in die production by not including the L3 cache, giving the edge in the lower mainstream and budget markets to the powerful yet economic AMD Athlon family.

The AMD 785G Chipset

The new AMD 785G chipset features several upgrades to the 780G chipset. First can be found in the core technology of the discrete graphics core of the newer RV620. This newer graphics core is home to the new HD4200 integrated graphics, which take advantage of the DirectX 10.1 and accelerated transcoding, giving an edge over the older 780G chipset. The abilities of playing the newer games at lower resolutions is a plus over the older technology, but the main advancement to grab attention is the high definition video capabilities of this chip for utilization in HTPC or home media computers.

The New AMD Mainstream System for Windows 7

AMD has aimed to grab hold of the lower end of the mainstream market with the introduction of the quad core Athlon II and the 785G chipset. This pair is being set to be the optimized combination for the entry into the mainstream computer market for the new version of Windows, Microsoft’s Windows 7. The price point for this combination will be in the $200 range for the board and processor. This should provide the lower mainstream market with a very interesting solution to the need for inexpensive system choices, while allowing them to still take advantage of having a quad core processor for optimal performance.


AMD has begun to design all of their newer processors to work in highly efficient fashion with low wattage usage being of high concern. The max TDP of the new Athlon II X4 quad cores is 95 W, with less being what they run at during normal use. To test the new Athlon II energy efficient CPUs, I will run the system at idle and under load with the OCCT stress testing program and measure the energy used by the system with a kill-a-watt wattage tester.


MSI 785GM-E65


AMD Athlon II X3 435 & X2


4GB Patriot Viper DDR3-1600


Western Digital Caviar 160GB SATA


Antec 750 Bronze Certified

Operating System

Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit


<hrdata-mce-alt="Review Philosophy" class="system-pagebreak" title="Review Philosophy" />

Review Philosophy

We saw the introduction of the X4 Athlon II recently, which brought excellent performance to the lower mainstream processor class. We compared it with the Phenom II X3 720 and saw that in many cases it was on par or better than the bigger brother. Now we have the introduction of the extension within the Athlon II class of the X3 and X2 tri and dual core CPUs. Within this family, we find two distinct varieties of chips. There are the standard X4s, X3s and X2s that we are familiar with, and then we see the addition of the “e” line which are a part of the green movement for being more environmentally friendly. This expansion within the budget and lower mainstream line covered by the Athlon II family is sending waves through the computing community. No longer has the budget market been forgotten about.



The fact is that over the last year or so, there have been plenty of improvements and releases within the mainstream and high end CPU markets that have dominated the computer market news. It seemed as if no one really cared too much about bettering the level of quality and performance among the budget and lower mainstream users. AMD has changed that with bringing the current technology of the AM3 platform to the budget user. Budget no longer will need to be synonymous with older and outdated technology. In reality, budget now can simply mean decent performance but without becoming poor in the process. Think about it this way. The current budget tri core processor is the Phenom II X3 720 BE, which sells for around $120. In many cases, the performance gains associated with this chip may not be needed for a budget family PC in which the family does not want to spend any more money than they absolutely have to. The Athlon II X3 435 is entering the market at just shy of $90, which gives a savings of $30. Now you can look at a tri core chip, with excellent budget level performance and DDR3 support, but have money left to spare.

In the case of the HTPC market, much has been said about the Phenom II 550 BE with its inexpensive price but outstanding performance. Along with performance comes a reduction in efficiency and an increase is operating temperature. When considering the tight constraints of HTPC cases and the continual use for long periods of time, sometimes that high level of performance isn’t really worth the trade off. The Athlon II X2 240e fits the bill as a powerful yet highly efficient chip for HTPC use. That isn’t the only key advantage of the 420e. Let’s consider the price difference for a minute. One of the current budget minded AM3 dual core CPU for HTPC use is the Phenom II 550 BE, which sells for right around $100. The Athlon II X2 is selling for about $25 cheaper and is giving you low temperatures and high efficiency for excellent HTPC performance.

In this review, I hope to prove that the attention being paid to the budget CPU market has paid off with the addition of some very capable chips, while keeping efficiency in mind. I will look at the low power consumption and reduced temperature features of the “e” series CPUs for use in HTPCs, which may be run nonstop for long periods of time while being built in tight confines and stored in close quarters. I will also cover the performance ability of the standard versions of the Athlon II X3 against the big brother Athlon II X4, which in a previous review kept neck and neck with the Phenom II X3 720 BE.


<hrdata-mce-alt="Specifications and Features" class="system-pagebreak" title="Specifications and Features" />

Specifications and Features


Specifications for the Athlon II X3 435:

Model Number & Core Frequency

X3 435 / 2.9GHz



L1 Cache Sizes

64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (384KB total L1 per processor)

L2 Cache Sizes

512KB of L2 data cache per core (1.5MB total L2 per processor)

Memory Controller Type

Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller *

Memory Controller Speed

Up to 2.0GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management

Types of Memory Supported

Unregistered DIMMs up to PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066MHz) -AND- PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333MHz)

HyperTransport 3.0 Specification

One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 4.0GHz full duplex (2.0GHz x2)

Total Processor-to-System Bandwidth


Up to 37.3GB/s total bandwidth [Up to 21.3 GB/s memory bandwidth (DDR3-1333) + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]

Up to 33.1GB/s total bandwidth [Up to 17.1 GB/s memory bandwidth (DDR2-1066) + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]


Socket AM3 938-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA)

Fab location

GLOBALFOUNDARIES Fab 1 module 1 in Dresden, Germany (formerly AMD Fab 36)

Process Technology

45-nanometer DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology

Approximate Die Size

169mm2 **

Approximate Transistor count

~300 million **

Max Temp

73o Celsius

Nominal Voltage



95 Watts


Specifications for the Athlon II X2 240e:


Model Number & Core Frequency

X2 240e / 2.8GHz



L1 Cache Sizes

64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (256KB total L1 per processor)

L2 Cache Sizes

1MB of L2 data cache per core (2MB total L2 per processor)

Memory Controller Type

Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller *

Memory Controller Speed

2.0GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management

Types of Memory Supported

Support for unregistered DIMMs up to PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066MHz) -AND- PC3-8500 (DDR3-1066MHz)

HyperTransport 3.0 Specification

One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 4.0GHz full duplex (2.0GHz x2)

Total Processor-to-System Bandwidth

Up to 33.1GB/s bandwidth [Up to 17.1 GB/s total bandwidth (DDR2 or DDR3-1066) + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]


Socket AM3 938-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA)

Fab location


Process Technology

45-nanometer DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology

Approximate Die Size

117.5 mm2

Approximate Transistor count

~ 234 million

Max Temp

72 degrees Celsius

Nominal Voltage

.775 – 1.35V


45 Watts


<hrdata-mce-alt="Testing" class="system-pagebreak" title="Testing" />



To test all systems, processors, and motherboards, Hi Tech Legion has compiled a list of popular programs to test performance; these benchmarks are taken from programs that are available to the public. We have compiled these to create the Hi Tech Legion Benchmark Suite, which includes system, graphics, processor, rendering, compression, and word processing. All scores will be graphed for each specific test under its category: video benchmarks (gaming will be rated in FPS: Frames per second), system scores will be graded by numbers which are given as results by their respective programs, higher will be better unless otherwise specified. If file compression is chosen, then all times will be in seconds. All temperatures will be measured in Celsius. For the gaming benchmarks, only the resolution of 1024 x 768 will be utilized due to the limits of the integrated graphics processor on the MSI motherboard. This system is being tested as an inexpensive system with integrated graphics and will be tested accordingly.


Test System
  • Processor: AMD Athlon II X4 620, X3 435, X2 240e
  • Motherboard: MSI 780GM-E65 MicroATX
  • Memory: 4GB Patriot Extreme Perf DDR3-1600
  • HDD: Western Digital Caviar 160GB SATA
  • PSU: Antec 750 Bronze Certified Plus
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit



System Benchmarks

  • World Bench
  • PCMark Vantage
  • SiSandra (CPU)
  • Everest (Cache and Memory)
  • Cinebench 10 (CPU Rendering)


Gaming Benchmarks

  • 3DMark Vantage
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Call of Duty: World at War
  • World in Conflict


<hrdata-mce-alt="Benchmarks (World Bench)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Benchmarks (World Bench)" />

Benchmarks (World Bench)

World Bench

World Bench is a system benchmark that tests the rendering, DirectX, video encoding, file compression, data entry, and overall performance of your system. World Bench 6 Beta (stable) gives a base score of 100 for a baseline comparison when different systems are chosen. For our tests, these scores will not be valid; all benchmarks are run individually and will reflect times in seconds as given by the program. If you would like more information here is a link. World Bench 6


<hrdata-mce-alt="Benchmarks (PC Mark)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Benchmarks (PC Mark)" />

Benchmarks (PC Mark)

PCMark Vantage

Designed for Windows Vista, PCMark Vantage benchmarks your system with a variety of tests including video, photo editing, gaming, and communications. For results, a total PCMark score will be given (default setting) and individual scores for the tasks that are tested. To learn more about PCMark Vantage visit Futuremarks website.


<hrdata-mce-alt="Benchmarks (SiSandra)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Benchmarks (SiSandra)" />

Benchmarks (SiSandra)


One of our favorites, Sandra from SiSoftware is a system benchmark that individually tests all components of your system. For our benchmarking purpose, we will use the processor section, which includes Processor Arithmetic, Multicore Efficiency, and Multimedia. All scores will be listed as given by benchmark, higher will be better unless otherwise stated. SiSandra


<hrdata-mce-alt="Benchmarks (Everest)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Benchmarks (Everest)" />

Benchmarks (Everest)


Everest is a diagnostic and benchmarking tool. Everest will be used for its Cache and Memory benchmark. System memory, L1 cache, L2 cache, and L3 cache will be benchmarked for latency, read, write, and copy. Lavalys is the producer of this software.


<hrdata-mce-alt="Benchmarks (Cinebench)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Benchmarks (Cinebench)" />

Benchmarks (Cinebench)

Cinebench R10

Created by Maxon, Cinebench R10 tests rendering of your CPU and GPU and scores their performance individually. We will be using the CPU rendering portion of the program and benchmark single CPU and multiple CPU performance.



<hrdata-mce-alt="Benchmarks (3D Mark)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Benchmarks (3D Mark)" />

Benchmarks (3D Mark)

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage is a gaming benchmark used to test the DirectX performance of your graphics card. There are four tests plus a custom setting that can be run: Entry (1024x768), Performance (1280x1024), which is the default setting, High (1680x1050), and Extreme (1920x1200). In each resolution, a total score, a CPU, and GPU are generated. Futuremark


Max resolutions used for gaming benchmarks will be 1024x768. Remember, we are upgrading our system and are working within a budget. Average users are still working with 19 to 22 inch wide screen monitors which will not exceed 1680x1050.


3DMark Vantage


<hrdata-mce-alt="Benchmark (World at War)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Benchmark (World at War" />

Benchmark (World at War)

Call of Duty (World at War)

Call of Duty: World at War is a World War II First Person Shooter which begins in the Japanese theater of the war. This is the first in the Call of Duty series to use the Pacific Theater.



  • AA: x4
  • Ansi: x16

Call of Duty: World at War



<hrdata-mce-alt="Benchmark (World in Conflict)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Benchmark (World in Conflict)" />

Benchmark (World in Conflict)

World in Conflict

Do you have what it takes to conquer your opponent? World in Conflict is a DX10 game where, if you don't defeat your opponent, you don't gain. This is an all out, winner-take-all, modern war scenario.



  • AA x4
  • Graphics: Very High


World in Conflict Benchmark



<hrdata-mce-alt="Benchmark (Left 4 Dead)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Benchmark (Left 4 Dead)" />

Benchmark (Left 4 Dead)

Left 4 Dead is an FPS where four uninfected people are left in a city where everyone else has turned into zombies. The action in this game is intense - zombies come at you from all angles. You can play Left 4 Dead via Stream and can choose whether to play your own campaign or play with others.



  • AA: 4x MSAA
  • Ansi: Trilinear

SLI Settings:

  • 16x CSSA
  • ANSI: 16x

Left 4 Dead



<hrdata-mce-alt="Putting it All Together" class="system-pagebreak" title="Putting it All Together" />

Putting it all Together

The expansion of the Athlon II line has brought about an exciting time in budget computing. Now the consumer who wishes to build a budget PC can do so without having to sacrifice the use of current technologies in order to stay within their budget. The X3 435 and X2 240e both come out of the box with great performance numbers that are witnessed throughout the benchmark results provided earlier in this review. The results easily put these chips in the same category as the big brother X4 620 and even within reach of the Phenom II X3 720 when comparing the performance versus cost. This isn’t where the benefits stop, however.

One of the major things to notice when reviewing these two CPUs was the sheer efficiency at which they worked. The X3 is a standard wattage processor, yet it still only pulled 58 watts under idle and 126 watts under load, which is very good when compared to other standard wattage CPUs from AMD. The X2 was particularly important in this aspect as being the “e” series CPU reviewed from this family. The X2 pulled 51 watts under idle, but the amazing part is that under load it only pulled 87 watts and the temperature was a mere 32 degrees Celsius under load. This shows the X2 240e to be an exceptional choice for an HTPC that will be running for long periods of time and in situations where air flow is minimal.

On the performance end of the spectrum, the two CPUs performed as would be expected, based on their respective specifications. The X3 and X2 performed well throughout all of the benchmarks, especially in regards to productivity by the X3 when compared to the Athlon II quad core just released. Through the thorough testing of our benchmark suite, it is apparent that the real world applications fared well with both processors. The productivity that a typical home PC would be utilized for scored very well between the two Athlon II CPUs, showing that either could easily serve as a great foundation upon which to build any budget home PC.


<hrdata-mce-alt="Conclusion" class="system-pagebreak" title="Conclusion" />


Price Point

Price: $87.00 & $77.00

Class: Budget

The AMD Athlon II processors fit into the budget and mainstream category, varying from $70 all the way up to $140. The X2 240e and the X3 435 fit more in the budget class at $77 and $87, respectively.


AMD has introduced their line of Athlon II CPUs to revamp and expand their budget and mainstream selection of processors. The performance across the three chips tested and reviewed showed that, throughout the benchmarks, they all faired particularly well. The 240e is part of their low wattage, green chips, which when going through the results of the benchmarks, shows that green doesn’t mean poor performance. The 240e kept up with the X3 and X4 in many areas, only really falling behind in heavy processing and computation benchmarks. The capabilities of this chip are quite profound when considering the price and the level of efficiency. The X3 435 also put on a good showing, actually beating out the X4 620 in a few benchmarks. The scores from 3D Mark, as well as World Bench, demonstrated the excellent capability of the X3 as a media processing or even gaming based CPU for a budget system build.

Reviewer's Opinion

There has been a lot of activity among the CPU manufacturers within the mainstream market, with little attention being paid to the budget market. AMD has successfully refocused on this somewhat forgotten market and delivered to the consumer two budget chips that pack some pretty remarkable performance for the price. The current trends in netbook performance, as well as the desire for economically struggling families or individuals to be able to build a system on a budget that is still up to date in technology, is finally being filled by AMD. The X3 435 produces performance in real world benchmarks that easily places it at a level to serve as a CPU for any home PC that sees moderate levels of productivity based work with some occasional media encoding or gaming.

The X2 240e has a focus that is slightly different than that of the X3 435. The 240e is part of the green movement by AMD in which the processors designated “e” operate on a low wattage scale. This makes these chips ideal for HTPC or even basic home PC use. The low operating wattage keeps temperatures very low, which is very important for HTPCs, especially as the interior space continues to shrink, leaving less room for cool airflow. Despite the green performance of the 240, the benchmarks don’t really suffer much in the way of performance. This ability of the 240e to perform well while operating at high levels of efficiency and low temperatures, really makes the 240e a great buy for any budget PC or regular HTPC build.



  • Good overall performance
  • Price
  • Optimized for upcoming Windows 7
  • Reverse Compatibility
  • DDR2 and DDR3 Memory support
  • Green series gives low wattage performance for high efficiency and low CPU temperatures


  • None