AMD Athlon II X4 640 Processor Review

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Technology refuses to stop advancing. If you've ever done any research on technology, you've probably come across Moore's Law.  If not, I will recap it for you. Basically, Moore's Law states that the transistor count on integrated circuit boards will double every two years. Now keep in mind that this was created back in the 1970s before computers were in their prime. The law has been disputed and refined, but it is still to this day true in it's spirit of accelerating technology.

 x4logo

 

AMD has kept true to this philosophy while keeping the technology they produce current, cost effective, and backwards compatible. AMD's line of Athlon II processors has the technology of their upper end Phenom series, but at an affordable price. They were released in 2009 to meet the demands of the mainstream and budget computer market. Today, AMD is releasing 6 more processors within that series that will offer more power at the same price point. The new Athlon II processors will also remain AM2+/AM3 compatible, so the upgrade to them won't be painful.

 

The AMD Athlon II X4 640 will replace their current Athlon II X4 635 processor in price and with increased performance. The Athlon II X4 640 is rated 100MHz higher at 3.0GHz and still offers quad core performance. The 640 retains all of the AMD features, such as Cool and Quiet, to keep power consumption and heat to a minimum. I will be complementing the AMD Athlon II X4 640 with their new 890 motherboard chipset and an ATI Radeon 5770 for optimal compatibility and performance for a mainstream computer.

 

 

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

Technologies

Technologies

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. The Athlon die was updated to the newer AM3 socket with the same architecture as the Phenom IIs to allow growth within the new Athlon II series, as well. This update came at an important time in the progression to DDR3 memory, as the prices on RAM are coming down.

620die

Now that the Athlon II has been born with the introduction of the 250, the family is seeing a first for the AMD line of processors. 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 economical AMD Athlon family.

We are now seeing the next launch of the Athlon II line of processors. With this next line of processors, AMD is increasing the speed by 100MHz. This will drive down the existing model's prices and create a new line of affordable processors. The processors will remain AM3/AM2+ compatible and make a perfect match for all of the recently released 800-series chipsets. These new Athlons are also made with revision "C3" silicon. Here is their new list of processors and pricing scheme.

  • Athlon II X4 640        $122    (3.0GHz / 95W max TDP / 4 cores)
  • Athlon II X3 445        $87     (3.1GHz / 95W max TDP / 3 cores)
  • Athlon II X2 260        $76     (3.2GHz / 65W max TDP / 2 cores)
  • Athlon II X4 610e       $143    (2.4GHz / 45W max TDP / 4 cores)
  • Athlon II X3 415e       $102    (2.5GHz / 45W max TDP / 3 cores)
  • Athlon II X2 245e       $77      (2.9GHz / 45W max TDP / 2 cores )

 

The AMD 800-Series Chipset

The new 8- Series of AMD Motherboard chipsets introduce both USB and SATA 3.0. USB 3.0 draws its power from the NEC host controller; this is a Dual Simplex link that is bi-directional and, unlike USB 2.0 which is Half Duplex (one –way), it transfers data more efficiently.

 

Unlike SATA 3, which was first seen on Intel motherboards (Marvell chipset/3rd party), the AMD 800 Series motherboards run native SATA 3 via the 850 Southbridge chipset, which is a direct link to 6 SATA ports, alleviating the middle man. (Marvell)

 

The 890GX chipset contains an ATI HD 4290 integrated video, which is DirectX 10.1, has a 700MHz core, 40 unified shaders and with added SidePort memory is the most powerful integrated video card produced by AMD to date. The HD 4290 is also capable of Picture in Picture Blu-Ray Playback and upscaling to 720p.

 

Other features include Hyper-Transport 3.0 (5.2 GT/s), HDMI, VGA and DVI video outputs, two PCI-e 2.0 (1 x 16/1x8) for discrete video, support for DDR3 1333 MHz memory and onboard HD audio.

 

 

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

Review Philosophy

For this review we will focus on three areas:

  • Cost of using your old AM2+ components while upgrading to the new  AMD Athlon II X4 640.
  • Cost of upgrading to the new AM3 motherboard.
  • Performance.

 

First let's take a look at pricing:

  • AMD Athlon II X4 640 $122.00 USD
  • ATI Radeon HD 5770 $170.00
  • ATI Radeon HD 5870 $390.00
  • AM3 Motherboard 800 Chipset  $90.00+
  • 4GB DDR3 Memory 1600 MHz  $110.00+

Here are a few combinations and prices on the various upgrades available.

Extreme Budget System

AMD Athlon II X4 640

$122

Keep Old AM2+ Mobo

$0

Keep Old DDR2 RAM

$0

Keep Old Video Card

$0

Total

$122

 

Budget System

AMD Athlon II X4 640

$122

ASUS M4A88TD-M AM3 AMD 880G 

$100

G.SKILL 4GB DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 

$110

Onboard Video / Keep Old

$0

Total

$332

 

Mainstream System

AMD Athlon II X4 640

$122

Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H

$140

G.SKILL 4GB DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 

$110

Sapphire Radeon HD 5770

$170

Total

$542

 

Enthusiast System

AMD Athlon II X4 640

$122

GIGABYTE GA-890FXA-UD7 AM3

 

$246

CORSAIR DOMINATOR-GT 4GB DDR3 1600

$216

Sapphire Radeon HD 5870

$390

Total

$974

 

As you can see, there are a plethora of combinations at your fingertips that can reach out to any budget. Many of the older components can greatly reduce the price necessary to update your system. That is the greatest thing about having an AMD platform. However, when looking to upgrade your system, the biggest factor is updating to a motherboard that supports USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0. The AMD 800 series motherboards provide this upgrade. This processor is also at the top of a whole new line of Athlon II CPUs being released. The new AMD processors are AM2+/AM3 compatible so people can upgrade on a budget and still receive more choice and compute-per-dollar. There are more options that can lower the price, if the Athlon II X4 640 isn't your flavor. Overall, even a top of the line upgrade will still keep your costs under $1000.

We will also evaluate the platform as a whole. These benchmarks will provide statistical numbers to give an overall idea of what you can expect, if you choose to upgrade to this new platform. In the end, it will always be the overall computing experience the end user receives when using the platform.

 

 

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

Specifications

Model Number, Core Frequency & Price

X4 640 / 3.0GHz / $122 (USD)

Tray OPNs

ADX640WFK42GM

L1 Cache Sizes

64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (512KB total L1 per processor)

L2 Cache Sizes

512KB of L2 data cache per core (2MB 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)]

Packaging

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

Fab location

GLOBALFOUNDARIES Fab 1 module 1 in Dresden, Germany

Process Technology

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

Approximate Die Size

169 mm2

Approximate Transistor count

~300 million

Max Temp

71o Celsius

Nominal Voltage

1.05-1.4V

Max TDP

95 Watts

AMD Codename

"Propus"

 

 

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

Testing Methods

Benchmarking

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.

Systems

Test System

  • Processor: AMD Athlon II X4 640 (Overclocked at 3.75GHz)
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H
  • Memory: 4GB Patriot "Sector 5" DDR3-1600
  • GPU: PowerColor Radeon HD 5770
  • HDD: WD Caviar 640GB 7200rpm, WD Raptor 74GB 10,000rpm
  • Thermal Paste: Noctua NT-H1
  • CPU Cooler: Zaward Vapor 120
  • PSU: Ultra X4 850 watt Modular
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit

 

 

Benchmarks

System Benchmarks

  • World Bench
  • PCMark Vantage
  • SiSandra (CPU)
  • Everest (Cache and Memory)
  • Cinebench 10 and R11 (CPU Rendering)

 

Gaming Benchmarks

  • 3DMark Vantage
  • Battle Forge
  • Resident Evil 5
  • World in Conflict

 

 

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

Benchmarks (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 Vantage)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Benchmarks (PC Mark Vantage)" />

Benchmarks (PC Mark 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, and L2 cache will be benchmarked for latency, read, write, and copy. Lavalys is the producer of this software.

 

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="Benchmarks (Cinebench R10 and R11)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Benchmarks (Cinebench R10 and R11)" />

Benchmarks (Cinebench R10 and R11)

 

Created by Maxon, Cinebench R10 and R11 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 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

The settings that we will be using are Entry, Performance, and High.

 

 

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="Gaming Benchmark (Battle Forge)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Gaming Benchmark (Battle Forge)" />

Gaming Benchmark (Battle Forge)

Battle Forge is an MMORPG that is free to play with its download. You choose from mythical characters and battle until your opponents are conquered. Battle Forge is the first game to support Direct X 11.

 

Settings

  • AA: x4
  • Default High

 

Comparison

 

 

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

Gaming Benchmark (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.

 

Settings

  • Graphics: High

 

 

 

 

<hrdata-mce-alt="Gaming Benchmark (Resident Evil 5)" class="system-pagebreak" title="Gaming Benchmark (Resident Evil 5)" />

Gaming Benchmark (Resident Evil 5)

The fifth installation of the Resident Evil Series, which is a first person shooter. You are a member of the World Bioterrorism Team and are sent out to stop a new infestation of the virus created by the Umbrella Corporation.

 

Settings

  • AA: x4
  • Levels: High

 

Comparison

 

 

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

Overclocking

Overclocking is a very tricky task. There needs to be an overall balance with the system to keep it stable.This is done with a combination of methods. When raising the HT ref. clock (FSB), there is an instant increase across the board with your Hyper Transport, northbridge, memory, and CPU speeds. The instant increase will stress your components and require some fine tuning. For the purposes of my overclocking, I used a combination of BIOS and the Gigabyte EasyTune software supplied with my motherboard.

The first thing I did was lower my memory multiplier to 6.66 and drop it to 1333Mhz speeds. Next, I raised my HT ref. clock to 240 from the default 200. This brought my memory speeds back to 1600MHz and set my CPU to 3.6GHz. Upon booting into Windows everything worked well, initially. However, once I started benchmarks to test stability, I started getting the dreaded BSOD within Windows. I increased the voltage from 1.3V to 1.35V and the system remained stable. 600MHz starting out and the system was stable. That is a 20% increase with only a few setting changes. Trying to go any higher at these settings was futile. The evil BSODs returned. I still wanted to persist further to see how far I could push the CPU.

The next thing I did was increase the voltage from 1.35V to 1.4V. This allowed me to push the HT ref. clock (FSB) to 250. The CPU ended up being set to 3.75GHz and the memory speed 1665 MHz. That was the highest I was able to achieve while still keeping good memory speed and the system stable. In order to push the CPU more, my DRAM multiplier had to be lowered further, as the memory couldn't hack it. Tried adjusting memory voltages but to no avail. The CPU voltage also had to be increased to 1.45V. I did test this and was able to get the CPU to 3.8GHz.

For the purposes of the benchmarks, I kept the HT ref. clock at 250 and the CPU at 3.75GHz. This is a 750MHz increase over the stock 3.0GHz speed, a 25% stable overclock without having to go crazy with the in-depth settings. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

 

 

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

Putting It All Together

The Athlon II X4 640 is a great processor. There weren't any compatibility issues with the Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H motherboard. The AMD 800 series chipset complements this processor perfectly. Also, the RAM that I used had absolutely zero issues. Overall the stock system was rock solid. All of the benchmarks came out excellent and the numbers the X4 640 put up are admirable for a 120 dollar processor.

Speaking of 120 dollars, this is part of a new line of Athlon II processors coming out. In the process of offering more power for the same price as their previous line they are going to drive down the price of the currently released processors. The newest sub $100 quad core processor is going to be the Athlon II X4 635, while this takes its place. Now there will be more options available for the mainstream and budget market to meet anyone's needs. The entire Athlon II line is comprised of dual, triple, and quad core processors.

Overclocking was very simple. Using the basic overclocking methods, I was able to achieve a 25% increase in clock speed on the 640 and maintain great memory speeds and system stability. I am sure more could have been squeezed out of this processor but I didn't feel comfortable pushing it too far. I am not a regular overclocker so going too hard on a component makes me uneasy. However, the new line of Athlon II processors are manufactured with revision "C3" silicon so you will be able to squeeze every possible hertz from the chips.

Temperatures for the 640 also remained excellent. I had a low 28 degrees Celsius when idle and peaked at 48 degrees Celsius under a full load. Even when overclocked it still maintained great temperatures. The 640 ran idle at 30 and peaked at 52 degrees Celsius under full load. The new Athlons increase in performance and still remain cool.

Overall, what do we get? Well, I can see an excellent processor that works with nearly every budget. The AMD Athlon II X4 640 has the muscle to put out performance numbers with it's higher clock speed and quad core ability. You also get the backwards compatibility, so if you currently own a AM2+ motherboard you're able to step up to a 3.0GHz quad core processor.

 

 

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

Conclusion

Provided By: AMD

No compensation was received for review of this product.

Price Point

Price: $122

Class: Mainstream

At a price point of $122, the AMD Athlon II X4 640 falls into the mainstream category for CPU processors.

Performance

Performance for the Athlon II X4 640 was excellent. Temperatures remained great and the benchmark numbers were awesome for a $122 processor.

Reviewer's Opinion

Not everyone has the need for a Phenom processor. AMD has done an excellent job of creating a line of processors that contain the near same technology, yet reach a bigger audience with their price point. This new release of processors is going to allow for much more diversity within their pricing scheme. Essentially what they have done is keep all of the price points stable, and increased the speed of each processor by 100MHz. If you haven't purchased a processor yet, or you're looking to upgrade, you basically get 100MHz more for free at whatever price point you choose.

AMD also continues to lead the the charge in single infrastructure compatibility. Their entire new line of processors are AM3/AM2+ compatible.  This allows ultimate compatibility and flexibility when choosing to upgrade. If you already own a motherboard with that socket then it's a no brain-er upgrade. If you don't, then you don't have to worry when choosing to upgrade as they try to keep things future-proof.

All in all, when choosing to go with an AMD platform, there is really nothing to worry about. AMD offers more choice and more compute-per-dollar in desktop computing. The Athlon II X4 640 is an excellent processor at an excellent price point for anyone looking to upgrade to a new AMD system or just looking to get into a 3.0GHz quad core processor from something older.

 

Pros:

  • Quad Core
  • Low Price
  • Performance
  • Overclockability
  • AM2+/AM3 Compatible

 

    Cons:

    • None

     

    editors_choice

     

     

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