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AMD Athlon II X4 635 2.9GHz Socket AM3 Quad-Core Processor Review

AMD Athlon II X4 635 2.9GHz Socket AM3 Quad-Core Processor Review - PCSTATS
Price Check: $/£/€
Abstract: Enter the AMD Athlon II X4 635 processor, a mainstream quad-core chip clocked at 2.9GHz and priced at just $120 bucks. Compatible with socket AM3 and AM2+ motherboards, the AMD Athlon II X4 635 is set to be the darling of media PC, home FTP server and budget-minded home PC builders.
 80% Rating:   
Filed under: CPU / Processors Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: AMD Jan 25 2010   Julian Apong  
Home > Reviews > CPU / Processors > AMD Athlon II X4 635

It's not surprising that AMD has a fight on its hands. Intel continues to dominate the high-end processor market with its Core i7 chips, forcing AMD to all but focus its efforts on mainstream $100-150 processors. Then just when AMD seemed to be 'safe', Intel began making inroads with its "Clarkdale" Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs into that segment as well. For the moment AMD is keeping ahead on the price/performance front while Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs suffer from an overly complex platform topology.

Enter the AMD Athlon II X4 635 processor, a mainstream quad-core chip clocked at 2.9GHz and priced at just $120 bucks. Compatible with socket AM3 and AM2+ motherboards, the AMD Athlon II X4 635 is set to be the darling of media PC, home FTP server and budget-minded home PC builders.

Architecturally speaking, the Athlon II X4 635 processor is identical to the AMD's AII X4 620 chip that PCSTATS tested a few months back, it's just clocked 300MHz faster. If you're familiar with that processor you know that quad-core Athlon II X4 processors are ideal for media PC applications when paired with AMD 785G (or upcoming AMD 800-series) motherboard. Put head to head against an Intel Core i5 or AMD Phenom II X4 processor they will bring up the rear, but if you're in need of a good all-around home computer on the tight budget it's good value for the money. I know we often get fixated on expensive enthusiast grade PC technology, but if you can't afford that it's nice to know economical options do exist.

AMD's socket AM3 Athlon II X4 635 chip features 512KB of L2 cache per core (total of 2MB), but unlike the Phenom II quad-core designs it has no L3 cache present. Platform compatibility is broad thanks to a DDR2/DDR3 memory controller which makes it possible to install this processor on motherboards that support DDR2-1066 or DDR3-1333 memory. For PCSTATS review platform we've selected the Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P mobo and 4GB of Corsair XMS3-1600C9 DDR3 RAM. If you're building a new PC from scratch, it's wise to go the DDR3-route.

AMD Athlon II X4 635 Processor
Tech Specs

Athlon II X4 635
(quad core)

Clock: 2.9GHz
L1: (4x) 128KB
L2: (4x) 512KB
L3: none
Multiplier: 14.5x
Package: 938-pin
Socket: AM3 (AM2+)
organic mPGA
Core: 45nm SOI
Transistor: ~300M
Power: 95W
Vcore: 0.875-1.425V
Cost: $119 USD



Manufactured on a 45nm SOI process at the Global Foundries Fab 1 module in Dresden Germany, the Athlon II X4 635 has a die size of 169mm2 and contains 300 million transistors. Although it's some 300MHz faster than the similar 620 CPU, the Athlon II X4 635 maintains the same Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 95W.

AMD's Athlon II X4 635 is natively a socket AM3 processor, it is also backwards compatible with socket AM2+ motherboards. It's this backwards compatibility that continues to make the AMD platform very cost effective and easily upgraded. Right now it's best paired with the AMD 785G chipset, but very shortly it can be paired with AMD's 880G and 890G chipsets.

As you might expect, the 2.9GHz Athlon II X4 635 processor supports full hardware virtualization, so individual cores can be assigned to virtual machines. Built in virtualization is one of the big features of Microsoft Windows 7, and it is this that makes running Windows XP Mode inside of the Windows 7 operating system possible. The Athlon II is also moves C1E low power states out of the BIOS and onto the CPU hardware.

Retailing for around$125 CDN ($120 USD, £75 GBP), the Athlon II X4 635 processor is one of the most affordable quad-core CPUs on the market. Its primary competition will be coming from AMD's own Phenom II X3 processors and Intel's Core i3 and Core i5 processors. Let's see how this faster Athlon II compares in the very competitive mainstream processor field.

Code Name "Propus"

AMD's quad-core Athlon II X4 635 CPU is built on the 45nm "Propus" die, essentially a slimmed-down version of the 45nm "Deneb" core that's been around since first Phenom II processor. AMD's 'Propus' core consists of four individual computational cores (4-core, 4-thread) with 512KB of L2 cache each, but unlike "Deneb" this chip contains no L3 cache. Consequently the AII X4 635 die is slightly smaller (169mm2)and a contains a little more than half the number of transistors, ~300 million.

This is the Athlon II X4 635 "Propus" die. The L3 cache has been removed, cutting down die size and reducing the processors power requirements and heat output.

Having no L3 cache has a few consequences for the Athlon II X4 635 processor. A large, fast L3 cache is important for communication between processor cores and multi-threading efficiency after all. When all four cores are busy processing threads the L3 cache acts as a pool that feeds the individual L2 caches. Ultimately this reduces the frequency that the processor has to fetch information from system memory (system memory) or virtual memory (hard drive), both of which are orders of magnitude slower than accessing quick on-die L3 cache.

In applications that rely on streaming a lot of data into all four cores from memory, the lack of L3 cache hurts the AMD Athlon II X4 635 processor's performance. Moving on, the power meter is hooked up and ready to measure, so let's take a look at how much juice a PC system built with a quad-core Athlon II processor actually draws.

Core-by-Core CPU Power Draw Tests

CPU power draw (expressed in Watts) can be easily measured by way of total system power if you have a simple electrical power meter. To determine how much juice the CPU is consuming, we only need to compare power draw with the processor resting at idle, and with each core at 100% CPU utilization. For an accurate measurement it's necessary to disable power saving features and CPU clock speed throttling technologies like Cool 'n' Quiet, EIST (speedstep) and C1E power states, etc. To stress each core in the processor individually, PCSTATS uses a free program called Stress Prime SP2004).

Stress Prime SP2004 is a multi-threaded application so several iterations can be run concurrently to escalate load on each CPU-core to 100%utilization (designated CPU-0, CPU-1, CPU-2, etc. using the 'Small FFTs - stress CPU' test). The power draw for the entire PC system is measured with an Extech Power Analyzer Datalogger (model 380803). The Extech Power Analyzer is located between the main 120AC supply and the PC's power supply. An inexpensive device like the P3 Kill-A-Watt power meter will do the trick too. Given that motherboards vary across these test systems this is not a pure measure of CPU power draw alone, but rather a measurement of the total computer system power draw, which we can compare for each specific platforms between the CPU idle and CPU stressed states

Total System Idle Power Draw
Processor Total System Power Draw
Intel Pentium 4 540 150 Watts
Intel Pentium D 840 165 Watts
Intel Pentium D 940 168 Watts
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 117 Watts
Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 123 Watts
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 131 Watts
Intel Core i5 750 124 Watts
Intel Core i7 920 144 Watts
AMD Sempron 3600+ 120 Watts
AMD Athlon64 4000+ 163 Watts
AMD Athlon64 FX-60 127 Watts
AMD Athlon64 X2 4800+ 143 Watts
AMD Athlon64 X2 5000+ 156 Watts
AMD Athlon64 FX-62 168 Watts
AMD Athlon II X2 240e 122 Watts
AMD Athlon II X2 250 128 Watts
AMD Athlon II X3 435 128 Watts
AMD Athlon II X4 620 130 Watts
AMD Athlon II X4 635 127 Watts
AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition 145 Watts
AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition 143 Watts
AMD Phenom II X3 720 155 Watts
AMD Phenom II X4 910e 131 Watts
AMD Phenom II X4 955 148 Watts
AMD Phenom II X4 965 - 125W TDP 150 Watts
AMD Phenom II X4 965 - 140TDP 154 Watts

Even with a couple hundred extra MHz under the hood, the Athlon II X4 635 CPU idles at 127 Watts, a hair lower than the Athlon II X4 620.

We'll see where the power draw figures stand once the system is under stress, for each of the Athlon II X4 635's four processing cores right after the jump...

© 2014 PCSTATS.com Next Page >

 

Contents of Article: AMD Athlon II X4 635
 Pg 1.  — AMD Athlon II X4 635 2.9GHz Socket AM3 Quad-Core Processor Review
 Pg 2.  Core-by-Core CPU Power Draw & Overclocking
 Pg 3.  32-bit CPU System Benchmarks: SYSMark 2007
 Pg 4.  32-bit CPU System Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 5.  32-Bit CPU Synthetic Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra - Processor
 Pg 6.  32-Bit CPU Synthetic Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra - Memory
 Pg 7.  32-Bit CPU Calculation Benchmarks: Super Pi
 Pg 8.  32-Bit CPU Calculation Benchmarks: wPrime2.0
 Pg 9.  32-Bit CPU Calculation Benchmarks: ScienceMark2, WinRAR
 Pg 10.  32-Bit CPU Rendering Benchmarks: Cinebench R10, Bibble 5.0
 Pg 11.  32-Bit CPU Rendering Benchmarks: POV-Ray 3.7
 Pg 12.  32-Bit CPU Rendering Benchmarks: SPECviewPerf 10
 Pg 13.  32-Bit CPU Synthetic Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark 06
 Pg 14.  32-Bit CPU Rendering Benchmarks: Crysis
 Pg 15.  32-Bit CPU Rendering Benchmarks: FEAR
 Pg 16.  Quad-core Speed Bump Ahead

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