Conclusion and Final Thoughts
It's difficult not to be impressed by the AMD Athlon II 620 X4. It provides a genuine 2.6GHz quad-core processor that will work perfectly well in either your current AM2+ motherboard, making it even more of a bargain, as it would provide 4 core goodness for a very small investment. As part of a new build for the budget conscious it clearly would be a good starting point and the interchangeability of AMDs platform ensures that should you require even more horsepower a Phenom II is just a short stones throw away. However, today is all about this particular chip, so how did it fair?
Initially the lack of L3 cache would appear to be a major hindrance and one that seemed like a strange decision on AMDs part. This certainly isn't like some of the Athlon II dual-cores in which a quick visit to Advanced Clock Calibration could provide a nice surprise. No the L3 cache just doesn't exist. There are reports that in the very very early stages of release the 620 X4 was just a Phenom II with disabled cache, but that certainly isn't the case here, and nobody should buy one looking for a cheap Phenom II.
However, testing clearly showed that this L3 cache actually makes very little difference to the real-world performance. Synthetic performance was exceptionally impressive, particularly once it had been overclocked. The 3 minute reduction in rendering time in PovRay stood out as one of the more impressive things that we came across during testing, and certainly for anyone looking for an all-rounder this is a genuine bargain.
Gaming performance, especially considering the mid to low-end graphics card used in testing, was quite surprising. Devil May Cry 4 provided playable (60fps +) frame rates from the medium resolution and details used in the review. Far Cry 2 was a revelation. The Dunia engine scales very well and, once we'd seen the results of the low resolution test with 70+ fps average, hopes were high that this processor could really make the 4850 sweat. It easily dealt with everything set to very high and 1680x1050, providing a very playable experience. Crysis performed about as expected although I was surprised that even the lowly 4850 could provide nearly 30fps average, and again it must be stated that this at no point felt jerky thanks to the 620 X4s ability to push data at a very consistent rate. Grid performed fantastically as it always does on ATI hardware, but as someone who's run it on this graphics card but with a lesser processor it has made a definite improvement all across the board.
A motherboard, processor and graphics card combination that can play Far Cry 2 at 50fps, gets great frame rates in Crysis, and decimates COD4 and Grid for around £220? Sounds about as good value for money as it's possible to get, and speaks very highly of AMDs Dragon platform.
The overclocking results are a mixed bag. It hit 3.25GHz so easily that anyone could do (put bus speed at 250, done). However the initial promise this gave that we might have the next Q6600 on our hands was quickly dispelled as 250 seemed to be the wall. No amount of tweaking and adjustments could get the system remotely stable over this despite the fact it was 30°C underneath the thermal limit. It's not clear yet whether this is a problem with the chip or with the motherboard, but you can rest assured that this wont be the last time we torture this chip to try and unlock its obvious potential.
So in conclusion if you have an AMD motherboard or are looking to build a system on a budget, this processor is highly recommended. It's got enough grunt to power some heavyweight applications and yet still provide good gaming performance. In fact the money you save basing your system on this great value chip could easily be spent on a 5850 or similar and we are in no doubt that the AMD Athlon II 620 X4 could provide the required grunt to make it sweat. Highly recommended and I have absolutely no qualms about giving it the OC3D Value For Money Award. A 3.25GHz Quad Core for around £80 seems to good to be true, and yet isn't. Congratulations to AMD.
- Cool even under overclocked conditions.
- Doesn't require a whole new subsystem.
- It overclocks well, but promises much more headroom than seems to be available.
- No L3 cache, although this didn't seem to make much difference in the tests.
- Nothing springs to mind.