Wednesday, 29 August 2012

AMD Athlon II X3 445 Performance Unlocking Core Secrets Review

AMD Athlon II X3 445

AMD Athlon II X3 445 Performance Review
 In recent years AMD has been leading the market when it comes to price to performance ratios. Today we are going to look at one such processor. The AMD Athlon II X3 445 is a triple core processor that can be found on the web for as little as $84.99 with free shipping at Newegg.com. 

                           AMD Athlon II X3 445 CPUz 

 
The AMD Athlon II X3 445 natively sits at 3.1GHz across all three cores. Like many of the AMD processors, the AMD Athlon II X3 445 uses a front side bus of 200MHz and features a TDP of 95 Watts. The difference is in the multiplier. The AMD Athlon II X3 445 uses a multiplier of 15.5 to achieve the 3.1GHz clock speed. The AMD Athlon II X3 445 has a L2 Cache of 1.5Mb, the L2 Cache is dispersed 512Kb for each of the three cores. The AMD Athlon II X3 445 also features support for both DDR2(up to 1,066 MT/s) and DDR3 (up to 1,333 MT/s). The Athlon II series is AMD's first processor with hardware C1E (a low-power state). Moving this power state out of the BIOS and into the CPU microcode will enable AMD to ensure more consistent power management implementation across platforms. This is good news as systems will be more energy efficient as a result of this change.

AMD Propus Die 


The AMD Athlon II X3 445 is built using the Propus die from AMD. Though for various reasons AMD will disable one of the cores. It could be because of a defective core, a core that doesn't meet the thermal requirements, or simply because of quota. The good news about this is, many of todays motherboards have built in technology that will allow you to unlock "extra cores". Of course we are going to give this a go later in the article. For now though let's take a peek at the system that we are going to use for testing today. 

The Test System

AMD Test Bench
 Processor  AMD Athlon II X3 445
 Motherboard  ASRock 890GX Extreme3
 Memory  4GB Corsair Dominator 1600MHz
 Hard Drive  Western Digital Black 640gb
 Video Card  HIS Radeon HD5870
 CPU cooler  ThermalTake SpinQ VT
 Chassis  None - Open Bench
 Power Supply  Corsair TX750 


Intel Test Rig
 Processor  Intel Core I7 920
 Motherboard  ASRock X58 Extreme3
 Memory  6gb Corsair Dominator 1600MHz
 Hard Drive  Western Digital Black 640gb
 Video Card  HIS Radeon HD5870
 CPU cooler  ThermalRight Venomous X
 Chassis  None - Open Bench
 Power Supply  Corsair TX750 

 

Legit Reviews 890GX Test Bench 
 
AMD Athlon II X3 445 System Settings

SiSoft Sandra 2010 Memory Bandwidth

SiSoftware Sandra 2010

Benchmark Results: The AMD Athlon II X3 445 fell a little short of the bandwidth of the AMD Athlon II X4 640 due to the AMD Athlon II X3 445 working with one less core. Though there was a solid boost in memory performance over either of the AMD Athlon II X2's.

3DdMark Vantage

Performance settings were used, so a 1280x1024 resolution was used.

3dMark Vantage Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The triple core AMD Athlon II X3 445 falls just slightly ahead of the halfway mark between the AMD Athlon II X2 260 and the AMD Athlon II X4 640.

Cinebench R11.5

Cinebench R11.5 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The results of Cinebench 11.5 are rather consistent.  All of the AMD processors are built around the same technology, with the exception of the Phenom II 910e which has the L3 cache. The higher the clock speed or more cores the higher the score. The AMD Athlon II X3 445 right inline with what we have seen so far today, at least when it comes to running on all cores. The AMD Athlon II X3 445 performed better than the dual cores, but not as well as the quad cores. The single core results are inline with the varying clock speeds. The Athlon II X2 260 took the top spot in the AMD pack with the AMD Athlon II X3 445 taking up the second spot.

Hyper Pi

Hyper Pi 32 Million Benchmark results
Hyper Pi 1 Million Benchmark results

Benchmark Results: Clock speeds and memory bandwidth dominate when calculating Pi. The core I7 dominates the field here as it has a memory bandwidth that more than doubles the AMD field thanks to the triple channel architecture.  When it comes to the AMD Athlon II X3 445 fell just short of the AMD Athlon II X2 260 which has a slightly higher clock speed of 3.2GHz. The drawback to this benchmark is that it doesn't take multi core performance into account. The Athlon II X2 255 runs two instances of Super Pi; the Athlon II X4 640, Athlon II X4 635 and Phenom II X4 910e all run 4 instances, and the Intel core I7 930 runs 8 instances of pi.

x264 HD Video Encoding

x264 HD Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The first pass of the x264 HD Video Ecoding benchmark is much less processor intensive and overall clock speed helped the AMD Athlon II X3 445 beat out the AMD Phenom II X4 910e. The second pass however, benefits from the additional core of the AMD Phenom II X4 910e. Being limited to three cores hurt the performance of the AMD Athlon II X3 445 during the second pass. Though it still out-performed the faster clocked AMD Athlon II X2 260.

Resident Evil 5

All in game settings were set to their maximum. We used 8xAA for all of our performance tests in Resident Evil 5.

Resident Evil 5

Benchmark Results: The AMD Athlon II X3 didn't perform much better than either of the AMD Athlon II Dual cores did. This was a bit shocking since all of our synthetic benchmarks showed the AMD Athlon II X3 445 closer to splitting the difference of the dual cores and quad cores.

Batman Arkham Asylum

For our testing we set everything as high as it would go, except for PhysX and NVIDIA Multi Sample Anti-Aliasing, which were both disabled.

Batman Arkham Asylum

Benchmark results: In Batman Arkham Asylum we see a much different story than we did with Resident Evil 5. The performance is much closer to the performance we are seeing with the Athlon II quad cores, and even matching the performance of the AMD Athlon II X4 635 at the higher resolution of 1920x1080!

Colin McRae: DiRT 2

To test I use the high presets with no AA.

Colin McRae: DiRT2

Benchmark Results: Colin McRae: DiRT2 is perhaps the closest to what we saw in the synthetic benchmarks. Though it was still closer in performance to the AMD Athlon II X4's than it was to the AMD Athlon II X2's.

Overclocking the AMD Athlon II X3 445

Overclocking greatly varies due to what hardware is being used and who is doing the overclocking. Always remember that no two pieces of hardware will perform the same, so our results will differ from what you might be able to get.

AMD Athlon II X3 445 CPUz

Taking a look at CPUz 1.54 we see that tha AMD Athlon II X3 445 uses a FSB of 200 and a multiplier of x15.5 to achieve the final clock speed of 3.1GHz. This is not a Black Edition processor, therefore the multiplier is locked at a maximum of x15.5. The only way to overclock the AMD Athlon II X3 445 is to raise the FSB up and over the 200MHz we are starting with.

AMD Athlon II X3 445 Overclocked CPUz

After some trial and error we were able to hit a maximum stable overclock of 3968MHz. The only changes I made in the BIOS were, raising the FSB up to 256MHz, the CPU voltage was raised up to 1.55v and the HT Link multiplier was reduced to x8.

AMD Athlon II X3 445 Overclocked 3DMark Vantage Results

Despite the AMD Athlon II X3 445 having an 800+MHz overclock, we were still limited by the CPU. We saw a gain of only 1200 3DMarks. The GPU score only saw an increase of ~600 3DMarks. The CPU score went up by a solid amount of 1617 3DMarks which is an improvement of 21%!

Power Consumption

System Power Consumption

The trend of the AMD Athlon II X3 445 continues into the power consumption of the processor. With one less core it draws less power under full load than all the quad cores with the exception of the AMD Phenom II X4 910e which is an energy efficient processor. Though to my surprise it was actually drawing slightly more power when it was sitting Idle.

Unlocking Cores - Secrets

AMD Athlon II X3 445

The AMD Athlon II X3 445 was a processor I was looking forward to working with when the opportunity had presented itself. Not necessarily because it is going to be the fastest processor out there, but it only has three active cores. Whats that mean? Well, that most likely there is a fourth core under the heat spreader. With any luck I would be able to unlock the fourth core, and be able to test the AMD Athlon II X3 445 as a AMD Phenom II x4 B45 Quad Core as well. Fortunately there was a fourth core on the AMD Athlon II X3 445.

AMD Athlon II X3 445 BIOS Unlocked

Despite being able to unlock the "extra core" on the AMD Athlon II X3 445 with in the BIOS, I was unable to boot into windows with it unlocked. Most likely this particular processor had a core that was faulty, therefore it was disabled. It is possible and likely that other samples of the AMD Athlon II X3 445 will have better luck.
When comparing the performance of the AMD Athlon II X3 445 to the other AMD processors, it fell pretty much where I expected it to. In all of the synthetic benchmarks it performed pretty close to splitting the difference of the dual core processors and the quad core processors. When looking at the games, the AMD Athlon II X3 445 was pretty much across the board. Resident Evil 5 we saw frame rates just above that of the AMD Athlon II X2 260. In Batman Arkham Asylum, the AMD Athlon II X3 445 performed much closer to the AMD quad core processors that we tested. While testing the DirectX 11 game Colin McRae: DiRT2 the AMD Athlon II X3 445 fell inline with the synthetic benchmarks like 3DMark Vantage and split the difference between the AMD Dual Cores and the AMD Quad Cores.

Conclusion

Priced as low as $84.99 the AMD Ahtlon II X3 445 is a processor that can handle multi-threaded applications well, and will be able to run lightly threaded applications faster than the AMD Athlon II X4 630 quad core processor which is slightly more expensive at $99.00.

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AMD Athlon II X3 445 vs Intel Core i7 930 vs Athlon II x4 640 vs Athlon II x4 635 vs Athlon II x2 260 vs Athlon II x2 255 vs Phenom II x4 910e , comparison, microarchitechture, multicore, Instruction sets sse3 sse4a, desktop, northbrigde hypertransport, benchmark score rating, unlocking cores to AMD Phenom II x4 B45 quad core, contrast, wattage power management, Gaming Overclocking.


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