Mainstream users can now enjoy the power of a quad-core processor, thanks to AMD's latest release, the AMD Athlon II X4 620. Priced at only $99, it's a dream come true for computer enthusiasts on a budget. This is the first of its kind and is unprecedented. It will give users a cheaper option as compared to Intel's cheapest quad-core processor, the Q8200 which retails at around $50 more than what AMD is offering.
Some may argue that it may not be powerful enough because of the price cut but contrary to that, the AMD Athlon II X4 620 is actually a decent performer. With 2.26ghz and support for advance features such as hardware virtualization, it's hard to argue that it won't do good in the market where users are tightening their belts because of the current trend in economy.
The AMD Athlon II X4 620 is designed for motherboards that have AM3 sockets. Paired with a motherboard that has AMD's 785G chipset which incorporates a built-in HD4200 GPU and you have for yourself the foundation for a quad-core system under $200. Now all you need are the RAMs, the case, some hard drives, a power supply and a monitor.
The new AMD Athlon II X4 620 is also based on a new die design unlike the previous Athlon processors that were based on the high-end Phenom chips that had some features disabled. The new processor has a new and smaller die that helps AMD keep the price down as well as for the processor to run cooler and more energy efficient.
Although the new AMD Athlon II X4 620 is a budget processor by heart, it is definitely a powerhouse in its own right. Its four cores each has its own dedicated 128k of level 1 cache and 512k of level 2 cache. Take note that the L2 cache memory on the chip as a whole adds up to 2MB, the same amount as on the dual-core Athlon II X2 which means that each core only has half the cache memory at its disposal against the ones on the dual-core chip. This might mean that its performance could be slower on applications that require only one core.
Another feature of the AMD Athlon II X4 620 is the AMD virtualization which is great for running operating systems in virtual machines such as the XP mode in Windows 7. It also has the AMD PowerNow 3.0 Power Management and the HyperTransport 3.0 technology which helps move data to and from the CPU. If there is a feature missing in the Athlon II X4 620, it is the Phenom II X4's 6mb of level cache.
When the Athlon II X4 620 was tested against the Phenom II X4, it was noticed that the Athlon II X4 could almost match the performance of the mid-range Phenom II X4 chips in some applications but fell far behind in multicore-aware applications such as the Sony Vegas video editor. Still, this should not dampen the success of the new AMD Athlon II X4 620 because for the mainstream users who want to have a quad-core processor for so much less, this is still the best choice. Maybe one of these days, Intel will come out with something to rival this segment but for now, the new AMD Athlon II X4 is the king of the budget quad-cores.