AMD’s new $50 Athlon 3000G is shipping now, with overclocking options and an integrated GPU that AMD believes give it a leg up against Intel in the budget segment. We mostly review higher-end products here at ET, but it’s important to keep an eye on the performance of more modest parts for budget builds. Whether the Athlon 3000G is a better chip than the Pentium G5400 depends on what kind of workloads you intend to throw at the system.
First, one important limitation. AMD doesn’t appear to have communicated this in its official PR when it announced the chip roughly two weeks ago, but the Athlon 3000G isn’t guaranteed to be supported in X570 motherboards. AMD is leaving this up to its partners. This seems unlikely to be a major problem — the X570 is a high-end chipset intended for high-end systems, while AMD’s B350, B450, or X470 chipsets would be better fits for this kind of product.
The Athlon 3000G is a 3.5GHz CPU with two cores, four threads, and a 4MB L3 cache. It’s based on AMD’s Zen+ CPU core and built on 12nm GlobalFoundries tech, with a Vega 3 GPU with 192 cores. It’s unlocked for overclocking and supports up to DDR4-2933 with a 35W TDP. AMD ships the CPU with a cooler rated for 65W. According to TechPowerUp, which put the CPU through its paces, that level of cooler enables plenty of overclocking. They were able to get their chip up to 4GHz, which sounds about right for budget 12nm GF silicon. You might get a bit higher if you hit the silicon lottery, but a 1.14x overclock on a $50 chip is a pretty solid deal. Compared with the Athlon 200 GE, which this chip replaces, the 3000G packs an extra 300MHz of CPU clock and 100MHz of GPU clock. It’s intended to compete against Intel chips like the Pentium G5400, which runs at 3.7GHz and costs $60, with a 58W TDP.
TechPowerUp compared the 3000G against the G5600, which is clocked about 5 percent faster than the G5400. That clock speed difference is enough to nudge several tests to Intel that might have otherwise broken for AMD, but it’s not a huge gap. Overclocking potential on the GPU was particularly good. First, the GPU responded well to core clock increases — a Vega 3 configuration is small enough that relying on desktop memory didn’t leave the platform overly bandwidth bound. The downside, of course, is that the reason it isn’t bandwidth bound is that it isn’t all that powerful in the first place.
Some games, like BFV, run tolerably at 720p at minimal detail levels. The GPU comparison between the Vega 3 and Intel UHD 630 is easily the APU’s strongest performance area. Others show the CPU bracketing the performance of the G5600, with the un-overclocked Athlon 3000G being a bit slower than the G5600 and the overclocked variant narrowly faster:
This is a fairly common outcome in this comparison. According to TechPowerUp, the G5600 is 1.22x faster than the non-overclocked 3000G, but that’s a claim that actually needed more explanation than it got within the article. Full quote below:
Overall performance is roughly 15% behind the Ryzen 3 1200 (which is a quad-core processor without SMT). Intel’s Pentium G5600 comes out 22% ahead, but does cost significantly more due to supply shortages and mark-ups. We didn’t test the Pentium G5400, but I would estimate it to be slightly slower than the 3000G.
It’s not clear at all why the G5400 would be “slightly slower” than the 3000G if the G5600 is 1.22x faster. This implies a >1.22x performance difference between two CPUs whose only difference is a small clock gap. I’d recommend checking TPU’s extensive list of benchmarks for workload-specific results because some of the tests with the largest gaps between Intel and AMD are also tests that may be less applicable to common workloads for a machine of this type. There’s nothing wrong with running atypical workloads on systems — I touched on this a bit in my article a few months back on real-world benchmarking — but it’s always a good idea to check performance in specific areas. Which chip suits you best may depend on the specific workloads you intend to run.
The strongest use-case for a CPU like this is if you need a little bit of multimedia or gaming horsepower but aren’t trying to build a major performance rig (or a system that will ever be mistaken for one). Added bonus points for the overclocking headroom — an extra 10 to 15 percent clock isn’t going to rewrite the record books, but squeezing a little bit of free performance out of CPUs is always fun. TechPowerUp gives the 3000G a nod overall, but recommends the i3-9100KF as an alternative for gamers who need ultra-affordable components and want to maximize cost-savings.
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