ProsGood balance of CPU and graphics power; user-friendly AM4 platform is easy to use and open to upgrades
ConsIf Intel's Pentium processors were actually available for purchase, the Athlon wouldn't be as appealing
Bringing Back our 2015 Benches
We're actually going to start this off with a walk down memory lane, comparing the Athlons not only to a recent-vintage Pentium, but to a handful of Pentium and Core processors of yesteryear. Let's have a look at 3DMark to get some baseline data....
3DMark Sky Diver
To put all this data into perspective, it's helpful to know what the Athlon APUs are competing against. The Pentium G3258 was a fan-favorite, released in 2014 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Pentium. It was, and still is, the only Pentium unlocked for overclocking, and this was nearly as silly in 2014 as it is today in retrospect. Being a dual-core, two-thread processor, it's truly a vestige of an earlier age, before AMD's Ryzen brought multi-cores to the masses. It was also saddled with ultra-low-end graphics, which made it a poor choice for a low-cost video card-less gaming PC. With that said, take a look at its "Physics" score when overclocked to 4.2GHz - it's nearly as fast as the Athlon 200GE, a dual-core, four-thread processor. Hmmm... problems from the start for AMD?
While Intel's Core i3 processors have always operated in a higher price class than Athlons, the 3.7GHz Core i3-4170 and Core i3-6100 CPUs are still interesting comparisons, representing the past two generations of dual-core, four-thread processors (Haswell and Skylake). Whether Intel wants to admit it or not, the "Kaby Lake" Pentium G4620 and "Coffee Lake" Pentium Gold G5500 are actually just re-brandings of the Core i3-6100. Even the graphics chip is the same - just look at the numbers! And both are much faster than the Athlons in terms of the CPU-intensive Physics score, with the Athlon 200GE not even able to beat the circa -2015 Core i3-4170. Yes, that processor cost around $120 versus $60 for the Athlon 200GE, but it was also released four years ago.
More promising for the Athlon twins in this benchmark are the graphics-intensive benchmarks, and sure enough, in the pure "Graphics" score, they come out on top, which propels them to a win in the overall score and the combined score. So yes, AMD is in a sense offering more than Intel's latest Pentiums, 15% more graphics power to be precise. But remember, Intel has offered the same amount of graphics power since the Core i3-6100 was released in the Fall of 2015, so it's not exactly a moving target. The 240GE is nearly 10% behind in terms of CPU power, so from out point of view, it's nearly a wash as to which brand delivers more value. Only a whole lot more benchmarks can determine that!
Grid AutoSport is a great example of a gaming title designed around integrated graphics. In fact, this game was part of a promotion put on by Intel at the launch of its HD onboard graphics in 2014, around the time of its Pentium G3258 release. It carried optimizations for use on such chips, but even so, really required a bit more power than the Pentium could muster. The Core i3-6100, on the other hand, performs quite admirably, and not surprisingly so does its rebranded clone, the G4620. What's a little surprising here is that the Athlons, which presumably have a minor graphics processing advantage, can't pull ahead. It's enough to have us seriously concerned that the one ace in the hole that AMD has with its Athlon may be more on paper than in reality.
On the next few pages, we're put aside our vintage processors and focus in on how the Athlons compete with the G4620, which we believe is a very good representative of the entire low-cost Intel processor lineup, offering a relatively high clockspeed and the best graphics chip Intel offers in its desktop range.