Pros

Good balance of CPU and graphics power; user-friendly AM4 platform is easy to use and open to upgrades

Cons

If Intel's Pentium processors were actually available for purchase, the Athlon wouldn't be as appealing

Star Rating

Gaming Benchmarks

The next three benchmarks use commercial game titles, with the first two based on built-in benchmark tests, and the third actual in-game play. Note that all of our tests were conducted at 1080p (which we consider the minimum viable resolution in today's market), running with the lowest-quality settings. We vastly prefer this to something like 720p with higher settings, if for no other reasons that there are no monitors or even TVs sold today that have a native resolution below 1080p, and consumers will have a better overall experience sticking to their native resolutions than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, so to speak.

Tomb Raider (2013)

TR

Oh, boy, maybe those Grid Autosport results we posted a few pages back weren't a fluke after all. Here the Pentium absolutely crushes the Athlon twins, in an AMD Gaming Evolved title at that. This was a game bundled with AMD's excellent high-end GPUs back in 2013, so it's not like AMD isn't familiar with the game engine. And yet after repeated attempts to coax better performance out of the Athlons, they just kept coming up with the same numbers, which were a surprising 33% behind the old Pentium and its circa-2015 graphics chip.

Truth be told, of all the results we compiled for this article, these were the most surprising. They're simply inexplicable.

Metro: Last Light

Metro

Representing the popular and graphically-demanding first-person shooter genre, we bring in Metro Last Light. A critically-acclaimed title released in 2013 just months after Tomb Raider, it clearly poses more of a challenge for built-in graphics chips. None of the contenders can actually lay claim to being able to handle this game, but at least we have the first big win for the Athlons, which come out 18% ahead of the Pentium. That's nice, but not really enough, given that the Pentium is often just as far ahead in CPU-intensive tasks.

Rocket League

RL

Finally, we get to a game truly designed around low-cost computing: the eSports mega-title Rocket League, released in 2015. This game is not only truly playable using onboard graphics, it's also a huge showcase of the potential advantage of AMD's Vega 3 graphics. Indeed, the Athlons are over 50% ahead of the Pentium, which is a bit mind-boggling given that their advantage in 3DMark Fire Strike was just half that. In any event, something about this game engine clearly responds favorably to the Vega architecture, and it hands AMD its biggest win of this shootout.

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