THE ATHLON ATTACKS
THAT’S A WRAP. We’ve got our $285 budget build up and running. As mentioned, we installed Windows to make life easier when it comes to working out how well this machine runs compared to our zero-point. And for the sake of a reasonable comparison, we’ve changed our zero-point from the usual $1,050 machine to the $482 Intel Core i38100 rig we built just over half a year ago. With double the memory and a processor that costs twice as much, it should give us a far better grounding than the Ryzen 5 and GTX 1060 system we usually use.
These builds are always easy to put together. There are five parts inside that chassis, with the only problems being the troublesome rear I/O shield, and deciding how to run the CPU cable. Everything else was a cakewalk.
Getting the thing to run was another matter. After piecing it together, we realized the BIOS hadn’t been updated to support the Ryzen Vega chip. That meant stripping it out and, as discussed, popping in a Ryzen 5 1600 and a GTX 1060, just to upgrade the BIOS. Then it was a case of whipping them out and putting the Athlon back inside.
Once that was done, we installed Windows, made sure AMD’s chipset was installed ( imperative if you want reasonable GPU performance), and continued with the performance testing.
How did it do? Not as well as we’d like. There’s no doubt that the Athlon 200GE will be the budget processor of choice, but it’s not as game-changing as the Pentium G4568 was when it first launched. We reckon this is in part due to how the two processors are designed. Ryzen’s core complex and Infinity Fabric, although ever more impressive the higher up the product stack you go, don’t carry much weight in comparison to the monolithic architectural style of the lower-end Intel parts. Once you hit that budget mark, improved latency and better single-core performance carry a lot more clout than complex interconnect fabrics.
As such, it was a little underwhelming. Cinebench R15 scored 355 points in multicore mode, and 126 points in single-core (about the same as a Core i52500K). What did impress, however, was the drive performance. Man, that Crucial B500 SSD is something else.
Unfortunately, that 4GB of RAM was a massive limitation in games, with most titles not even loading their benchmarks, due to a lack of memory, both on and off the chip. We did manage to get Leagueof
Legends running, and it was playable, but anything more demanding, and you’d be out of luck.
Ultimately, our $285 build was an exercise in technical expertise, putting the money where it counts, and seeing what we could do. Are we happy with it? Of course; for light office work, web browsing, and more, it’s a fine rig. With a few tweaks, it could be incredible, but that’s another story for another day.