AMD has announced a new low-end desktop CPU based on its updated Zen core. To date, the company’s Ryzen refreshes have focused on CPUs at $100 and up with at least four cores. This time around, AMD is resurrecting the old Athlon brand and slashing the price on its new CPUs.
The new Athlon 200GE is a $55 dual-core CPU with four threads, 3 Graphics Compute Units (so 196 GPU cores), and a flat 3.2GHz CPU clock. AMD notes that the new cores offer “up to 169 percent more responsive computing than AMD’s previous generation AMD A6-9500E.” The A6-9500E was a Carrizo-based product with a 3.0GHz base, 3.4GHz boost, a 2C/2T configuration, and the same 35W TDP. There’s no question that a modern Ryzen-derived CPU would be substantially faster, and the launch of the Athlon 200 GE means AMD is finally moving to clean up the last of the Carrizo and other Bulldozer-derived SKUs still stuck in-market. In fact, it’s not even worth comparing against them. Ryzen is faster than any Carrizo core you’re going to find for a remotely comparable price.
Against Intel, the competition is a little more interesting. The strongest competition for the new Athlon 200GE is the Celeron G4920, a Coffee Lake 2C/2T chip at 3.2GHz (neither core has Turbo). Between the two, we’d bet on the Athlon — Intel has an advantage in single-thread performance, but adding HT support for AMD should offset those improvements. With that said, there’s a problem for both cores — the Intel Pentium Gold G5400 at $70.
The G5400 is a 3.7GHz CPU with two cores and four threads, matching the Athlon 200GE. Its additional 500MHz of CPU clock will likely give it the overall performance edge in this comparison — a 1.15x clock differential would be hard for AMD to overcome given that Intel CPUs are still typically more efficient in performance per clock. Then again, it’s not surprising to see this kind of jump at the lower-end of the market. $55 chips are intended for customers for whom every dollar counts, and the jump from $55 to $70 represents a 1.27x increase in price. For most people that $15 isn’t much, but if you’re trying to save every penny, it still counts. And the Athlon 200 GE should compete well against the Celeron it’s matched against, as far as the strict price point is concerned.
AMD is also planning to launch two new entry-level chips — the Athlon 220 GE and 240 GE. Specs on these parts haven’t been improved, but it wouldn’t surprise us if the company sticks to offering dual-core CPUs in the Athlon family, reserving the Ryzen brand for its quad-core chips and above.