Performs well given its low price.
Does not include integrated graphics. Uses limited FM2+ platform. Cannot be overclocked.
If you don't need integrated graphics, the AMD Athlon X4 chip is a good way to get decent performing power at an eye-popping price.
In recent years, AMD's use of integrated graphics in its accelerated processing units (APUs) has been its calling card and a big part of the value it's offered consumers. With its Athlon X4 845 ($67), however, AMD eschews the graphics part of the equation to focus on affordability: If you know you're going to be using integrated graphics, the company seems to be saying, don't spend a lot of money on chip features you don't need. The blend of performance and price AMD has reached here make that argument especially persuasive.
The four-core Athlon X4 845 is clocked at 3.5GHz, with boost potential of 3.8GHz. (It isn't unlocked, so forget about overclocking the chip to get any more speed.) It uses AMD's newest "Excavator" processing cores, which means a smaller and quieter fan (boxed with the chip) is all you'll need to keep it running smoothly, though you may occasionally hear it when the processor is under heavy load.
As far as performance, the Athlon X4 845 compares well against the Intel Core i3-6100 and even the higher-clocked (4GHz, boosting up to 4.2GHz) and higher-priced ($95) Athlon X4 880K, which uses AMD's older "Steamroller" cores and consumes more power. The chip is ideal for gamers who are more interested in spending money on graphics cards than on a CPU.
The biggest drawback of the Athlon X4 845? It uses the FM2+ platform, which is expected to be replaced by AM4 later this year—so there are unlikely to be many upgrade opportunities in the future. If you want that kind of flexibility, you're better off either waiting for AM4 or going with Skylake now. If you couldn't care less, and just want an affordable base for a video-card-loaded PC, the Athlon X4 845 is a fine way to go.
For more details, read the AMD Athlon X4 845 review at our sister site, ComputerShopper.com.
By Matthew Murray
Managing Editor, Hardware
Matthew Murray got his humble start leading a technology-sensitive life in elementary school, where he struggled to satisfy his ravenous hunger for computers, computer games, and writing book reports in Integer BASIC. He earned his B.A. in Dramatic Writing at Western Washington University, where he also minored in Web design and German. He has been building computers for himself and others for more than 20 years, and he spent several years working in IT and helpdesk capacities before escaping into the far more exciting world…
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