AMD Athlon 3000G APU in Socket of Motherboard

Introduction

It may not be as exciting as AMD’s Renoir announcement recently, but at least you can buy this APU in online and retail stores right now at an incredibly low price.  We are talking about the AMD Athlon 3000G APU which was released in the Fall of 2019, almost now one year ago.  You can buy this CPU with integrated Radeon Vega 3 graphics right now for only $49 on B&H. It was also $49 on Amazon just a few days ago, if you click the Other Sellers you will see it is still $49 sold by Amazon. Prices are fluctuating at the moment by other sellers, you can track the prices at PCPartPicker. The APU launched at $49. 

Though it is now almost one year old, this APU is still relevant today as it provides an incredible entry-level PC build option with combination CPU and GPU built-in and it’s widely available.  This CPU and GPU combo negates the need for purchasing a dedicated GPU, thus saving you even more money and allowing for an incredibly affordable build if you just need a computer, but want to save the absolute most money.  What’s more, this CPU and graphics are fully overclockable for enthusiasts.

Best Performance

Reviewing this CPU, a year later, also ensures that we are now testing and showing the absolute best performance that is possible out of this APU.  Over the past year, there have been many BIOS updates plus AMD AGESA code updates.  Testing on the best motherboard today we are able to benefit from a years’ worth of BIOS and AGESA code updates, also including OS updates and software updates.  That means this APU is operating at the peak of its performance potential, it is providing the best performance today that it is ever going to give.

This APU also offers something special, it is completely unlocked and you are allowed to overclock it!  This gives it even more potential for better performance.  Considering this APU is only $50, and it can overclock means it provides a great value for pushing that entry-level system as fast as possible.  Back this CPU with a solid motherboard, and you have a really great little system to play around with, and so that’s exactly what we have done today.

Two Reviews

To focus on the features better, we are going to break this up into two reviews.  The first review you are seeing today focuses on the CPU side of the APU.  We are going to test its CPU performance and overclock the CPU to see how that improves performance.  Then, in our second review, we are going to focus on the Radeon Vega 3 graphics built-in. 

We will test gaming performance and we will even overclock the Radeon Vega 3 graphics to see how that improves game performance.  In this way, you’ll get a good idea of how this little APU provides CPU and GPU performance for all types of workloads, including gaming.

AMD Athlon 3000G

You will notice AMD has gone with a traditional naming scheme, it has brought the Athlon branding back.  If you are unaware, the Athlon branding started in the summer of 1999 by being the first 7th generation x86 CPU and was the first desktop processor to reach speeds of 1GHz.  The name has evolved over the years being part of different releases, and now in 2019 was used to denote AMD’s highest-performance entry-level processor. 

The first thing you should note is that the Athlon 3000G is based on the Zen+ microarchitecture, not Zen 2.  The code name is Picasso and it is manufactured on 12nm.  This APU is a successor to the Athlon 300GE.  The AMD Athlon 3000G has 2 cores/4 threads and a TDP of 35W with integrated graphics.  It does not have a turbo clock, instead, it has a base clock speed that operates at 3.5GHz base frequency at all times.  Its supported memory speeds are DDR4-2933, but with the right motherboard and memory, it can support higher, such as DDR4-3200 and even 3333MHz as we will show you. 

What makes this APU unique is that it has built-in Radeon Vega 3 graphics with 3 Vega CUs.  Oh, and then there’s the part about this CPU being completely unlocked so you can overclock it with multipliers!  With a price of $49, having a feature like unlocked overclocking is unheard of, so that definitely makes this appealing for an entry-level PC.

The built-in Radeon Vega 3 graphics consists of 3 Vega CUs, 192 Shaders/Streaming Processors, 16 ROPs, and 12 TMUs.  It operates on a bus width of 128-bit and the memory runs at your system memory, so if running 3200MHz that is also the memory speed and with that speed provides 51.2GB/s of memory bandwidth. 

Now, given that this is a 2 core/4 thread CPU we can’t expect the world from it.  Keep in mind that this is entry-level everything.  Entry-level CPU, entry-level GPU, but it does have the capability to overclock the CPU and the Radeon Vega 3 graphics.  The TDP is only 35W. 

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Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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12 Comments

  1. The question – for the ultimate in inexpensive system, get a cheap APU like the Athlon 3000G, or go buy something old, but cheap, like a Core2Quad 9650?
  2. Interesting – I somewhat recently advised a friend to pickup a Core2Quad for $75 (full system, complete with 8GB ram, and 500watt bronze power supply), and add a used GTX 980 to it for another $75. I assume, though may be wrong, that would end up both faster and cheaper than anything he could build new.

  3. Interesting – I somewhat recently advised a friend to pickup a Core2Quad for $75 (full system, complete with 8GB ram, and 500watt bronze power supply), and add a used GTX 980 to it for another $75. I assume, though may be wrong, that would end up both faster and cheaper than anything he could build new.

    Sure, it’s cheaper but I definitely doubt it’s nearly as powerful. I’d be really surprised if the C2Q didn’t badly limit the video card. IPC has come a long way since the Core2 days as I can attest. A year ago I finally upgraded from a Q6600@3.6 to a Ryzen 5 2600x and the difference was like night and day. I only had a Radeon HD5770 which wasn’t much newer than the Q6600 but in some games I was still CPU limited and the GTX980 is a hell of a lot more powerful than that HD5770.

  4. Yeah that old C2Q system, I think I’d prefer something modern even if it were a bit slower. A lot of things have come a long way: DDR4, USB3, NVMe, SATA3, etc.

    That’s before you get into intangibles like security updates. warranty, software support, etc.

    You may get the older system to benchmark a bit better, but I think the overall experience would be a lot better with a modern system (APU or otherwise). And you could always drop that 980 in on the APU as well.

    Then again, if your budget is only $150… you don’t really have a lot of room there to be too choosy. I think in that range, I’d just say save until you get the $300 or so it would take to build a bare bones budget new APU-based system, and then you could expand/upgrade from there pretty readily for the next few years.

  5. Sure, it’s cheaper but I definitely doubt it’s nearly as powerful. I’d be really surprised if the C2Q didn’t badly limit the video card. IPC has come a long way since the Core2 days as I can attest. A year ago I finally upgraded from a Q6600@3.6 to a Ryzen 5 2600x and the difference was like night and day. I only had a Radeon HD5770 which wasn’t much newer than the Q6600 but in some games I was still CPU limited and the GTX980 is a hell of a lot more powerful than that HD5770.

    Are you sure the IPC is dramatically better from Core2Quad to today? Here at the house, I have a stock C2Q 9650 running Rosetta@home 24×7. I also have the following at the house running rosetta 24×7:
    a 5 year newer A10-7870k OC’d to 4.44ghz,
    a 8 year newer i3-6100
    a 10 year newer Ryzen 2700X.

    The C2Q is generating ~3200 average credit, while the A10 7870K is generating ~2000 average credit, the 6100 ~1800 average credit, and the 2700X ~13,000 Credit. Per core, outside of power usage, the C2Q seems to hold its own pretty well.

    Edit to correct the model number on my A10.

  6. I’m fairly sure I have a Q6600 in the closet and I can have Brent send the 3000G down to me. Should a showdown be set up between the 3000G @ 2c/4t against the Q6600 at 4c/4t? If so, what "tasks" would need to be compared? Gaming? Something else?

    Not promising that I’ll put this on the publication schedule, but can certainly consider it…

  7. It would be very interesting to me, maybe not others. For used hardware, it might be best to see where the bang for the buck is? Can you reliably get, say, a used Ivy Bridge system for under $100?

    Looks like the drop in GFlops / core is quite large between the Q6600 and the Q9650, but less than 10% between the 9650 and the 3500U:

    CPU model Number of computers Avg. cores/computer GFLOPS/core GFLOPs/computer

    Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40GHz [Family 6 Model 15 Stepping 11] 112 4.00 2.52 10.08

    Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q9650 @ 3.00GHz [Family 6 Model 23 Stepping 10] 39 4.00 3.49 13.95

    AMD Ryzen 5 3500U with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx [Family 23 Model 24 Stepping 1] 50 8.00 3.63 29.06

    Source:

  8. Looks like the drop in GFlops / core is quite large between the Q6600 and the Q9650

    That seems to be more clock speed related than anything – bump the Q6600 up to 3GHz and it closes the gap a good bit.

    So you’re more focused on boinc performance than desktop tasks/gaming for this comparison?

  9. That seems to be more clock speed related than anything – bump the Q6600 up to 3GHz and it closes the gap a good bit.

    So you’re more focused on boinc performance than desktop tasks/gaming for this comparison?

    Its all I have to compare at this time in my home setup (edit – its all I have to compare old, cheap hardware to whatever newer stuff I have on hand or can read reviews for). I have a fair number of friends that ask me what to get, though (I’m "the IT" guy for all my friends). When a friend asked what the cheapest amount he could spend to get his kid a pc for League of Legends, Rocket League, and CS: GO, I based the decision on my personal boinc performance, as I didn’t have much data for the games. I know my A10-7870K isn’t great with the integrated GPU for some things – XCom 2 barely runs for example – but I figured that the 980 would more than cover plenty of FPS for the esports games.

  10. Are you sure the IPC is dramatically better from Core2Quad to today? Here at the house, I have a stock C2Q 9650 running Rosetta@home 24×7. I also have the following at the house running rosetta 24×7:
    a 5 year newer A10-7870k OC’d to 4.44ghz,
    a 8 year newer i3-6100
    a 10 year newer Ryzen 2700X.

    The C2Q is generating ~3200 average credit, while the A10 7870K is generating ~2000 average credit, the 6100 ~1800 average credit, and the 2700X ~13,000 Credit. Per core, outside of power usage, the C2Q seems to hold its own pretty well.

    Edit to correct the model number on my A10.

    In the case of my Q6600@3.6Ghz I managed to get a multi-core score of 741 in CB20. My Ryzen 2600x pulled a multi-core score of 3004. It’s not a perfect comparison because the Ryzen obviously has more cores/threads and a higher clockspeed but even by tripling the Q6600 score to "match" the thread count between the two you’re still falling quite a bit short of the Ryzen at 2223. At that point the Q6600 is still 781 points short of the Ryzen which makes the Q6600 33% slower than the Ryzen.

    I’m lucky to have those CB20 numbers for my Q6600 yet and I don’t have any other numbers written down for anything else. I’ve done a lot of encoding for my Plex server and from memory (it’s been a year since I swapped from Q6600 to Ryzen 2600x) I want to say that after normalizing the thread count between the processors my Ryzen is at least as much faster in encoding as it was in CB20.

    I’m not running any DC projects at the moment due to heat but when I was I still had the Q6600@3.2 in my server going as well as my Ryzen 2600x. Keep in mind that the Ryzen as my main system wasn’t always running 12 threads especially if I was doing anything with the system. In most cases I would drop the used thread count to 50% while gaming and around 84% while doing anything non-stressing to avoid latency and smoothness issues. The Q6600 was 100% all the time and rarely had any sort of workload. In this case the Ryzen averaged 6x-8x the points of the Q6600. Similar work units of the same project tended to take a minimum of 2x as long on the Q6600 and sometimes 3x as long.

    When the first Core-i processors released there was a considerable performance increase compared to the C2Qs. That IPC increase has only increased since then. The increases between most generations wasn’t large but it has added up to quite a bit over the years with the current Ryzens meeting or exceeding IPC of current Intel CPUs.

  11. And now that I’ve finally read the review which I enjoyed quite a bit I can add an addendum to my previous post.

    First of all, the DC project I was talking about is WCG. As usual I forgot to state specifically what I was talking about.

    Second, from the review you can see that in CB20 the stock speed Athlon 3000g with only two cores but four threads outperformed my Q6600 and it did that with a 100mhz deficit in clock speed. There are other factors to take into account considering the Q6600 is only running DDR2 800 RAM and the review system at stock speeds and my own system are running DDR4 3200 speeds. The RAM and other differences likely have a positive impact but that’s part of the whole package. It was also nice to see a sort of mini-review of the motherboard I have.

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