What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

The AMD Athlon X4 880K Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
The last few years have been a challenge for AMD’s CPU division. The Bulldozer microarchitecture which defined their lineup for the last half decade (along with its Piledriver, Steamroller and Excavator updates) proved to be a disappointment, APUs haven’t gained a foothold in key markets and key ULV processors like Mullins never critical mass. This may sound like a doomsday-style intro but there’s been a number of recently-announced elements that may help redefine AMD’s image in the eyes of potential customers.

Even though they have been facing an uphill battle AMD is in the process of rolling out several updates in an effort to refresh their desktop lineup. Motherboards have been updated with new features, additional APUs are being introduced and even the venerable Athlons are receiving a much-needed injection of adrenalin. There’s also been some news about the highly anticipated AM4 socket alongside the Bristol Ridge and Summit Ridge platforms for the Zen microarchitecture. All of these things point towards a resurgence of AMD’s product stack in their efforts to better compete against the Intel juggernaut.


While I personally love covering high end processors, among the many recent announcements one really struck a chord with me: the Athlon X4 880K. So why was I so interested in what amounts to a low-end processor for the FM2+ platform? I feel AMD’s FM2+ Athlon lineup has remained relatively under-covered since its introduction even though it contains some of their most enticing price / performance SKUs. This newest addition seems like the perfect little plucky underdog that could meet the needs of budget-focused gamers who want good quad-core performance but don’t want to spend upwards of $120 for an entry-level Intel i3 6100. The 880K even has an unlocked multiplier which allows for relatively easy overclocking (more on that later), something that none of Intel’s current Skylake CPUs offer unless you want to invest about $250 into an i5 6600K.

Like all other Athlons, the X4 880K utilizes a revised Steamroller core architecture (Excavator still remains exclusive to the lowly X4 845) from the most recent Godavari APUs but rolls it into a die package which doesn’t have an integrated GPU. This layout allows it to hit a significantly lower price point despite boasting frequencies that beat all other FM2+ processors. The only exception is the new A10-7890K but which costs a whopping $165. Another interesting aspect of this design is its TDP value; 95W is identical to higher-end APUs and without the iGPU I’m hoping the 880K will be able to hit its maximum Turbo frequency more often.

The aforementioned gap of $70 between the A10-7890K and Athlon X4 880K is an important one since it gives potential buyers two choices depending on their intended usage scenarios without leaving the FM2+ environment. If you are looking to run a dedicated graphics card, then grab the lower-priced X4 880K and put the money saved towards a better GPU. Meanwhile, if a compact form factor, optimal power consumption, light gaming and HD movie watching are key factors for you then an A10 or even A8 series APU will likely be a better choice. With both AMD and NVIDIA divesting themselves from the sub-$100 GPU market, the graphics power from an APU will easily overcome the 880K alongside a $70 dedicated graphics card.


A slightly more fitting competitor for the Athlon X4 880K actually comes from the AM3 side of the fence. AMD’s FX-4300 has four cores, very similar clock speeds, an identical amount of L2 cache, costs about $15 less and is attached to a 9-series platform that many feel is more versatile than FM2+.

It should be interesting to see how these two processors line up against one another since the Vishera CPU uses an older Piledriver architecture and was launched more than three years ago. Meanwhile, the Steamroller microarchitecture has higher IPC rates, better memory optimizations and a number of other advancements that help distinguish it from its predecessor. The Godavari revision used on the X4 880K has architected primarily for APUs but its minor enhancements push Steamroller even further towards next generation designs with better TDP management through manufacturing process refinements and enhanced clock gating.


Another addition worth talking about is the new cooling solution the X4 880K processor ships with. It houses a quartet of heatpipes which make contact with a pure copper base and arch upwards into a large aluminum fin array for optimal heat dispersion. Thermal dissipation is rated at 125W which means there’s some thermal headroom if you want to overclock this 95W processor. While the design is basically the same as the one used for AMD’s new Wraith cooler, it doesn’t have the illuminated shroud. It’s good to see AMD stepping up their heatsink game since the last thing anyone wants is to buy an expensive third party cooler to get reasonable temperatures on their value-oriented processor.

There’s no denying the X4 880K is an enticing little processor, one that could effectively help budget-minded gamers focus their money on a GPU upgrade. Remember, the $25 gap between it and an i3 6100 isn’t huge but when paired up with the cost disparity between DDR3 and DDR4, the savings could lead to a substantial GPU upgrade. The FM2+ platform has also been updated with USB 3.1, M.2 and other features in an effort bring its technology foundation up to today’s standards.

While AMD has obviously worked hard to breathe some new life into their lineup, I have some concerns about how buyers will react to the Athlon X4 880K. While affordability has always been on the green team’s side, there’s an understandable perception that AMD’s current processor and platform solutions are the old-timers of today’s CPU market, regardless of how many refreshes are launched. AMD hasn’t helped themselves by announcing the upcoming Alpine Ridge and Bristol Ridge platforms’ AM4 sockets won’t be forwards compatible with current processors, nor will FM2+ motherboards accept next generation CPUs / APUs. This leaves potential AMD buyers in a nebulous grey zone where they have to ask themselves whether or not to invest into a twilight platform.

Grey zone or not, our last conversations with AMD suggest these new processors are needed since comparable next generation alternatives are still far away for desktop users. If that is indeed the case, the X4 880K may be a perfect option for gamers on a tight budget.
 
Last edited:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology


For this review, we have prepared a number of different test setups, representing many of the popular platforms at the moment. As much as possible, the test setups feature identical components, memory timings, drivers, etc. Aside from manually selecting memory frequencies and timings, every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.


For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks are applied to Windows 8.1 and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • UAC – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Superfetch – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan – High Performance
  • V-Sync – Off

D) Windows updates are then completed installing all available updates

E) All programs are installed and then updated.

F) Benchmarks are each run three times, and unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.

G) All processors had their energy saving options / c-states enabled
 
Last edited:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks: AIDA64

AIDA64 Extreme Edition


AIDA64 uses a suite of benchmarks to determine general performance and has quickly become one of the de facto standards among end users for component comparisons. While it may include a great many tests, we used it for general CPU testing (CPU ZLib / CPU Hash) and floating point benchmarks (FPU VP8 / FPU SinJulia).


CPU PhotoWorxx Benchmark
This benchmark performs different common tasks used during digital photo processing. It performs a number of modification tasks on a very large RGB image:

This benchmark stresses the SIMD integer arithmetic execution units of the CPU and also the memory subsystem. CPU PhotoWorxx test uses the appropriate x87, MMX, MMX+, 3DNow!, 3DNow!+, SSE, SSE2, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4A, AVX, AVX2, and XOP instruction set extension and it is NUMA, HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.




CPU ZLib Benchmark

This integer benchmark measures combined CPU and memory subsystem performance through the public ZLib compression library. CPU ZLib test uses only the basic x86 instructions but is nonetheless a good indicator of general system performance.



CPU AES Benchmark

This benchmark measures CPU performance using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) data encryption. In cryptography AES is a symmetric-key encryption standard. AES is used in several compression tools today, like 7z, RAR, WinZip, and also in disk encryption solutions like BitLocker, FileVault (Mac OS X), TrueCrypt. CPU AES test uses the appropriate x86, MMX and SSE4.1 instructions, and it's hardware accelerated on Intel AES-NI instruction set extension capable processors. The test is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.



CPU Hash Benchmark

This benchmark measures CPU performance using the SHA1 hashing algorithm defined in the Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 180-3. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly. More importantly, it uses MMX, MMX+/SSE, SSE2, SSSE3, AVX instruction sets, allowing for increased performance on supporting processors.



FPU VP8 / SinJulia Benchmarks

AIDA’s FPU VP8 benchmark measures video compression performance using the Google VP8 (WebM) video codec Version 0.9.5 and stresses the floating point unit. The test encodes 1280x720 resolution video frames in 1-pass mode at a bitrate of 8192 kbps with best quality settings. The content of the frames are then generated by the FPU Julia fractal module. The code behind this benchmark method utilizes MMX, SSE2 or SSSE3 instruction set extensions.

Meanwhile, SinJulia measures the extended precision (also known as 80-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of a single frame of a modified "Julia" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and utilizes trigonometric and exponential x87 instructions.



I really wasn’t expecting much from the X4 880K but it actually provided some solid results while also highlighting some of the major failings of AMD’s current architecture. Starting off with the positive, it was able to remain quite far ahead of the FX-4300 in every one of these tests with the exception of PhotoWorxx due to the FM2+ platform’s poor memory subsystem performance. The Little Athlon That Could even managed to match or beat the significantly more expensive i3-6100 in some of these initial benchmarks as well. Unfortunately, that memory subsystem not only loses to the older FX-4300 but it also plays second chair to the DDR4 interface on Skylake processors.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks: Cinebench / PCMark 8 / WPrime

CineBench R15 64-bit


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R15 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.



PCMark 8


PCMark 8 is the latest iteration of Futuremark’s system benchmark franchise. It generates an overall score based upon system performance with all components being stressed in one way or another. The result is posted as a generalized score. In this case, we didn’t use the Accelerated benchmark but rather just used the standard Computational results which cut out OpenCL from the equation.



WPrime


wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're squaring, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload. Below are the scores for the 1024M benchmark.


The Athlon X4 880K is a back-of-the-field competitor but it actually remains ahead of every APU we’ve tested. The FX-4300 isn’t even in the same area code which goes to show that some of AMD’s architectural advancements have indeed improved upon baseline processing. However, the platform itself seems to be an anchor tied around this CPU’s neck.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Productivity Benchmarks: 7-Zip / Blender / Handbrake

7-Zip


At face value, 7-Zip is a simple compression/decompresion tool like popular applications like WinZip and WinRAR but it also has numerous additional functions that can allow encryption, decryption and other options. For this test, we use the standard built-in benchmark which focuses on raw multi-threaded throughput.



Blender


Blender is a free-to-use 3D content creation program that also features an extremely robust rendering back-end. It boasts extremely good multi core scaling and even incorporates a good amount of GPU acceleration for various higher level tasks. In this benchmark we take a custom 1440P 3D image and render it out using the built-in tool. The results you see below list how long it took each processor to complete the test.



Handbrake


Video conversion from one format to another is a stressful task for any processor and speed is paramount. Handbrake is one of the more popular transcoders on the market since it is free, has a long feature list, supports GPU acceleration and has an easy-to-understand interface. In this test we take a 6GB 4K MP4 and convert it to a 1080P MKV file with a H.264 container format. GPU acceleration has been disabled. The results posted indicate how long it took for the conversion to complete.


What we have here is a microcosm of AMD’s current set of benefits and challenges. There are some extremely good results in 7-Zip and Blender, which is an application where we can truly see how including newer instruction sets into Steamroller moved forward its performance in some areas. In those two programs, the 880K is actually able to draw pretty even with the i3-6100. On the other hand, there are still some issues in Handbrake, a key transcoding application where all AMD products fall behind their Intel counterparts.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Productivity Benchmarks: POV Ray / WinRAR

POV Ray 3.7


POV Ray is a complex yet simple to use freeware ray tracing program which has the ability to efficiently use multiple CPU cores in order to speed up rendering output. For this test, we use its built-in benchmark feature which renders a high definition scene. The rendering time to completion is logged and then listed below.



WinRAR


WinRAR is one of those free tools that everyone seems to use. Its compression and decompression algorithms are fully multi-core aware which allows for a significant speedup when processing files. In this test we compress a 3GB folder of various files and add a 256-bit encryption key. Once again the number listed is the time to completion.



Here we can see the yin and yang approach of this new processor. It provides highly competitive results in POV Ray but when additional system resources like the memory and storage subsystems are required along with less than full quad core throughput, things start to fall apart relative to Intel’s offerings. However, it should be noted that the X4 880K is the fastest FM2+ option we have come across and it costs just $95.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Single Thread Performance

Single Thread Performance


Even though most modern applications have the capability to utilize more than one CPU thread, single threaded performance is still a cornerstone of modern CPU IPC improvements. In this section, we take a number of synthetic applications and run them in single thread mode. The only addition to our normal benchmarks is Dolphin which uses a simple Nintendo GameCube emulation test on a single core.


Here is one area where AMD has struggled as of late. Due to the setup of internal core resources, the Athlon X4 880K parallels other FM2+ options with some truly horrible single core performance results and it also falls behind the lowly FX-4300. This points towards AMD improving on the multi threading front between Steamroller and Piledriver parts but single threaded performance is still a bridge too far.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks (720P) – Discrete GPU

Gaming Benchmarks (720P) – Discrete GPU







This was pretty much expected as the raw processing power behind AMD’s latest generation of processor just cannot compare to Intel’s Skylake series. However, even against older Haswell generation CPU’s things don’t look all that great with Shadow of Mordor being a stand out failure due to what looks like an general microarchitecture limitation. Within the AMD lineup, the X4 880K consistently remains the fastest option on the FM2+ platform despite its extremely affordable price.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks (1080P) – Discrete GPU

Gaming Benchmarks (1080P) – Discrete GPU






As usual, the results become a lot closer once the graphics card becomes something of a bottleneck and this situation will likely even our more with a move to 1440P or 4K. While there is still a sometimes-significant gap (there’s something odd happening with Shadow of Mordor and AMD processors), in most situations the X4 880K hits well above its weight class. Remember this is a simple $95 processor and its only a few frames per second behind Intel alternatives that cost almost twice as much.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
System Power Consumption / Overclocking Results

System Power Consumption


Our power consumption numbers are broken down into two categories: one which simply stresses all of the CPU cores with WPrime and another which puts a high amount of load on both the CPU cores and the IGP. The latter will only be included if a given processor includes a dedicated internal graphics sub-processor.

For the CPU power consumption test, we use the standard testing system (with an NVIDIA GTX 980 installed) and wait until the system and discrete GPU are at idle speeds in order to log the idle power consumption. After this, WPrime 1024M is looped for 15 minutes while the power consumption is logged with a calibrated power meter to determine the average watts.



Despite the fact that it doesn’t have an integrated graphics core, the X4 880K isn’t exactly the most efficient AMD processor we have come across lately. With that being said, this does point towards an APU’s ability near-perfect ability to completely turn off its iGPU and all associated devices if a dedicated graphics card is detected.



Overclocking Results


If I can take you back to our original FX-4300 review for a moment, you may remember that achieving an impressive 1GHz overclock wasn’t only possible but also highly likely for most people running that chip alongside a good air cooling solution. That processor proved to be a monster overclocker but the same can’t be said for our Athlon X4 880K sample.


Regardless of BIOS settings, cooling (the stock 125W cooling solution proved to be more than adequate), voltage or any combination thereof, the CPU hit a brick wall at just 4.645GHz. Increasing the Bus speed or multiplier didn’t allow me to hit the 4.7GHz mark but I have a feeling there’s a platform limitation here; the board simply refused to POST at 4.7GHz but ran through every single stress test when set just 55MHz lower.

Even though 4.645GHz is a far cry from the 4.965GHz the FX-4300 achieved, the Athlon X4 880K nonetheless posted some extremely impressive results, proving that if you require more power this CPU does have more in the tank.



 

Latest posts

Twitter

Top