Building a PC with the AMD Athlon X4 940, X4 950 and X4 970

The final piece in AMD’s 7th generation CPU refresh for the AM4 platform comes in the form of three new Athlon processors: the X4 940, X4 950, and X4 970. Unlike the two sets of A-series CPUs (see our 35W and 65W builds), these new Athlons do not come with onboard GPUs.

The advantage, however, is that these are unlocked cores and can be overclocked much harder. So read on to find out exactly what you can build with the new AMD Athlon chips!

 

Who are these Athlon CPUs for?

These chips are very much designed as entry-level CPUs. But to me, they’re exciting for anyone who prefers to build and pick their own GPU, as well as builders unafraid of messing with overclock settings in the BIOS. Essentially, they are great for an enthusiastic builder working with a tight budget. The best part is, they have really nice performance for the price.

Not only that, but just like the earlier mentioned 7th Generation A-series CPUs, these Athlons are compatible with all the other perks of the AM4 socket, like DDR4 RAM support. So, although you might be on a budget now, you have a really nice upgrade path with Ryzen compatibility.

Please note that, as of this writing, only the X4 950 seems to be available for purchase. We see listings for the 940 and 970 on AMD’s website, but no indication of when they’ll be available.

With that said, let’s take a look at the specifications and example build

Budget Athlon 1080p Gaming Build ($450-510)

AMD Athlon 7th Generation X4 CPUs

CPU CORES / THREADS BASE / BOOST CLOCK TDP PRICE 
X4 940 4 / 4 3.2GHz / 3.6GHz 45/65W  n/a
X4 950 4 /4 3.5GHz / 3.8GHz 45/65W $60
X4 970 4 / 4 3.8GHz / 4GHz 45/65W  n/a

There are a few important things of note here. Firstly, these are all quad cores. The fundamental difference between each is clock speed out the box. Crucially, all models have been reported to have a stable 4GHz overclock at a minimum, using just the provided cooler from AMD. So if you are someone who’s comfortable with overclocking, or indeed you are thinking of pushing this CPU even harder, provided you use a custom cooling setup, that should be possible. Secondly, these CPUs can use either 45W or 65W configurations. So, if you need to save power for whatever reason, the option exists.

Optional CPU Cooler (for overclocking): Corsair H60 Liquid ($65)

As mentioned above, if you’re thinking of overclocking to around 4GHz, then the provided cooler from AMD is fine. This liquid cooling solution from Corsair will provide a little more stability on your CPU temperature if you consider pushing the CPU over 4GHz.

GPU: GIGABYTE GTX 1050 ($120)

Although you could spend a lot more here, for a budget 1080p gaming rig the GTX 1050 is really solid for the price. While you won’t be blown away by ultra graphics, it will handle most games on a mix of low/medium settings just fine.

RAM: Ballistix Sport LT 8GB DDR4 2666 ($65)

8GB RAM is plenty for an entry build like this, providing enough even if you’re wanting to game.

Motherboard: MSI ProSeries B350 ($65)

You’re going to need a B350 board to overclock the CPU and this Pro Series from MSI actually comes with a great feature set for the price.

HDD: HGST Deskstar 2TB ($56)

A good cheap 2TB drive which is perfect for media and gaming purposes.

PSU: EVGA 550W W1 ($40)

With wanting a little more power overhead for overclocking (as well as the standalone GPU), we have gone with the 500W power supply from EVGA.

Case: Antec 4000E ($40)

An understated case with decent airflow, this choice from Antec is simple yet functional for the price and will hold our build just fine.

Total Build Prices and Thoughts

All told, these builds come in at really competitive prices. With the recent increases to Intel’s G4560 (up to $110 from the original $63), suddenly these builds come into a class all by their own.

CPU used for build Standard Build Price Build Price w/ optional H60 cooler
X4 940  n/a n/a
X4 950 $446 $511
X4 970 n/a n/a

The interesting part in the future of these CPUs will come down to what happens if the various Intel Pentiums come back in stock. Right now, these CPUs provide nice performance for these price and fill in the market share under AMD’s Ryzen 3 1200. This huge range of CPU options on the AM4 socket seems like a very, very smart move by AMD.


Go Forth and Build!

As mentioned at the start of the article, there are extras that you might need to finish off these builds:

  1. A copy of Windows. If you are a student or work for a big business, you might be able to get a copy for free or at a significantly lower cost. If not, we recommend Windows 10 on DVD ($90) or USB ($120).
  2. An optical drive – critical if you are wanting to install Windows 10 via DVD. Good thing here is DVD-RW drives are cheap these days (here’s one for $21).

We also have general recommendations for:

If you want to see other builds with even higher performance, check out the main page at Logical Increments.

There you have it, a nice range of entry level Athlon CPU’s to build on a tight budget with!

If you have any questions or suggestions about these builds, then let us know in the comments.