Best AM3 & AM3+ CPUs

The Best AM3 / AM3+ CPUs [2020 Buyers Guide]

Just because you can’t afford the latest and greatest, doesn’t mean you should miss out.

While AM3 Processors were initially launched in February 2009, some of them still provide solid computing power.

This is especially true for AM3+ CPU’s which are still viable options for low-end and even mid-level gaming PCs.

Some of the best AM3+ CPU’s have 8 cores and clock speeds up to 5 GHz, there’s still life in them yet.

Category

CPU 

Cores

Core Clock

Boost Clock

Cache

Power

Buy

Most Powerful

AMD FX 9590

8

4.7 GHz

5 GHz

8MB

220W

Check Price

Best AM3 CPU

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T

6

3.3 GHz

3.7 GHz

6MB

125W

Check Price

Best AM3+ CPU

AMD FX 8320

8

3.5 GHz

4.0 GHz

8MB

125W

Check Price


Best AM3 Socket Processor

When buying a processor, you need to make sure that sockets are compatible.

You can learn the difference between AM3 & AM3+ later on in this article.

However, it’s important you know that an AM3+ processor cannot fit in an AM3 socket. If you have a motherboard with an AM3 socket, you will need to buy an AM3 CPU.

If you’re not able to change switch motherboards, here are the best processors for the original AM3 socket.

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black
  • Core Count – 6
  • Core Clock/Boost Clock – 3.3 GHz / 3.7 GHz
  • Power Wattage – 125W
  • Cache – 6MB

If you’re someone that has 100 tabs open browsing the internet, or even multiple demanding programs, this could be the perfect processor for a budget workstation.

With a cool 6 cores and 6MB cache, the AMD Phenom 1100T deals with data quicker than you’d expect (for a processor of its age). It also does this super quietly, thanks to the “Cool ‘n’ Quiet” technology.

The 1100T still maintains pretty respectable clock speeds, even when compared with more recent CPUs. With 3.3 GHz straight out of the factory, it’s fast enough to perform most common tasks without frustration.

While there are no factory-recommended boost speeds, I’ve seen people reporting stable clock speeds of around 3.6-3.8 GHz. I wouldn’t recommend overclocking this CPU, but it is an option.

Admittedly, when it comes to gaming, it’s not the best processor in the world. When paired with a strong graphics card, you’ll achieve a smooth fps on most games, however, there are definitely better options. This is the same for any AM3 processor but to change socket you’d have to upgrade a lot more than the CPU.

If you’re stuck using AM3, this is the best processor you’ll get.

That being said, it’s hard to actually find one. There are some on eBay, but I’ve not seen any “brand new” ones on NewEgg or Amazon.


AMD Phenom II X6 1075T

AMD Phenom II X6 1075T
  • Core Count – 6
  • Core Clock/Boost Clock – 3 GHz / 3.5 GHz
  • Power Wattage – 95W
  • Cache – 6MB

In comparison to the 1100T, this processor is slightly less powerful. This is because it draws less power itself at 95 Watts.

Depending on how big your power supply is, and the rest of the components in your PC, you may need a CPU that requires less power.

You can also get graphics cards that require less power.

More often than not, if you’re working within extreme restrictions, you’ll be better off upgrading your PSU. However, there are scenarios where you may want a less-powerful but efficient processor. (Especially if you’re the one paying the electric bill).

Unless you’re trying to save on power, you should really go for the 1100T whenever it’s available. I believe that both processors are similarly priced and equally as hard to source.

Whichever you pick up, there’s not too much of a noticeable difference between the two.


AMD Phenom II X4 955

AMD Phenom II X4 955
  • Core Count – 4
  • Core Clock/Boost Clock – 3.2 GHz
  • Power Wattage – 125W
  • Cache – 6MB

While it’s super easy to get hung up on processing power and the number of cores, sometimes you have to appreciate parts for what they are.

This processor is perfect for those who want a dedicated media center or even an entry-level gaming PC build for a younger relative. There’s more than enough power in this for everyday tasks as well as light gaming.

It’s certainly getting older, and becoming more and more outdated each day, but, it still remains a good option for budget PCs. Don’t try to pair a brand new graphics card with any of the AM3 CPUs, you’ll experience serious bottlenecking and essentially waste your money.

You can get this cheap on amazon, as well as eBay and other second-hand places.

The main downside of this processor and most of the older AMD CPUs is the heat that they generate. This can be counteracted with after-market coolers, but you need to ask yourself if it’s really worth the extra cost and hassle.

Best AM3+ FX Processor For Gaming

Now, if you have an AM3+ motherboard, you can use both AM3 and AM3+ processors.

You’ll always find that the AM3+ Processors are much better for gaming and multitasking, so you’re just as well choosing one of those.

I’ve listed below the best AMD FX processors with options at all price ranges. The FX 9590 is by far the most powerful, The 8320 is the best value for money and the 6350 is a respectable cheaper option.

AMD FX 9590

AMD FX 9590 CPU
  • Core Count – 8
  • Core Clock/Boost Clock – 4.7 GHz / 5 GHz
  • Power Wattage – 220 W
  • Cache – 8MB

At the time of release, the AMD FX processors were absolutely incredible.

The FX 9590 demonstrates exactly that. This is a processor that was released in 2013 and still provides competition to many CPUs that are released in 2020 (spec-wise at least).

At the time of release, this was the industry’s only 8-core desktop processor. The closest Intel processor at the time was the 4770K having 4 cores. Obviously things have moved on since then, but this CPU is still very much in the picture.

Providing you can find one that hasn’t been used and abused, when paired with a strong graphics card, you’ll be able to run a lot of the modern games with 60FPS on medium settings at least.

If you were to play one of the more demanding games that were released in 2013, this would blow it out of the park. Unless it was Arma, I always found that game to run poorly, especially on the AMD FX processors.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a processor this powerful requires a lot of power.

You’ll also find that it requires an aftermarket cooler. As before mentioned, the FX processors run hot.

If you don’t take good care of your PC, cleaning it on a regular basis, you’ll find the temperatures will rise quickly and the noise will become unbearable.

I remember many days in the summer where my PC would sound like a jet and my friends could hear it on the other side of the microphone.

If you do choose this processor, you will not be disappointed performance-wise. Just remember it’s a power-hungry beast that gets angry when it’s not looked after properly.

AMD FX 8320

AMD FX 8320
  • Core Count – 8
  • Core Clock/Boost Clock – 3.5 GHz / 4GHz
  • Power Wattage – 125W
  • Cache – 8MB

I’m not sure there’s ever been a CPU that comes close to challenging how much value for money this was upon release.

If I told you back in 2013 that you could get an 8 core processor with a 4 GHz clock speed for $130, you’d have laughed me off the planet.

AMD really did accelerate gaming and the accessibility to high-end desktop CPUs with the FX series.

There wasn’t too much difference between this processor and the 8350. The base clocks were .5 GHz apart, but, you can achieve very similar boost speeds without sacrificing stability using the 8320.

Pretty much everything that was said for the 9590 can be said for the 8320.

You cannot fault the performance of this processor unless you’re trying to play Arma.

Again, it runs super hot with the stock cooler. However, you’re probably going to look at installing an aftermarket cooler anyway, especially if you’re trying to get 4.2 GHz+ boost speeds.

If you don’t care about overclocking and would prefer a slightly more economical chip, you can get the 8320E. This takes the TDP from 125W down to 95W. It’s a small saving, but you’ll also find it runs slightly cooler too.

AMD FX-4350

AMD FX-4350
  • Core Count – 4
  • Core Clock/Boost Clock – 4.2 GHz
  • Power Wattage – 125W
  • Cache – 8MB

With all the focus being on the bigger and powerful 8000 processors, this one kind of flew under the radar a little bit.

The FX-4350 is a processor which again, was great value for money.

For a lot of people, it was the focal point of their budget builds.

With 4 cores and a 4.2 GHz base speed, this processor was more than capable of handling everything the latest and greatest AAA Titles could throw at it.

Nowadays, it struggles to meet the minimum requirements for games such as BF1, Forza Horizon or NFS Heat. That being said it is capable of running GTA V and many other top titles released between 2010-2018.

It’s completely true that the AM3 chips are falling out of favor. It’s been many years and technology moves fast. However, if you’re on a budget and want a CPU that’s still capable, the FX 4350 is a good option.

AM3/AM3+ CPU Buying Guide

Buying processors are fairly straightforward once you know what you’re looking for. There aren’t really any specifics for the AM3 Sockets in particular, but, below you’ll find useful information that will help you to learn the socket and the CPUs a little bit more.

AM3 & AM3+ Difference

The AM3 and AM3+ sockets have a couple of differences between the two.

If you were to sit and count the number of pins, you’ll see that the AM3 has 941, whereas the AM3+ Socket has 942.

Another visible difference is the socket diameter. The AM3+ Socket has a larger diameter of 0.51mm in comparison to the 0.45mm AM3 socket.

Overall the AM3+ Socket was designed to improve power regulation and increase quality specs. It also offers a redesigned CPU cooler harness that allows for slightly better airflow, even with older coolers.

The majority of AM3 motherboards will not support AM3+ processors.

That being said there are a handful of manufacturers that were able to upgrade the bios on their boards to support AM3+.

AM3+ Boards, on the other hand, are fully compatible with AM3, AM3+ And Bulldozer based CPUs. This will allow you to run Phenom II, Athlon II, Opteron 3000 Series as well as the FX CPU’s mentioned above.

How To Install AM3 CPU

  1. Pull/Release The Metal Locking Bar
  2. Line up the golden triangle on the processor with the triangle on the CPU Socket
  3. Gently place the processor down and in place.
  4. If it doesn’t fit don’t force it. Pick up the CPU and try re-aligning it with the other triangle.
  5. When the socket accepts the processor, push down gently. You may hear it click into place.

Once the CPU is in place and fully secure, put the metal bar back into place and apply thermal paste to the processor if it doesn’t already have it.

After you’ve applied thermal paste it’s time to put your heatsink in place.

If you’re using the stock cooler it’s as simple as placing it on top, clipping it in, and plugging it into your motherboard.

I’d recommend using a different cooler for the AM3+ processors. You won’t believe how quickly they reach high temperatures and how loud they can be under heavy loads.

Best AM3+ Heatsink

At the time, the best and most popular heatsink that people paired with the FX chips was the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo. I personally ran it myself and it was much quieter than the stock cooler.

It’s crazy to think that 10 years later on, it’s still one of the most popular air coolers to this day.

The 120mm fan comes with wave-shaped blades that guarantee excellent airflow and if you really wanted to complicate things, you can configure it into a dual push and pull system using a secondary fan.

Overall the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo offers well-balanced cooling between 600 and 1600 RPM without too much noise.

It also includes a very versatile mounting bracket that supports various popular Intel chipsets as well as most AMD sockets.

I only really recommend this for people that are getting the FX processors. Especially if you’re looking at pushing their limits.

If you’re using any of the less powerful AM3 processors, you will be able to get away with using the stock cooler or something slightly cheaper.

AM3 Frequently Asked Questions

How Old Is AM3?

AM3 was launched on February 9, 2009. That makes it over 11 years old. Your AM3 Processor would be just about to start secondary school…

AM3+ on the other hand is slightly younger, being released in the middle of 2011.

Since 2011, AMD has released 7 more sockets, and support for AM3 is very much gone.

Is AM3+ Still Worth It?

The truth is, not really.

Sure, if you’re buying a second-hand CPU at a discounted price and you already have the compatible parts, it’s definitely worth it.

However, when going out of your way to create a newer, budget build, there are certainly better options. The Intel LGA 1151 socket is what I’d choose for a new budget build. You can start off with a Pentium G4560 and upgrade as far as an i7 if required.

AM3 and AM3+ is completely finished. Even if you were to get the 9590, there’s nowhere to go afterward without having to completely change your build.

As with anything else in life, it’s completely situational. If you have to choose AM3+ over not having a computer, it’s pretty simple which one you’d choose.

Hopefully, now that you know a little bit more, it will help you to decide the best way forward.

AM3+ vs AM4

The AM4 socket was launched in September 2016, 5 years after the AM3+ socket was released.

It was the first AMD socket to support DDR4 and brought a whole new series of “Ryzen” processors with it.

The biggest difference between the two has to be the upgrade capabilities. AM3+ is stuck using DDR3 RAM whereas AM4 will support upto 4 modules of DDR4 RAM in a dual-channel config.

Another thing that the AM4 offers that AM3 does not is the use of APUs. While most gamers will want a dedicated graphics card, APUs offer powerful integrated graphics that are perfect for smaller builds and media centers.

The truth is, if you’re looking to upgrade down the line, you’re much better off with an AM4 socket motherboard.