AMD's Athlon brand is back in the form of an ultra-low-end APU

AMD never officially retired its Athlon brand, it just moved onto newer and better things, namely Ryzen. Be that as it may, the company is reviving the iconic brand with the "reimagined" Athlon 200GE, essentially a low-end APU (accelerated processing unit) combining x86 "Zen" CPU cores with Radeon Vega 3 graphics.

Why bring back the Athlon brand at this point in time? AMD notes that "Athlon has powered PCs for two decades," so it appears to be leveraging the mind share it's built up over the years. As it applies today, the Athlon brand takes its place beneath the Ryzen 3 in AMD's mainstream CPU hierarchy, and is intended to compete with Intel's Pentium and Celeron lines.

AMD's Athlon 200GE is a 2-core/4-thread chip with a 3.2GHz clockspeed and 5MB of cache. On the graphics side, it sports three Radeon compute units based on the company's Vega architecture. It has a 35W TDP.

"The Athlon 200GE desktop processor offers responsive and reliable computing for a wide range of experiences, from day-to-day needs like browsing and processing through more advanced workloads like high-definition PC gaming," AMD says.

Gaming might be a stretch, at least at higher resolutions (though we haven't spent any hands on time with the Athlon 200GE). The specs imply 192 streaming cores. By our estimation, performance should be in the neighborhood of an old Radeon HD 4890. It's probably more suitable for kiosks or other low-cost solutions, rather than the foundation of an affordable gaming PC.

Nevertheless, AMD is pitching the gaming angle. The company claims the Athlon 200GE offers up to 67 percent more graphics performance and 84 percent faster high-definition PC gaming compared to an Intel  Pentium G4560 (54W). That's a very low bar, since the G4560 has Intel HD Graphics 620 and is about half the performance of the HD 630.

According to AMD's own benchmarks, the Athlon 200GE manages playable framerates in less demanding games at 720p. Here are the numbers AMD shared:

  • DOTA 2 @ 720p (low): 65 fps
  • CS:Go @ 720p (ultra): 71 fps
  • Fortnite @ 720p (low): 49 fps
  • League of Legends @ 720p (ultra): 111 fps
  • Rocket League @ 720p (medium): 67 fps
  • Overwatch @ 720p (low): 59 fps

None of those are particularly demanding games, and running at 720p obviously isn't ideal. If you're on a tight budget and are mainly into esports, though, we suppose this could be an option.

The Athlon 200GE is priced at $55 (MSRP).