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AM3 vs AM3+ Cooler: What’s the Differences

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PCs are ideal for gaming, no surprises there. The intricate construction of the CPU and better ability to wick the mounting heat away makes computers perfect for long hours of gaming, something you simply cannot expect from a laptop, even if it is uniquely designed for gaming. 

The best part is, CPUs come with coolers, which can absorb and disperse the heat with ease. AMD’s productions are one of the leading CPU sockets out there, with the top performers being the AM3 and AM3+. 

Though believe us when we say that the difference between the two is much more than just an added “+.” Read on to know what sets one apart from the other and which one is better for gaming. 

AM3 vs. AM3+ Coolers: Head to Head

FactorsAM3 Socket AM3+ Socket
Pinhole sizePin socket diameter of 0.45mmPin socket diameter os 0.51 mm
Processors Supports Athlon II/Phenom IISupports Athlon II/Phenom II/FX
FSB protocolHyperTransport 3.x for AM3HyperTransport 3.1 for AM3+
MicroarchitectureK10Bulldozer
Thermal Design Power125 Watt220 Watt
Succeeded by AM3+AM4

Cooling Factors of AM3 vs. AM3+ Socket CPUs

Cooling the CPU is crucial to ensure the durability of the system. Thankfully, the technological advancements have allowed CPUs to deliver solid performance, but there is also plenty of infighting among the tech-savvies about which coolers are the best. 

Here are 5 cooling parameters to judge two of the leading socket coolers in the market right now, AM3 and AM3+. 

Pinhole

  • AM3 CPU Cooler Pinhole Diameter: 0.45mm
  • AM3+ CPU Cooler Pinhole Diameter: 0.51 mm

There are significant changes between the AM3 and its successor AM3+ in terms of the pinhole, size, and count. The AM3+ has an increased pin count over its predecessor by one, taking the total count to 942. 

In addition to this, there was a notable improvement in the size of the pinhole. The AM3+ socket has a pin socket with a diameter of 0.51mm, while AM3 has a pinhole of 0.45 diameter. 

The serial link between the CPU and the power controller has also become comparatively faster, as it has precisely shot up from 400 kHz to 3400 kHz. This is apart from other improved specifications that the AM3+ has to offer over its predecessors. 

Microarchitecture

  • AM3 CPU Cooler: K10
  • AM3+ CPU Cooler: Bulldozer

AM3 CPU cooler is composed of AMD X86 microprocessors, the latest generation of the AMD K10 family. 

The families of processors included in this umbrella are Athlon II, Sempron, Sempron X2, Athlon II X2, X3, X4, Phenom X3, Phenom X4, and more. Nearly all of them are compatible with socket AM2+ and AM3 motherboards. 

The Bulldozer microarchitecture, on the other hand, was introduced in 2011 and took the CPU world by storm thanks to its modular designs and much more. 

The bulldozer families consist of Sempron X2, E2-Series, Athlon X2, Athlon X4, A4-Series, A6-Series, A8 Series, A9 Series, FX-series. Every FX microprocessor is compatible with the AM3+ socket, while some of them are even compatible with AM3 and a handful of earlier boards. 

Thermal Design Power

  • AM3 CPU Cooler: 125 Watt
  • AM3+ CPU Cooler: 220 Watt

Thermal design power or TDP informs how the maximum amount of heat a computer chip can use in Watts. It is usually associated with CPU and GPU, and essentially measures its power consumption capacity, and is a decisive indicator of a CPU performance. 

The more watts, the better performance you can expect from the device although, there are also certain limitations to it, such as higher temperatures and higher levels of power consumption.  

AM3 + CPU cooler, with a TPD of 220 Watts, is more powerful in terms of performance than its predecessor AM3 CPU coolers, with its TDP of 220 Watts. 

This is telling about which would render more sustenance during gaming and keep the cooling up and running for a longer duration. 

Being mindful of the TDP can help in buying the right cooler for you and your PC and is a vital cooling factor when comparing two CPUs in regards to performance. 

Rotations Per Minute

Rotations per minute refer to the number of times the fan blades of the system make a full turn per minute. The higher the RPM of the system, the more air will be pumped. Although, analyzing a system based on RPM is a little more intricate than that. 

Apart from the number of turns, the intensity with which it is being pushed, as well as the volume of the air, is also taken into account while comparing two CPUs or the same breeding. 

Additionally, the design of the fans and the blades also play a significant role in the cooling performance of such CPUs. The RPM can vary from what device the cooler is being used and what model of it. 

On average, the AM3 CPU cooler could be expected to deliver 1500, 1200, and 3200 RPM, which is effective, and yet doesn’t emit much noise. While some AM3+ can even go as high as 6000 RPM, users suggest that it maintains an ideal level of noise. Both the models of the AMD are excellent in this regard and far better than some other options available out there. 

Noise

Noise is a crucial thing to consider for many gamers and PC users. All of them want their systems to be as quiet as possible, but in trying to achieve that, they also often have to compromise with other aspects such as RPM. 

The noise is measured in decibels, and the less the decibels, the quieter the system is. Water coolers are especially reliable in terms of making less noise. Stock CPU coolers such as the am3 stock cooler are not very good at maintaining silence. 

Depending upon the cpu, AM3 and AM3+ coolers can emit 10-15 decibels or 15-20 decibels of noise. Though, some can even go as high as 28.8 and as low as 4.0. This can prove to be ideal for computer users who don’t want their devices to make loud noises while running. 

Will An AM3 Cooler Fit in With AM3+ Socket?

Several manufacturers have got their hands on AM3+ for some of their AM3 motherboards for support. 

To that end, the mechanical compatibility of AM3 and AM3+ has been confirmed, as long as adequate peak current could be supplied, and because the am3+ CPU cooler bracket is similar to that of its predecessor. 

Some users have suggested that the AM3 low profile cooler would perfectly fit on an AM3+ socket due to the same retention of the two. That rests the am3 vs. am3+ cooler mount debate as the retention brackets of the two are also of the same dimensions. 

The AM3+ CPUs are also pin-compatible with the AM2+ and AM2 boards, although the two cannot work owing to the dearth of DDR2 controllers in the CPU. Another reason why compatibility is ensured is that the heatsink is compatible too. 

The only glaring difference between the two is that AM3+ has an extra pin. This was confirmed by the technical support of AMD. 

Will An AM3+ Cooler Fit in With an AM3 Socket?

Since the sockets of the two are essentially the same, with AM3+ being backward-compatible with AM3 processors, the chip would perfectly fit.

However, it’s questionable whether or not the motherboard would be able to use it. A few AM3 chips supported the AM3+ CPUs after the BIOS update.

Although, it is suggested that the AM3+ chip is used in a motherboard that was specifically designed for this relationship, rather than making do with what you have. 

What Can Possibly Go Wrong if You Interchange AM3 and AM3+ Coolers

While the AM3 and AM3+ coolers could be interchanged, due to their similar physical features, am3+ CPU cooler bracket, with just minor changes such as one having more pinholes than the other by a tiny margin, there are plenty of complications that could arise from the mix and match of the coolers. 

The prime reason why the interchange is not suggested is that whether or not the system would work is not confirmed. This is why users suggest that only the motherboards that are designed for the cooler are used with each other to ensure seamless performance. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is AM3+ better than AM3?

AM3+ is a modification of the AM3. The former only has one additional pinhole over the latter, with AM3+ processors being backward-compatible with AM3 processors. To that end, design-wise, although there are some similarities between the two, there are some glaring differences as well. 

The key difference between AM3+ and AM3 is that the former has a pin socket larger than the latter. The serial link from the CPU to the power controller is also faster in the AM3+. Because of this, the newer AM3+ provides better power quality specifications and power regulations, making it relatively better than its predecessor. 

Moreover, with 145 A against 110 A, the AM3+ socket also has an increased maximum current support. Another noteworthy reason why AM3+ is better than AM3 is that it has a relatively better airflow for the cooling of the CPU, thanks to the redesigned cooler retention harness. 

Which CPU families use socket AM3+?

AMD FX, the CPU families that use socket AM3+, was introduced with the Bulldozer microarchitecture. The AMD FX series include Athlon 64 Family including SledgeHammer Core, ClawHammer Core, SanDiego Core, and Bulldozer Family, including Bulldozer Core, and Piledriver Core. 

Which CPU families use socket AM3?

The Phenom II family uses an AM3 socket. Some of the processors that used AM3 are AMD Opteron, AMD Phenom II X6, AMD Phenom II XLT, AMD Athlon II X4, AMD Athlon II, AMD Athlon II XL, and XLT, AMD Sempron X2, and AMD Sempron.

Does AM2 work with AM3?

No, the AM2 or AM2+ processors cannot be installed in AM3 motherboards, while AM2 processors can be installed in AM2+ motherboards. Additionally, AM3 or AM2+ could also be installed in AM2 motherboards, provided that the BIOS supports the processors. 

Conclusion 

While the similarities between AM3 and AM3+ are undeniable, they are unique in the ways that count. AM3+, having been introduced to the world after AM3, has much more to offer in terms of performance, cooling, and more. Even though their physical built is unbelievably similar to each other, you’d notice the difference in performance and TDP once you take them out for a run.