The Test

As always we're only presenting a subset of our entire CPU test suite here. For all of the numbers as well as other comparison options check out Bench.

CPU: AMD A8-3850, AMD A6-3650, AMD Athlon II X4 635, AMD Athlon II X3 455, AMD Athlon II X2 265
Intel Core i3-2100, Intel Core i3 540, Intel Pentium G850, Intel Pentium G840, Intel Pentium G620, Intel Pentium G620T
Motherboard: Intel DH67BL (Intel H67)
ASRock A75 Extreme6 (AMD A75)
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.2.0.1025
AMD Catalyst 8.862 RC1
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M (80GB), Corsair P256 SSD (256GB)
Memory: G.Skill DDR3-1866 2 x 4GB
Video Drivers: AMD Catalyst 8.862 RC1
Intel 2372
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Performance

To measure performance under Photoshop CS4 we turn to the Retouch Artists’ Speed Test. The test does basic photo editing; there are a couple of color space conversions, many layer creations, color curve adjustment, image and canvas size adjustment, unsharp mask, and finally a gaussian blur performed on the entire image.

The whole process is timed and thanks to the use of Intel's X25-M SSD as our test bed hard drive, performance is far more predictable than back when we used to test on mechanical disks.

Time is reported in seconds and the lower numbers mean better performance. The test is multithreaded and can hit all four cores in a quad-core machine.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 - Retouch Artists Speed Test

The Pentium G620 does a lot better than its Athlon II X2 counterpart, there's no contest here. The race is a lot closer between the G840/850 and the Athlon II X3 455, but in the end the Pentiums are faster. Both perform a bit better than the more expensive AMD A8-3850.

x264 HD Video Encoding Performance

Graysky's x264 HD test uses the publicly available x264 encoder to transcode a 4Mbps 720p MPEG-2 source. The focus here is on quality rather than speed, thus the benchmark uses a 2-pass encode and reports the average frame rate in each pass.

x264 HD Encode Test - 1st pass - x264 0.59.819

x264 HD Encode Test - 2nd pass - x264 0.59.819

Once again the G620 is faster than the Athlon II X2 265 despite the latter's clock speed advantage. The G840 and G850 are faster than the 620 but not fast enough to overcome the extra core advantage of the X3 455. If you're spending $80 on a CPU for video encoding go for the Athlon II X3 455.

3dsmax 9 - SPECapc 3dsmax CPU Rendering Test

Today's desktop processors are more than fast enough to do professional level 3D rendering at home. To look at performance under 3dsmax we ran the SPECapc 3dsmax 8 benchmark (only the CPU rendering tests) under 3dsmax 9 SP1. The results reported are the rendering composite scores:

3dsmax r9 - SPECapc 3dsmax 8 CPU Test

Not all heavily threaded tasks are going to favor more cores. In this case the IPC advantages of Sandy Bridge give the G850 equal performance to the X3 455.

Cinebench R10

Created by the Cinema 4D folks we have Cinebench, a popular 3D rendering benchmark that gives us both single and multi-threaded 3D rendering results.

Cinebench R10 - Single Threaded Benchmark

Single threaded performance is going to be a big advantage of the SNB Pentiums. Even the G620 is a good 14% faster than AMD's Athlon II X2 265 and the rest scale up with clock speed. What this translates to is great general use performance as well as solid performance in those apps that are still bound by the performance of a single thread.

Cinebench R10 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Multithreaded apps however start to benefit from more cores. In this case the Athlon II X3 455 isn't much faster than a G850 and only 4.5% faster than a G840, despite its core count advantage.

PAR2 Multithreaded Archive Recovery Performance

Par2 is an application used for reconstructing downloaded archives. It can generate parity data from a given archive and later use it to recover the archive

Chuchusoft took the source code of par2cmdline 0.4 and parallelized it using Intel’s Threading Building Blocks 2.1. The result is a version of par2cmdline that can spawn multiple threads to repair par2 archives. For this test we took a 708MB archive, corrupted nearly 60MB of it, and used the multithreaded par2cmdline to recover it. The scores reported are the repair and recover time in seconds.

Par2 - Multi-Threaded par2cmdline 0.4

Our Par2 extraction test is another multithreaded scenario where two Sandy Bridge cores manage to slightly outperform three Athlon II cores. Whereas before it was a pretty simple "more cores, better multithreaded performance" argument, the SNB Pentiums do complicate things a bit.

WinRAR - Archive Creation

Our WinRAR test simply takes 300MB of files and compresses them into a single RAR archive using the application's default settings. We're not doing anything exotic here, just looking at the impact of CPU performance on creating an archive:

WinRAR 3.8 Compression - 300MB Archive

Once again we've got a multithreaded test with a murky outcome. The G850 is hot on the heels of the Athlon II X3 455, as is the G840.

Gaming Performance

Our first set of gaming performance results come using a discrete GPU. In the case of the Crysis Warhead results it's a GeForce GTX 280, while everything else uses a Radeon HD 5870. Across the board the Pentium manages to do better than its Athlon II competitors, of course with a discrete GPU that's not unexpected. Next we'll see how these stack up with processor graphics.

Crysis Warhead - 1680 x 1050 - Mainstream Quality (Physics on Enthusiast) - assault bench

Dragon Age Origins is another very well received game. The 3rd person RPG gives our CPUs a different sort of workload to enjoy:

Dragon Age Origins - 1680 x 1050 - Max Settings (no AA/Vsync)

World of Warcraft needs no introduction. An absurd number of people play it, so we're here to benchmark it. Our test favors repeatability over real world frame rates, so our results here will be higher than in the real world with lots of server load. But what our results will tell you is what the best CPU is to get for playing WoW:

World of Warcraft

Starcraft 2

Power Consumption

The new Pentiums draw very little power, not only compared to their AMD counterparts but also the rest of the Sandy Bridge lineup.Without Hyper Threading, overall execution resource utilization is lower and thus power consumption is lower. It doesn't look like any of these chips come close to hitting their max TDPs as the Pentium G620T only draws 4W less than the G620 despite being rated with a 30W lower TDP.

Load Power Consumption x264 HD 3.03 1st pass (Win7/Radeon HD 5870)

The Matchup Processor Graphics Performance
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  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    Despite the fact that these chips are so crappy, they will still outsell amd's cheaper alternative by a factor of at least 3 to 1. AMD could give you an A6-3650+FCH for the same price as a G850+chipset, and the G850 would still outsell it by 2:1. Reply
  • yankeeDDL - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    I totally agree.
    Exactly like the Pentium 4 still surpassed the Athlon when it came out. Made no sense, but people still bought it.
    Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    There's more to it back then. Intel was using anti-competative practices to keep OEMs away from AMD. Now I think a huge part of AMDs problem is supply. Even now, there's a pretty nice mix of AMD and Intel products at B&M stores.

    That said, I totally loathe Intel's CPU marketing. You have to do in depth research on their products because features are randomly disabled down the product line. There's no good reason for it, and it just goes to show what Intel would sell you if there was no AMD.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Just look at the gaming benchmarks - the "crappy" G850 is at the top of the chart, the a6-3650 is 2/3rds to the bottom.
    The difference in G850 winning frame rates over a6-3650 is a gigantic super-win when it comes to evaluating video cards, so why does your prediction surprise you ? Why scowl and moan about it, amd loses and should sell less.

    Do you want to buy a new motherboard, a new amd APU, get all fired up, drop your $500, then have some crappy Intel cpu with a $50 video card spank the ever loving daylights out of your brand new amd rockin' system ?
    You probably don't, but that's what will happen. So you go buy a new smokin' video card to catch up - and the "crappy" G850 system slams you into the dirt, anyway !

    Two years later, as you moan for amd driver patchings that don't break and fail other things while not really fixing anything except 2 fps in a game you used to play but don't anymore because your crappy amd APU can't keep the frames very high, you spend your upgrade money on depression meds...

    The Intel G850 person upgrades to the then $99 2500K, overclocks it to 4400 on stock volts, and DOUBLES their frame rate. They show.... and you ... well... it's been good knowing you...

    See- that's why 2X the sales really isn't enough. Should be 10X the sales of the amd apu.

    Amd= locked into CRAP a6-3650 failure forever

    Intel= massive G850 upgrade path on the cheap years down the road.
    Reply
  • alent1234 - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    3 year old intel GMA 950 graphics cards will accelerate flash as well Reply
  • yankeeDDL - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    Correct. Just like any GPU integrated in older north bridges. I think I am missing your point. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Don't you feel like an idiot now yankeeDDL ? The crappy as heck amd APU and it's debilitated motherboard END OF LIFE is already toast.

    If you would have been smart instead of an amd fan with no sense, you would have supported the 850 and said " I can save literaly hundred$ a year or two down the road with a massive cpu upgrade, while amd will leave me and my crap single use cpu in the dirt dung of lonely and slow forever...

    It's nice to see how these amd fan predictions work out - as in "epic fail".
    Reply
  • BSMonitor - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    It is not aimed at YOU at all. Lenovo, Dell, HP and others LOVE to sell these to the corporate world. The chart that matters most is that power consumption number. The will stick these in their ultra-low end "workstation" and sell millions of them.

    There is a huge number of computer users who need nothing more than a dumb terminal. And these are that. Intel can produce the quantity at a price point that AMD simply cannot offer for this kind of market.
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    Well, probably NOT HP.... Reply
  • stimudent - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    ...and who the hell has a desktop computer anymore??! Reply

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