The next of Intel’s enthusiast level announcements this week is more like a reach into history. For enthusiasts who were present during the Core2Duo days, it was common enough to see or hear certain CPUs overclock to almost double their frequency and perhaps beyond on a good air or water cooler. After Core2Duo and Nehalem/Clarkdale CPUs Intel started to restrict the overclocking capabilities of the lower end CPUs, such that the only models that would overclock properly were the ones higher up the chain, or what we now call the ‘K’ SKUs. These SKUs cost the most, but are the highest binned parts (they have the better voltage/power characteristics) with the most amount of L3 cache and extra features such as AVX and so on.

In order to celebrate 20+ years of the Pentium brand, Intel is releasing a fully unlocked Haswell (4th generation) processor in the middle of 2014. Current Pentium processors in this range are dual core models without hyperthreading, with 3MB of L3 Cache and limited HD (Haswell) integrated graphics. Intel is aiming that an unlocked Pentium processor will open up cheaper gaming systems based on the Pentium brand.

The Intel Pentium G3420 for example is a dual core 3.2 GHz processor (no Turbo Boost) with a 53W TDP and Intel HD Graphics. If we were to apply the almost +50%-+100% overclock of the older Core2Duo systems here, we would be looking at 4.8 GHz to 6.4 GHz frequency. Given the overclockability of the current Haswell K processors, 4.8 GHz is more likely than 6.4 GHz in this part.

We have asked Intel if this new part will be given a K moniker, and how the pricing of the part will feature among the other processors, although we have been told that this information is not currently being released. Part of extreme overclocking back with Core2Duo was taking that cheap processor and doubling the clock speed with a few simple option changes – given that this CPU is based on Haswell (it sounds like it will come with the Haswell refresh CPUs, though not confirmed) we can get an insight into how the lower binned CPU parts might perform. Whether these will act as viable CPUs in gaming PCs, I hope to get one in to find out.

 

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  • EzioAs - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    It'll be interesting to see how this stacks up against the i3's and APUs. Hopefully the pricing won't ruin it. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    This is just my $0.02, but this seems to be the right idea with the wrong chip. What I want to overclock is an i3; the chip with Hyperthreading, AES-NI, and AVX. The Pentium lacks all of that functionality, and while it won't break programs it will make it slower than an i3 in programs that can use those features.

    For gaming in particular it seems like bad tradeoff. The current generation consoles support AVX, so it's now a baseline feature that game developers can target. I'd certainly expect i3s to be faster than Pentiums because of this in games that use the current gen consoles as a baseline, which potentially nullifies any advantage of overclocking.
    Reply
  • EzioAs - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    This is just a one time thing I guess, to celebrate the 20 year anniversary. I don't think Intel ever plans on releasing an unlock i3 (or any more unlock pentiums after this) considering people are willing to pay more for the i5 and i7 to get oveclocking capability.

    However, I agree that it'll be cool to see any unlocked i3, as long as it's not more than a $20-30 premium compared to the locked ones.
    Reply
  • dorion - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    I don't think you can say people are willing to pay more for overclockable I5s and I7s seeing as they have no choice. People were OCing i3 500s like crazy even with the limitations. Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    For me, it would all come down completely to cost.

    I would personally throw one into an ITX chassis, you have great single threaded performance at 4.4-4.6ghz and low idle TDP for very little money.
    Not everyone needs a quad-core-hex-core or more for everything...
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    > the right idea with the wrong chip

    Yup.. just as games start to profit from 4 cores rather than 2. Selling us a cheap dual core die for this is fine (from my POV), but please don't disable HT.
    Reply
  • Nfarce - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    As one who remembers the Celery overclocking days well, (had a Celeron 400 overclocked to 533), this is interesting. But back then games didn't react any better to the expensive Pentium II chips. Today however, many modern games respond to four cores or more over a single or dual core chip running at the same effective clock speeds. I don't see this being of much benefit to anyone for the low end Intel G series. Reply
  • Zoomer - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Weak; 300a @ 450 is where it's at. "Dual core" on a BP6, of course. Reply
  • BadThad - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    What if the CPU is $50? The i3 is $75 more - money that could be spent on a better video card for a budget gamer. Reply
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    I wonder how high these will clock. This will be an unlocked dual core chip so there should be plenty of extra power going into the socket to crank the clocks and voltages a bit higher vs. a quad core chip. If I had to fathom a guess, I'd say this would bring clock speed inline with what was possible with Sandy Bridge: ~5.0 Ghz with relative ease. Reply

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