Power Consumption

The original Phenom was hardly power efficient. Especially in a dual-core configuration the 7850 has a fairly wasteful L3 cache built on a 65nm manufacturing process; if you care about thermal output or power consumption the Athlon X2 7850 is no match for the Pentium E5300. The latter is built on the same 45nm process as Intel’s Core i7 and is incredibly mature at this point.

Idle Power Consumption

Load Power Consumption (x264 HD 1st Pass)

At idle our Athlon X2 7850 and Pentium E5300 systems consumed the same amount of power, but under load the 7850 needed an extra 40W.

Final Words

Sometimes the comparisons you think may be most difficult are the easiest to call. The competition at $70 is actually pretty well defined. Intel has the advantage in nearly all of our non-gaming tests; the E5300 is anywhere from 0 - 20% faster in most cases than the Athlon X2 7850. On top of the actual performance advantage, there’s a power advantage too. With the E5300 you’re getting a 45nm chip that can be cooled by a very low profile heatsink or kept nearly silent with a larger one. In either case you’ll have a cooler running computer, slightly lower power bill, and a more pleasant experience come summer.

If you’re building a gaming box however, the recommendation shifts entirely the other way. The Athlon X2 7850 is the clear winner in gaming performance, significantly outperforming the E5300. In gaming tests the E5300 is simply too cache starved and without an on-die memory controller, each trip to main memory is too costly to compete with the 7850.

The only difficulty comes in if you do both of these things - if you’re building a machine that will be used for demanding 3D games and other CPU intensive work. In that case it boils down to which you care about more and whether or not power consumption matters.

Quite possibly the most interesting take away from this review is that with the Pentium E5300 Intel delivers, at $74, a CPU that is faster than the original Core 2 Duo E6400. And as such, it's also faster than every single Pentium 4 ever made. If you're looking to upgrade from an older Pentium 4 system, it'll cost a lot less than you might guess.

Gaming Performance


View All Comments

  • just4U - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    I don't agree about intel being the clear choice, (enthusiast or otherwise)

    You have to factor in boards being used to. Chances are most that are looking for a bottom feeder budget build will be using integrated chipsets. The 780g/v brings so much more to the table over what we currently get from intel offerings..

    That was a key sticking point for me.. and I think it really makes the choice a hard one to make unless your brand loyal, or a overclocker looking for a cheap cpu based around a competent setup.
  • nubie - Wednesday, April 29, 2009 - link

    Depends on what you need, I went for a 650i motherboard with a single PCIe slot for an 8600GTS ( the 2ghz ram actually seems to help with the 128-bit bus). It was $40, and you can get that deal yourself.

    I doubt for $140 you can beat a 3.3-3.4 ghz core2 with an 8600GTS.
  • soydeedo - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Reply
  • Zaitsev - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    I was hoping to see a few words on OCing as well. I mean, having two cores disabled should yield some more headroom than the quad core parts, right? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    I didn't have time to test overclocking for this article but if there's enough demand we can definitely look at how the two compare. The E5300 has a good amount of headroom thanks to its 45nm process, I'd expect the standings to remain the same if not widen in favor of Intel.

    Take care,
  • cpeter38 - Wednesday, April 29, 2009 - link

    Please do OC the chip ...

  • crimson117 - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    OC results on these two budget CPUs would be great - but it'd be best if it were normalized somehow...

    1. Same price-class motherboards, around $100 or less to match the low-cost CPUs
    2. Same exact ram modules
    3. Same heatsink, or limit it to included stock heatsinks

    , and re-run just a few choice benchmarks.

    Would make for a great blog post :)
  • Viditor - Wednesday, April 29, 2009 - link

    While you're at it, you should unlock the other 2 cores as well...


  • johnsonx - Wednesday, April 29, 2009 - link

    I've read dozens of articles and posts claiming that you can unlock the extra core(s) in the new X2's and X3's, and exactly ZERO telling how to actually do it. Is this some sort of urban legend?
  • ssj4Gogeta - Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - link

    Yes we'd definitely like to see OC results. I'm sure after OC'ing both chips to their max. gaming performance will be significantly better on the Intel part too. Reply

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