Integrated Graphics Performance

In our 890GX review I looked into integrated graphics performance of the entire Clarkdale lineup vs. AMD's chipset offerings. You can get a look at the full set of data here, but I'll also provide a quick summary here.

Intel's best case performance happens in our Dragon Age Origins benchmark:

Thanks to its 900MHz GPU clock the Core i5 661 does much better than AMD's integrated graphics. The rest of the Clarkdale lineup is basically on par, and the Pentium G6950 is a bit slower. Note that the G6950 is still over 50% faster than G45. That was just a terrible graphics core.

The worst case scenario for Intel's integrated graphics comes up in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2:

Here even the Core i5 661 can't best AMD's 890GX. Intel's integrated graphics performance can range from much slower to competitive if not faster than AMD's depending on the game. Unfortunately in a couple of key titles Intel is much slower. Using GPU clock speed as a means to differentiate CPUs isn't a wise move if you're trying to build up your reputation for not having terrible graphics.

If you're not going to do any gaming and you're using the integrated graphics for Blu-ray playback, it's a much better story for Intel.

Under load the entire Clarkdale line is very conservative with power consumption.

Full Data in Bench & The Test

We're presenting an abridged set of benchmarks here in the review to avoid this turning into too much of a graph-fest. If you want to see data that you don't see here check out all of these CPUs and more than 100 others in Bench.

Motherboard: ASUS P7H57DV- EVO (Intel H57)
Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel DX48BT2 (Intel X48)
Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-UD5P (AMD 790FX)
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1015 (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 8.12
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Memory: Qimonda DDR3-1066 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Corsair DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Patriot Viper DDR3-1333 2 x 2GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 280
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 180.43 (Vista64)
NVIDIA ForceWare 178.24 (Vista32)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit (for SYSMark)
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Index SYSMark 2007 & Photoshop CS4 Performance
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  • larson0699 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    @GP(iwodo)-- I like the architecture just fine, but (in the case of i3/i5) to hand the memory controller over to the IGP (when, in Nehalem, it was on-die to begin with) is a shot in the foot. What gives? A lot of us use these chips with discrete GPUs, and even the ones who don't aren't seeing the potential of the architecture because of this stupidity in design--simpler or not (than going monolithic out of the gate). It's a step backward, but even so, still marginally superior to Conroe/Penryn in performance alone. Performance per Watt is definitely more of a win here for those like myself who care how productively any given amount of energy was used.

    @P(kaleun)-- Sandy Bridge doesn't look like much of an upgrade to i7 anyway. The roadmap suggests that the performance CPUs will remain independent of GPUs as they logically should. I don't know anyone (including "power users") who upgrades at every tick and tock. And perhaps it hadn't occurred to you that LGA775 is and will be an upgrade path for those on a budget tighter than LGA1156 can entertain *until* the day it does. We're really scraping the bucket here, but (after just looking) one could put together a quality G41 board, 4 gigs 6400, and an E3300 (with hope to overclock the piss out of it) for $174. Naturally, the next "tick" (Sandy Bridge) will be the final nail in the coffin, but in the meantime, 775's fair game.
    Reply
  • kevinqian - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    I think the recommendation for it as HTPC is nullified because bitstreaming is not supported on the Pentium G series! I'm not even sure if it supports 8ch LPCM. Reply
  • larson0699 - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    [quote]The Core i5 660 is just like the 661 we reviewed in January but with a 733MHz GPU clock instead of 900MHz.[/quote]

    Anand,

    I feel it is also worth mentioning here that the 661 lacks VT, as the quoted statement suggests that GPU clock is the only difference.

    But great article.

    I'm just uncomfortable with the choice of a 3.33GHz dual/HT vs. 2.66 quad at the same price point. I find their clock speed selection a little obvious considering that and HT create such a linear product path:
    Quad/HT+Turbo > Quad > (high clock) Dual/HT+Turbo > Dual

    Is it possible that the G6950 could outperform an i3 simply because each core handles a single thread? I knew better than to think, for instance, that the 660 is logically four 1.66GHz cores... But I don't know exactly how HT allocates processor time, if it does dynamically (again, not thinking it simply splits the core down the middle, always leaving a core half idle if running 1 thread).. Would a kind soul please link me to reference? (I'm looking too)
    Reply
  • yuhong - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    The 661 lacks VT*-d*, not VT*-x*, which even the G9650 have. Reply
  • larson0699 - Friday, March 26, 2010 - link

    I stand corrected. A difference nonetheless. Reply
  • kaleun - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    considering overall cost of the platform (at minimum board + RAM + CPU) plus maybe case, PSU, HDDs, monitor, graphics, OS etc. I think saving $ 25 to get the Pentium over the i3 530 is silly. Maybe in the future one uses more multi-threaded applications, then HT comes in handy.

    People always compare CPU prices and are happy to save $ 25 or so. But a CPU alone is worthless. A decent PC costs $ 500 + with quality equipment that is fast and has a long life. (don't come me with those $ 25 case + PSU combos!!!).

    After the purchase I have never heard anyone saying: "I wish I had saved $ 25 and would have a slower CPU." the same way no one ever wished to have less memory.
    Reply
  • larson0699 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    Agreed. The Pentium would be a hit if it were priced against the i3 for everything it _doesn't_ have, instead of against C2D for all that it _does_. I'm thinking $75 wouldn't have meant a catastrophic loss for Intel, considering most are buying left and right of it anyway.

    HT, 166MHz of GPU, the meg of L3, and the RAM speed discrepancy just aren't worth saving $25. And since it's the most crippled Pentium ever, it should've been a Celeron.
    Reply
  • KaarlisK - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    The 25$ does matter when your buying 20PCs - and, in my case, it's not 25$ but 25€. And for those 25€x20 I can buy two-three more PCs, meaning two more teachers with a new computer on their desks.

    Also, I will regret saving $25 on a motherboard (getting a G41 instead of a H55 means losing AHCI and GMA HD Graphics), I will regret not spending money on an SSD (roaming profiles, so all I need is a boot drive), I will regret not spending money on a quality case (have had far too many PSU/PSU fan failures), and I might regret choosing 2GB instead of 4GB RAM (might impact performance with future OSes/apps).

    I don't see how I will regret not buying an i3 530. Nobody will be using Photoshop/x264/Blender/RAR/etc much in the future anyway. So even though there is no reason to choose the G6950 from a price/perf perspective, it's the one saving I can afford to make, so I will.
    Reply
  • larson0699 - Friday, March 26, 2010 - link

    That is absurd.

    Assuming your teachers actually need HD decode in hardware, step up to G43/G45, a board with X4500HD, and you still save measurably against H55. You're going to retard the CPU in favor of SSD--seriously?? And who buys "quality" cases (= no PSU, a sure bet) in bulk? Three words: Antec. Coolermaster. Silverstone. Bundle it up, man, you've got way better options before you. My example included 4 gigs, as I wouldn't run any less with Vista/7. Of course, you'll need every byte of it when you let the background processes, Search/Indexing, and Superfetch run rampant on an out-of-box registry--as I'm under the impression you'd also regret the manual overhead of deploying a tailored system through RIS or whatever it is now. And I can guarantee you that a two-thread processor will be at the mercy of the next OS by indication of trends. Forget it. If you don't wind up with a whole new platform by that time (let's see, because you chose the PENTIUM from the get-go) you'll be forfeiting that savings with the purchase of 20+ i3's or better.

    In my IT experience with school systems Stateside, NEVER have I walked into a school whose staff decided, "Who needs a preconfigured PC when we can instead BUILD a thousand machines?". And you know why it isn't practical? Education discounts. Volume discounts. Contracts and affiliations. Now show me that those cheap Pentiums are actually cheaper than i3 Lenovos or Dells in bulk, WITH warranty. Busted.
    Reply
  • KaarlisK - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    Oh, and I'll overclock the GPU to 733/900MHz anyway ;) Reply

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