Two months ago AMD released a bunch of new CPUs priced between $70 - $120. For the past couple of years AMD has been enjoying the fact that Intel's newest architectures start out at the higher price points, and take their sweet time to trickle down to the common man's socket. With Clarkdale, everything changed.

The cheapest Core i3 is the 530, selling for $113 in 1K unit quantities and around $120 on the street (keepin it real). To paraphrase a short, wise, green man - there is another, even cheaper Clarkdale that you can buy though - the Pentium G6950:

This is a LGA-1156 part based on the Clarkdale core, just like the rest of the Core i3 and dual-core Core i5 line. The chip runs at 2.80GHz, has no turbo support, no AES-NI, no VT-d, no Intel TXT and no Hyper Threading.

Processor Core Un-core GPU Max Mem Clock Cores / Threads L3 Cache Max Turbo TDP Price
Intel Core i5-670 3.46GHz 2.40GHz 733MHz 1333MHz 2 / 4 4MB 3.76GHz 73W $284
Intel Core i5-661 3.33GHz 2.40GHz 900MHz 1333MHz 2 / 4 4MB 3.60GHz 87W $196
Intel Core i5-660 3.33GHz 2.40GHz 733MHz 1333MHz 2 / 4 4MB 3.60GHz 73W $196
Intel Core i5-650 3.20GHz 2.40GHz 733MHz 1333MHz 2 / 4 4MB 3.46GHz 73W $176
Intel Core i3-540 3.06GHz 2.13GHz 733MHz 1333MHz 2 / 4 4MB N/A 73W $133
Intel Core i3-530 2.93GHz 2.13GHz 733MHz 1333MHz 2 / 4 4MB N/A 73W $113
Intel Pentium G9650 2.80GHz 2.00GHz 533MHz 1066MHz 2 / 2 3MB N/A 73W $87


Intel also disables a portion of the L3 cache, there's only 3MB active on the G6950. The on-package memory controller is also limited to only 1066MHz, while the Core i3s and i5s support up to 1333MHz. Finally its on-package GPU only runs at 533MHz. At a high level, the Pentium G6950 doesn't look too good.

Then again, it lists for $87. Newegg sells it for $96.

The Rest of the Story

To date we’ve only looked at the Core i3 530, 540 and Core i5 661. Since we’re tying up loose ends today we’ll also include results from the rest of the Clarkdale lineup: the Core i5 670, 660 and 650.

The Core i5 660 is just like the 661 we reviewed in January but with a 733MHz GPU clock instead of 900MHz. The 650 is the cheapest i5 Intel offers at $176.

The Core i5 670 is the highest native clocked CPU that Intel ships today at 3.46GHz. It's GPU still only runs at 733MHz though, only the 661 has a 900MHz GPU clock. It's also the most expensive dual core i5 Intel makes at $284. You can get a Core i5 750 for less or a Core i7 860 for the same price. This is clearly a chip for a very specific niche market that needs excellent performance out of two cores and integrated graphics.

Integrated Graphics Performance
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  • larson0699 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    Oops. 200MHz of GPU (was thinking 700 rather than 733).

    If I didn't correct me, I'd have been corrected. Done.
  • juampavalverde - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    Anand, as soon as i started to read, imho, noticed the lack of the most close match por the g6950, an athlon II 250 paired with a value chipset 785g (not close in price, amd is cheap, but they look similar in tech), and also for a price match there a 785g board with an athlon II x3 or x4. ¿There are chances of getting such information in this review? Specifically the 785g to compare the value side of this new pentium against an amd platform.
  • kaleun - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    true, there should be a platform price comparison. whoever is cheap enough to buy the Pentium also would buy a cheaper AM3 board. This could create a more serious price gap for similar performance.
  • Rick83 - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    Thorough article - but there's something that's bugging me lately.
    There are almost no benchmarks regarding dm-crypt performance on the web.
    With dm-crypt/truecrypt/bitlocker being the mainstay in personal encryption, and encryption-assist x86 extensions making their way into mainstream CPUs (and being used as distinctive feature), I'd like to see some data gleaned from testing.
    It's important to know after all, whether the CPUs these days are fast enough to maintain a bit of headroom while keeping the IO-buffers full.
    I'd be grateful if you were to consider that as an addition to your benchmark line-up.
  • Calin - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    The VIA Nano processors had support for hardware-accelerated encryption more than a couple of years ago.
  • Rick83 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    I'm aware of that.
    But I'm not aware of anyone actually using VIA CPU's, hence my use of the word "mainstream". i5 6xx's will be sold in retail like hotcakes, on the other hand - they' probably already shifted near as many units as an entire run of VIA cpus consisted of...
  • yuhong - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    Yep, the Core i5 600 series have support for AES and PCLMULQDQ instructions, and it is sad to see they didn't bother to benchmark that. Luckily Tom's Hardware did and has the results.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    We actually tested AES-NI in our Clarkdale review back in January:">

    Take care,
  • Rick83 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    Yes, that sort of test is what I did/do find in heaps around the net.

    But I'd rather prefer to see a more in-depth benchmark of encryption. This test doesn't show me how well a similarly priced Phenom would fare, or how well AES-NI scales with regard to clock speed and cores (hopefully linearly in both cases - but there are no hard numbers).

    Additionally, Bitlocker is only one part of the equation; I'm not sure about market penetration, but dm-crypt should be considered a major player. This could also be relevant for the IT section of the site, as the Clarkdale based Xeons (and Gulftown in the future) all have different throughput available, and probably make an encrypted RAID far more transparent than an "old" Nehalem.

    This is probably also quite relevant, as one can expect AMD to implement those extensions themselves, for their next hardware.

    Thanks for reading,

  • Perisphetic - Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - link

    speaking of the devil,
    are we going to see also some of the Intel vPro marchitecture benchmarks here too?
    I'd like to see how this hardware accelerated encryption alleviates the workload on these CPUs compared to more traditional software solutions and/or other hardware based encryption concoctions.

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