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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  • geok1ng - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    and once again i request side-by-side screenshot comparison of these integrated graphics, to remove any reasonable doubt that Intel is not cheating (again ) on image quality to push FPS higher.
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    I know there's been debate in the past about i3 vs i5, but would i5 be a better buy if you can't overclock? Say for instance you get a laptop that has a locked bios. Even though the i5 is more expensive, wouldn't it still be a better performer in all things not batter/Intel HD?
  • KaarlisK - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    If I really care about performance, I'm buying a quad core. The Athlon II X4 is cheap anyway - so I really can't imagine a situation where I'd take an Athlon II X3. It's basically either a cheap(ish) dualcore or a good quadcore for me.

    Also, it's possible to see that the i3 530 REALLY is a lower bin - it has much higher power consumption at load than any other bin. So it would be interesting to compare how an i3 530, 540 and an i5-6xx overclock, and how their power consumption curve looks (with the same multiplier&fsb of course).
  • qwertymac93 - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    will someone please explain how a crippled, handicaped, bastard child of a cpu that is the g6950 can score higher in sysmark 2007 then a high end, QUAD CORE cpu(pII 955) that has more features, bigger cache, higher clockspeed, and twice as many cores. I mean, all of clarkdale's advantages have been taken out and it STILL outscores everything. no turbo, no hyperthreading, lower clockspeed in the core, uncore, AND memory, and no virtualization! That's it, sysmark will forever be ignored in my mind as its clearly biased somehow. this is not because it outscored an amd cpu, its because it outscored ALL the other cpus on the chart, core2, core2quad, aII, pII, everything!
  • Jamahl - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    You are right, sysmark is a joke of a benchmark and the sooner AT gets rid of it the better for everyone.
  • qwertymac93 - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    correction, it doesn't outscore the 955, but its damn close...
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    SYSMark is definitely showing its age, but lots of corporations rely on its data to make purchasing decisions. SYSMark doesn't scale very well beyond 2 cores, which is why the Phenom II X4 doesn't get much credit for its extra 2 cores.

    Keep in mind that clock for clock the Phenom II is slower than Core 2 and Nehalem/Westmere (">

    An ultra low latency L2 plus a pair of high IPC cores (HT doesn't matter as much in a benchmark that mostly uses 2 cores) mean that even the G6950 does well here.

    AMD does a lot better in the other tests because most of our other benchmarks do show more of an advantage from more than 2 cores among other things.

    The benchmark is getting old, but it is a good representation of a lighter workload by today's standards. For heavier threaded workloads we offer everything from the x264 test to the par2 data recovery test.

    We never recommend relying on just a single benchmark but rather letting each one tell their piece of the story and then making a decision based on the benchmarks that represent your workloads.

    Take care,
  • KaarlisK - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    It does show one thing. The value of G6950 & Core i3.

    For my school, where I'm buying computers for the teachers' desktops, the G6950 is more than adequate - and in most productivity tasks (browsing + word/powerpoint) it won't be much slower. The benchmarks also show that if I need a bit more power for this combination - mostly lightly threaded, some photoshop/video - I can safely choose a dual-core,four-thread Core i3/i5, instead of going for a quadcore i5 that requires external graphics and consumes more power.

    And I'm not touching AMD builds with a bargepole. They don't have AHCI for my cheap SSD's, they are usually slower booting and in other similar everyday tasks (as shown by laptop reviews on Anandtech), and they consume more power, while the new Intel graphics core has removed my reservations about G45.

    And I do have an AMD build at home as a cheap gaming/rendering computer, as it's the best way to obtain that specific goal - but there, I don't have to worry about keeping everything shipshape.
  • qwertymac93 - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    im pretty sure amd cpus support ahci(which has more to do with the chipset really...), either that or both my bios, my ears, and windows are all lying to me. when i enable AHCI in my bios(foxconn a7gm-s) windows shows my two sata drives as removable scsi drives, weird but whatever.
  • KaarlisK - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    But AHCI with AMD chipsets is broken (or maybe the driver is) and SATA performance is lower.
    Of course, it is cheaper to get AMD's sometimes-broken AHCI (usually, it works with Microsoft's driver, but not with AMD's driver, and the performance is lower) than to get Intel's working AHCI (G41 boards don't have it, even the cheapest AMD boards do); on the other hand, sometimes I just CANNOT install Win7 on boards with AMD's AHCI and specific hard drives.

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