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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  • Taft12 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    Citation needed? I've worked with many Intel and AMD systems (mostly Linux however) and never ran into a problem with AHCI. Also, is SATA performance truly impacted assuming you are using mechanical hard drives?
  • KaarlisK - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    A citation regarding the performance:">">

    And USB/PCI/PCIe performance (or CPU usage) is also worse:">

    And a direct quote from TechReport:
    "Unfortunately, AMD's longstanding issues with AHCI Serial ATA controller configurations persist in the SB750, all but forcing users to run the south bridge in plain old IDE mode. That's not the end of the world, but IDE mode doesn't support Serial ATA perks like hot swapping and Native Command Queuing."

    As for problems getting it to work at all, the views are conflicting:">

    But the fact is, I've had problems installing Win7 in AHCI mode on SB700, then tried the same drive with the ICH7MDH in AHCI mode, and it worked flawlessly.
  • CSMR - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    Advice: If you're going to measure power consumption you should use more appropriate components. People have been getting <25W system idle with some of the Clarkdales.

    Question: are video acceleration features available for all the Clarkdale processors here?
  • AtenRa - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    The numbers at Idle are with the GTX280 (i guess) and not with the intergraded Graphics. ;)
  • clarkn0va - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    You seem to have missed a couple distinguishing features of the new LGA1156 Pentium. First, it supports ECC when paired with Intel's 3450 chipset. I'm still trying to figure out why (or why Intel doesn't include ECC support on all their CPUs, like AMD does).

    Second would be the "Embedded" designation. I'm not exactly sure what Intel is trying to denote with that, as this is no Atom or Geode with a TDP of 73 Watts.">
  • Perisphetic - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    I think the major reason is the FUD of how well would the server CPUs fare if Intel did release ECC for the desktop family of CPUs. The problem is that LGA 1156 slots everything from i3, i5, i7 to Xeons. With the proper BIOS you can run a server board with an i7 or vice versa a Xeon in a desktop motherboard. If i7 did have ECC who would buy the Xeons at twice the price. Sure the Xeons have some fancy server features but if you could buy an ECC enabled i7 at half the cost no one would even consider the Xeons.
  • clarkn0va - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    "if you could buy an ECC enabled i7 at half the cost no one would even consider the Xeons."

    Right. Which makes me wonder why this pentium has ECC enabled. It's not an i7, but it's enough of a CPU to fit the bill on many servers, and will take some business away from the higher-priced low-end Xeons.
  • has407 - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    Embedded means Intel will continue to ship the product for 7+ years. That designation is applied to many different products from CPU's to chipsets, and includes (some) high-power parts.
  • SgtSpoon - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    How can the G6950 outperform the i3 530 in fallout 3?
  • SgtSpoon - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    Also : "As a gaming CPU the Petnium G6950 is on par with the Athlon II X3 440 in our Fallout 3 test"

    Petnium? :)

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