The Test

As always we're only presenting a subset of our entire CPU test suite here. For all of the numbers as well as other comparison options check out Bench.

CPU: AMD A8-3850, AMD A6-3650, AMD Athlon II X4 635, AMD Athlon II X3 455, AMD Athlon II X2 265
Intel Core i3-2100, Intel Core i3 540, Intel Pentium G850, Intel Pentium G840, Intel Pentium G620, Intel Pentium G620T
Motherboard: Intel DH67BL (Intel H67)
ASRock A75 Extreme6 (AMD A75)
Chipset Drivers: Intel
AMD Catalyst 8.862 RC1
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M (80GB), Corsair P256 SSD (256GB)
Memory: G.Skill DDR3-1866 2 x 4GB
Video Drivers: AMD Catalyst 8.862 RC1
Intel 2372
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Performance

To measure performance under Photoshop CS4 we turn to the Retouch Artists’ Speed Test. The test does basic photo editing; there are a couple of color space conversions, many layer creations, color curve adjustment, image and canvas size adjustment, unsharp mask, and finally a gaussian blur performed on the entire image.

The whole process is timed and thanks to the use of Intel's X25-M SSD as our test bed hard drive, performance is far more predictable than back when we used to test on mechanical disks.

Time is reported in seconds and the lower numbers mean better performance. The test is multithreaded and can hit all four cores in a quad-core machine.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 - Retouch Artists Speed Test

The Pentium G620 does a lot better than its Athlon II X2 counterpart, there's no contest here. The race is a lot closer between the G840/850 and the Athlon II X3 455, but in the end the Pentiums are faster. Both perform a bit better than the more expensive AMD A8-3850.

x264 HD Video Encoding Performance

Graysky's x264 HD test uses the publicly available x264 encoder to transcode a 4Mbps 720p MPEG-2 source. The focus here is on quality rather than speed, thus the benchmark uses a 2-pass encode and reports the average frame rate in each pass.

x264 HD Encode Test - 1st pass - x264 0.59.819

x264 HD Encode Test - 2nd pass - x264 0.59.819

Once again the G620 is faster than the Athlon II X2 265 despite the latter's clock speed advantage. The G840 and G850 are faster than the 620 but not fast enough to overcome the extra core advantage of the X3 455. If you're spending $80 on a CPU for video encoding go for the Athlon II X3 455.

3dsmax 9 - SPECapc 3dsmax CPU Rendering Test

Today's desktop processors are more than fast enough to do professional level 3D rendering at home. To look at performance under 3dsmax we ran the SPECapc 3dsmax 8 benchmark (only the CPU rendering tests) under 3dsmax 9 SP1. The results reported are the rendering composite scores:

3dsmax r9 - SPECapc 3dsmax 8 CPU Test

Not all heavily threaded tasks are going to favor more cores. In this case the IPC advantages of Sandy Bridge give the G850 equal performance to the X3 455.

Cinebench R10

Created by the Cinema 4D folks we have Cinebench, a popular 3D rendering benchmark that gives us both single and multi-threaded 3D rendering results.

Cinebench R10 - Single Threaded Benchmark

Single threaded performance is going to be a big advantage of the SNB Pentiums. Even the G620 is a good 14% faster than AMD's Athlon II X2 265 and the rest scale up with clock speed. What this translates to is great general use performance as well as solid performance in those apps that are still bound by the performance of a single thread.

Cinebench R10 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Multithreaded apps however start to benefit from more cores. In this case the Athlon II X3 455 isn't much faster than a G850 and only 4.5% faster than a G840, despite its core count advantage.

PAR2 Multithreaded Archive Recovery Performance

Par2 is an application used for reconstructing downloaded archives. It can generate parity data from a given archive and later use it to recover the archive

Chuchusoft took the source code of par2cmdline 0.4 and parallelized it using Intel’s Threading Building Blocks 2.1. The result is a version of par2cmdline that can spawn multiple threads to repair par2 archives. For this test we took a 708MB archive, corrupted nearly 60MB of it, and used the multithreaded par2cmdline to recover it. The scores reported are the repair and recover time in seconds.

Par2 - Multi-Threaded par2cmdline 0.4

Our Par2 extraction test is another multithreaded scenario where two Sandy Bridge cores manage to slightly outperform three Athlon II cores. Whereas before it was a pretty simple "more cores, better multithreaded performance" argument, the SNB Pentiums do complicate things a bit.

WinRAR - Archive Creation

Our WinRAR test simply takes 300MB of files and compresses them into a single RAR archive using the application's default settings. We're not doing anything exotic here, just looking at the impact of CPU performance on creating an archive:

WinRAR 3.8 Compression - 300MB Archive

Once again we've got a multithreaded test with a murky outcome. The G850 is hot on the heels of the Athlon II X3 455, as is the G840.

Gaming Performance

Our first set of gaming performance results come using a discrete GPU. In the case of the Crysis Warhead results it's a GeForce GTX 280, while everything else uses a Radeon HD 5870. Across the board the Pentium manages to do better than its Athlon II competitors, of course with a discrete GPU that's not unexpected. Next we'll see how these stack up with processor graphics.

Crysis Warhead - 1680 x 1050 - Mainstream Quality (Physics on Enthusiast) - assault bench

Dragon Age Origins is another very well received game. The 3rd person RPG gives our CPUs a different sort of workload to enjoy:

Dragon Age Origins - 1680 x 1050 - Max Settings (no AA/Vsync)

World of Warcraft needs no introduction. An absurd number of people play it, so we're here to benchmark it. Our test favors repeatability over real world frame rates, so our results here will be higher than in the real world with lots of server load. But what our results will tell you is what the best CPU is to get for playing WoW:

World of Warcraft

Starcraft 2

Power Consumption

The new Pentiums draw very little power, not only compared to their AMD counterparts but also the rest of the Sandy Bridge lineup.Without Hyper Threading, overall execution resource utilization is lower and thus power consumption is lower. It doesn't look like any of these chips come close to hitting their max TDPs as the Pentium G620T only draws 4W less than the G620 despite being rated with a 30W lower TDP.

Load Power Consumption x264 HD 3.03 1st pass (Win7/Radeon HD 5870)

The Matchup Processor Graphics Performance


View All Comments

  • 86waterpumper - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - link

    It's not really a attempt, they have it all sewn up. Intel has dropped their prices and I don't see anywhere at all that amd can compete with the exception of someone that needs a six core for cheap. Everyone here is talking about unlocking cores and o/c and such. This is not the intended purpose of these nor is unlocking cores ever a sure thing. The new bar to hit is power consumption with acceptable performance. A g620 and h61 is perfect for a fileserver or htpc etc. I have always liked amd but they have even overpriced llano. The a8350 ought to be 100 bucks let alone the a6350. Their cpus use too much power, even the zacate. My buddy is building a new computer and doesn't care about overclocking. I told him to go with a h61 and i3 2100. It just makes more sense since he can upgrade to a i5 or i7 down the road. a x3 may be cheap but it's on a old platform. Intel has a much better sata driver also. Someone said above they never could find a decent intel motherboard for cheap. For 65 bucks, I can buy a h61 biostar board that has vga, dvi, and hdmi out, plus 2 usb 3.0 etc. This is even on a matx format. The only thing missing other than sata 6gb is usually firewire and esata but these are absent from alot of full size boards these days too. Firewire isn't used much anymore and esata can be had for 2 bucks and a backing plate with some wires. Reply
  • mino - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    AMD competes with Llano. And there was a reason Intel lowered prices - they now have to squeeze a GPU into a budget where AMD needs none. Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    This is true to a certain extent, but I would also argue that for 90 percent of the users on the low end, especially if you dont game, the integrated graphics on the Pentium would be more than sufficient. Reply
  • 86waterpumper - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    AMD competes and outstrips with Llano on the graphics front but not on price and not on cpu. No hardcore gamer is going to buy these chips. I still cannot understand the target marget on these Llano desktop parts? It's sure not for htpcs, because they don't need this much graphics power, and it's certainly not for hardcore gamers because it's not enough gpu and nowhere close to the cpu power they need. There is no compelling reason at all to pay 140 bucks for a a8350 instead of the i3 2100. Now I do see where Llano has it's place in the laptop market, but they need to get the power consumption down. Reply
  • mino - Sunday, August 28, 2011 - link

    i3 without a GPU is good for SuperPI. And that is about it.

    You may wanna look-up Steam statistics what most people play with.

    As for "but they need to get the power consumption down", I am just wondering what are you tlaking about when Llano has comparable idle and LOWER load consumption to Intel (without proper GPU!).

    Sure everybody should keep getting power down. But that claim of yours smell ignorance and/or PR warfare.
  • najames - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - link

    Do you have an idle power comparison test??? These would make a dandy server if they idle without taking much power. It would be nice to see IGP power, not using the normally tested large video card. Reply
  • azcoyote - Thursday, August 25, 2011 - link

    To anyone disparaging these Intel Pentium chips, I challenge you to show me a way to build a newest architecture PC for around $200. I just bought a combo deal from NewEgg for like $239 that has 4GB, 500GB HDD, G620, MSI Mobo, Case, Power supply, Keys, Mouse, and speakers. When you need a PC for someone who does mostly Facebook and legacy games, that is pretty hard to beat. Gonna throw an old X1900 I have handy in there for them and call it good. Thrilled to see these available! Reply
  • ClagMaster - Friday, August 26, 2011 - link


    Thank you for comparing the Core 2 Duo E6850 and Q6600 in this article. One of my pet peeves is I upgrade every 3-4 years and its really hard to assess performance over these so-called legacy parts. I only upgrade if I get double the processor performance (PC 2005) of the processor to be replaced for the same price.

    I personally would go with the A8 for a HTPC or offline private PC because of its better graphic performance and hardware accelerated graphics converters.
  • najames - Saturday, August 27, 2011 - link

    I second that motion!! I still use a lot of older hardware and found it interesting to see it all listed too. Reply
  • rockfella79 - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    I still don't feel i need to upgrade from my E5200 and 2 GB DDR2 hohoho. Reply

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