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Athlon II X3 vs Pentium G620 - What is important?

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September 7, 2011 10:06:30 AM

Hi all,

Following a recent discussion in the 'Home Builders' section (linky here: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/320341-13-easy-buil...), i am looking at putting together a relatively budget PC for my wife to play MMO's on, and whilst i feel i have a pretty good understanding of the importance/relevance of things like GPU/PSU and RAM etc. - the choice of motherboard and in particular CPU is giving me a bit of a headache.

From the choices explored, it largely comes down to two CPU's:

The Pentium G620: http://www.ebuyer.com/264713-intel-pentium-g620-2-6ghz-...

The Athlon II X3: http://www.ebuyer.com/270556-amd-athlon-ii-x3-460-3-4gh...

Now, they are within £10 of each other, so price isn't too much of a factor (although every little helps i guess)

The source of confusion is as follows: The Athalon has 3 x Cores operating at 3.4GHz, whereas the G620 has only one core operating at 2.6GHz, so one would imagine the Athalon to be superior - and comparing the 'Passmark CPU Mark' details this rings true:

Intel Pentium G620 2,484
AMD Athlon II X3 460 2,649

So, first glance the Athalon looks much better - BUT it has only 1.5Mb cache (split over 3 cores at half a meg each) compared to the 3MB cache of the Intel one - So how important is the cache size?

Being relatively inexperienced i don't know which would deliver the best all round performance; is a triple core with faster processors indeed better ll round than a single core with a much better cache?

Appreciate the help and advice guys and gals.

- Robert
a c 138 à CPUs
September 7, 2011 10:15:48 AM

prefer for Pentium G620, LGA 1155 easy upgrade Sandybridge
a b à CPUs
September 7, 2011 10:39:28 AM

I'd get the Athlon. More cores should allow a smoother real life day-to-day usability.

I don't think SB upgrade-ability is important for a budget MMO PC. However, by getting an AM3+ board for the AMD you're also set for the future - if that's a major concern.
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September 7, 2011 10:50:21 AM

Heh - Two replies and two different answers :) 

I think what i would like to understand, is, aside from everyone's personal preferences (we all have brands we like out of habit - i myself lean towards the AMD rather than Intel - but that's just me) - is there an *actual* significant difference in day to day performance (i.e. for entertainment/gaming) between the two?

Three cores vs a larger cache - which would have the biggest effect on performance? Would i notice any difference between the two (in terms of performance/load times/multitasking etc.)

As for upgradeability - unlikely i'll be changing it much for a few years - first thing i would upgrade is the GPU (which is more likely to show a significant difference performance wise i feel) - so i want to get a good 'solid' base/core now that will last me through.

Thanks all.

- Robert
a b à CPUs
September 7, 2011 11:00:00 AM

HomeGamer said:
Heh - Two replies and two different answers :) 

I think what i would like to understand, is, aside from everyone's personal preferences (we all have brands we like out of habit - i myself lean towards the AMD rather than Intel - but that's just me) - is there an *actual* significant difference in day to day performance (i.e. for entertainment/gaming) between the two?


I currently own a high end Intel system and a low/mid range AMD System. I'd say these segments are their strong points as well, however you can't go wrong with either. The trend however is more processing cores, and OS's and software are getting better and better and utilizing these resources. I think the £10 price difference would get you a 4 core Athlon actually, have you checked?

HomeGamer said:

Three cores vs a larger cache - which would have the biggest effect on performance? Would i notice any difference between the two (in terms of performance/load times/multitasking etc.)


Hard to say, depends on usage. Still, for normal use I'd go with the Athlon. It allows you to run let's say BitTorrent, your browser and Windows resources on the extra core while using two for gaming. And have a look at the quad core parts too.

HomeGamer said:

As for upgradeability - unlikely i'll be changing it much for a few years - first thing i would upgrade is the GPU (which is more likely to show a significant difference performance wise i feel) - so i want to get a good 'solid' base/core now that will last me through.

Thanks all.

- Robert


I figured as much.

BTW, there's always a chance the X3 could unlock to an X4 too, adding even more value :lol: 
a b à CPUs
September 7, 2011 11:00:51 AM

Might be worth throwing this back into the mix as well:

AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition 3.2GHz Socket AM3

Just for comparison against the Athlon since they are both within £1 price difference of each other.
September 7, 2011 11:51:23 AM

Hey guys - Ok, looking through ebuyer, the cheapest Quad Core (AMD) i could find is this one:

http://www.ebuyer.com/257236-amd-phenom-ii-x4-840-socke...

But, the thing now is that all of a sudden the difference is £30 - pretty much 75% more expensive than the original Intel one.

If the difference will be noticeable, and will help future proof the machine for longer, then it could potentially be worth the money... But then this still has a 'smaller' cache than the Intel - L2 Cache:4 x 512KB - rather than a single L3 cache of 3Mb on the Intel.

It seems the more i read about the differences the more confused i get - I can't find a definitive 'cache is more important than Ghz because' (or vice versa) statement anywhere; Purely on *gut* feel i'd likely go for the Quad Core AMD, purely because it has four times as many cores, capable of independently handling different tasks so allowing for faster/smoother multitasking... But then, i wonder at the negative effects of having 4 half meg caches as opposed to one with SIX TIMES the cache on the Intel...

*Sits confused and muttering to himself*

Thanks for all the help and advice guys - really is appreciated!

- Robert

a b à CPUs
September 7, 2011 12:06:38 PM

HomeGamer said:
Hey guys - Ok, looking through ebuyer, the cheapest Quad Core (AMD) i could find is this one:

http://www.ebuyer.com/257236-amd-phenom-ii-x4-840-socke...

But, the thing now is that all of a sudden the difference is £30 - pretty much 75% more expensive than the original Intel one.

If the difference will be noticeable, and will help future proof the machine for longer, then it could potentially be worth the money... But then this still has a 'smaller' cache than the Intel - L2 Cache:4 x 512KB - rather than a single L3 cache of 3Mb on the Intel.

It seems the more i read about the differences the more confused i get - I can't find a definitive 'cache is more important than Ghz because' (or vice versa) statement anywhere; Purely on *gut* feel i'd likely go for the Quad Core AMD, purely because it has four times as many cores, capable of independently handling different tasks so allowing for faster/smoother multitasking... But then, i wonder at the negative effects of having 4 half meg caches as opposed to one with SIX TIMES the cache on the Intel...

*Sits confused and muttering to himself*

Thanks for all the help and advice guys - really is appreciated!

- Robert


I wouldn't worry about the cache too much. The cache the AMD CPUs carry is enough - especially for normal use and gaming. The function of the cache is exactly that - it caches data for future use, as near the CPU as possible. It's there to eliminate having to read the RAM for everything, basically. Having a huge cache is only beneficial in very specific tasks. Also of note is that bigger caches usually have higher latency. I'm not a professional though but that's the way I see.
a b à CPUs
September 7, 2011 12:07:46 PM

Hi Homegamer.
It depends on the frequency of your upgrades.
a c 103 à CPUs
September 7, 2011 12:13:29 PM

Get the Athlon x3 on that budget they are great and the mother board should be cheaper than the Intel as well.
a b à CPUs
September 7, 2011 12:40:41 PM

simon12 said:
Get the Athlon x3 on that budget they are great and the mother board should be cheaper than the Intel as well.


It appears maybe i was along the right lines then :) 

I've taught myself more today about AMD than in my entire IT-focused lifetime :D 
September 7, 2011 1:06:33 PM

HomeGamer said:
Heh - Two replies and two different answers :) 

I think what i would like to understand, is, aside from everyone's personal preferences (we all have brands we like out of habit - i myself lean towards the AMD rather than Intel - but that's just me) - is there an *actual* significant difference in day to day performance (i.e. for entertainment/gaming) between the two?

Three cores vs a larger cache - which would have the biggest effect on performance? Would i notice any difference between the two (in terms of performance/load times/multitasking etc.)

As for upgradeability - unlikely i'll be changing it much for a few years - first thing i would upgrade is the GPU (which is more likely to show a significant difference performance wise i feel) - so i want to get a good 'solid' base/core now that will last me through.

Thanks all.

- Robert



The Intel has a lot more going for it than just cache. Overall the Intel Sandy Bridge processors have significantly better IPC (instructions per cycle) than AMD processors. That means that the Sandy Bridge processor will be able to do significantly more every cycle, and so is able to do more at a given frequency.

From what I've been able to glean from reviews, the Pentium will have significantly better single threaded performance, which will help with standard office tasks like compression/decompression. The Athlon ii will have better multi-threaded performance because of the third core. This helps in parallel tasks like video encoding/decoding. Photoshop is pretty much a wash.

For gaming, most of the things I've read still say 2 cores is really all you need, so the two cores on the G620 may be sufficient. It appears the G620 is better for WoW. If you tend to game with something CPU intensive running in the background (virus scanning, etc.) then the Athlon may be better.

I wouldn't go with a single-core processor, as those are going to have slowdowns that you just don't see with dual cores. However, neither of these is a single core.

Either way, I would spring for some form of discrete graphics now. Even a low-end graphics card is going to make a much bigger difference than the difference between these two CPUs.

Other considerations: The Pentium is going to use significantly less power than the Athlon, especially at idle, which could result in savings on your electric bill.
a c 103 à CPUs
September 7, 2011 1:37:37 PM

For games some will favour the G620 and some the Athlon x3 see




The pentium uses more power at idle see

but less at 100% load see

Its worth reading this whole article at http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/pentium-g8...
Also not the G840 is only 7 more and the 200MHz looks like it makes a bigger difference than you would think. I also agree if you will be gaming get a discrete graphics card whatever.
September 7, 2011 2:10:50 PM

Hey guys - Wow - I am reallylearning a huge amount about this stuff today!!

Looks like i may well go for the Intel one - that and the Intel motherboard look like they are *almost* as powerful, with big savings on the initial cost, and potentially long term as well by things like using less power/electricty etc. In all honesty i think my biggest reticence was thinking the G620 was single core - now i know it's dual core it allays a lot of my concerns over the chip itself; and the significantly bigger cache is appealing... It's just the big potential difference in processor speed, and the 2 vs 3 cores between that and the AMD now to decide between...

To answer a few questions/points:

1: Frequency of updates? None lol In all honesty i'd love to get this system to be as stable as the old one it is replacing; in that i can have it running most things for four/five years with only minor tweaks (i.e. extra RAM/new GPU occasionally etc.)

2: There will be a dedicated graphics card in the build - a Gigabyte Radeon HD 4650 Graphics Card (1Gb) so a lot of the 'heavy lifting' relatign to the games can be handled by that, so in terms of CPU i am trying to determine what the best will be for a solid core to the machine.

Thanks all so much for the continued help/advice - rally is superb!

- Robert
a b à CPUs
September 7, 2011 2:27:24 PM

I still think more cores is a better long time investment, but I'm sure the Intel will work fine.
a c 103 à CPUs
September 7, 2011 3:37:32 PM

My summary assuming you are getting the cheapest motherboards
Neither
Performance is overall similar but some tasks 1 can be hugely better
G620 pros
better upgrade path on even the cheapest boards
lower load power consumption
Athlon x3 pros
Cheapest boards are cheaper
can overclock and get a free performance boost (G620 cannot at all)
has a chance you can unlock an extra core and get 4 cores for the price of 3
September 8, 2011 2:04:15 PM

simon12 said:

The pentium uses more power at idle see
...
but less at 100% load see
...
Its worth reading this whole article at http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/pentium-g8...
Also not the G840 is only 7 more and the 200MHz looks like it makes a bigger difference than you would think. I also agree if you will be gaming get a discrete graphics card whatever.


You're right, traditionally Intel has had better idle power, but with Sandy Bridge AMD tends to be better since they lack the on-die GPU. This favors AMD since for the usage the original poster was describing the system will spend most of its time at idle.

I was in the same boat and just pulled the trigger on an Athlon x3 450

My reasoning:

1.) I got a discount on the x3 450 that allowed me to get an x3 for the price of an x2.

2.) I almost never upgrade CPUs once I've built the machine. 3 years or more down the road, when I'm ready to upgrade, it's both higher performance and cheaper to buy a new low-end CPU, motherboard, and memory than to try to upgrade the CPU to a higher-end version for the old motherboard. As a result, getting a socket 1155 motherboard isn't worth it to me.

3.) One of the biggest problems I have with my current machine is that I'll have a single process go 100%CPU and it'll take down the whole machine's responsiveness. I figure the third core could help with that if even two processes go haywire.

4.) The AMD motherboard was cheaper.

5.) In real life I doubt I'll be able to tell the difference, since the upgrade over my current machine (a 6-8 year old 1.8GHz Athlon XP 2500+) will be so significant.


Without the discount to act as a tie-breaker, I considered it a toss-up.

If I had a little more money to spend it would have been an i3 2100, but that would have been about 30-40% more expensive for the motherboard/CPU combo.
September 8, 2011 2:15:42 PM

yakovlev said:
2.) I almost never upgrade CPUs once I've built the machine. 3 years or more down the road, when I'm ready to upgrade, it's both higher performance and cheaper to buy a new low-end CPU, motherboard, and memory than to try to upgrade the CPU to a higher-end version for the old motherboard. As a result, getting a socket 1155 motherboard isn't worth it to me.

5.) In real life I doubt I'll be able to tell the difference, since the upgrade over my current machine (a 6-8 year old 1.8GHz Athlon XP 2500+) will be so significant.


Hey there!

Re: 2) - This is pretty much exactly where i am right now - I've never in my life replaced a CPU/motherboard; in fact my 'upgrading' has typically been limited to RAM, GPU's and drives (DVD/RW, HDD replacements etc.)

Re: 5) - Similarly the machine i am replacing is rather old too - A 5(+) year old AMD Athlon 64 3000+, running MS Windows XP Home 32-bit - i recently upgraded the GPU to a Radeon HD 4650, and everything runs surprisingly well on low/medium settings, but it really is getting on a bit and i know my wife gets increasingly annoyed with how slow it can be; so, i figure it is time to retire the old warhorse (the PC rather than my wife for the record... lol) and get something new and shinier for her.

I know it may seem like a semantic point choosing between the CPU's, especially bearing in mind either will be really quite a significant improvement over the old single core system, but then again, it is a learning experience in an area i am enjoying learning about, and i figure, just because there is a relatively tight budget, doesn't mean it isn't worth doing properly :) 

In terms of which of the two CPU's to choose - still a little undecided to be honest; there seems to be a multitude of pro's and cons for both, so it really may be a case of rolling a dice and letting lady luck decide for me :) 

Have to say, again, the support and help here on Toms Hardware is second to none - it really is awesome!

Thanks all

- Robert

a b à CPUs
September 8, 2011 2:50:55 PM

HomeGamer said:
so, i figure it is time to retire the old warhorse (the PC rather than my wife for the record... lol)


:lol:  :lol: 

To help you make up your mind I'm positive the X3 with more physical cores will age better during the next three years.
a c 103 à CPUs
September 8, 2011 3:05:39 PM

Add another vote for X3's,
I run 2 X3 435 Rigs, built the first in January last year,
we both play Wow, she also plays sims,civ-type games and does a little photo editing and she doesn't see the need for a new pc for some time yet,
then consider you may be able to unlock as well as overclock if desired,
dont forget to check out http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/288241-13-read-post... if your building, lots of handy tips and pics to help, if you get stuck, just ask on here :) 
Moto
September 8, 2011 4:58:37 PM

i'd vote for an x3.

you can (if you're lucky) unlock the fourth core, at no cost
while pentium g620, is rumoured to have some feature unlocked if you buy the "upgrade code" thus squeeze you more $.

another reason for an x3 is, it is better for multitasking and makes it more futureproof. dual core will soon be obsolete for future software.
a c 86 à CPUs
September 8, 2011 9:49:13 PM

i would get the triple core, currently stuck with my dual core and just tried playing COD black opps, it runs like absolute POOP, benchmarks suggest a triple/quad core is the way to go.. Lucky im upgrading very soon.
a c 103 à CPUs
September 9, 2011 10:11:24 AM

Did you decide which to get?
!