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SB Dual-Core Pentium vs i3

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May 2, 2012 9:07:46 AM

It has been my belief for some time now (since SB really), that there is no point in getting an i3 (desktop), regardless of your budget or target performance range.

The reason for this is the Sandy Bridge dual-core Pentium's are 1/3 of the price, and give similar performance, minus the Hyperthreading (HT is useless, I've done tests on an i3 with it enabled and disabled).

So ignoring Ivy Bridge in this post/thread, let's focus on the SB DC Pentiums vs SB i3's. Has anyone done any tests? What about for coding? Gaming with and without a discreet graphics card? Overclocking? How overclockable are the SB Pentiums and the i3's?

If an unlocked SB Pentium existed, I assume you could hit around 4.8 - 5Ghz on air, correct?

More about : dual core pentium

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May 2, 2012 9:11:43 AM

None of them are overclockable without taking a huge risk of damaging your processor, board, and ram.
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May 2, 2012 1:34:42 PM

Pentium branch had reduced clocks (highest is 3GHz) and, like you said, missing HT. Also, it seems it's IGP has reduced functionality.
So.....to increase the clock, it's risky as Intel had stepped up the overclocking fight (hence the i5 and i7 K models to please the fans). Also, I think the PCIe link is tied to the main clock. So raising the clock will also raise PCIe clock, which has no benefits but increases failiure risk.
As for HT, it depends what you do, but I've seen that compiling benefits. Gaming is so-so, as not many games use more than 2 cores.
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May 2, 2012 1:49:22 PM

Pherule said:
It has been my belief for some time now (since SB really), that there is no point in getting an i3 (desktop), regardless of your budget or target performance range.

The reason for this is the Sandy Bridge dual-core Pentium's are 1/3 of the price, and give similar performance, minus the Hyperthreading (HT is useless, I've done tests on an i3 with it enabled and disabled).

So ignoring Ivy Bridge in this post/thread, let's focus on the SB DC Pentiums vs SB i3's. Has anyone done any tests? What about for coding? Gaming with and without a discreet graphics card? Overclocking? How overclockable are the SB Pentiums and the i3's?

If an unlocked SB Pentium existed, I assume you could hit around 4.8 - 5Ghz on air, correct?


You know less than you think. First of all Pentiums are not 1/3 the price of i3's.....not even close. The cheapest Pentium is $70, the most expensive and much faster i3-2120 is $125.

Second of all, The i3's and Pentiums are only overclockable by a max of 100mhz, IF you have a board that allows overclocking.

Thirdly, hyperthreading helps in more things than you think, like multi-tasking and especially video encoding. There are also certain games capable of using hyperthreading, not many but a few.


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May 2, 2012 2:02:12 PM

Pherule said:
It has been my belief for some time now (since SB really), that there is no point in getting an i3 (desktop), regardless of your budget or target performance range.

The reason for this is the Sandy Bridge dual-core Pentium's are 1/3 of the price, and give similar performance, minus the Hyperthreading (HT is useless, I've done tests on an i3 with it enabled and disabled).

So ignoring Ivy Bridge in this post/thread, let's focus on the SB DC Pentiums vs SB i3's. Has anyone done any tests? What about for coding? Gaming with and without a discreet graphics card? Overclocking? How overclockable are the SB Pentiums and the i3's?

If an unlocked SB Pentium existed, I assume you could hit around 4.8 - 5Ghz on air, correct?

i3 has a 3.3ghz processor while pentium has 3ghz max only so there's a 10% difference in speed
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May 2, 2012 2:49:18 PM

geekapproved said:
You know less than you think. First of all Pentiums are not 1/3 the price of i3's.....not even close. The cheapest Pentium is $70, the most expensive and much faster i3-2120 is $125.

Second of all, The i3's and Pentiums are only overclockable by a max of 100mhz, IF you have a board that allows overclocking.

Thirdly, hyperthreading helps in more things than you think, like multi-tasking and especially video encoding. There are also certain games capable of using hyperthreading, not many but a few.

In my country the prices are definitely around 1/3, and sometimes the difference is even more.

Cheapest SB Pentium: Equivalent of $54
Cheapest SB i3: Equivalent of $148

Alright that's 2.7x as much, but they do fluctuate a bit and can reach 3x
Hyperthreading is useful for niche applications. How much video encoding do you do? The average person doesn't do any.
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May 2, 2012 3:48:03 PM

The slowest Pentium is only 2.6ghz, the slowest i3 is 3.1ghz, so either way the i3 is going to be MUCH faster even in single threaded workloads, as you can obviously see from the benchmarks I posted.

Besides windows divides work loads across 4 cores on an i3, even though 2 are only virtual.
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May 2, 2012 7:23:24 PM

ITT i3 owners defending their purchase. Lol...

Anyway, judging by those anandtech CPU comparisons, there is a much greater difference between a 3.1Ghz i5 and a 3.1Ghz i3 than there is between the i3 and the 2.9Ghz Pentium. Ultimately, unless your budget is very specific, it would usually be best to choose between either the i5 or the Pentium.
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May 2, 2012 8:01:15 PM

Pherule said:
ITT i3 owners defending their purchase. Lol...

Anyway, judging by those anandtech CPU comparisons, there is a much greater difference between a 3.1Ghz i5 and a 3.1Ghz i3 than there is between the i3 and the 2.9Ghz Pentium. Ultimately, unless your budget is very specific, it would usually be best to choose between either the i5 or the Pentium.


Why would I need to defend my purchase, I made probably the smartest choice possible for my needs, it's green and efficient using about 30w under full load, and outgames a X4 965 in just about every benchmark, even on a $55 motherboard.

By the way the OP was talking about a 2.6ghz Pentium, not a 2.9ghz Pentium. I only used the 2.9ghz Pentium for comparison against the i3-2100, because it was the only one Pentium listed on the benchmark chart.
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May 2, 2012 9:38:12 PM

Pherule said:
30w, really?

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpus/2011/07/01/intel-...

Besides, who cares about power draw on a desktop machine?. As long as it's under 130w it's not a problem.


Really?

Please at least bother to read the link before you post it. LOL

Yeah I still stick with 30w. It has a 65w TDP, the TDP includes the integrated gpu, which I do not use.
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May 2, 2012 9:43:49 PM

Again, it does not matter on a desktop machine.
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May 2, 2012 9:47:04 PM

I'm not saying don't buy it, but the whole Pentium vs. i3 vs. i5 vs. i7 is for market segmentaion and yields.
1st of all, they all come from the same production line. Every processor is tested and some could be hotter than others. Also different units could be affected by flaws. So the hotter CPUs are sold at lower frequencies with lower price (since they would perform lower due to the clock). Some parts could be disabled (like AES-NI, VT-d, caches). I would go so much as say that there are physically 4 cores, but 2 of them completely disabled due to defects (speculation on my part, I have no proof). I'm not saying they are bad, because what is enabled works great. What I am saying is that a Pentium and an i3 (with HT disable) at the same clock, the Pentium would probably consume slightly more.
Oh, and please try to understand: laptop CPUs come from the same production line. The entire SB range is identical by design.

As an analogy, try to think about a circular scratch on an audio CD. Let's say 3 CDs, 2 with scratches (in different parts) and 1 unscratched. Now the seller could sell the 2 scratched CDs with a lower price, but modified so the affected tracks to not appear to the player. And sell the 3rd CD at full price. How many would jump to the lower-priced CD knowing in advance what tracks are disabled? Or even better question: how many would buy the CD just by looking at the track list and seeing all their (requested??) songs? Or even comparing each of the CDs and saying they would not pay the premium to have a certain track? PS: I assume the track listing is correct. Because Intel does show the specs, but only comparing it you can see what is missing.
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May 2, 2012 11:08:01 PM

Pherule said:
Again, it does not matter on a desktop machine.



A processor that does what you need it to do at the lowest power consumption matters for any form factor. Just because it's a desktop doesn't mean that it's inevitable to use more power than necessary.
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May 3, 2012 9:16:04 AM

@mathew7:
I've assumed that to be the case for quite some time. Though it's interesting to speculate, assuming the dual cores are actually quad cores by design, whether Intel would purposefully shut down perfectly working cores if the demand for dual cores was higher than the demand for quad cores. It would almost be like shooting themselves in the foot, despite higher monetary gains in the short run.


I had read that before. Toms seems to agree that it (the Pentium) is the best choice for gaming unless you are playing something that requires more than two cores.

ebalong said:
A processor that does what you need it to do at the lowest power consumption matters for any form factor. Just because it's a desktop doesn't mean that it's inevitable to use more power than necessary.

For the average consumer, cost comes before everything else, including power draw. Performance is right up there with cost (with regards to importance). No doubt I'd choose the less power-heavy processor if it were equally priced to one that uses more power, but it would be far from my primary concern.
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May 4, 2012 12:45:53 PM

Pherule said:
Again, it does not matter on a desktop machine.


Sure if our mommy pays your electric bill, it doesn't matter. :sleep: 

If have a 800w power supply in your htpc, it doesn't matter either.

And where does Tom's say the Pentium is the best choice for gaming??? LOL
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May 4, 2012 1:58:10 PM

geekapproved said:
And where does Tom's say the Pentium is the best choice for gaming??? LOL


For budget gaming, it is: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-cpu-review-overclo...

Whether you need in i3 over a Pentium is down to what you use your system for. I'm most used to gaming, so from that perspective I can say there's not going to be a huge difference. Custom PC did a feature in their April issue on building a gaming PC capable of maxing out Skyrim at 1080p for £350...they used the G620 CPU. I've also put a G620 into my HTPC, underclocked it to 2GHz and it runs perfectly...I considered an i3-2100 and I'm glad I didn't get one. I'm firmly a fan of the Pentium CPUs as they offer good performance at a competitive price.

There will be cases where the i3 series are better...my G620 does get sluggish when I'm tweaking the HTPC and am throwing a lot at it. I have an i3 in my work laptop, and it's spot on for productivity, so there are going to be scenarios where the i3 is better.
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May 4, 2012 2:33:02 PM

geekapproved said:
If have a 800w power supply in your htpc, it doesn't matter either.

For people who actually do build for power-efficiency, it does matter since your HTPC will probably use ~150W peak, your 800W PSU probably hits its peak efficiency at ~400W and a 380W would hit its peak efficiency at ~190W... so you might end up with the 800W PSU operating at 80% load / 70% idle efficiency (150W already falls short of the 800W PSU's 80+ certification range) while a 380W one of similar build quality might do 83% load / 78% idle on that particular load.

The 380W PSU would both be cheaper up-front and shave a few bucks/year on the power bill, win-win.
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May 4, 2012 3:53:30 PM

InvalidError said:
For people who actually do build for power-efficiency, it does matter since your HTPC will probably use ~150W peak, your 800W PSU probably hits its peak efficiency at ~400W and a 380W would hit its peak efficiency at ~190W... so you might end up with the 800W PSU operating at 80% load / 70% idle efficiency (150W already falls short of the 800W PSU's 80+ certification range) while a 380W one of similar build quality might do 83% load / 78% idle on that particular load.

The 380W PSU would both be cheaper up-front and shave a few bucks/year on the power bill, win-win.


Are you talking to me or someone else? LOL

Thanks for agreeing with me.
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May 4, 2012 3:54:43 PM

diellur said:
For budget gaming, it is: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-cpu-review-overclo...

Whether you need in i3 over a Pentium is down to what you use your system for. I'm most used to gaming, so from that perspective I can say there's not going to be a huge difference. Custom PC did a feature in their April issue on building a gaming PC capable of maxing out Skyrim at 1080p for £350...they used the G620 CPU. I've also put a G620 into my HTPC, underclocked it to 2GHz and it runs perfectly...I considered an i3-2100 and I'm glad I didn't get one. I'm firmly a fan of the Pentium CPUs as they offer good performance at a competitive price.

There will be cases where the i3 series are better...my G620 does get sluggish when I'm tweaking the HTPC and am throwing a lot at it. I have an i3 in my work laptop, and it's spot on for productivity, so there are going to be scenarios where the i3 is better.


No where in that link does it say a Pentium is the best choice for gaming. LOL

It say's the best choice for gaming under $70.
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May 4, 2012 4:48:22 PM

geekapproved said:
No where in that link does it say a Pentium is the best choice for gaming. LOL

It say's the best choice for gaming under $70.


I never said it did, I said budget gaming. If you're going to troll, at least do so with some intelligence. :) 
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May 4, 2012 5:00:15 PM

geekapproved said:
Thanks for agreeing with me.

I was actually disagreeing with you... you said a 800W PSU in an HTPC doesn't matter, I said it does because a 800W PSU will usually be less efficient and more expensive than a smaller PSU of comparable build quality, a cheap 400W PSU will be cheaper and likely more efficient than a cheap 800W one when feeding a 150W load, same goes between good PSUs. You also do not want a $20 PSU with 60-70% efficiency that will run its fan at max speed just to keep itself manageably warm since people usually want their HTPCs to be near-silent. Also, most stylish cases (those that do not look like an ATX tower put on its side) have slim form-factor that cannot fit standard ATX PSUs, in which case 800W is not even an option.

HTPC is one of the worst possible places to use grossly over-sized and/or lousy PSUs in.
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