The Pentium G3258 Cheap Overclocking Experiment

Our Pentium Experiment: Recalibrating For Value

Our first look at Intel’s Pentium G3258 leveraged relatively high-end hardware to extract the CPU’s maximum potential. We pulled a lot of performance data from the chip, we drew a number of conclusions about efficiency based on those observations and power consumption measurements. As a result, the Pentium G3258 received an honor not bestowed upon many processors: it won Tom’s Hardware Smart Buy recognition.

Many of you agreed with our assessment. Others scoffed at the idea of a dual-core CPU in an enthusiast space dominated by four-, six-, and eight-core alternatives. And a curious few asked for a follow-up that swapped our expensive motherboards and aftermarket heat sinks for components you’d be more likely to use with Athlon and Pentium processors.

MSI was more than happy to poll its engineers for their advice on the least-expensive motherboards from both camps still able to tune our two CPUs. We took those products, added factory cooling, and made another run at overclocking. The pair of processors ran significantly hotter—Intel’s Pentium so much so that we needed to pull its clock rate and voltage down a little bit. They performed stably, though, maintaining frequencies in excess of 4 GHz even on diminutive coolers.

Not For Everyone, Obviously

In a pure comparison of performance, price, and value, the Pentium G3258 remains a dominant force.

If you’re forced to buy a high-end Z87 or Z97 motherboard, that becomes a harder case to argue. However, in light of lower-end boards with overclocking-enabled firmware versions (which aren’t supposed to exist, but clearly do), it becomes possible to build a Pentium-based box inexpensively.

Does that mean you should? Depends on what you use your computer for, really. A dual-core CPU does suffer inherent disadvantages in software specifically programmed to take advantage of as many cores as possible. Our suite is loaded with those types of tests, and we saw a few instances where the dual-module Athlon and its four integer units beat out Intel’s Pentium.

In the same vein, while the G3258 consistently registered higher average frame rates than the Athlon in our game tests, it was also struck by frame time variance spikes in a number of titles. Intel’s Core i3 and i5 didn’t demonstrate similar behavior. So, it appears those two cores can’t always keep up.

Then again, you’re spending $115 on a Pentium G3258 and MSI’s H81M-P33. You’ll have a difficult time beating that combination's value, given what it can do. A significantly better experience is going to require a Core i5, and you’ll part ways with more than twice as much money for the motherboard/processor pair.

Go low-budget on your motherboard and lean on a bundled cooler, or spend a little extra for a third-party heat sink—either way you go, Intel’s Pentium G3258 remains a recommended buy thanks to the Haswell architecture. It’s great in a mainstream desktop, and the platform handles productivity apps and games more deftly than you’d expect from a $70 chip in a $45 motherboard.

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  • First page (in bold heading):
    Quote:
    Wait, Did You Say B81?

    You mean either H81 or B85, I'm guessing.
    3
  • so 2x4GB=16GB RAM and also 2x4GB=32GB RAM

    Maths fail?
    1
  • Are you seriously running the Athlon on DDR3-1600 RAM? Please confirm as it's too difficult to be sure with all of the ridiculous adware you have baked into this article.
    -12
  • Spoiler: Old girl Athlon gets whipped by jock strap Pentium.
    6
  • athlon whimpers into the corner, and pentium flexes its skinny little arms
    8
  • Someone Somewhere said:
    First page (in bold heading):
    Quote:
    Wait, Did You Say B81?
    You mean either H81 or B85, I'm guessing.


    LOL

    they were offered both and settled on the H81
    0
  • U guys should throw in Core 2 quad 9550/9650 and bench together or even the Nehelem quad core to compare.
    1
  • @ Nuckles_56: the modules we used came from one standardized kit. Because the H81 and A78 platforms only offer two slots, we pulled two modules from the kit. The other boards gave us four slots, so we used four modules from the same kit. On an X79- based board, you'd see all eight in play.
    0
  • @TomFreak, Tom's have already done an old vs new article that tested the core2duo and Quad vs newer i3's an i5's. No reason to redo the tests since you can pretty much extrapolate about where your performance would sit if you look over both articles. Bottom line is it's probably not worth going from a Core2Quad that overclocks pretty reliably to an i3 or Pentium, but in most cases the i3 and newest unclocked Pentium would perform slightly better and use less power.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ivy-bridge-wolfdale-yorkfield-comparison,3487-9.html
    4
  • If you are in the US and are close to a Microcenter, they offer a G3258 and MSI Z97 board bundle for $99. Killer deal for a cheap starter system.
    2
  • Just to be clear. the Pentium is on a H81 with stock intel fan, right? I'd really like to see what each CPU has...mobo and cooler for this testing..it just isn't clear.
    0
  • Very interesting article, the Pentium G3258 defiantly does show it's value in gaming and other areas on a budget.
    0
  • envy14tpe said:
    Just to be clear. the Pentium is on a H81 with stock intel fan, right? I'd really like to see what each CPU has...mobo and cooler for this testing..it just isn't clear.


    "The Pentium, also topped with a bundled cooler and factory grease, ran exceedingly warm, too."
    2
  • So when are you going to put the little guy on nitrogen and see what it will really do?
    3
  • This is all well and good but with DX12 and Mantle. Will these dual core wins be disappointing? Once Intel tunes mantle will the i3 blow away the Pentium?
    -5
  • Stutter stutter stutter!

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2014-pentium-g3258-review

    Who cares how many FPS its pushing if its a stuttering mess.
    9
  • Is there a reason the 760K is never included in these types of articles?
    -2
  • While I can understand that using a high GPU and SSD and tons of RAM makes it so we're only seeing the CPU's impact, I feel that such a high system with a low end chip doesn't make sense, or that it somehow doesnt show the real results
    -2
  • Quote:
    While I can understand that using a high GPU and SSD and tons of RAM makes it so we're only seeing the CPU's impact, I feel that such a high system with a low end chip doesn't make sense, or that it somehow doesnt show the real results


    Well have I got the article for you then!
    2
  • bhauck said:
    Is there a reason the 760K is never included in these types of articles?


    because it OCs just the same as a 750k?
    2