Phenom II X2 555 Vs. Pentium G6950: New Budget Dual-Core Titans

Conclusion

Writing this article covering AMD's Phenom II X2 555 introduction and including Intel's Pentium G6950 (we knew that this would be a hot comparison, pardon the pun) was a humbling experience. This is the first time I've committed processorcide with an overly-aggressive combination of settings, so we'll need to be more careful with voltages on the integration-rich Clarkdale-based CPUs.

As for the results of the Pentium G6950 overclock, yes they were impressive, but don't forget that they're beyond the realm of what this CPU could sustain before succumbing to our aggressive settings. The results are interesting in theory, but not as a solid representation of what our retail sample could do and certainly not at settings we'd recommend. The Phenom II X2 555, on the other hand, is still running cool.

With the knowledge that we're going to have a second try at this in the near future, the data gives us an indication of what to expect. The Phenom II X2 555 is very easy for enthusiasts to work with. Its stock speed is fast enough to provide great performance (for a dual-core CPU), its price is easy to stomach, and its unlocked clock multiplier makes overclocking a simpler affair for enthusiasts.

At stock speeds, the Phenom II X2 555 is clearly superior to Intel's Pentium G6950 in games, and it wins out in a majority of applications we test. It even comes close to the Core i5-750 in graphics-bound games, as high resolutions transfer the performance burden onto today's fastest GPUs. The only downside is that its stock clock rate is already so high as to limit overclockers to less margin than Intel's 45nm and 32nm CPUs. But 4 GHz is nothing to complain about for AMD's 45nm process, and employing cheap air cooling.

So, what about the Pentium G6950 we've been so anxious to test? At its stock clock rate, the gaming price/performance value for this processor is disappointing. Things aren't all bad, though. Application performance is in the same league as AMD's Phenom II X2 555, despite its 2.8 GHz clock. And even though our overclocking results have been invalidated by our retail CPU's untimely death, we must acknowledge that there is potential here. Given Intel's positioning of the Pentium G6950, this is clearly a part the company wants to push in the channel for its sub-$100 price, but not necessarily to power users. How far can the thing reliably go, though? We're going to try to answer that for you in the near future.

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    Top Comments
  • jasont78
    good article we like to know ur human and can blow shit up
    24
  • alchemy69
    Bring on the battle of the fanboys. I'll get the popcorn.
    21
  • footsoldier
    Kudos to AMD! Gogogo!
    20
  • Other Comments
  • footsoldier
    Kudos to AMD! Gogogo!
    20
  • jasont78
    good article we like to know ur human and can blow shit up
    24
  • alchemy69
    Bring on the battle of the fanboys. I'll get the popcorn.
    21
  • obarthelemy
    I see a bunch of overclocking articles... do you have any clue about how many of your readers overclock ? and how many of the public at large ?

    My guess from personal anecdote would be 10% and 0.01 % resp ?
    -27
  • burnley14
    obarthelemyI see a bunch of overclocking articles... do you have any clue about how many of your readers overclock ? and how many of the public at large ?My guess from personal anecdote would be 10% and 0.01 % resp ?

    It's pretty much a free way to get better performance, so I'm glad they have so many articles about it.
    20
  • Anonymous
    That's great news for my next budget PC :D
    8
  • volks1470
    I'd say a decent majority do overclock, and this site isn't exactly for the general public. Not very people get what's going on here on Tom's.

    POLL!!
    14
  • blackjellognomes
    obarthelemyI see a bunch of overclocking articles... do you have any clue about how many of your readers overclock ? and how many of the public at large ?My guess from personal anecdote would be 10% and 0.01 % resp ?


    More like 50% and 5%, I think.
    8
  • melangex3
    If you read this article, you are probably in a higher percentage group than the general public!
    11
  • eddieroolz
    Good showing by AMD!
    14
  • terr281
    Most people, at least those who build systems for themselves, friends, and clients (who would read this article), probably overclock their cpu... even if it is only a very modest overclock on the included retail cooler. (Or, higher on an aftermarket one.)

    As such, I must agree that it is a good thing that AMD seems to still have a market. (As such, we won't find Intel being the only player in the CPU market... at least for the next year anyway.)

    With luck, AMD's shift to completely new chips will allow the company to keep a competitive presence in the low-end and mainstream market.
    4
  • verrul
    intel has to work harder on their low end mainstream efforts or they will continue to lose ground to amd
    -3
  • fatkid35
    i enjoy seeing a win here for amd. makes me happy. two wins actually.$100 dollar dual cores @ stock for stock it wins, due to it has higher stock clocks. secondly it survived the abuse put to it. even if the intel chip will clock higher, it failed. thats hard to forget. "its not the dog in the fight, its the fight in the dog."
    8
  • Schip
    Is it just me, or is there something weird on the "Benchmark Results: Synthetics" page. The table titled, "PCMark Vantage Hard Drive Test Score" shows the stock 555 performing better than the 555 when overclocked, which contradicts intuition and the paragraph that follows the table. Not a big deal, just thought I should point it out. Peace!
    1
  • envolva
    I think Tom's Hardware should focus on overclock for daily use. I would never go over 1.4V with a brand new processor, and I guess those who do wouldn't do it for daily use.

    So I would really like to see some limitations applied when comparing the value of each processor. Some limitations would apply like max voltages, max temps, power saving on. Disabling custom features like Intel's turbo boost or hyper threading would be fair game if it made the overclocking easier/safer.

    I appreciate the fact that you push the chip to the limit so the reader don't have to, but in the end the overclock results aren't really useful without guesswork of how much the performance would decrease when you apply daily use limitations. Can a Pentium G6950 keep 4.2GHz at 1.4V? Can the Phenom II 555 reach 3.8GHz at 1.4V?

    Personally I wouldn't go over 1.35V with my i7 920, but I understand each fabricant, and each processor have its own limits. I'm not aware of the AMD processor stock or max voltage, but in this case I'm guessing 1.4V is a fair number to impose as limit with these two competitors.
    6
  • DarkMantle
    On "Test Systems And Benchmarks" it says "Mushkin PC3-10700
    3 x 2,048MB, DDR3-1333, CL". Was this a mistake when writting the article or did you really tested 3 dual channel processors with 3 memory sticks?.
    3
  • ta152h
    Clarksdale is a big compromise, and I don't know why anyone would buy the Pentium without using the GPU. That's kind of the point.

    If not, you go to the faster Core 2 based Pentium. It's cheaper, runs faster, and isn't lobotomized like LGA1156 processor. At least with the Lynnfield you get the faster memory controller, but with the Clarksdale, you get abysmal memory performance and all the bad compromises of the Lynnfield, without the main benefit. Who'd want this except budget buyers who want to use the GPU?

    The Pentium G6950 is a real bomb. It's a horrible, brain-damaged processor that will be sold to the masses, because it can make for a cheap platform suitable for surfing. But when you quantify the performance, it's going to suck, bad. Better off with the older Pentiums, or an AMD product.

    Also, I'd be really curious about the Athlon X2s. The Athlon X4 is just an inferior Phenom at a lower price, but the Athlon X2 has the much larger L2 cache, which could make it a very interesting product - especially considering the price. It should also use slightly less power, saving even more money.
    6
  • ta152h
    What's with the weird L1 cache sizes anyway? The Athlon still uses 128K, 3 cycle L1 cache. And for the G6950, why do you have it 4 x 32K, and the Phenom II 2 x 128K? If you want to call the L1 cache seperate data and instruction, at least do it consistently, instead of making it confusing by applying it to the Pentium, but not to the Phenom.

    It's also worth noting in the thermal limits that the Pentium G6950 includes a lot more than the AMD product, including the PCI-E controller and GPU. It's not an apples to apples comparison.
    -3
  • carlhenry
    ta152hWhat's with the weird L1 cache sizes anyway? The Athlon still uses 128K, 3 cycle L1 cache. And for the G6950, why do you have it 4 x 32K, and the Phenom II 2 x 128K? If you want to call the L1 cache seperate data and instruction, at least do it consistently, instead of making it confusing by applying it to the Pentium, but not to the Phenom. It's also worth noting in the thermal limits that the Pentium G6950 includes a lot more than the AMD product, including the PCI-E controller and GPU. It's not an apples to apples comparison.


    its apples to apples because they compared on the given price point, not on the feature set. it'd be apples to pineapples if you compared a 100$ cpu vs a 200$ cpu eh?
    3
  • noob2222
    burnley14It's pretty much a free way to get better performance, so I'm glad they have so many articles about it.

    Well, obviously from this article itself, I wouldn't exactly use the term "FREE" since you would have just purchased a processor and fried it.

    Would be better to use the term gambling since nothing is guranteed.
    8