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Clash Of The $100 Dual-Core Titans

Phenom II X2 555 Vs. Pentium G6950: New Budget Dual-Core Titans
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On one hand, we have AMD's newest and fastest dual-core processor, the Phenom II X2 555. Armed with the architecture's full 6MB of L3 cache and a 3.2 GHz clock rate, this top-of-the-line dual-core CPU is even multiplier-unlocked, as indicated by its Black Edition designator. This means that overclocking the 555 is as easy as upping the multiplier in the BIOS, or by using AMD's Overdrive tool. No need to sweat the details; the Phenom II X2 555 can provide a notable increase in speed with some simple and quick experimentation.

The value-oriented Pentium G6950 is a stark contrast indeed. Intel has gone out of its way to avoid highlighting this new CPU, deliberately leaving it out of the launch documentation sent to press and "relegating" it to the Pentium family. It is the only Clarkdale-based processor that doesn't sport Hyper-Threading. It's clocked at a fairly conservative 2.8 GHz, and the CPU doesn't support Turbo Boost, like the Core i3s. It only has 3 MB of cache, too (1MB less than the Core i3 CPUs and half that of the Phenom II X2 555).

After reading those two comparisons, you're probably wondering why these CPUs are even mentioned on the same page. Well, they have two important things in common. First, they both cost about $100. And second, they both represent the newest dual-core models available from Intel and AMD.


Phenom II X2 555Pentium G6950
Codename: CallistoClarkdale
Process: 45nm 32nm
CPU Cores: 2 2
Clock Speed: 3.2 GHz
2.8 GHz
Socket: AM2+/AM3LGA 1156
L1 Cache: 2 x 128KB
2 x 64KB
L2 Cache: 2 x 512KB
2 x 256KB
L3 Cache: 6MB
3MB
Thermal Envelope:
80W
73W

In fact, the Pentium G6950 is not necessarily the underdog you might have interpreted it to be. Based on the new Clarkdale architecture, it might demonstrate a clock-for-clock advantage over the older Phenom II. This also means that the G6950 enjoys the benefit of 32nm manufacturing, compared to the Phenom II's older 45nm technology. Consequently, we're expecting positive things from Intel with regard to overclocking.

Our original plan was to benchmark the Phenom II X2 555 and Pentium G6950 at stock and overclocked speeds in order to see how far we can push them, and to see how close we could get to a more expensive option: the Core i5-750. Yes, that was our plan. Of course, life is what happens while you're making other plans... 

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    jasont78 , January 25, 2010 3:29 AM
    good article we like to know ur human and can blow shit up
  • 21 Hide
    alchemy69 , January 25, 2010 3:34 AM
    Bring on the battle of the fanboys. I'll get the popcorn.
  • 20 Hide
    burnley14 , January 25, 2010 3:43 AM
    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.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    footsoldier , January 25, 2010 3:25 AM
    Kudos to AMD! Gogogo!
  • 24 Hide
    jasont78 , January 25, 2010 3:29 AM
    good article we like to know ur human and can blow shit up
  • 21 Hide
    alchemy69 , January 25, 2010 3:34 AM
    Bring on the battle of the fanboys. I'll get the popcorn.
  • 20 Hide
    burnley14 , January 25, 2010 3:43 AM
    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.
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , January 25, 2010 3:43 AM
    That's great news for my next budget PC :D 
  • 14 Hide
    volks1470 , January 25, 2010 3:45 AM
    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!!
  • 8 Hide
    blackjellognomes , January 25, 2010 3:46 AM
    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.
  • 11 Hide
    melangex3 , January 25, 2010 3:47 AM
    If you read this article, you are probably in a higher percentage group than the general public!
  • 14 Hide
    eddieroolz , January 25, 2010 4:00 AM
    Good showing by AMD!
  • 4 Hide
    terr281 , January 25, 2010 4:02 AM
    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.
  • -3 Hide
    verrul , January 25, 2010 4:08 AM
    intel has to work harder on their low end mainstream efforts or they will continue to lose ground to amd
  • 8 Hide
    fatkid35 , January 25, 2010 4:29 AM
    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."
  • 1 Hide
    Schip , January 25, 2010 4:32 AM
    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!
  • 6 Hide
    envolva , January 25, 2010 4:53 AM
    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.
  • 3 Hide
    DarkMantle , January 25, 2010 5:27 AM
    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?.
  • 6 Hide
    ta152h , January 25, 2010 5:39 AM
    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.
  • -3 Hide
    ta152h , January 25, 2010 5:48 AM
    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 Hide
    carlhenry , January 25, 2010 6:34 AM
    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?
  • 8 Hide
    noob2222 , January 25, 2010 6:58 AM
    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.
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