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Test Systems And Benchmarks

Phenom II X2 555 Vs. Pentium G6950: New Budget Dual-Core Titans
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We used two test systems that shared the same hard drive, CPU cooler, and memory in order to minimize the variables. The Intel system was benched both with the Pentium G6950 and Core i5-750 for comparison.

To keep the CPUs frosty, we needed something that'd work on both systems, providing better cooling than the stock pieces and cheap enough to apply to budget overclocking systems. It wouldn't make sense to put a $50 cooler on a $100 CPU. The resulting cost would approach the price of a retail Core i5-750 and its stock cooler.

For this task we chose the Cooler Master TX3. While it's far from the most effective cooler out there, its $15 price tag makes it an ideal fit. Plus, it's compatible with Socket AM3 and LGA 1156 interfaces. With the fan running at 100%, the TX3 provides fairly good cooling performance, although it's a little louder than we'd like. But when you're overclocking on a budget, performance and price are more important than comfort.

For the AMD system, we chose to use Asus' M4A785TD-V EVO motherboard, a solid piece built around the 785G chipset that has good memory support and overclocking prowess.  At just under $100 online, it is a solid low-cost overclocking board.

For the Intel system, we wanted to use the P55 chipset at a reasonable price (since we weren't planning to employ Intel's on-package integrated graphics). Our choice was Gigabyte's GA-P55-UD3L that costs $105 online, fairly close to the price of our AMD board. Unfortunately we couldn't get a hold of one in time so our testing was done on the considerably more expensive GA-P55-UD4P. Performance should be identical though, as both boards use the same P55 chipset. The good news is that we will be testing the CPU on a comparably-priced board in our follow-up article.


Intel Test System
AMD Test System
CPU

Intel Pentium G6950 2.8 GHz
Dual-core, 3MB L3 Cache

Intel Core i5-750 2.66 GHz
Quad-core, 8MB L3 Cache

AMD Phenom II X2 555 (Deneb),
3.2 GHz, 2,000 MHz HT, 6MB L3Cache

Motherboard

Gigabyte P55-UD4P LGA 1156
Chipset: Intel P55 Express

Asus M4A785TD-V EVO Socket AM3
Chipset: AMD 785G, BIOS 0410

Networking
Onboard Gigabit LAN controller
Memory

Mushkin PC3-10700
  2 x 2,048MB, DDR3-1066, CL 7-8-8-24-1-1T
Overclocked:
DDR3-1260, CL 8-9-9-24-1T

Mushkin PC3-10700
  2 x 2,048MB, DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24-1T
Overclocked:
DDR3-1426, CL 9-9-9-24-1T

Graphics

XFX Radeon HD 5850
(underclocked to reference speeds)
1GB GDDR5
Radeon HD 5850 GPU at 725 MHz

Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s

Power

Corsair CMPSU-750HX 750W
ATX12V, EPS12V , 80-Plus Certified

Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 x64
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics Drivers

ATI Catalyst 9.12

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
High Quality, No AA
Fallout 3Patch 1.7, Saved Game "Capital Wasteland" (60 sec)
Highest Details, No AA, No AF
Far Cry 2Patch 1.03, DirectX 10, in-game benchmark
Ultra High Quality, No AA
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.XPatch 1.02, DirectX 10.1, in-game benchmark
Highest Settings, No AA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo
Very High Details, No AA / No AF
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunes 8Version: 8.2.1.6 (x64)
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min
Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98.2, wave to MP3
Audio CD "Terminator II" SE, 53 min
wave to MP3
TMPGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion: 4.7.3.292
Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1
Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1
MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4 (64-bit)Version: 11.0 Extended, Filter 15.7MB TIF Image
Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 11.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8.5Version: 8.5.287, Virus database 2094, Benchmark: Scan 334MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.1, WinZip Command Line Version 3.0
Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.01, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4aVersion 2009.9.15.130, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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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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