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

Phenom II X2 555 Vs. Pentium G6950: New Budget Dual-Core Titans
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Intel finally has quad-threaded processors to compete with in the sub-$200 space that AMD has dominated for so long: the Clarkdale-based Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs. Notice we said quad-threaded. These are still dual-core parts with Hyper-Threading, yielding four logical cores. With its launch earlier in January, the company now offers a handful of viable value options for the LGA 1156 platform, with attractive scalability to higher-end Core i5 and Core i7 models.

AMD isn't taking this frontal assault on its turf sitting down, of course, and its retaliation strategy employs a sizable mix of clock speed bumps and reduced prices. The already-attractive price/performance ratio of the sub-$200 CPU market will most definitely take a turn for the better, and you, the enthusiast, win again.

In the midst of all of this new model chaos, we couldn't help but notice the Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition. At an aggressive 3.2 GHz, this is the fastest dual-core CPU that AMD has ever made, and the best part is that it boasts the same $100 price tag as its predecessor, the 550. Intel's counterpoint, the new Clarkdale-based Pentium G6950, is about $5 cheaper and has a slower clock rate of 2.8 GHz, but it does have the advantage of an efficient 32nm process and reportedly-unholy overclocking headroom.

So we couldn't help but wonder: which of these two entry-level offerings is the better bet? How does stock performance compare to a more expensive option, like the quad-core Core i5-750? And could either of these processors offer budget-busting performance if we overclock them, despite their dual-core "limits?"

We certainly slammed headfirst into a few surprises along the way (not all of them pleasant), and we didn't walk away innocent of a mistake or two. But before we dig into the dual-core battle, let's spend a little time looking at AMD's new processor portfolio.

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  • 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
    footsoldier , January 25, 2010 3:25 AM
    Kudos to AMD! Gogogo!
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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