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Intel Pentium Gold G5600 And G5400 Review: Four Threads Under $100

Our Verdict

The Pentium Gold G5600 offers solid gaming performance if you plan to pair your processor with a discrete GPU. Unfortunately, overclocking isn’t an option. If you intend to use the Pentium Gold G5600 without add-in graphics, expect Intel's UHD Graphics 630 engine to fall short of AMD’s less expensive Ryzen 3 2200G with Radeon Vega graphics.

For

  • Hyper-Threading allows two cores to operate on four threads
  • Bundled cooler improves value proposition
  • Excellent performance in lightly-threaded workloads

Against

  • Locked multiplier prevents overclocking
  • No AVX/AVX2 support
  • Dual-core architecture
  • Comparatively weak integrated graphics

Cheap Chips

Building a capable PC for less than $500 is challenging, especially as memory prices soar. Fortunately, a competitive CPU market means it's possible to get lots of processing power without breaking the bank.

Fast, affordable Ryzen models from AMD forced Intel to improve its dual-core Pentium chips with Hyper-Threading Technology and larger L3 caches. As a result, today's Pentiums look a lot like yesterday's Core i3s. That makes them a big win for budget-oriented builders, particularly when they're paired up with Intel's H370, H310, and B360 chipsets.

Intel's victory isn't assured, though. AMD has a fearsome competitor in its overclockable Raven Ridge-based Ryzen 3 2200G, which sells for $100 and sports four execution cores plus the impressive Radeon Vega integrated graphics engine. It's quick enough for low-resolution gaming, potentially saving lots of money on a discrete GPU.

The UHD Graphics 630 solution built-into Intel's Pentium Gold G5600 can't even come close to AMD's Radeon Vega, and the G5400's UHD Graphics 610 is even slower. So, we matched the host processors up to an add-in graphics card for a more direct comparison in our benchmark suite. In the end, we found that Ryzen 3 2200G tells a better value story than the Pentium Gold G5600, while the Pentium Gold G5400 is simply unmatched at its $64 price point. 

Pentium Gold G5600 and G5400

Last year, Intel announced it was rebranding the Pentium family. Pentium Gold comprised the higher-performance socketed models based on the Kaby Lake architecture (and now Coffee Lake), while Pentium Silver CPUs were power-optimized and BGA-attached, leveraging Intel's Goldmont Plus design.

Pentium Gold G5600Pentium Gold G5400
SocketLGA 1151LGA 1151
TDP54W54W
ArchitectureCoffee LakeCoffee Lake
Process14nm++14nm++
Cores / Threads2 / 42 / 4
Frequency Base / Boost3.9 / -3.7 / -
Memory SpeedDDR4-2400DDR4-2400
Memory ControllerDual-ChannelDual-Channel
Cache (L3)4MB4MB
Integrated GraphicsUHD Graphics 630UHD Graphics 610
PCIe Lanesx16x16
Unlocked MultiplierNoNo
MSRP$86$64

Intel also added Hyper-Threading Technology to its Kaby Lake-based Pentiums in an effort to stave off the then-impending Ryzen onslaught. That practice continues with today's Coffee Lake-based models, allowing the dual-core Pentium Gold G5600 and G5400 CPUs to operate on four threads concurrently.

Of course, Coffee Lake is manufactured using an optimized 14nm++ process. That, plus a 3W-higher thermal design power, is responsible for the 200 MHz speed-up available across the Pentium Gold family. Intel also bumped L3 cache capacity up to 4MB, a 33% increase compared to Kaby Lake-based Pentiums. The dual-channel DDR4 memory controller is still limited to 2400 MT/s, so peak bandwidth does not change. And whereas AMD's Ryzen 3 2200G only gives you eight lanes of PCIe 3.0 for discrete graphics upgrades, both Pentium chips offer a full 16-lane link. 

Pentium Gold CPUs don't get all of Intel's special sauce, though. Similar to the Core i3 models, Pentiums lack Turbo Boost functionality altogether. Under load, you get one static frequency, regardless of how many cores are active. Intel also locks its ratio multipliers, preventing overclockers from coaxing extra performance from the chips. Pentium processors don't support the AVX/AVX2 instructions that accelerate certain productivity workloads, either. As a result, AMD's AVX-enabled Ryzen 3 2200G enjoys a performance advantage in several optimized applications, as you'll see in our benchmarks. Finally, Optane memory isn't an option in Pentium-based PCs. 

Pentium Gold G5600Pentium Gold G5400Pentium G4620Pentium G4560Ryzen 3 1300XRyzen 3 2200GCore i3-8100
TDP54W54W51W51W65W65W65W
ArchitectureCoffee LakeCoffee LakeKaby LakeKaby LakeZenZenCoffee Lake
Process14nm++14nm++14nm+14nm+14nm14nm14nm++
Cores / Threads2 / 42 / 42 / 42 / 44 /44 / 44 / 4
Frequency Base / Boost3.9 / -3.7 / -3.7 / -3.5 / -3.5 / 3.73.5 / 3.73.6 / -
Memory SpeedDDR4-2400DDR4-2400DDR4-2400DDR4-2400DDR4-2667DDR4-2667DDR4-2400
Memory ControllerDual-ChannelDual-ChannelDual-ChannelDual-ChannelDual-ChannelDual-ChannelDual-Channel
Cache (L3)4MB4MB3MB3MB8MB4MB6MB
Integrated GraphicsUHD Graphics 630UHD Graphics 610HD Graphics 630HD Graphics 610NoRadeon Vega 8UHD Graphics 630
Unlocked MultiplierNoNoNoNoYesYesNo
MSRP$86$64$86$64$124$99$117

Intel's Pentium Gold G5600 includes on-die UHD Graphics 630, while the G5400 utilizes UHD Graphics 610. The former is composed of 24 execution units in what is referred to as a GT2 configuration, while the latter consists of 12 EUs in a GT1 setup. A 350 MHz base graphics frequency boosts up to 1.1 GHz on the Pentium Gold G5600 and 1.05 GHz on the G5400.

UHD Graphics 630/610 supports a wide range of codecs and provides hardware acceleration for most media consumption tasks. It's also equipped with plenty of connectivity options, including native support for DisplayPort 1.2a and HDMI 1.4. But the UHD Graphics engine isn't really suitable for gaming, even at low resolutions and relaxed quality settings. Plan on adding a discrete graphics card if you plan to build a gaming PC around Intel's Pentium Gold.

Fortunately, you should have some room left in your budget for an upgrade. The G5400 model sells for a mere $64, placing it well under AMD's low-end Ryzen options. We don't expect it to face any real competition at that price point. Meanwhile, the Pentium Gold G5600 should be available at $86. But as we saw with Intel's previous-gen G4620, street pricing is much higher. You'll currently find it around $95, placing it close to AMD's Ryzen 3 2200G. Consequently, the Pentium grapples with an overclockable competitor armed with four physical cores and impressive Radeon Vega integrated graphics.

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  • alchemy69
    So you free admit in the first sentence that these chips are for people looking to build a sub-$500 system and so in the test rig you pair it with a GTX 1080?
    Reply
  • logainofhades
    21170547 said:
    So you free admit in the first sentence that these chips are for people looking to build a sub-$500 system and so in the test rig you pair it with a GTX 1080?

    That is to show only CPU performance. You remove the GPU as a potential bottleneck. Benchmark review 101.
    Reply
  • TCA_ChinChin
    I think Intel did well in improving their pentium lineup. However, it would have been nice to see some more "real-world" examples like the pentium paired up with a gt-1030 and the r3-2200g with its built in graphics. Although testing without a GPU bottleneck will show absolute CPU performance differences (which is good), having some data more in context with the actual market segment of the product is also beneficial.
    Reply
  • salgado18
    I think the fact that they user a powerful GPU for CPU tests to remove bottlenecks should be in caps, bolded, in its own box. Every CPU review someone brings that up.
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    Intel where is the Pentium Platinum?
    Reply
  • techy1966
    Good review thanks. Using a good graphics card is a good way to show the CPU performance but it would have also been good to see all the CPU's also use their built in graphics chips. Which would have shown just how weak Intel's onboard graphics really is when compared to a AMD chip with built in graphics.

    For those that want to add a cheap graphics card to a low end Intel CPU system it will work well but if you do not want to do that then AMD's 2200G & 2400G CPU's are the only way to go if you want decent graphics performance on a tight budget.
    Reply
  • PaulAlcorn
    21170900 said:
    Good review thanks. Using a good graphics card is a good way to show the CPU performance but it would have also been good to see all the CPU's also use their built in graphics chips. Which would have shown just how weak Intel's onboard graphics really is when compared to a AMD chip with built in graphics.

    For those that want to add a cheap graphics card to a low end Intel CPU system it will work well but if you do not want to do that then AMD's 2200G & 2400G CPU's are the only way to go if you want decent graphics performance on a tight budget.

    Here ya go, the Intel model isn't the same, but honestly it doesn't matter. Same UHD Graphics 630.

    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-ryzen-3-2200g-raven-ridge-cpu,5472.html

    Reply
  • Nintendork
    When the 2200G APU (an i5 6600~) is at $89 you must be beyond blind to buy any intel cpu at that price bracket.
    Reply
  • 1_rick
    21171365 said:
    When the 2200G APU (an i5 6600~) is at $89 you must be beyond blind to buy any intel cpu at that price bracket.

    You can get the 2200G from Micro Center for $79, so it's even more off-balance. And that's been their online price for a while now, not just their in-store-only special. In light of that it seems like the G5400 is something you just should not get at all unless you really can't afford the extra $20 (Micro Center has the G5400 for $59) or you hate AMD.
    Reply
  • alchemy69
    21170631 said:
    21170547 said:
    So you free admit in the first sentence that these chips are for people looking to build a sub-$500 system and so in the test rig you pair it with a GTX 1080?

    That is to show only CPU performance. You remove the GPU as a potential bottleneck. Benchmark review 101.

    21170755 said:
    I think the fact that they user a powerful GPU for CPU tests to remove bottlenecks should be in caps, bolded, in its own box. Every CPU review someone brings that up.

    I am well aware of the justification of this method but, imho, it is a nonsense metric. The raw power of the chip can easily be benchmarked with synthetics. Running game benchmarks with a vastly overpowered GPU is merely exchanging one bottleneck for another. What are you really measuring? How much this CPU bottlenecks the GPU in a given game. And who exactly is that information going to be useful to? If I'm reading the review of a new car I don't expect to see a discussion of how fast it could go if it was being towed by a Lambourghini.

    Reply