Results: Real-World Benchmarks
I should probably preface the next several paragraphs with a caveat: nobody who runs taxing workloads is going to settle for a dual-core Pentium (or even a Core i3/Athlon). If you read my Core i7-4790K review, you know that even a still-mainstream Core i7 can finish our workloads in half the time of what’s reflected here.
Nevertheless, it’s remarkable that Intel’s Pentium G3258 jumps from last place to second with a 1.2 GHz tailwind in 3ds Max. Similarly, AMD’s Athlon X4 750K hops ahead of the pricier (and multiplier-locked) Core i3-4330 after a 900 MHz overclock.
The finishing order doesn’t really change in Blender, nor is Vegas Pro 12’s outcome affected.
AMD’s Athlon X4 750K overclocked to 4.3 GHz loses a little steam on our new platform in Premiere Pro CC. Still, a higher frequency shaves off more than a minute from its render time.
After Effects is the first title seriously affected by this experiment. Intel’s Pentium runs quite a bit slower, barely beating the stock G3258, while the Athlon seriously regresses. But the explanation is simple enough. Both low-cost motherboards come equipped with two memory slots, cutting us back from 16 to 8 GB of DDR3 RAM. Our After Effects workload is acutely sensitive to available memory per core or thread, which is why performance tanks.
It pops back up in Photoshop, though. The Pentium doesn’t change much. AMD’s Athlon slows down a little, allowing the Core i3 to pass. More interesting is how the Piledriver architecture seems to hold our GeForce GTX Titan back in the OpenCL-accelerated test. Overclocking doesn’t really help alleviate that bottleneck either.
Productivity and Media Encoding
While the Pentium G3258 doesn’t slow down much in FineReader, despite losing 100 MHz of overclocked frequency at the hands of a too-small stock cooler, AMD’s Athlon X4 750K runs about 10 seconds longer in this benchmark. That puts the quad-core processor behind Intel’s dual-core chip.
Visual Studio shows the Athlon performing much more consistently—it nearly ties its previous result. Intel’s Pentium lands just ahead of it, and neither CPU is able to catch a dual-core, Hyper-Threaded Core i3-4330.
The finishing order stays pretty consistent in TotalCode Studio, while the overclocked Athlon moves down a spot in HandBrake. Practically, though, we’d call that a tie with Intel’s more expensive Core i3-4330.
LAME and iTunes are both single-threaded metrics, exercising one core on each CPU. With clock rate and instruction per cycle throughout in the spotlight, an overclocked Haswell-based processor naturally wins. The Piledriver design just can’t keep up, even running at 4.3 GHz.
Our WinZip benchmark includes three workloads. Sorted by threaded CPU scores, AMD’s Athlon X4 overclocked beyond 4 GHz scores a victory against Intel’s Pentium G3258. In the maximum-compression EZ and OpenCL-accelerated tests, the tables turn.
The finishing order doesn’t change in WinRAR or 7-Zip. The former favors Intel’s Haswell architecture and doesn’t really reward highly parallel configurations, while the latter knows how to exploit AMD’s module-oriented design for maximum performance from four integer units.