Clash Of The $100 Dual-Core Titans
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 555||Pentium G6950|
|Clock Speed:||3.2 GHz||2.8 GHz|
|L1 Cache:||2 x 128KB||2 x 64KB|
|L2 Cache:||2 x 512KB||2 x 256KB|
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...