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Phenom II X2 555 Vs. Pentium G6950: The Rematch

Another Clash Of The $100 Dual-Core Titans

The AMD Phenom II X2 555 and Intel Pentium G6950 are dual-core CPUs that cost about $100 retail. That's where the similarities end.

Intel's 2.8 GHz Pentium G6950 is the lowest-end model available for the LGA 1156 platform. This processor is essentially a Core i3-series processor stripped of Intel's Hyper-Threading feature. The Pentium also has less L3 cache memory than the Core i3 models, sporting 3MB instead of 4MB. This CPU represents Intel's starting point for an LGA 1156 system, something an entry-level customer can whet his or her feet with, while allowing attractive upgrade options to Core i3, i5, and i7 LGA 1156-based CPUs.

Although it'd seem to be a notable disadvantage, Intel's Pentium G6950 makes the fully-modern Clarkdale design available at a reasonable price point, and it centers on a very overclocking-friendly 32 nm manufacturing process. We'll see if this is enough to challenge AMD's $100 dual-core contender.

Phenom II X2 555Pentium G6950
Codename:CallistoClarkdale
Process:45 nm32 nm
CPU Cores:22
Clock Speed:3.2 GHz2.8 GHz
Socket:AM2+/AM3LGA 1156
L1 Cache:2 x 128KB2 x 64KB
L2 Cache:2 x 512KB2 x 256KB
L3 Cache:6MB3MB
Thermal Envelope:80W73W

That counterpoint is the Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition, AMD's quickest dual-core CPU. It sports 6MB of shared L3 cache, twice that of the Pentium G6950. This is the fastest dual-core CPU AMD has ever released, and with a 3.2 GHz stock clock speed, it's 400 MHz faster than the stock Pentium G6950. The Phenom II X2 555 also comes with an unlocked CPU multiplier, as indicated by its Black Edition designation, and that means that the CPU can be simpler to overclock for enthusiasts who prefer multiplier-based tuning. Finally, since these processors are really quad-core CPUs with two of the cores shut off, some folks have been able to turn on those dormant CPU cores. This means that the dual-core Phenom II X2 555 CPU has the potential to operate with four CPU cores, like the more expensive Phenom II X4 955.

On the downside, the Phenom II X2 555 is built on older 45 nm manufacturing technology and won't typically overclock as high as the new Intel models. As far as unlocking the dormant CPU cores goes, this is not a guaranteed proposition. In fact, our experience has shown that fewer than 50% of samples can be unlocked with a capable motherboard. Most of the Phenom II X2 555 CPUs in the wild were originally intended to be sold as Phenom II X4 models, but failed quad-core suitability testing at the factory. If a single core on the processor die is flawed, the CPU is not thrown away, but “binned” as a candidate for a lower-end model like the Phenom II X2.

The question is, does the Phenom II X2 555 have enough strengths to surpass the Pentium G6950 at both stock and overclocked speeds? Or, will the new Clarkdale architecture and 32 nm manufacturing technology allow Intel's Pentium G6950 to show an advantage over the Phenom II X2?

Let's find out. First, a little overclocking is in order.

  • Verkil
    I would love to see a comparison between i3-530 and X3 435 with GTA4.
    Reply
  • This is exactly what I've been waiting for. The numbers matched what I had already assumed. I got the 555 but I will consider the intel next time to change it up.
    Reply
  • ta152h
    One thing to consider is the Pentium G6950 is tied to a crippled platform, whereas the Phenom II can be used with an 890FX, which has more PCI-E lanes for Crossfire, comes with SATA 6Gbps, and can have USB 3.0 added without either running degraded, or using PCI-E lanes used for the video card.

    The AMD platform gives you more choices (integrated graphics, discreet graphics in several flavors, a lot of PCI lanes, or a few), and an unlocked multiplier.

    All these are important considerations.

    Reply
  • Considering you fryed one of the intel cpus quite quickly with only 7% more voltage...

    Id like to see a serious stability test on both cpus. A couple days with a graphic benchmark on loop as well as prime95 running an instance on each core would do it.
    Reply
  • lashton
    I dont understand they talk about the dormant cores and you may not be successful, this is a dual core shoot out, so you intended buying a dual core, why not get the phenom II 555 and see if the cores unlock if they dont well no biggie still a fast CPU but if they do BONUS, also they dont tell you that with 2 cores the phenom can easily get OVER 4GHZ, this is typical of toms not putting everything into the tests, definately Intel fans
    Reply
  • notty22
    9494982 said:
    One thing to consider is the Pentium G6950 is tied to a crippled platform, whereas the Phenom II can be used with an 890FX, which has more PCI-E lanes for Crossfire, comes with SATA 6Gbps, and can have USB 3.0 added without either running degraded, or using PCI-E lanes used for the video card.

    The AMD platform gives you more choices (integrated graphics, discreet graphics in several flavors, a lot of PCI lanes, or a few), and an unlocked multiplier.

    All these are important considerations.

    9494985 said:
    I dont understand they talk about the dormant cores and you may not be successful, this is a dual core shoot out, so you intended buying a dual core, why not get the phenom II 555 and see if the cores unlock if they dont well no biggie still a fast CPU but if they do BONUS, also they dont tell you that with 2 cores the phenom can easily get OVER 4GHZ, this is typical of toms not putting everything into the tests, definately Intel fans
    I don't know if this is ROFL or just sad ? Try reading the article. Your embarrassing yourself.

    More faulty logic by AMD fanboys. Which is it ? A budget bang for your buck rig,
    H55/Clarksdale=200 dollars
    or
    890FX ($160.00 MIN)+ 555=260, all so you can buy another cpu, next year, that does not exist yet ?
    and 890fx, you HAVE to buy a DISCRETE graphics card now.

    AMD will love you , if you invest in all of this hardware , with plans to buy more, lol.
    Reply
  • Reynod
    Thanks Don ... another solid article without the fanboi slant.
    Reply
  • C00lIT
    I don't know of any business who is better off with an Intel CPU these days...

    Businesses do not overclock and the AMD Platform with an ATI4200 onboard is just so much better then anything intel has to offer... Encoding ? Use and AthlonX4...

    The only good thing about the Pentium would be trying to break overclocking records... other then that... it's just a cheep cpu that fails against any amd tricore.
    Reply
  • ta152h
    notty22I don't know if this is ROFL or just sad ? Try reading the article. Your embarrassing yourself.More faulty logic by AMD fanboys. Which is it ? A budget bang for your buck rig,H55/Clarksdale=200 dollarsor890FX ($160.00 MIN)+ 555=260, all so you can buy another cpu, next year, that does not exist yet ?and 890fx, you HAVE to buy a DISCRETE graphics card now.AMD will love you , if you invest in all of this hardware , with plans to buy more, lol.
    Hmmmm, talk about embarrassing yourself - didn't you even bother to find out if your numbers were right before posting? You can get a 890FX for $140, not $160 MIN as you stated. For $155 you can get one with USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps, and it's not implemented with the compromises inherent with the LGA 1156 platform.

    You're quite incorrect about needing a discreet GPU. AMD sells the 890GX, 790GX, 785G, 760G, and 880G. In fact, the platform they used had an integrated GPU. The nice thing with the AMD platform is, they have sideport memory, so you don't degrade CPU performance when you use the IGP due to memory contention.

    So, I can get the AMD platform with motherboards around $60 with an IGP, or I can get a powerful platform with two real PCI-E 16x slots, USB 3.0, and SATA 6.0 Gbps for $155. You don't have the same choices with the Pentium G6950 platform in either direction. AM3 processors have a very diverse selection of platform.

    So, is your contention that choice is bad?
    Reply
  • ubercake
    You know they do this all the time... When they start comparing the game performance, they drop the i5 from the comparison charts. WHY??????
    Reply