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Phenom II X2 555 Vs. Pentium G6950: The Rematch

Test Systems And Benchmarks

We used two test systems that share the same type of hard drive, CPU cooler, and memory in order to minimize the variables affecting performance. We also include results from a previously-tested Core i5-750 for reference, but only for application benchmarks, as the game benchmarks are affected by the newer graphic drivers.

To keep the CPUs running cool enough, we need aftermarket cooling capable of outperforming each company's stock cooler, yet cheap enough to apply to budget overclocking systems like the ones we're building. It doesn't make sense to put a $50 cooler on a $100 CPU, as the resulting cost would approach the price of the retail Core i5-750.

Once again, we chose Cooler Master's TX3. While it's not the most effective or quiet cooler out there, the TX3 does a much better job than a stock heatsink/fan combination, and the $20 price tag makes it an ideal fit for these budget CPUs. The Hyper TX3 works on both Socket AM3 and LGA 1156 interfaces, which makes for an ideal comparison in this case.

Now for the motherboards. For the AMD system, we chose Asus's M4A785TD-V EVO, a solid platform built around the 785G chipset that proved its memory support and overclocking prowess in our AMD 785G motherboard roundup. At $100 online, it is a fantastic low-cost AMD overclocking board.

Choosing a board for the Intel system is a little more complicated. The P55 chipset is our first choice, but most overclock-friendly P55 motherboards are a little more expensive, and we want to keep the budget low for this comparison. Since the Gigabyte H55M-USB3 performed very well in fellow editor Thomas Soderstrom's budget H55 chipset roundup, we'll take a leap of faith and give Gigabyte's H55M-UD2H a try. This board costs just under $90 online ($10 cheaper than our AMD board). On a side note, it's not often that the cost of an Intel CPU and motherboard is lower than a comparable AMD setup, but the LGA 1156 motherboard and CPU combo have a $10 advantage in this review.

Intel Test SystemAMD Test System
CPUIntel Pentium G6950 2.8 GHz (Clarkdale) Dual-core, 3MB L3 Cache, 133 MHz reference clock, 2,000 MHz QPIOverclocked:4.3 GHz, 205 MHz reference clock, 2,870 MHz QPIAMD Phenom II X2 555 (Callisto),3.2 GHz, 2,000 MHz HT Link, 6MB L3 CacheOverclocked:213 MHz HT Ref, 2,139 MHz HT Link/NorthbridgeDual-core: 4.065 GHz, Quad-core: 3.8 GHz
MotherboardGigabyte H55M-UD2H LGA 1156 Chipset: Intel H55, BIOSF8Asus M4A785TD-V EVO Socket AM3 Chipset: AMD 785G, BIOS 0410
NetworkingOnboard Gigabit LAN controller
MemoryMushkin PC3-10700  2 x 2,048MB, DDR3-1066, CL 7-8-8-8-24-1TOverclocked: DDR3-1230, CL 8-8-8-8-24-1TMushkin PC3-10700  2 x 2,048MB, DDR3-1333, CL 9-9-9-24-1TOverclocked:DDR3-1420, CL 9-9-9-24-1T
GraphicsSaphire Radeon HD 5850725 MHz GPU, 1GB GDDR5 at 1,000 MHz
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 640GB 7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s
PowerCorsair CMPSU-750HX 750W ATX12V, EPS12V , 80-Plus Certified
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 x64
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics DriversATI Catalyst 10.3
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool High Quality, No AA
Fallout 3Patch 1.7, Saved Game "Capital Wasteland" (60 sec) Highest Details, No AA, No AF
Far Cry 2Patch 1.03, DirectX 10, in-game benchmark Ultra High Quality, No AA
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.XPatch 1.02, DirectX 10.1, in-game benchmark Highest Settings, No AA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo Very High Details, No AA / No AF
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunes 8Version: 8.2.1.6 (x64) Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98.2, wave to MP3 Audio CD "Terminator II" SE, 53 min wave to MP3
TMPGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion: 4.7.3.292 Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes) Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4 Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1 Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4 (64-bit)Version: 11.0 Extended, Filter 15.7MB TIF Image Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2010Version: 11.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.1, WinZip Command Line Version 3.0 Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.01, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4aVersion 2009.9.15.130, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • 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