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Review: Intel Pentium G3220 (22nm Haswell)

by Parm Mann on 17 April 2014, 15:30

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacdf5

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Introduction

Remember when Intel's Pentium processor was all the rage? It's hard to believe that the above ad is almost 20 years old, and for those who are sentimental about their PC hardware, it's a shame the once-glorious Pentium is now a mid-range product that rarely gets a mention.

Intel has spent so much time and money in marketing the low-end Atom and the high-end Core that the humble Pentium is left neglected, yet for budget-conscious builders, this is a product line that's well worth a closer look. After all, in its current form, the Intel Pentium is based on the same Haswell microarchitecture that powers the latest-generation Core processor family, and is simply made cheaper by cutting away some of the more advanced features.

Hyper Threading and Turbo Boost are strangers to the Pentium product stack, you can typically expect lower clock frequencies, as well as a smaller onboard cache and downgraded integrated graphics. Performance aficionados should look away now - Pentium is practically a derogatory term in your eyes - but for anyone who's looking to put together a low-cost PC, the current crop of Pentiums trim away a lot of the excess to deliver capable computing at a very agreeable price.

Desktop Intel 'Haswell' Feature Comparison

 
Intel Celeron
G1820
Intel Pentium
G3220
Intel Core
i3-4130
Intel Core
i5-4430
Intel Core
i7-4770
Launch Date
Q1 2014
Q3 2013
Q3 2013
Q2 2013
Q2 2013
Cores
2
2
2
4
4
Threads
2
2
4
4
8
CPU Clock Speed
2.7 GHz
3.0 GHz
3.4 GHz
3.0 GHz
3.4 GHz
CPU Turbo Speed
-
-
-
3.2 GHz
3.9 GHz
Smart Cache
2 MB
3 MB
3 MB
6 MB
8 MB
TDP
53 W
53 W
54 W
84 W
84 W
DDR3 Memory Support
1333
1333
1600
1600
1600
Integrated Graphics
HD
HD
HD 4400
HD 4600
HD 4600
IGP Execution Units
10
10
20
20
20
IGP Base Clock
350 MHz
350 MHz
350 MHz
350 MHz
350 MHz
IGP Max Clock
1.05 GHz
1.10 GHz
1.15 GHz
1.10 GHz
1.20 GHz
QuickSync Video
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Wireless Display
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
ClearVideo HD
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
InTru 3D
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Displays Supported
3
3
3
3
3
PCI Express Revision
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
PCI Express Configurations
1x16
Up to 1x16, 2x8, 1x8/2x4
Up to 1x16, 2x8, 1x8/2x4
Up to 1x16, 2x8, 1x8/2x4
Up to 1x16, 2x8, 1x8/2x4
Max PCI Express Lanes
16
16
16
16
16
Turbo Boost
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Hyper Threading
No
No
Yes
No
Yes
vPro
No
No
No
No
Yes
TSX New Instructions
No
No
No
No
Yes
AES New Instructions
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Socket
LGA1150
LGA1150
LGA1150
LGA1150
LGA1150
US Box RRP
$42
$64
$125
$187
$312
UK Retail Price

As it stands, Intel's socketed CPUs for desktop users can be divided into five categories; Celeron; Pentium; Core i3; Core i5; and Core i7. Going higher-up the range results in more performance, more advanced features and, of course, a bigger price tag.

The above table highlights some of the key differences between the various options, and it's clear to see why enthusiasts continue to flock toward the Core i5 and Core i7 products: they offer more of everything. However, it's the sub-£50 market that's full of intrigue.

The Pentium G3220, for just £42, offers two latest-generation Intel x86 cores clocked at 3GHz, 3MB of onboard cache, Intel HD Graphics, support for dual-channel memory and Socket LGA1150 compatibility. Motherboards are readily available from around £30, so add a 4GB stick of RAM and you're looking at a CPU, motherboard and memory combination for just under £100.

Sounds tempting, but what about the performance compromise? Well, the smaller onboard cache combined with a lack of Hyper Threading and Turbo Boost will have an impact in single- and multi-threaded CPU benchmarks, but we expect the Haswell architecture will still hold its own in that department. What's more of a concern is the Intel HD Graphics IGP. With only 10 execution units and no support for stereoscopic 3D, the Pentium G3220 may need to be paired with a discrete graphics card for more demanding multimedia needs.

Still, AMD's recently-released Athlon 5350 has shown us how useful cut-price CPUs can be, particularly for low-cost second PCs, so we're excited to see exactly how the similarly-priced Pentium G3220 compares. Let's move on to some benchmarking fun.