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Review: Intel Pentium Anniversary Edition G3258

by Tarinder Sandhu on 11 June 2014, 15:00

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacfkb

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The overclockers' favourite

Remember the days when you could take a cheap processor, overclock it to rude levels using basic air cooling, and then achieve the kind of performance normally reserved for far more expensive chips? Those days are largely gone, more's the pity, because AMD's base CPU performance isn't great while Intel limits overclocking on cheaper non-K processors by locking the maximum all-core multiplier and base clock ratio to the chip's default level. Want to go faster, spend the extra and buy a K-series chip.

In a somewhat surprising move disclosed earlier this month, Intel decided to launch a budget processor with K-class overclocking credentials. Said chip is the Pentium Anniversary Edition, based on the same Haswell architecture as the latest Core series, but now with an unlocked multiplier that paves the way for end-user tinkering.

Launched to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the first Pentium processor, this new budget chip is actually known as the Pentium G3258. Imbued with two cores and able to process a total of two threads, G3258 is nominally clocked in at 3.20GHz and backed with 3MB of cache. It isn't the fastest Pentium G-series chip on paper; that honour goes to the G3450, which is able to run at a maximum of 3.40GHz. Here's how select Intel processors line up against one another.

Better than it looks on paper

Desktop Intel 'Haswell' Feature Comparison

 
Intel Core i5-4670K
Intel Core
i3-4130
Intel Pentium G3450
Intel Pentium G3258
Intel Pentium G3220
Launch Date
Q2 2013
Q3 2013
Q2 2014
Q2 2014
Q3 2013
Cores
4
2
2
2
2
Threads
4
4
2
2
2
Unlocked multiplier
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
CPU Clock Speed
3.4GHz
3.4 GHz
3.4GHz
3.2GHz
3.0GHz
CPU Turbo Speed
3.8GHz
-
-
-
-
Smart Cache
6MB
3 MB
3MB
3MB
3MB
TDP
84W
54W
53W
53W
53W
DDR3 Memory Support
1,600
1,600
1,600
1,333
1,333
Integrated Graphics
HD 4600
HD 4400
HD
HD
HD
IGP Execution Units
20
20
10
10
10
IGP Base Clock
350MHz
350 MHz
350MHz
350MHz
350MHz
IGP Max Clock
1.20GHz
1.15 GHz
1.10GHz
1.10GHz
1.10GHz
QuickSync Video
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Wireless Display
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
ClearVideo HD
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
InTru 3D
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Displays Supported
3
3
3
3
3
PCI Express Revision
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
PCI Express Configurations
Up to 1x16, 2x8, 1x8/2x4
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
Yes
No
No
No
No
Hyper Threading
No
Yes
No
No
No
vPro
Yes
No
No
No
No
AES New Instructions
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Socket
LGA1150
LGA1150
LGA1150
LGA1150
LGA1150
US Box RRP
$242
$125
$93
$72
$64

The dual-core Pentiums sip on less juice than the Core i5-4670K that most enthusiasts will be familiar with. A leaner architecture - both in terms of CPU and baked-in GPU - means that Pentium Gs are rated to just 53W. Most enthusiasts would likely think the G3258 too low rent for a decent PC, but the very fact that it is unlocked, and has the potential to run at way past 4GHz with a bit of novice tweaking, may have them thinking again, especially with regards to gaming.

Too good to pass up?

We already know that the Pentium G3220, priced at £40, offers excellent value for money. Increasing the budget by a tenner, to this model, is sure to provide significantly more performance once it is adequately overclocked. It's an easy chip to recommend, too, as cheap LGA1150 boards are plentiful, dual-channel memory is widely available, and constructing a base platform hardly breaks the bank.

Putting ourselves in the position of the reader, we'd like to know if default-clocked performance is adequate for a mainstream PC, and whether overclocked performance gives vastly more expensive Core processors a good run for their money. Let's answer both with a slew of benchmarks.