Phenom II X2 555 Vs. Pentium G6950: New Budget Dual-Core Titans

Intel finally has quad-threaded processors to compete with in the sub-$200 space that AMD has dominated for so long: the Clarkdale-based Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs. Notice we said quad-threaded. These are still dual-core parts with Hyper-Threading, yielding four logical cores. With its launch earlier in January, the company now offers a handful of viable value options for the LGA 1156 platform, with attractive scalability to higher-end Core i5 and Core i7 models.

AMD isn't taking this frontal assault on its turf sitting down, of course, and its retaliation strategy employs a sizable mix of clock speed bumps and reduced prices. The already-attractive price/performance ratio of the sub-$200 CPU market will most definitely take a turn for the better, and you, the enthusiast, win again.

In the midst of all of this new model chaos, we couldn't help but notice the Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition. At an aggressive 3.2 GHz, this is the fastest dual-core CPU that AMD has ever made, and the best part is that it boasts the same $100 price tag as its predecessor, the 550. Intel's counterpoint, the new Clarkdale-based Pentium G6950, is about $5 cheaper and has a slower clock rate of 2.8 GHz, but it does have the advantage of an efficient 32nm process and reportedly-unholy overclocking headroom.

So we couldn't help but wonder: which of these two entry-level offerings is the better bet? How does stock performance compare to a more expensive option, like the quad-core Core i5-750? And could either of these processors offer budget-busting performance if we overclock them, despite their dual-core "limits?"

We certainly slammed headfirst into a few surprises along the way (not all of them pleasant), and we didn't walk away innocent of a mistake or two. But before we dig into the dual-core battle, let's spend a little time looking at AMD's new processor portfolio.

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  • mi1ez
    Really looking forward to the follow up article. Very impressed with the performance of the AMD. I was expecting it to get trounced here but it certainly held it's own. I thought the gaming benchmarks were a little unfair to say the least, but the Phenom did well.
  • Anonymous
    Would be nice to see a comparison with the i3 530 - I know it's ~15 more expensive but would be good to see how hyperthreading affects the picture. Perhaps throw in the Athlon II X4 635 for a similar priced comparison and see how the extra real cores - less cache tradeoff goes.
  • cleeve
    KingLameWould be nice to see a comparison with the i3 530 - I know it's ~15 more expensive but would be good to see how hyperthreading affects the picture. Perhaps throw in the Athlon II X4 635 for a similar priced comparison and see how the extra real cores - less cache tradeoff goes.

    We'll be comparing all the new sub-$200 CPUs in a separate article in a few weeks, stay tuned!
  • pete3867
    the Phenom looks awesome for the money , now I will have to think long and hard about buying it over the 620
  • clement4413
    One comparison with the I3 serie would have been better. This x2 is really good for gaming in addition his price is really great
  • Anonymous
    QUOTE: "The Core i7-750 has a nice lead in most of the benchmarks, but is surpassed slightly by the overclocked Phenom II X2 555 in the productivity test."

    Are you referencing a graph not included in this article? The PCMark test describes a Core i5-750, and not a Core i7-750 as you mention in the quote above. Which is it?
  • goxon
    thanks, wery helpful
  • wild9
    Despite the comparatively older (but refined) core of the Phenom, together with it's L3 cache drawing more power..4GHz? I'm really impressed with that achievement, and it's only using cheap cooling. Just imagine what's going to happen when the manufacturing process shrinks even further..AMD's longevity and commitment to reliability and performance is once again demonstrated.

    Not saying the Intel chip is a bad product, either. I'm sure these teething problems will be ironed out just that for anyone with an AMD board and say, an aTI 700 series chipset I bet this chip would seem like a very tempting offer at the moment despite the large (and sometimes confusing), range of options.

    It doesn't seem that long ago since we were breaking the 3GHz barrier, and still within the same range we're hitting 4GHz without breaking a sweat..sure, not all CPU's are the same but that has impressed me considering the components used.

    I've personally chosen the quad-core route (Athlon II 620 'Deneb' core), because I want cheap and fast quad-core performance for heavy multi-tasking and video transcoding. There's always the potential to unlock certain memory and overclock to get even more performance.
  • ukcal
    I am another one impressed with AMD on this particulr instance. Having used chips from both manufacturers, when it comes to choosing a chip for me, it only comes down to price/performance, as I imagine is the case for most too.
    For the follow up, I feel it would be best if the Intel chip is overclocked to the same as the AMD chip as this will provide the best comparison. Even if the Intel may OC by a further 200Mhz or so, I imagine 4Ghz may be the point where users feel most comfortable. May be.
    Otherwise a nice article, and it's certainly nice to see focus on products other than very high end ones, which are out of the reach for many of us!