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Overclocking Results: Intel's Pentium Anniversary Edition and Devil's Canyon


Amusingly, out of Intel’s big overclocking CPU push, things get more interesting the further down the lineup you get. The Core i7-4790K exists more as a corrective than as a legitimate improvement to the Core i7-4770K, while the i5-4690K offers at least a little more benefit over the outgoing i5-4670K. Arguably the most compelling chip in the lineup is Intel’s Pentium G3258, or Pentium Anniversary Edition.

Released as a celebration of twenty years of Pentium processors and an implicit acknowledgement of their history as overclockers, the Pentium Anniversary Edition is a $75 shot across AMD’s bow and theoretical frontrunner for best budget CPU on the market. That is, of course, contingent upon overclocking the chip to extract that extra performance, but with just two cores (no hyper-threading), a 55W TDP, and a 3.2GHz nominal clock speed (no turbo), you should be looking at a fairly lean and aggressive overclocker.

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With two Core i7-4790Ks, two Core i5-4690Ks, and now two Pentium G3258s under my belt, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what Haswell is capable of when thermals are taken off the table as a consideration.

 

i7-4790K #1

i7-4790K #2

i5-4690K #1

i5-4690K #2

G3258 #1

G3258 #2

Clock Speed

4.7GHz

4.7GHz

4.7GHz

4.8GHz

4.9GHz

4.7GHz

VCore

1.275V

1.31V

1.375V

1.375V

1.4V

1.375V

Haswell’s safe limit seems to hover around 4.6GHz and 4.7GHz; I’m hesitant to ever take any of these chips past 1.3V on the core for longevity’s sake, but if your cooling is efficient, they won’t suffer the same heat trapping issues conventional Haswell chips did. The Pentium in particular was running extremely frosty even at 1.375V.

The takeaway with Haswell is that heat is no longer the limiting factor, the silicon is, and that’s really the way it should be. Most users should be getting ~4.6GHz at 1.3V, but I’ll be testing retail chips and reporting back.

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As for the G3258, it’s a curiosity unto itself. At stock clocks it’s barely worth discussing, but lucky users can get a ridiculous 50% overclock off of it. Because it’s such a lean chip, though, it seems to hit a memory performance wall much faster; it just doesn’t need to be kept fed. Haswell chips can reach a point where high memory speeds actually reduce performance (something that will be investigated later), and the G3258’s memory bandwidth with DDR3-2933 CAS12 is notably lower than with DDR3-2133 CAS10.

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Where I think things get dicey is the G3258’s lack of ability to handle more than two threads; Tom’s Hardware’s review basically nails it. Pay attention to how the chip, even overclocked, can’t compete with a stock i5-4690K, and trades blows with the i3-4330. Pay special attention to frame times. This is what makes the G3258 almost feel like a trap; games are becoming more and more multi-threaded. DirectX is becoming more and more multi-threaded. Graphics card drivers, again, more and more multi-threaded. This chip can give you two very fast cores, but they’re not fast enough to make up that pure core deficit, and even hyper-threading is desperately missed.

This is a fun chip to play with and probably at least a decent stand-in until you can socket a Broadwell into your desktop, but while people rocking Sandy Bridge i5s are still pretty happy and likely will be for the foreseeable future, I don’t think the Pentium Anniversary Edition will have anywhere near the longevity. Speed is nice, but there’s just no substitute for superior hardware. People who need the i7-4790K’s hyper-threading already know who they are; for everyone else, I continue to recommend the i5-4690K as the best bang for the buck.

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