Intel Pentium G3258 Haswell Refresh “20th Anniversary Edition” Processor Review
Introduction - Pentium Lives On
We all know that Intel is the leader in the silicon industry but all that fame and recognition came from advancements in technology, innovative processor architectures and brands such as the Pentium and Core series. The processor we have in our hands today sticks to the Pentium brand which Intel first introduced back in 1993 with their P5 microarchitecture. Since the arrival of the first Pentium series processors, things have changed and Intel has drastically evolved into a new beast.
The Intel Pentium G3258 we received for testing is first of all based on the Haswell microarchitecture which is the core of Intel's 4th generation processor family (You can find more details on the architecture later in this review). Secondly, the Pentium G3258 is the "20th Anniversary Edition" processor marking 20 years of Intel's Pentium brand in the industry. Lastly, the Pentium G3258 is a entry level chip unlike its flagship positioning 20 years ago from now. Intel has positioned their Devil's Canyon processors at the flagship positioning of the 9-series mainstream performance platform and there are reasons for that while the Pentium series processors will be compatible on both 8-series and 9-series motherboards.
Since Pentium first arrive till now, the brand positioning and model scheme has evolved over at Intel. In the past, people could easily purchase a desktop processor off the market shelves, put it in their motherboard's socket, boot it up and overclock the crap out of it (provided you had the OC skills and proper cooling at hand). The same isn't true anymore, there are some restrictions nowadays on the budget side of things which don't feature unlocked BCLKs and have limited overclock support from motherboard vendors on the cost effective H-Series chipset based solutions. Intel does keep the entry level stack refreshed and updated with new chips during their roadmap cycle for each generation offering lower prices and more efficiency by not giving an unlocked design.
However, keeping overclocking exclusive to the high-end market isn't a good deal especially for gamers and people who want to try out some overclocking for themselves without spending a premium price on the K-series chips. Intel now has a solution with the Pentium G3258 and what perfect way to celebrate their 20th anniversary for the brand by announcing this chip at just $69.99 US.
Haswell Architecture Insight
So before moving into details, I would like to point out that the following charts are based off the flagship Haswell offering. While these charts are not indicative of the Pentium G3258 specifications, the core specs and architecture details remain true for the Pentium series processor.
The Haswell architecture makes use of 22nm Tri-gate 3D transistor technology which is an improvement over the regular Tri-gate transistor technology featured on Ivy Bridge. The Haswell architecture makes use of a two chip platform technology which includes the processor itself and the Lynx Point 8-Series PCH (Platform control hub). The 8-Series chipset is featured on the LGA 1150 socket motherboards with which Haswell processors are compatible.
The Haswell die is largely similar to its predecessors Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge. The Haswell die comes with up to four cores which share the same L3 cache. It features 1.6 Billion transistors and a die size of 177mm2. The Ivy Bridge die featured 1.4 Billion transistors in a 160mm2 die. A large portion of the die is dedicated to the Intel’s HD graphics in Haswell processors which also shares the same L3 cache. Other than these, the Haswell die include system agent, display agent, Memory controller I/O and PCI-e 3.0 memory controller. The Haswell instruction set includes Intel VT, AMT 9.0, Intel TXT, SSE4.2, Hyper Threading, Turbo Boost 2.0, AVX2, AES-NI, PCLMULQDQ, Secure key, Intel TSX, PAIR (Power aware interrupt routing and SMEP. Haswell for the first time features C-states of C0, C1, C1E, C3, C6, C7 and enhanced Intel Speedsted technology.
Haswell processors would provide a nice overall improvement as far as x86 performance is concerned but the bulk of advancements lie inside the 4th generation HD graphics core. The reason behind Intel pushing graphical power other than IPC improvements is mainly due to AMD pushing the graphics processing boundaries with their APUs which with the current HD 7000 series cores offer improved visuals compared to Intel’s HD 4000 offerings on Ivy Bridge. With Haswell, Intel wants to change the game and they are making several HD graphics chips for various tiers. The HD 4600 or GT2 graphics chip would be fused on most of the Haswell mobile and complete desktop line up. There are also faster GT3 variants but would be limited to low-power and desktop R-series which can be seen here. We will discuss more about the HD 4600 GPU in the article later on.
Haswell Block Diagram
We already detailed the Haswell die above, what you see below is the block diagram for Haswell platform. You can see that the processors is directly connected to the Lynx Point PCH through DMI 2.0 and FDI. The PCH offers USB 3.0/USB 2.0, SATA 6 GBps (Native), High definition Audio, VGA, integrated LAN, PCI-e 2.0, TPM 1.2 and Super IO/EC.
Haswell Overclocking and Power Management
Intel’s fourth generation Haswell core would feature Integrated voltage regulator “FVIR” and enhanced BCLK overclocking. Board manufacturers today offer a wide variety of products which help drive overclocking needs for consumers and enthusiasts.
Intel’s Haswell comes with a dynamically adjustable and fully unlocked Turbo Boost Technology limit that ensures users get the most out of their processors when they need it. Core ratios have been unlocked upto 80 in 100 MHz increments while the CPU voltage is completely controllable via the iVR (Integrated Voltage regulator). DMICLK or BCLK allows for an unlocked PCH clock controller with increments upto 200 MHz while PEG and DMI will offer variable/adjustable ratios based on the BCLK frequency. Similarly, the GPU core also features an unlocked design that allows for frequency adjustments (60 Ratio in 50 MHz increments) and fully programmable voltage via iVR. An unlocked memory controller allows for upto 2933 MHz overclock on the DDR3 modules.
Intel has provided key details on the upcoming iVR through which voltage on CPU and GPU could be dynamically adjusted. Currently, voltage management is accomplished with the use of external VRM’s on the motherboard. There are in total four voltage override modes through the iVR module on Haswell chips which are accounted for when running the processor in default and overclocking mode. With the next generation Haswell processors, we would be looking at an increased BCLK of greater than 167 MHz (non-continuous) compared to the peak 116.95 MHz on Ivy Bridge along with a select CPU PEG/DMI ratios of 5:5, 5:4, 5:3 which is quiet impressive. The next few slides details various performance tuning ratios available on Haswell core for CPU/GPU/DDR/PEG,DMI and Ring.
For power management, Intel has developed new C-States such as C6 and C7 while Speedstep which is naively enabled would adjust frequency, core voltage based on user workload. Available C-State would differ on various SKUs.
Intel’s new processor will get a numerical naming scheme; 47xx, 46xx, 45xx and 44xx. The 47 and 46 series processors are quad-core offerings and will be available from launch. HD4600 however will not be uniformly implemented across the processors. The alphabet suffix will continue to be the same (i.e.“K” for fully unlocked processors, ‘T’ & ‘S’ for low TDP variants) while the new R-Series would be supplied in BGA packages making use of the HD 5200 “Iris Pro” graphics chip.
Intel LGA 1150 Socket
The Intel LGA 1150 was first introduced during the launch of Intel’s 8-Series platform (Haswell and Z87 Express chipset). As denoted by its name, the LGA 1150 has 5 less pins compared to the LGA 1155 socket which supports Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge processors.
The LGA 1150 socket will be featured on the 9-Series chipset motherboards and will extend support to new CPUs which include Haswell Refresh, Devil’s Canyon (Haswell Refresh K-Series) and Broadwell. Broadwell, which is the codename for Intel’s next generation 14nm processor is planned for launch in 2015 for desktop PCs. The socket on 9-Series chipset boards will also feature support for all existing Haswell processors which will provide current user with an easy upgrade path over the new series.
Intel did one thing right with the new socket and that’s the socket positioning which allows LGA 1155 socket coolers and mounting brackets to remain compatible with the newer socket. So if you have a old LGA 1155 socket cooler that you wish to use with the new LGA 1150 socket? It could be done so, but do note that while the socket looks the same as LGA 1155 socket, the processors are incompatible due to different pin layout so you don’t want to try putting an Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge processor into the LGA 1150 socket otherwise it would damage the pins permanently.
Cooler Compatibility With LGA 1150 Socket
While Haswell processors ship with their own boxed coolers and cooler makers providing retention brackets for LGA 1150 compatibility, it should be noted that LGA 1150 socket is easily compatible with both reference LGA 1150 boxed coolers and custom products.
So if you’re upgrading from LGA 1155 to LGA 1150, you can easily equip your cooler on the latest socket from Intel without any sort of trouble.
Intel 9-Series Z97 Platform Control Hub (PCH)
Intel’s upcoming processors would be compatible with the 9-Series “Lynx Point” chipset fused on the LGA 1150 socketed motherboards. There are different tiers of the chips on the Haswell Refresh platform which include Z97 and H97. The motherboard we would be testing today is based on the Z97 PCH. The 9-Series chipset in a whole isn’t much different from 8-Series Lynx Point. The following chart mentions key differences between both platform control hubs:
|Item||8-Series “Panther Point”||9-Series “Lynx Point”|
|I/O Port flexibility||Yes||Yes|
|Total USB 3.0/2.0 Ports||14 USB Ports||14 USB Ports|
|USB 3.0 Capable Ports||Upto 6||Upto 6|
|xHCI Ports||All USB Ports by xCHI||All USB Ports by xCHI|
|PCI Express||Upto 8 PCIe 2.0 (5GT/s)||Upto 8 PCI-e 2.0 (5GT/s)
PCIe M.2 Storage Support
|Total SATA Ports||6 SATA||6 SATA|
|SATA 6 GB/s Capable Ports||Upto 6||Upto 6|
|Legacy PCI||No Legacy PCI for any SKU||Legacy PCI on certain SKUs|
|Digital Display I/F||Display moved to processor||Display moved to processor|
|Analog Display I/F||VGA||VGA|
|SPI||SFDP, Quad Read||SFDP, Quad Read|
The main feature of the Intel 9-Series chipset is support for Intel’s Haswell Refresh, Devil’s Canyon and Broadwell processors which means that the new Z97 and H97 will have higher longevity. Aside from that, there’s also PCIe M.2 slot storage support which is 67% faster than SATA Gen 3 (6 GB/s) and its speeds matches SATA Express which are rated at 10 GB/s. Various motherboards have also included M.2 Ultra and SATA Express ports which give user more accessibility. The Z97 chipset will remain as Intel’s high-end mainstream offering while the enthusiast platform will be updated with the X99 chipset in Q3 2014.
It should be noted that due to improvements in 4th and 5th generation core processor power efficiency, the requirements for the processor’s power supply have also been altered. Intel recommends that the users running the Haswell Refresh CPU platform check the list of tested PSUs for ones capable of supporting the latest Intel Core processors. The list can be found at: http://www.intel.com/go/powersupplies/.From the filters at the top right of the page, set 12V2 Min Load 0A to “Yes” to see which PSUs have been found to support the processor’s new power requirements. To make use of the power supplies that meet the 12V2 Min Load 0A, you have to enable the “Lowest CPU Idle power setting”. This option is located under the power tab section and you must set the “Intel Dynamic Power technology” to custom in the primary power settings section in supplied UEFI BIOS on the motherboard.
Intel Devil's Canyon and Pentium Anniversary Edition
Earlier this year, Intel launched their 9-Series platform which we have compared with 8-Series in the table above. The launch included Intel’s Z97 chipset powered motherboards and the Haswell Refresh processors. The Haswell Refresh processors weren’t met with great response since they are virtually the same chips from last year with a 100 MHz clock increment. However, the Z97 motherboard stack from manufacturers was impressive, featuring enhanced designs over their Z87 counterparts and a categorized stack which meant that the products could be designed for specific tiers including gaming, overclocking and mainstream use. The Z97 motherboards were met with a great response from the enthusiast and overclocking community but the processor stack was old and had to be updated.
The Z97 chipset powered motherboards did feature support for Broadwell processors but their launch had already been pushed to Q2 2015 which meant users would have to stick with Haswell processors for a year more until they had something new to mess around. This is when Intel announced Devil’s Canyon, a new processor line built on the same Haswell microarchitecture but eliminating some of the issues which had made Haswell a hectic product to overclock and use.
While the Haswell processors were met with a great response and backed by a variety of overclocking features, the processors didn’t happen to be great at overclocking due to the cheaper application of TIM between the IHS (Internal Heat Spreader) and the Haswell silicon itself which resulted in the heat to remain trapped between the chip due to poor contact.
Intel fixed this issue once and for all with their Devil’s Canyon processors. The Haswell Refresh K-Series processors in specific are codenamed Devil’s Canyon which would offer users an improved design that incorporates updated packaging materials, improved TIM (Thermal Interface) and processors that are specifically re-engineered for enhanced performance and overclocking. So many users who have been waiting for Intel to update their TIM design since Ivy Bridge can now check out the new processors for their overclocking needs. To be specific, Intel is going to use Next Generation Polymer Thermal Interface Material (NGPTIM) inside their Devil’s Canyon processors offering better heat dissipation to allow overclocking. Along with the new packaging components, Intel also bumped the clock speed to a whole new level which can be seen below in the specs sheet.
Intel Haswell Refresh Unlocked CPU Lineup
Following is the list that details each Devil’s Canyon processor along with their predecessors that Intel has launched with their desktop processor platform. Today, we will be testing the Pentium G3258 processor.
|Intel Pentium G3258||Intel Core i5-4670K||Intel Core i5-4690K||Intel Core i7-4770K||Intel Core i7-4790K|
|Codename||Haswell||Haswell||Devil’s Canyon||Haswell||Devil’s Canyon|
|Graphics||HD Graphics||HD 4600||HD 4600||HD 4600||HD 4600|
|Base Clock||3.2 GHz||3.4 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.5 GHz||4.0 GHz|
|Turbo Boost||3.2 GHz||3.8 GHz||3.9 GHz||3.9 GHz||4.4 GHz|
|L3 Cache||3 MB||6 MB||6 MB||8 MB||8 MB|
Intel Core i7-4790K
The Core i7-4790K will be the flagship processor of the Haswell Refresh lineup and the first 22nm consumer CPU to obtain clock frequency of 4 GHz and a maximum boost clock of 4.4 GHz which is also a first for Intel. It will feature 4 cores and 8 threads along with a fully unlocked design which will allow users to overclock the chip past the limits thanks to the improved thermal design and updated package materials. The Core i7-4790K will feature a 88W TDP and would come with the latest HD 4600 graphics chip clocked at 1250 MHz. The Core i7-4790K retails at $339.99 US.
Intel Core i5-4690K
The Core i5-4690K will be the fastest Core i5 Series processor of the Haswell Refresh lineup featuring a clock frequency of 3.5 GHz and a maximum boost clock of 3.9 GHz matching the specs of the Core i7-4770K in a way. It will feature 4 cores and 4 threads along with a fully unlocked design which will allow users to overclock the chip past the limits thanks to the improved thermal design and updated package materials. The Core i5-4690K will feature a 88W TDP and would come with the latest HD 4600 graphics chip clocked at 1250 MHz. Pricing is not known at the moment. The Core i5-4690K retails at $239.99 US.
Intel Pentium G3258:
Aside from the Haswell based Core processors, Intel also announced their 20th Anniversary Pentium edition unlocked processor. The Pentium G3258 is a dual core with two threads featuring a core clock of 3.2 GHz. It doesn’t come with Turbo Boost tech but will be supported on both 8-Series and 9-Series platforms unlike Devil’s Canyon which will feature support on just the 9-Series chipset based Z97 motherboards. Featuring the 22nm Haswell architecture, the chip comes with 3 MB of L3 cache and a TDP of 53W. The instruction set includes SSE4.1, SSE 4.2, EM64T and VT-X. The Pentium G3258 retails at $69.99 US.
Intel Pentium G3258 Haswell Refresh Processor
The Intel Pentium G3258 is the flagship Pentium processor featuring an updated design over the previous Pentium processors. The Pentium G3258 sticks with a two core and two thread design while featuring the enhancements carried over from the Haswell microarchitecture that is the core foundation of Intel's 4th generation processor series.
The Intel Pentium G3258 is clocked at a base clock of 3.2 GHz and doesn't feature any turbo clock. It comes with 3 MB of L2 cache, an Intel HD graphics chip clocked at 1100 MHz and a TDP of just 53W. Surprisingly, it does overclock well with high and mid tier boards so its a decent chip for its value retailing at just $69.99 US.
|Power Supply:||Xigmatek NRP-MC1002 1000 Watt|
|Hard Disk:||Kingston HyperX 3K 90 GB (OS)
Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200.12
|Memory:||4 x 4 GB Kingston HyperX 2400 MHz
10th Anniversary Edition Memory Kit
|Case:||Cooler Master HAF 932|
|Video Cards:||MSI GeForce GTX 780 3 GB
w/ Core i7-4790K
w/ Core i7-4770K
|Cooling Solutions:||Phantek PH-TC14PE Triple Fan w/All CPUs
Intel Stock Heatsink Fan w/Pentium G3258
|OS:||Windows 8 Ultimate 64-bit|
Overclocking Intel’s Pentium G3258 Processor:
We tested the overclocking potential of the Pentium G3258 processor under two conditions. One with the stock Intel heatsink fan and the other with our Phantek's PH-TC14PE cooler which is as high-end as it gets when it comes to air cooling. The overclocking results were quite surprising and can be seen in detail below:
Intel Pentium G3258 "Haswell Refresh" – CPU Benchmarks
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Intel Pentium G3258 "Haswell Refresh" – Discrete Graphics Performance
Battlefield 4 is the latest installment in the Battlefield franchise. Developed by DICE and published by EA, Battlefield 4 takes multiplayer FPS to the next level unleashing new levels of destruction and the game changing LEVOLUTION. Battlefield 4 is a true next generation experience on the PC rendered with the power of Frostbite 3 which features stunning DirectX 11.1 effects and Tessellation which only a few games dare to match. In addition to the engine, Battlefield 4 would also be the first to support AMD’s latest Mantle API which will leverage the game performance on AMD hardware.
Bioshock Infinite, the third title in the franchise developed by Irrational Games takes FPS and story telling to a whole new experience. The game puts us in the boots of Booker who in search of a girl named ‘Elizabeth’ ends up on Columbus, a bustling metropolis of the early 20th century that floats in the sky. The game uses a modified Unreal Engine making use of DIrectX 11 effects.
PC gamers and Crysis franchise have a long running bond that cannot be broken apart. Crysis 3 is the last title of the franchise that for one last time puts in the Nano suit taking the role of Prophet. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic New York that is now under the control of C.E.L.L utilizing the left over Ceph technology to take grab in their quest for global domination by means of debt enslavement. We set out to take apart the CEPH and C.E.L.L forces in one last finale.
Visually speaking, the game is by far the most graphically intensive title ever developed with hyper realistic effects, textures and an environment with a massive scale. So much is the power of the CryEngine 3 that the game can only be ran on DirectX 11 compatible cards with a feature list length that never ends. Crytek had already done it once with the original Crysis and they have done it again with Crysis 3. Let’s see if the 2013 lineup of GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD hold up in it.
The Tomb Raider franchise was rebooted this year with the latest title in the long running franchise. The players start off their journey with a younger and under-trained version of Lara who goes off on her first survival action journey.
Power Consumption and Thermals
The Intel Pentium G3258 has a maximum TDP of 53W which makes overclocking potential of this chip relatively higher. The overall power consumption is fairly lower at stock clocks but it gradually increases with the bump in voltages and frequencies. We used a relatively high end cooler – Phantek’s PH-TC14 PE with Triple fans and Noctua NH-T1 thermal paste which work absolutely great for overclocking.
On idle, Pentium G3258 operates at 31 degrees Celsius at stock and 34 degrees Celsius with a VCore bump. The max temperatures we saw on the chip were 51C at stock and 64C at overclocked specs. With the stock Intel heatsink, we recorded temperatures of 36C at idle and 84C at load on 4.2 GHz clock speed. The overall power consumption can be seen in the chart below:
After some testing, it was easy for me to determine what users would this processor be best suited for. First of all, the testing was done with high-end processors which retail past $200 US but on the other hand. We wanted to add a low-tier chip to the review but we were already late with this review so we had to do the testing with the stuff we currently had our hands on. Regardless of that, I will have a comparison with some sub-$150 chips from Intel's Haswell Core i3 and AMD's lineup added to the tests later on.
The Pentium G3258 retails at just $72 US, you can find it around $60-$65 at Newegg and Microcenter making it the cheapest Haswell processor in Intel's stack which can "overclock". It's a bit unusual for Intel to add overcloc support in their cheapest processor but they have done it and what else is special is that this specific SKU marks the 20th Anniversary of Pentium brand. But does the overclocking and performance deliver?
The Pentium G3258 will compete perfectly against some higher cost AMD and even Intel's own Pentium series offerings. The best part is that unlike the 3.4 GHz "G3450", the G3258 can overclock with a fully unlocked design that enables users to hit some high clock speeds. I was able to hit 4.6 GHz on a high-end cooling solution and 4.2 GHz on Intel's stock heatsink which is a 1 GHz bump from its original clock frequency of 3.2 GHz. The performance in single core applications and games is decent but severally lacks behind in multi-threaded work loads. We saw the processor scale well with discrete graphics card (GeForce GTx 770) in Tomb Raider and 2K's Bioshock Infinite but when it came to Battlefield 4 and Crysis 3, the performance fell below by a great margin. There were some cases in which single threaded performance was better than Intel's Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge CPUs such as the 2600K and 3770K when overclocked but for $70 US, don't expect the best performance output from this chip.
Intel's Pentium G3258 is the best budget overclocking chip we have got to test in a while. It overclocks well and runs most single threaded games well. If you are short on cash and want to built a decent PC with just the right performance for gaming, then the G3258 is the perfect choice to aim at.
Note - For those building a PC with the Pentium G3258 can also look into our Nightblade review where we tested a budget configuration of the Pentium G3258 in several gaming benchmarks.