Last month, Intel launched its 7th generation refresh of the Core processor family, codenamed Kaby Lake. While the new desktop processor was a moderate improvement over its immediate predecessor, the major news of the launch was that Intel would, for the first time, make Hyper-Threading available on a Pentium-class microprocessor. As we detailed at the time, this was an unprecedented move for the company — ever since it launched its Core i3/i5/i7 branding, Hyper-Threading has been reserved to those processor divisions, while Pentium and Celeron chips lacked it.
Eurogamer has put one of these new budget Pentiums to the test. The Pentium G4560 is in the middle of this new family of Pentiums — its clock speed of 3.5GHz isn’t quite at the top of the range (the G4620 goes up to 3.7GHz), but the price — a budget Core i3, with a $65 price tag — means this chip is going to be extremely interesting to budget builders and gamers alike.
The G4560 and the other Kaby Lake-derived Pentiums lack support for AVX, AVX2, and Intel’s Turbo Mode — but the motherboard Eurogamer picked for testing also supports DDR4-2400, which the site also tested. In the results below, the Pentium G4560 both picks up an advantage from this faster memory and competes well against the Core i3-6100. In many cases, a G4560 + DDR4-2400 is capable of matching the Core i3-6100 with DDR4-2133. Note that the results below are just the gaming benchmarks; non-gaming tests still show some advantages for the older Core i3 in multiple application tests, presumably thanks to its AVX/AVX2 support.
PentiumG4560
Give the G4560 a little additional bandwidth, and it can nearly match the i3-6100, which is clocked at 3.7GHz but similarly lacks Turbo Boost. The gap between the Core i3-6100 and the Core i5-6500 still remains significant. It illustrates that in this day and age, a quad-core CPU still delivers potent performance gains compared with a dual-core + Hyper-Threading, but that same dual-core + HT gets you most of the way to quad-core performance, for a significantly lower price tag. For those wondering how Kaby Lake Core i3’s would compare, the Core i3-7100 has a 3.9GHz base clock — so we expect we’d see performance improvements in line with that clock increase.
These findings indirectly highlight how urgently AMD needs Ryzen (no worries on that front), and how badly the modern Athlon and Piledriver parts compare against Intel’s budget chips. The Athlon X4 8600 and FX-6300 deliver playable frame rates in every game Eurogamer tested (the CPU test in Ashes is deliberately designed to push CPUs extremely hard), the gap between them and even the Pentium G4560 has become enormous.
The good news about this if you’re a gamer on a tight budget is that you can grab a Kaby Lake Pentium now, drop it in a modern motherboard, and then upgrade to something faster at a later date. The overall performance difference between a Pentium and a Core i7-7700K is big enough that you’d still see a meaningful improvement from taking that step, while the amazing price tag on the G4560 ($65 in 1KU) means you can pick up the chip at a very good price.
Overall, however, I’d still recommend people wait a little longer. Ryzen arrives in the not-so-distant future, and we’ll have a much better idea how AMD’s offerings will change the CPU market and what kind of price rearrangements we may or may not see as a result. Intel’s Kaby Lake Pentiums are going to be good deals no matter what, but even better price/performance ratios could be right around the corner.