Single page Print

Rendering and video encoding

Welp, this first result gives us a sense of how this story is about to unfold. When clocked at 4.8GHz, the Pentium G3258 is among the fastest CPUs you can buy in terms of single-threaded performance. Only the overclocked Core i7-4790K outperforms it, perhaps due to the 4790K's larger 8MB L3 cache. Even when overclocked to 4.5GHz, the Athlon X4 750K can't match the single-threaded performance of the stock-clocked Pentium. Jeez.

The contest grows closer when multiple threads are involved, but the overclocked Pentium still outperforms the overclocked Athlon slightly.

x264 encoding doesn't scale as perfectly with multiple threads as Cinebench does, and it relies solely on the CPU cores, so QuickSync and other hardware encoders don't get involved. Impressively, the overclocked G3258 darn near keeps pace with the eight-core FX-8350, one of AMD's fastest desktop processors. The Pentium's two cores at 4.8GHz also put it within reach of an enthusiast stalwart, the Core i5-2500K, a quad-core Sandy Bridge. This is crazy-fast performance for a $60 processor. Or $72. Whatever.

But how does a fast dual-core CPU perform in a modern game engine? Hmm.

Crysis 3

As usual, we've recorded every frame of animation in our gaming tests and are reporting results based on the entire distribution of frame times. This method lets us look much deeper than a simple FPS average would—and it reveals some interesting things about the performance of our overclocked Pentium. Click through the buttons above to see plots of the frame times from one of our three test runs for each CPU. Pay special attention to the overclocked G3258.

In this case, the FPS average and our frame-time-focused 99th percentile metric agree: the dual-core Pentium at 4.8GHz handles our Crysis 3 test scenario pretty nicely overall, jockeying for position versus the FX-8350 and the Core i5-2500K.

What's intriguing is how the overclocked Pentium manages this feat. Crysis 3 clearly takes advantage of four or more hardware threads when they're available; look at how poorly the Pentium fares at stock speeds compared to the Athlon X4 and friends. Still, the G3258 more than makes up the deficit at 4.8GHz, thanks to good, old-fashioned per-core performance. Suddenly, it's in the mix with much higher-end CPUs.

Now, check out what happens when we look closely at the hiccups, those frames of animation where the game runs slowest on each system.

Per-thread performance matters tremendously in avoiding the slowdowns that interrupt smooth gaming. The Pentium G3258 at 4.8GHz looks pretty good at our 99th percentile cutoff, but it gets even stronger during the last, most difficult 1% of frames rendered. There, it outperforms the stock-clocked Core i5-2500K and i7-4770K, and it handily outdoes any AMD CPU you can buy.

The benefits of the G3258's killer per-thread performance are best illustrated by our "badness" metric, which looks at the time spent working on frames above a series of thresholds. The more time spent working on frames that take longer than, say, 33 milliseconds (or two display refresh intervals at 60Hz) to produce, the slower the game is likely to feel.