It’s an age-old processor battle: AMD Athlon vs Intel Pentium. Twenty years in the past—within the early days of Tom’s {Hardware}—these processor manufacturers represented high-performance elements. Right this moment, the Pentium and Athlon names are relegated to each corporations’ entry-level choices, however the battle rages anew.

Modern Athlons and Pentiums are meant for lower-level computing tasks, such as light web browsing and word processing, not high-performance tasks like high-resolution gaming and video editing. If you’re mulling over a new budget build and not sure which to choose, we’ll break down the benefits and drawbacks of each below. Both Intel and AMD now deliver surprisingly capable budget chips. But in the end, a lot hinges on real-world pricing. 

Features

At the high-end of the processor market, with its Ryzens and Threadrippers AMD counters Intel’s clock speed advantage by offering more cores per dollar than Intel. At the low-end, AMD’s big advantage is graphics processing.

Athlon 200GE Athlon 220GE Athlon 240GE Pentium Gold G5600 Pentium Gold G5400 Ryzen 3 2200G
TDP 35W 35W 35W 54W 54W 65W
Structure Zen Zen Zen Espresso Lake Espresso Lake Zen
Course of 14nm 14nm 14nm 14nm++ 14nm++ 14nm
Cores / Threads 2 / 4 2 / 4 2 / 4 2 / 4 2 / 4 4 / 4
Frequency Base / Increase 3.2 / – 3.4 / – 3.5 / – 3.9 / – 3.7 / – 3.5 / 3.7
Reminiscence Velocity DDR4-2667 DDR4-2667 DDR4-2667 DDR4-2400 DDR4-2400 DDR4-2933
Reminiscence Controller Twin-Channel Twin-Channel Twin-Channel Twin-Channel Twin-Channel Twin-Channel
Cache (L3) 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB
Built-in Graphics Vega 3 (3 CU) Vega 3 (3CU) Vega 3 (3 CU) UHD Graphics 630 UHD Graphics 610 RX Vega 8 (8 CU)
Unlocked Multiplier No No No No No Sure
MSRP $55 $65 $75 $86 $64 $99

Intel Pentium Gold and AMD Athlon processors all are available in dual-core configurations. Pentium chips characteristic Intel’s Hyperthreading expertise, and Athlon processors help Simultaneous Multi-Threading (SMT), giving each corporations 4 logical threads to work with.

The three.7 GHz Pentium G5400 and the three.9 GHz Pentium G5600 have a definite clock pace benefit over the three.2 GHz, 3.4 GHz, and three.5 GHz Athlon processors.

AMD’s chips make up for his or her clock pace deficit with different options, such because the Radeon Vega-based graphics engine that is composed of three Compute Models (CUs), serving up a modest 192 Stream processors, 12 TMUs, and 4 ROPs.. The Pentium CPUs even have built-in graphics processors, however Intel’s UHD Graphics 630 (G5600) and UHD Graphics 610 (G5400) are restricted to 24 and 12 execution items, respectively.

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AMD’s Athlon processors additionally help sooner reminiscence than Intel’s newest Pentium chips (DDR4-2667 vs DDR4-2400). And so they draw much less energy than Intel’s counterparts (35w vs 54w).

Winner: AMD. Clock pace isn’t all the things. Particularly while you’re on a funds, AMD’s Athlon processors help sooner reminiscence (a boon for built-in graphics), draw much less energy, and so they embody Vega GPU cores for reasonable video duties.

Overclocking

Sometimes, when you consider a funds processor and the options it could provide, overclocking doesn’t often come to thoughts. In fact, there are some vital historic exceptions—Intel’s Celeron 300A brings again recollections—however overclocking is usually a characteristic reserved for higher-priced elements.

In recent times, overclocking has change into way more mainstream. And as such, AMD has embraced the characteristic throughout virtually its whole product stack. Nonetheless, the Athlon sequence is the outlier. AMD doesn’t formally help overclocking the brand new Athlon processors, however that didn’t cease motherboard producers from supporting the characteristic anyway.

Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI all provide motherboards that allow you to regulate the clock pace of Zen-based Athlon processors. You’ll be able to’t enhance the clock pace of the built-in GPU, and reminiscence is locked all the way down to DDR4-2667, however with the correct motherboard you may coax 3.9GHz out of an Athlon processor. In our expertise, all three Athlon fashions high out on the similar clock pace, so in the event you’re going to overclock, you may as effectively avoid wasting cash and get the Athlon 200GE. You may as well overclock with the inventory cooler, which is a good value-add.

Intel’s Pentium processors don’t help overclocking, and also you gained’t discover a motherboard that overrides Intel’s specs.

Winner: AMD. AMD is the clear winner for the overclocking class, as a result of you may’t overclock a Pentium processor. AMD didn’t need to allow overclocking, however with the correct motherboard, you are able to do it anyway. The reasonable clock pace improve doesn’t enhance efficiency dramatically, however in the event you overclock an Athlon 200GE, you may yield the identical efficiency as an overclocked Athlon 240GE, which reinforces its substantial worth.

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Cooling Necessities

AMD’s Athlon 200GE, 220GE and 240GE dual-core processors characteristic an Low 35W TDP. In different phrases, they don’t require substantial cooling {hardware}. AMD equips the Athlon lineup with a heatsink and fan combo with ample capability to dissipate the nominal warmth output from these low-powered chips.

We even discovered that the inventory cooler offered sufficient cooling capability to maintain our samples at protected temperatures even with the utmost overclock utilized.

Intel’s Pentium Gold processors additionally come bundled with an Intel heatsink and fan meeting, and there’s actually no motive to trouble upgrading that cooler besides aesthetics. Pentium chips have the next TDP ranking than AMD’s Athlon processors, however you may’t overclock them, so that they’ll by no means exceed the manufacturing unit specs.

Winner: Tie. AMD and Intel each provide you with all the things you want to hold their entry-level processors cool sufficient for protected operation.

Motherboard Choices

Intel’s Pentium processors can’t be overclocked, however that doesn’t imply that they lack motherboard choices. Quite the opposite, the decrease down Intel’s lineup you go, the extra motherboard choices you get.

In some methods, it’s simpler to buy a motherboard for a high-end construct as a result of proper off the highest you’ll get rid of the low-end chipsets and deal with the feature-rich Z-series. And in the event you’re searching for a moderate-budget gaming system, it’s possible you’ll take into account an H370.

Whenever you’re constructing a system round a Pentium processor, Intel’s entry-level H310 gives you all the things you want for a fundamental system. Nonetheless, the 5000-Collection Pentium G processors share the identical socket as Intel’s current-generation Core processor. So, when you have any inclination to improve your CPU down the street, it can save you your self a couple of bucks later by selecting a motherboard with a greater chipset at present.

Intel Chipsets

AMD’s new Athlon processors are additionally suitable with the corporate’s full line of motherboards (save for HEDT/Threadripper), together with boards with 300-series and 400-series chipsets. The A320 chipset is ideal for a low-budget construct, however if you wish to overclock your processor, you’ll want one thing somewhat bit extra superior.

AMD doesn’t formally help overclocking the Athlon sequence, however some motherboard producers have launched firmware that unlocks some parameters of the Athlon chips. If overclocking is in your radar, you’ll want to take a look at boards with the a chipset better than A320.

AMD Chipsets

AMD Chipset PCI Specific Graphics USB 3.1 G2 + 3.1 G1 + 2.0 SATA + NVME SATA RAID Helps Overclocking
Fanatic X470 1×16/2×8 (AMD Ryzen processors) 1×8 (A-Collection/AMD Athlon processors) 2+10+6 6 + x2 NVMe (or 4 SATA plus 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 0,1,10 Sure
Fanatic X370 1×16/2×8 (AMD Ryzen) 1×8 (A-Collection/AMD Athlon) 2+10+6 6 + x2 NVMe (or 4 SATA plus 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 0,1,10 Sure
Efficiency B350 1×16(AMD Ryzen)1×8 (A-Collection/AMD Athlon) 2+6+6 4 + x2 NVMe (or 2 SATA 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 0,1,10 Sure
Mainstream A320 1×16 (AMD Ryzen) 1×8 (A-Collection/AMD Athlon) 1+6+6 4 + x2 NVMe (or 2 SATA 1 x4 NVMe on AMD Ryzen™ Processor) 0,1,10 No

Winner: Tie. AMD and Intel each provide budget-friendly choices that pair effectively with their low-end processors. And in the event you’re on the lookout for fancy options, each processors are suitable higher-end choices as effectively.

Gaming Efficiency

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