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Athlon and Pentium Live On

Over the past year or so, we have taken a look at a few budget gaming builds here at PC Perspective. One of our objectives with these build guides was to show people that PC gaming can be cost competitive with console gaming, and at a much higher quality.

However, we haven't stopped pursuing our goal of the perfect inexpensive gaming PC, which is still capable of maxing out image quality settings on today's top games at 1080p.

Today we take a look at two new systems, featuring some parts which have been suggested to us after our previous articles.

  AMD System Intel System
Processor AMD Athlon X4 760K - $85 Intel Pentium G3220 - $65
Cores / Threads 4 / 4 2 / 2
Motherboard Gigabyte F2A55M-HD2 - $60 ASUS H81M-E - $60
Graphics MSI R9 270 Gaming - $180 MSI R9 270 Gaming - $180
System Memory Corsair 8GB DDR3-1600 (1x8GB) - $73 Corsair 8GB DDR3-1600 (1x8GB) - $73
Hard Drive Western Digital 1TB Caviar Green - $60 Western Digital 1TB Caviar Green - $60
Power Supply  Cooler Master GX 450W - $50 Cooler Master GX 450W - $50
Case Cooler Master N200 MicroATX - $50 Cooler Master N200 MicroATX - $50
Price $560 $540

(Editor's note: If you don't already have a copy of Windows, and don't plan on using Linux or SteamOS, you'll need an OEM copy of Windows 8.1 - currently selling for $98.)

These are low prices for a gaming computer, and feature some parts which many of you might not know a lot about. Let's take a deeper look at the two different platforms which we built upon.

The Platforms

IMG_9973.JPG

First up is the AMD Athlon X4 760K. While you may not have known the Athlon brand was still being used on current parts, they represent an interesting part of the market. On the FM2 socket, the 760K is essentially a high end Richland APU, with the graphics portion of the chip disabled.

What this means is that if you are going to pair your processor with a discrete GPU anyway, you can skip paying extra for the integrated GPU.

As for the motherboard, we went for an ultra inexpensive A55 option from Gigabyte, the GA-F2A55M-HD2. This board features the A55 chipset which launched with the Llano APUs in 2011. Because of this older chipset, the board does not feature USB 3.0 or SATA 6G capability, but since we are only concerned about gaming performance here, it makes a great bare bones option.

Continue reading our build guide for a gaming PC under $550!!!

Hardware Flashback: Asus P2B

Subject: Motherboards | July 17, 2013 - 05:34 PM |
Tagged: Pentium II, Pentium !!!, pentium, P2B, Intel, hardware flashback, asus, 440 BX

Retro hardware is so much fun.  Today we have the Asus P2B, and while it was not a game changer for the time, it was a popular board.  This popularity sprang from its excellent compatibility with older Pentium II processors and a wide variety of AGP cards.  It was one of the last series of boards that Asus released that did not feature the jumperless BIOS options that we take for granted these days.

p2b_01.jpg

3 ISA ports staring us in the face!  ATA-33?  Oh yeah!

There are some things that really spring out when looking at the board.  Having 3 ISA slots seems pretty much overkill as most people used perhaps two of them (modem and sound card), but I can see this being popular with people who also utilize older SCSI cards (such as those used with scanners of the time).  Having 3 ISA meant that there were only 4 PCI slots.  Remember, ISA and PCI slots situated next to each other would share the same backplate slot, so PCI and ISA could not be used adjacent to each other.  Remember as well that we often saw issues with the first PCI slot as it shared resources with the AGP slot.  This essentially gives only two usable PCI slots if a user was full up on ISA cards.

The board features 3 DIMM slots at a time when it was popular to use a buffer chip to allow up to four DIMM slots.  These buffer chips were often a big performance hit in memory operations and they quickly fell out of favor with most enthusiasts and power users.  Having 3 DIMM slots did lower the maximum potential installed memory, but not by all that much.  The performance benefits of slightly less memory but better performance often outweighed having that fourth DIMM.

p2b_02.jpg

These old boards look so bare even compared to current low-end motherboards.  Excellent for someone who needs two serial ports, though!

The BX boards supported the 100 MHz bus speed for the latest Pentium IIs and upcoming Pentium !!!s.  This particular board was quite popular with people that had older Pentium IIs with the 66 MHz FSB.  Running these at 3 x 100 or 3.5 x 100 would give a nice overall boost for these aging processors.  Users who were early implementers of Pentium II CPUs were stuck with the old 440FX chipset which did not feature SDRAM or AGP support.  This would have been a nice upgrade in performance and functionality for those users as they could pop in their Pentium II 266 or 300 and tweak their way to performance nirvana.

This board was released before we saw the change to the colored peripheral connections, so every plug on the back of the board is black.  Color coding was for wimps anyway.  It also does not include integrated sound.  So there goes one of those ISA slots.  Users of the time would have probably installed a soundcard, modem, PCI Ethernet card, and their AGP card.  So where would the Voodoo 2 go?  How about two of them?  Things would get awful crowded very quickly.

p2b_03.jpg

That dust may or may not have been deposited around 1999...

The AGP support on these boards was of course excellent.  That is primarily because Intel was the main driver of the specification and everyone else developed their cards to run in these slots.  VIA, SiS, and others of course had compatibility issues with a wide variety of cards.  This is why we saw other folks like 3dfx make their products run at below AGP specs.  For instance, the Voodoo 3 was essentially a PCI 66 MHz device in the AGP slot.  This disabled features like sideband addressing and reading textures from main memory.

This was still a popular board even in the face of competition with superior features.  The Asus brand and name goes far.  Plus it was a fast board for the time that was a bit no-frills.  Recipe for success?  I guess so.  This particular board and CPU were running in a homebuilt server for around 10 years until it was replaced.  I guess it was money well spent.

Source: Asus

Podcast #259 - MSI Z87 MPower Motherboard, Mobile Frame Rating, Intel Bay Trail and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2013 - 11:06 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, frame rating, z87, mpower, msi, Bay Trail, celeron, atom, pentium

PC Perspective Podcast #259 - 07/11/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the MSI Z87 MPower Motherboard, Mobile Frame Rating, Intel Bay Trail and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:14:34

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  4. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro

Leaked Bay Trail Product Lineup Reveals Atom, Celeron, and Pentium Branded Processors

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2013 - 11:41 PM |
Tagged: valleyview, SoC, silvermont, pentium, Intel, celeron, Bay Trail, atom

A leaked Intel lineup reveals that the company's upcoming Bay Trail processors will also fall under not only the traditional Atom branding, but the Pentium and Celeron brands as well. The new lineup includes Bay Trail-D, Bay Trail-I, and Bay Trail M processors (note that Valleyview is the CPU codename, Bay Trail is the platform codename, with the CPU based on Intel's 22nm Silvermont architecture). The Bay Trail SoCs, which are based on the company's new 22nm Silvermont micro-architecture, include five processors in the Atom family, two in the Pentium family, and five processors that are part of the Celeron family.

All five of the Atom branded processors are Bay Trail-I chips. The leaked Atom lineup includes the following SKUs.

  • Atom E3810 (Bay Trail-I): Single core at 1.46 GHz with 400 MHz GPU and 5W TDP
  • Atom E3821 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.33 GHz with 533 MHz GPU and 6W TDP
  • Atom E3822 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.46 GHz with 667 MHz GPU and 7W TDP
  • Atom E3823 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.75 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 8W TDP
  • Atom E3840 (Bay Trail-I): Quad core at 1.91 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP

Further, there will be one Bay Trail-M and one Bay Trail-D  Silvermont-based CPU under the Pentium brand. Specifications on those two chips are below.

  • Pentium N3510 (Bay Trail-M):  Quad core at 2 GHz with 750 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)
  • Pentium J2850 (Bay Trail-D): Quad core at 2.41 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP

Finally, the new Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D SoCs under the Celeron brand includes two quad cores and three dual core CPUs.

According to this PDF, the N2805, N2810, and N2910 Celeron CPUs will have an MSRP of $132, though it seems as though the N2805 should be cheaper than that since it has much lower specifications than the other two. The new Celeron-branded chips have the following specifications.

  • Celeron J1750 (Bay Trail-D): Dual core at 2.41 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
  • Celeron J1850 (Bay Trail-D): Quad core at 2 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
  • Celeron N2805 (Bay Trail-M): Dual core at 1.46 GHz with 667 MHz GPU and 4.5W TDP (sub-2.5W SDP)
  • Celeron N2810 (Bay Trail-M): Dual core at 2 GHz with 756 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)
  • Celeron N2910 (Bay Trail-M): Quad core at 1.6 GHz with 756 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on Bay Trail and Intel's first OoOE Atom micro-architecture as it develops.

Also read:

Source: Fanless Tech

New Silvermont Atom Chips Will Use Pentium and Celeron Branding

Subject: Processors | June 2, 2013 - 08:32 PM |
Tagged: silvermont, pentium, Intel, haswell, celeron, atom, 22nm

In addition to the impending launch of Intel's desktop Haswell processors, the company is also working on new Atom-series chips based on Intel's Silvermont architecture. Ryan Shrout wrote about the upcoming Atom architecture a few weeks ago, and you can read up on it here. However, in short, Atoms using the Silvermont architecture are 22nm SoCs with a Hyper Threaded, dual-module quad core design that comes with burst-able clockspeeds and up to 2.5x the performance of chips using the previous generation Saltwell architecture. Intel is promising up to a 50% IPC (instructions per clock) increase, and 4.7x lower power versus previous generation Atom CPUs.

A block diagram of Intel's upcoming Silvermont architecture.

With that said, over the weekend I read an interesting article over at PC World that hinted at these new Silvermont-based Atom processors taking up the Pentium and Celeron branded CPU mantle. In speaking with Intel employee Kathy Gill, the site learned that Intel will be using the Silvermont architecture in code-named Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D processors for notebooks and desktops respectively. The Bay Trail code name isn't new, but Intel's use of the Pentium and Celeron branding for these Atom chips is. For the past few generations, Intel has re-purposed lower-tier or lower binned Core processors as Pentiums or Celerons by disabling features and/or clocking them lower. It seems that Intel finally believes that its Atom lineup is good enough to serve those low-end desktop and notebook CPU purposes under the budget brand families.

Intel Celeron Logo.jpg

Kathy Gill further stated that "we aren't ready to disclose additional details on Haswell plans at this time,” which does not rule out Haswell-based Celeron and Pentium chips. It does not confirm them either, however.

After a chat with PC Perspective's Josh Walrath on the issue, I'm not certain which direction Intel will take, but I do believe that Intel will (at least) favor the Atom chips for the Pentium and Celeron brands/lines because the company will see much better profit margins with the Silvermont-based chips compared to Haswell-based ones. On the other hand, Intel would lose out on the ability to re-brand low binning Core i3s as Pentium or Celeron CPUs. Further, going with both architectures would complicate matters and invite a good amount of brand confusion for many consumers in spite of allowing a mix of better profit margins and re-purposing chips that otherwise wouldn't make the cut (admittedly, Intel probably has to artificially limit some number of chips to keep up with the volume of Pentium and Celerons needed, it's difficult to say to what extent though).

Hopefully we will know more about Intel's Bay Trail CPUs and branding plans at Computex later this week.

What do you think of this move by Intel, and will the Silvermont-based Bay Trail chips be up to the task?

Source: PC World

New 22nm Pentiums and Celerons for the new year

Subject: General Tech | November 29, 2012 - 09:43 AM |
Tagged: pentium, celeron, Intel, 22nm, G2130, G2020, G2020T, G1620, G1610, G1610T, Ivy Bridge

There won't be any new Intel desktop processors for Christmas and even in the New Year it will be the entry level lineup that is first refreshed.  Six older Pentium and Celeron models will hit EOL and be replaced with new Ivy Bridge based 22nm models, likely with similar specs and reduced power consumption.  The news for mobile processors is a little better with the Core i7-3687, Core i5-3437U, Celeron 1037U, 1007U, 1020M and 1000M all slated for the first quarter of 2013.  DigiTime also mentions a new 20nm member of the 530 series of SSDs should be arriving at the same time.

i7.jpg

"Intel is set to upgrade its entry-level desktop Pentium and Celeron product lines in the first quarter of 2013 with the launch of Ivy Bridge-based 22nm Pentium G2130, G2020 and G2020T and Celeron G1620, G1610 and G1610T processors, while its existing Sandy Bridge-based 32nm Pentium G870, G645 and G645T as well as Celeron G555, G550 and G550T will be phased out of the market starting the end of 2012, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Of Near Threshold Voltage and Atomic Transistors

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 10:53 AM |
Tagged: NTV, near threshold voltage, transistor, pentium, qubit

The eyes of the world are on the 22nm Ivy Bridge chip that Intel has slowly been giving us details of but there is also something interesting happening at 32nm with the world's most repurposed Intel CPU.  Once again the old Pentium core has been dusted off and modified to showcase new Intel technology, in this case Near Threshold Voltage operations.  In this case the Threshold refers to the amount of power needed to flip a bit on a processor, what you would be used to seeing as VCC and is the reason those dang chips get so toasty.   Much in the way that SpeedStep and other energy savings technologies reduce the operating frequency of an underloaded processor, Intel has tied the amount of voltage to the frequency and lowers the power requirements along with the chips speed.  The demonstration model that they showed The Register varied from a high end of 1.2 volts at 915MHz to a mere 280 millivolts at 3MHz and down to 2 millivolts in sleep.  By scaling the power consumption Intel may have found a nice middle group between performance and TDP to keep ARM from making major inroads into the server room, if they can pull it off with more modern processors.   They also showed off a solar powered CPU which might be handy on a cell phone but seems of limited commercial value in the short term as well as a

Keeping with the theme of small, The Register also has news of research which has created a working transistor out of a single phosphorus atom, an atomic radius of 0.110nm for those who like some scale with their transistors.  The trick was the temperature; seeing as it is a measure of energy expressed as movement (to put it ridiculously simply) you need low temperatures to keep the atoms from moving more than 10nm.  At -196°C the atom was stable enough for its position to be accurately predicted which is absolutely necessary if you plan to use the atom as a qubit.  Overclocking is going to be difficult.

intel_isscc_ntv_concept.jpg

"The threshold voltage is the point at which transistors turn on and conduct electricity. If you can flip bits near this threshold, instead of using much larger swing that is typically many times this threshold voltage to turn zeros into ones and vice versa, then you can save a lot of power."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Intel Unveils 16 New 32nm Processors

Subject: Processors | September 5, 2011 - 06:52 PM |
Tagged: sandy bridge, pentium, Intel, cpu, Core, celeron, 32nm

Intel today released a price list which included 16 new 32nm processors. The new additions fill in gaps in the Celeron, Pentium, and Core product lines. The new additions are then further broken down into the desktop and mobile camps. On the desktop front, there are four Celeron models ranging from $47 to $52, three Pentium models ranging from $70 to $86, and four new Core i series processors ranging from $127 to $177. Within that range, there are three hyper-threaded dual core Core i3 part and one quad core Core i5 processor.

Intel.png

The mobile additions include one low end and four high end models. On the low end is the dual core Celeron B840 at 1.9GHz with 2 MB L3 cache and 35W TDP. On the high end are four Core i7 chips. The Core i7 2640M is a $346 part and is a hyper-threaded dual core chip at 2.8 GHz, 4 MB L3 cache, and 35W TDP. The Core i7 2760QM is a hyper-threaded quad core part at 2.4 GHz, 6 MB L3 cache, and a 45W TDP. As another 45W TDP part, the Core i7 2860 QM is also a hyper-threaded quad core at 2.5 GHz with 8 MB L3 cache. The highest end mobile chip addition is the Core i7 2960XM, which is a hyper-threaded quad core at 2.7 GHz, a 55W TDP, and 8 MB of L3 cache.

As you can see, there are quite a few new additions filling out the product lineup at various price points and performance segments. See the chart below for the full list and specs.

  Processor Clockspeed Cores/Threads L3 Cache TDP Price
Desktop            
  Core i5-2320 3.0 GHz 4/4 6MB 95W $177
  Core i3-2130 3.4 GHz 2/4 3MB 65W $138
  Core i3-2125 3.3 GHz 2/4 3MB 65W $134
  Core i3-2120T 2.6 GHz 2/4 3MB 35W $127
             
  Pentium G860 3.0 GHz 2/2 3MB 65W $86
  Pentium G630 2.7 GHz 2/2 3MB 65W $75
  Pentium G630T 2.3 GHz 2/2 3MB 35W $70
             
  Celeron G540 2.5 GHz 2/2 2MB 65W $52
  Celeron G530T 2.0 GHz 2/2 2MB 35W $47
  Celeron G530 2.4 GHz 2/2 2MB 65W $42
  Celeron G440 1.6 GHz 1/1 1MB 35W $37
Mobile            
   Core i7-2960XM  2.7 GHz  4/8  8MB  55W  $1,096
   Core i7-2860QM  2.5 GHz  4/8  8MB  45W  $568
   Core i7-2760QM  2.4 GHz  4/8  6MB  45W  $378
   Core i7-2640M  2.8 GHz  2/4  4MB  35W  $346
             
   Celeron B840  1.9 GHz  2/2  2MB  35W  $86

 

Source: Tech Connect

No Intel architecture refresh can be complete without a Pentium model

Subject: Processors | August 12, 2011 - 10:35 AM |
Tagged: sandybridge, pentium, G850, Intel

Intel has updated the Pentium processor for the SandyBridge era with the 32nm G620, G840 and G850, all of which cost under $100.   All are rated at 65W TDP with 3MB of level 3 cache, an integrated DDR3 memory controller, PCI Express 2.0 interface, Direct Media Interface 2.0, and Intel HD Graphics 2000.  Legit Reviews tested the 2.9GHz G850 model and found no surprises, neither good nor bad.  The Pentium line remains the workhorse model, perfect for office usage, web browsing and even watching movies.  Those who make movies or want to do more than basic gaming are better off looking at an older LGA1156 processor or even a slightly more expensive Intel or AMD chip.  If you've a relative that only needs a PC for light duty tasks, consider a system built around one of these new SandyBridge Pentiums.

intel-pentium-offerings.jpg

"After trying out both the Intel Pentium G620 and Pentium G850 we must admit that we are still impressed by what these cost effective mainstream processors can do. Thanks to the powerful Intel 'Sandy Bridge' microarchitecture these dual-core processors don't run too far behind the more expensive offerings from Intel and AMD. You can find some pretty good deals on LGA775 and LGA1156 platforms right now, but the Intel Pentium series for LGA1155 has more features and as you could see in the performance tests they weren't that far behind in the benchmarks..."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors