Intel Pentium Gold G6400 Review

Intel’s 2020 introduction of its LGA1200 desktop platform was an interesting entry for PC designers and updaters. Intel’s 10th generation desktop processors delivered increased performance on the outgoing LGA1151 platform, pushing chips like the Core i9-10900K to the fore, with 10 cores and turbo speeds of over 5GHz. But not everyone needs a jet-fueled CPU, and Intel’s 10th-generation, soon-to-be boosted by 11th-generation Rocket Lake chips, runs all the way down to wet Celerons, and a Pentium Gold G6400 is a quiet bargain at around $65 . While the chip doesn’t stand out much from last-generation Pentium entries, it’s gaining new prominence here in early 2021, with many hard-to-find CPUs and GPUs at retail, and their distorted prices. You can get Pentium Golds without much of a fuss, and if all you need is a PC for browsing the web and wrestling with Word documents, the G6400 is enough to get what you want.

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The latest gold Pentium model: basic details on the core chip

Before looking at the specifications of this modest processor, I must make it clear that this chip is not excessive New, either here in 2021 (introduced in mid-2020) or when viewed against the previous generation. It’s almost identical to the still available Pentium G5000-series processors (if you look it up a bit) for Intel’s outgoing LGA1151 platform. As you’ll see later in the performance rating section of this review, they also perform just as well as those older chips.

Intel Pentium G6400 (Top CPU)

In the end, you may be wondering why the Pentium is considered Gold G6400 at all, if it is the same as the last generation Intel Pentiums. In fact, if you have an LGA1151 compatible motherboard, you won’t gain nearly enough raw performance with a new LGA1200 board and the latest Pentium Gold to make it worth it. For the most part, these components should be offered on an equal footing, and when choosing between the two may decide which motherboard and CPU you can get at the lowest price (or hardware you already own).

The only final benefits to buying one of the newer Pentiums will come from the motherboard you’re using, as there might be some notable hardware improvements there. Many OEMs have opted to use 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet controllers on their better LGA1200 boards, for example, which makes a nice upgrade over the ubiquitous single Gigabit controllers on LGA1151 boards. Having an LGA1200 board also means you’ll be able to upgrade to a high-end processor down the road, like the high-end Core i9-10900K or, more likely, one of the upcoming 11th generation Rocket Lake chips.

These two points are, realistically, the most attractive features of using one of Intel’s G6000-series Pentium Gold processors, and they should be taken into account when making your decision. The thing is, though, that LGA1200-compatible motherboards remain a little pricey a little less than a year after the platform’s launch. The boards start at around $90 for the Intel B560 and H510 chip models, not a paltry $60-$70 CPU investment. (AMD Socket AM4 motherboards that work with late Athlons start around $60 to $65.)

Intel Pentium G6400 (bottom CPU)

For the Pentium Gold G6400 itself, this processor comes with a Hyper-Threading CPU core clocked at 4GHz, allowing for up to four simultaneous processing threads. Turbo Boost isn’t enabled, as is the 10th-gen Celeron G5920 we’re reviewing alongside the G6400. The chip also has a 4MB cache and a 58W thermal design power (TDP). It also has a slightly improved memory controller that can now support memory officially clocked at 2666MHz, an upgrade beyond the 2400MHz limit for the outgoing Pentium G5000 series.

Most of these specifications are the same as the direct predecessor of the Pentium Gold G6400, the Pentium Gold G5400. Other than moving to the new socket and a slightly upgraded memory controller, the G6400 has only one other advantage over its predecessor, as it clocked in at 300MHz higher.

The integrated graphics processor (IGP) in the Pentium Gold G6400 is unchanged from its immediate predecessor. The IGP is called Intel UHD Graphics 610, and it features dozens of execution units clocked at 1.05GHz.


Test preparation

The main competition for the Pentium Gold G6400 in the next benchmarks will come from the latest generation Pentium Gold G5600 (which actually features slightly better silicon UHD Graphics 630), the AMD Athlon 200GE, and the AMD Athlon 3000G. All of these have specifications that are reasonably close to each other, and the test results are likely to be a mix of profit and loss among them. (Note that we tested the slightly more upscale Pentium Gold G5600 instead of the G5400, which is the most likely direct competitor to the G6400, but the price difference between them is small.)

The only area the Pentium Gold G6400 is sure to lose, though, is the graphics tests. G6400’s UHD Graphics 610 IGP isn’t as capable as the Radeon IGPs in the two AMD chipsets mentioned above. Instead, it compares better with the slower Intel Celeron G4920 and G5920.

I tested the Pentium Gold G6400 with Asrock’s B460 Steel Legend motherboard. Due to limitations built into the CPU and chipset, I used RAM clocked at 2666MHz with timings 15-16-16-36. This puts the test system at a slight disadvantage compared to the one I’m using for AMD CPUs, as AMD CPUs were tested with RAM clocked at 3000MHz. This is all by design. AMD gives you more freedom to set the speed of the RAM on lower-end CPUs, but Intel sets you the speed specified on the CPU specs page.

I could have overcome this limitation with a Z490 motherboard, but it’s unlikely that many people would throw a low-cost Pentium CPU on an enthusiast-grade motherboard that costs several times what the chip does. Given this, I chose to run the tests with the B460 board. I felt this was akin to what people would do and experience in real life.

Intel Pentium G6400 (stock CPU cooler)

I also chose to use the included Intel stock cooler for these tests, to give you the best possible picture of what performance will be like right out of the box. This also makes sense, because that’s how most people use the chip. After all, if you can afford an aftermarket cooler, it’d be better to put that money back into a Ryzen 3 or Core i3 processor instead, and use the stock cooler in the box with that chip.


Pentium Gold G6400 test: Two spots on four cars

So, for starters, here’s a summary of the results we’ve seen in our standard set of CPU stress benchmark tests. In the mix below are a range of new-generation Core i3, Core i5, Ryzen 3, and Ryzen 5 chipsets for a perspective on what you can get in a double CPU between $100 and $200…

In our first test, using the Cinebench R15, we clearly see the Pentium Gold G6400 near the top of the charts between the Pentium, Celeron and Athlon range. It lost out against the quad-core Ryzen 3 3200G in the multi-core test, but managed to outpace its weight when using just one core, beating some Core i3 and Ryzen 3 chips, thanks in part to its lofty 4GHz clock.

The Pentium Gold G6400 manages to outperform the older Pentium Gold G5600 and two Celerons in the Handbrake video conversion experience, as well as the Athlon 200GE. It lost again to the quad-core Ryzen 3 3200G, and also lost to the AMD Athlon 3000G, but it came within an identical mustache of the latter.

However, the POV-Ray test results of the Pentium Gold G6400 show us that having two CPU cores with Hyper-Threading is not as good as having four physical cores. Of course, it’s not that simple, but nevertheless, in this case, we see once again that the dual-core Hyper-Threaded Pentium Gold G6400 easily tops everything Celeron, Pentium, and Athlon we tested in its price category, but not the quad-core AMD Ryzen 3 3200G “Real”.

The results of the old iTunes test were a little weird this time around, but it’s reproducible. I’ve done this test a few times, and for some reason the Pentium Gold G6400 struggled with a loose workload. It came almost last, even losing out to the slower Celeron processors.

Minor changes when we look at the results of the Blender test. The Pentium Gold G6400 still can’t match the Ryzen 3 3200G processor, but it outperforms the rest of the similarly priced chips (again: Celeron, Pentium, and Athlon) with ease.


More tests: IGP standards

Intel didn’t build the Pentium Gold G6400 for gaming, and it should come as no surprise that the Intel UHD Graphics 610 IGP performs pretty poorly in gaming benchmarks when running without a video card installed…

Its high clock speed and Hyper-Threading support enabled the G6400 to beat the Celeron G4920 which uses the same silicon IGP. That’s the only win for the Pentium G6400, as everything else in this group beats it by far. Even the latest generation Pentium Gold we tested, with its more muscular UHD 630 graphics, outperformed the G6400. It’s really not a huge win, either, when you consider that only one of these games (CS:GO) was technically playable on Pentium Gold, with resolutions down to 720p and graphics settings to Medium.


Verdict: solid budget silicone for essential functions

With performance outpacing AMD’s low-end Athlon CPUs, and with an MSRP of $64, Intel’s Pentium Gold G6400 fills a small niche in the processor market. Significantly, given current market conditions and the intermittent shortage that plagues higher levels of PC components these days, you can really You find Pentium Gold 6400 for its launch price list, or within walking distance of a burger. This may not seem like a big deal, but with the way the CPU and GPU markets are dealing with shoppers here in early 2021, it’s actually quite noticeable.

Intel Pentium G6400 (Box Fan CPU Everything)

As a result, the G6400 is a reasonable choice for someone who wants more performance than an Athlon or Celeron but doesn’t want to pay for a more expensive Core i3 or Ryzen 3 processor. IGP gaming performance is pretty low, but it makes up for it by offering solid CPU performance for everyday tasks.

The Pentium Gold G6400 in particular stands out as Intel’s least expensive Pentium processor for the LGA1200 platform. The company has many other Pentium CPUs offered in the 10th generation, but as these processors are progressive in price, they come dangerously close to Core i3 and Ryzen 3 processors and become relatively less attractive options. Overall, the Pentium Gold G6400 stands out as an excellent budget-friendly option for a non-gaming home computer, if you’re willing to adopt the LGA1200 platform and the new motherboard it requires. These start around $90 for the B560 and H510 chipset-based options.

Positives

  • Low cost, already available here in early 2021

  • Clock speed 4 GHz on two cores

  • Supports multi-threading

bottom line

At under $70, Intel’s Pentium Gold G6400 fills a low-cost niche among desktop CPUs, outperforming Athlons and costing significantly less than Core i3 and Ryzen 3 chips. It’s a solid choice for an economically productive PC, if you can afford the investment. Motherboard.

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