Intel Pentium G4600
Hip, hip, hooray for Hyper-Threading.
It’s very likely the end of days for Intel’s CPU strategy as we know it, but not in an apocalyptic sense. But AMD’s Ryzen processor is coming and we’re confident it’s going to shake things up.
That’s the context into which Intel’s Pentium G4600 arrives. Based on the latest Kaby Lake microarchitecture, it’s very much a child of the last five years or so, when Intel ruled the high seas, across the land, and in the air. Within that narrative, the fact that Intel has bequeathed the G4600, plus two other new Kaby Lake Pentiums, with Hyper-Threading capability constitutes news.
Hyper-Threading is the ability for each CPU core to process two software threads in parallel. And it’s been baked into every Intel Core processor since Nehalem in 2008. Actually, it’s rumoured that it was also in the Core 2 Duo, just not enabled. And, of course, it was first seen in the Pentium 4 Netburst chip way, way back in 2000.
The point is that it’s always in any desktop CPU model you buy from Intel; it’s just enabled or disabled to help cook up a few different chip models. It’s the sort of ruse you can get away with when you have little to no competition — a situation that prevails today, but isn’t going to last.
Anyway, the Pentium G4600 slots in at $125, and offers up two HyperThreading enabled 3.6GHz cores, supported by 3MB of cache memory. And that’s pretty much it for the CPU side of things. There’s no turbo mode, and the CPU multiplier is locked, so overclocking is essentially a non-starter.
Like all mainstream desktop CPUs, the processor cores are only half the story, literally, as integrated graphics make up almost half of the G4600’s 14nm CPU die. In this case, it’s an Intel HD Graphics 630 GPU, at the top end of the smaller of the two graphics cores Intel is sticking in its Kaby Lake chips. It has 24 execution units to the 48 of the Iris Plus cores. So, even by integrated standards, it’s nothing special. But for $125, you aren’t getting special.
What you are getting is very good single-threaded performance. The G4600 cranks out 151 points in Cinebench R15 in singlethreaded mode. The Core i7-7700K manages 182. Put another way, if all you were interested in was singlethreaded performance, and overclocking wasn’t in your vocabulary, there’d be little reason to spend more than 125 bucks on a G4600.
Flick the multi-threading switch, on the other hand, and those numbers jump to 385 and 970. The 7700K is only a quad-core chip, of course. The 10-core Core i7-6950X monster will spew out about 1,750 points in Cinebench. Then again, it costs about 15 times as much. Arguably, then, what matters is that for generalpurpose computing, the G4600 gets the job done. It feels perfectly zippy for web browsing, playing back HD video content, and most anything else you’re likely to do day to day.
It even turns in decent numbers in games, showing that the age-old problem of coding games to scale beyond a few cores remains. Just don’t try to use it to re-encode hours of 4K video or render a pro-level 3D scene. In the current reality, then, the G4600 is appealing. But change is in the air, and the measure by which CPU value is assessed could be very different within just a few weeks.