In­tel Pentium G4600

Hip, hip, hooray for Hy­per-Thread­ing.

APC Australia - - » Latest Reviews - $125 | WWW.IN­TEL.COM.AU Jeremy Laird

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.

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