We got our hands on the new Pentium Gold G5600 dual-core processor based on the “Coffee Lake” architecture and designed for the Intel 300-series chipset platform. There was a time when the Pentium brand denoted the very best in client computing. Since the advent of the Core brand of multi-core processors, Intel brands from the previous millennium, such as Pentium and Celeron, were relegated to the entry-level segments. The fastest Pentium couldn’t match the performance of the slowest Core 2 Duo, so this product stack change made sense. AMD did something similar with its Athlon brand. Over the years, Intel’s entry-level client processor lineup swelled, and stratified.
For the past decade or more, since the advent of the ULPC and Atom brand, the company maintained two distinct implementations of its x86 machine architecture—a low-power micro-architecture (e.g.: “Goldmont”) and a high-power micro-architecture (e.g.: “Skylake”). This created branding chaos at the entry-level segment to where people found it difficult to tell a Pentium processor based on “Goldmont” apart from a socketed Pentium chip based on “Skylake,” for example. To clear this confusion, Intel divided the Pentium brand into two, with Pentium Silver denoting a non-socketed chip based on the low-power architecture and Pentium Gold denoting socketed high-performance architecture.
Socketed Pentium chips, for the past several generations, have been dual-core and contributed to a chaos of a different kind as Intel found itself having three brands of socketed dual-core processors—Celeron, Pentium, and Core i3; features such as L3 cache amount and HyperThreading were used to differentiate the three, besides clock speeds. Then, AMD Ryzen came along and torpedoed Intel’s entire mainstream desktop processor lineup, forcing a 50-100 percent core-count increase across the Core brand. With the Core i5 and Core i7 brands being six-core, Intel marked the Core i3 as quad-core. It could now make the Pentium brand a better-endowed dual-core chip (complete with HyperThreading and more L3 cache) to capture the $70-$100 market.
The Pentium Gold “Coffee Lake” series is hence the very best socketed dual-core processor Intel made to date. It’s based on a new dual-core die built on the 14 nm++ silicon fabrication process, has HyperThreading (making them 2-core/4-thread), and is endowed with a healthy 4 MB of shared L3 cache (something $150-ish Core i3 SKUs used to get in previous generations). Intel also clocked the processor at 3.90 GHz, way north of the 3.20-ish GHz of previous generations. For those who don’t intend to pair it with graphics cards (the vast majority of its target audience), Intel also gave it a slightly better Gen 9.5 GT2-variant iGPU, branded as UHD Graphics 630, with 24 execution units and up to 1.10 GHz clocks.
Today, we’re reviewing the Pentium Gold G5600, which leads the Pentium Gold “Coffee Lake” series that also features the lower-priced G5500 and G5400. Priced just under $93, this chip is clocked at 3.90 GHz, has 4 MB of L3 cache, and features HyperThreading enabling four logical CPUs. Most desktops built with this chip won’t have discrete graphics and will be used for non-gaming purposes (business desktops and mom-and-pop home PCs). We think you could also build gaming PCs with this chip, looking purely at its high clock speed and the fact that games still aren’t very parallelized.
This review uses our updated test suite for processors in 2018, which includes the latest BIOS updates with microcode fixes for recent security issues, Windows 10 Fall Creators Update with all updates, and new software tests and games, which are all using the latest versions, too.
|Pentium G4560||$60||2 / 4||3.5 GHz||N/A||3 MB||54 W||Kaby Lake||14 nm||LGA 1151|
|Pentium G5600||$95||2 / 4||3.9 GHz||N/A||4 MB||54 W||Coffee Lake||14 nm||LGA 1151|
|Ryzen 3 1200||$100||4 / 4||3.1 GHz||3.4 GHz||8 MB||65 W||Zen||14 nm||AM4|
|Ryzen 3 2200G||$100||4 / 4||3.5 GHz||3.7 GHz||4 MB||65 W||Zen||14 nm||AM4|
|Core i3-7100||$115||2 / 4||3.9 GHz||N/A||3 MB||51 W||Kaby Lake||14 nm||LGA 1151|
|Core i3-8100||$120||4 / 4||3.6 GHz||N/A||6 MB||65 W||Coffee Lake||14 nm||LGA 1151|
|Ryzen 3 1300X||$110||4 / 4||3.4 GHz||3.7 GHz||8 MB||65 W||Zen||14 nm||AM4|
|Core i3-7300||$160||2 / 4||4.0 GHz||N/A||4 MB||51 W||Kaby Lake||14 nm||LGA 1151|
|Core i3-8300||$145||4 / 4||3.7 GHz||N/A||8 MB||65 W||Coffee Lake||14 nm||LGA 1151|