Cheap As Chips: Six Of The Best Budget CPUs (Part 3) : INTEL Pentium G2120

12/18/2012 9:18:46 AM

Too slow on any front to consider buying


CPU performance still quicker than A10-5800K, low power consumption


Rubbish on board GPU; tangibly slower than Core i3-3220

How much?

Price: $108


INTEL Pentium G2120

If Intel’s Core i3 chips are too expensive, the Pentium G2120 offers the next step down the lvy Bridge ladder. At just $108, it’s the cheapest chip on test, competing with AMD’s A8-5600K, and at first glance, it differs only slightly from its more auspicious brethren. The G2120 boasts two 3.1 GHz lvy Bridge cores but, as with the i3 chips, no Turbo Boost support. There’s no Hyper-Threading for the Pentium chip either; just the two physical cores.

The Pentium G2120’s on board graphics is also a step down. Its Intel HD graphics chip matches the HD 2500 graphics of the Core i3-3220, with six execution units clocked between 650MHz and 1,050MHz and DirectX 11 support, but it lacks many of Intel’s extra features. This means there’s limited virtualization support, no Quick Sync, no Wireless Display and no Clear Video HD Technology. Basically, it’s an Intel chip with the clever stuff you almost never use removed. With a lower clock speed and fewer features than its stablemates, not surprisingly, the Pentium G2120 is also light on power, with a TDP of only 55W.

With only a 200 MHz step down in per-clock performance in comparison to the Core i3-3220, the Pentium G2120 accounts for itself well in our Media Benchmarks, with an image editing score of 1,510 points only 30 points behind the Core i3s and 50 per cent faster than even the      88 A10-5800K. However, the lack of Hyper-Threading impacted video encoding performance. With a score of 1,660 points being the slowest of any chip on test; even the A10-5700 was 139 points quicker. Thank fully, the Pentium G2120 recovered in the multi-tasking test, with a score of 1,329 again eclipsing the AMD competition. The Pentium G2120’s flaws showed elsewhere, though, with the lowest scores by a large margin in the multi-threaded workloads of wPrime 32M and Cinebench.

INTEL Pentium G2120

Also, as it boasts only six execution units in its HD Graphics unit, the G2120 was just as poor as its team- mates in games. A minimum frame rate of 4fps in Skyrim is a sixth of that achieved by the A8 -5600K. Performance with a discrete GPU was better, though, with a 49fps minimum in Crysis 2 bettering the A10-5800K; it’s also 4 per cent slower than the Core i3-3220. Meanwhile, the peak power consumption of 73W under full load was also very good, and comfortably the lowest on test.


While it has a tempting low price, the Pentium G2120’s flaws are clear. Alongside its poor GPU is its limited multi-threaded performance, which cripples video encoding and similarly intensive tasks, making it ill-suited as a stand-alone chip. The A10-5800K and Core i3-3220 are pricier, butter suited to their roles.

INTEL Pentium G2120


§  Speed: 39 / 45

§  Features: 7 / 30

§  Value: 30 / 25

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