The next of Intel’s enthusiast level announcements this week is more like a reach into history. For enthusiasts who were present during the Core2Duo days, it was common enough to see or hear certain CPUs overclock to almost double their frequency and perhaps beyond on a good air or water cooler. After Core2Duo and Nehalem/Clarkdale CPUs Intel started to restrict the overclocking capabilities of the lower end CPUs, such that the only models that would overclock properly were the ones higher up the chain, or what we now call the ‘K’ SKUs. These SKUs cost the most, but are the highest binned parts (they have the better voltage/power characteristics) with the most amount of L3 cache and extra features such as AVX and so on.

In order to celebrate 20+ years of the Pentium brand, Intel is releasing a fully unlocked Haswell (4th generation) processor in the middle of 2014. Current Pentium processors in this range are dual core models without hyperthreading, with 3MB of L3 Cache and limited HD (Haswell) integrated graphics. Intel is aiming that an unlocked Pentium processor will open up cheaper gaming systems based on the Pentium brand.

The Intel Pentium G3420 for example is a dual core 3.2 GHz processor (no Turbo Boost) with a 53W TDP and Intel HD Graphics. If we were to apply the almost +50%-+100% overclock of the older Core2Duo systems here, we would be looking at 4.8 GHz to 6.4 GHz frequency. Given the overclockability of the current Haswell K processors, 4.8 GHz is more likely than 6.4 GHz in this part.

We have asked Intel if this new part will be given a K moniker, and how the pricing of the part will feature among the other processors, although we have been told that this information is not currently being released. Part of extreme overclocking back with Core2Duo was taking that cheap processor and doubling the clock speed with a few simple option changes – given that this CPU is based on Haswell (it sounds like it will come with the Haswell refresh CPUs, though not confirmed) we can get an insight into how the lower binned CPU parts might perform. Whether these will act as viable CPUs in gaming PCs, I hope to get one in to find out.


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  • danjw - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    My big question about these is if they will fix the Haswell regression with Quicksync video transcoding?
  • MikeMurphy - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    I'm holding out for the 60mhz edition.
  • haardrr - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    the g3240 is great not for the CPU, but for the quiet! HSF that is included with it (i bought two of two g3240, one had a HSF from Delta, the second from foxconn) both are silent because they don't have the "full speed spin-up" the the stock intel HSF that are supplied with the other CPU such as the g1610, i3-4330, i3-3225, g2120 (i have purchased all of those... mythtv builds)
  • meacupla - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    If you buy an unlocked i5 and use aftermarket cooling, you can also use the HSF from the i5, which is higher quality with a copper core, where as the HSF included with pentiums are all aluminum.
  • xrror - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    Yea, the era of a high clocked dual core is a bit past. If this chip is more than $60 it will be a bust.

    Honestly this feels like a way to get people on socket 1150 more than anything, which wouldn't be so bad except nobody is sure Skylake will also run on it - I wouldn't bet on it sadly.

    But either way it's a net plus for Intel - you bought a chipset at least, and maybe later you buy an i5 or i7 if you end up needing more.
  • xrror - Saturday, March 22, 2014 - link

    D'oh, I meant Broadwell not Skylake.

    Also I wonder if this is some sort of response to AMD's socket FS1b (there's a mess of a name). FS1b could actually be some fun if both the mobo+CPU ended up around $60 and it was actually overclockable, but sadly that doesn't sound like it's going to be either of these things =(

    Plus even gimped (but overclocked) Haswell would still stomp it, but again it should assuming it would cost at least twice as much.

    Now what would be fun is a SilvermontK SKU... =D
  • meacupla - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    I wonder how an overclocked haswell pentium stacks up against an overclocked A6-7400k.
  • billgerr - Sunday, March 30, 2014 - link

    Sounds like a gesture for the Pentium anniversary. IMHO, my high points of "overclocking" were Overdrive processors (bought 4 trays on the forum and made a killing on EBay), C 366/550 (had one running for 8 years), cheap "S" processors (can't part with P-III S 1.4 and P4 S 3.4) and Phenom II hexacore unlocking. Still running C2Q 9650, 3 SSDs, Raptor and WD Black and awaiting a compelling reason to upgrade. I've built custom i5 and i7 machines for others, but find them only marginally more responsive than C2Q. Perhaps an eight-core will move me into present.
  • n47h4n96 - Monday, June 16, 2014 - link

    This seems to be a good processor for budget builds as mentioned by many, or for the simple enjoy of overclocking. I do think this processor can still run the latest games with an AMD branded graphics card using the Mantle API. A CPU overclocked correctly, with an R9 270x/280x will serve solid gaming performance under a small price tag. Would anyone agree?

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