Intel 2014 Enthusiast Processors: Unlocked Haswell Pentium due mid-2014by Ian Cutress on March 19, 2014 8:00 PM EST
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.