Intel Pentium G4400 Skylake Processor - A Low-Cost Gamers Skylake Processor?

When Intel releases a new processor family, we immediately start seeing reviews and opinions on the enthusiast grade processors such as the i5-6600K and the i7-6700K, both of which are great processors, however there is a downside; they are some of the more expensive processors.  Not everybody wants to spend a lot of money on a new processor nor does everybody need the added features and power of these processors.  Because of this, Intel releases a range of processors that start at $64.99 with free shipping, such as the Intel Pentium G4400, and quickly moves up in price depending on your need. [caption id="attachment_179763" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Box Intel Pentium G4400 Retail Box[/caption] Why would somebody want to look at a processor such as the Pentium G4400?  For a low cost processor, its specifications are pretty decent for an average home use type processor.  It is a dual core processor that can handle 2 threads at a time at 3.3GHz with a TDP of 54W.  Beyond that, it has many of the features of other Skylake processors such as support for up to 64GB of DDR4 or DDR3L memory in dual channel.  Integrated graphics are provided by the Intel HD Graphics 510, that will utilize a maximum of 1.7GB of memory, in addition it provides for resolutions up to 4096x2304 @60Hz using Display Port in addition to supporting up to 3 displays. Other more advanced technologies that is supported by the G4400 is Virtualization, AES N-I, and Secure Key.  What it doesn't support though is Turbo Boost, vPro, Hyper-Threading and a few other Intel Technologies that many home users will have little use for. [caption id="attachment_179764" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 CPU Intel Pentium G4400 SR2DC CPU[/caption] Taking a look at the Intel Pentium G4400, the Integrated Head Spreader has the typical markings on it.  Here we see the S-Spec of SR2DC and the clock speed of 3.3GHz.  We then find the batch number which is X540C198. [caption id="attachment_170085" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Haswell versus Skylake Pins Intel Haswell versus Skylake[/caption] Taking a look at the bottom of the processor, it looks identical to other Skylake processors, which makes sense as it uses the same motherboard chipset.  The Pentium G4400 is a LGA 1151 socket processor.  Like other recent Intel processors, it has the capacitors in the middle, with the usual pins arranged around it.  As we expect, with each new chipset, Intel changes the pin and key location to make sure you are installing the processor into the right socket. [caption id="attachment_180750" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 CPU Cooler Intel Pentium G4400 CPU Cooler[/caption] The Intel Pentium G4400 includes a basic CPU cooler that is designed to keep the processor running within it's thermal tolerance.  Those that are familiar with coolers know that the include CPU cooler doesn't do a great job at cooling the processor, but it does work. [caption id="attachment_179767" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Installed Intel Pentium G4400 Installed in EVGA Z170 FTW[/caption] We will be using the EVGA Z170 FTW motherboard to benchmark and test the Intel Pentium G4400.  Let's take a quick look at the test system for the Intel Pentium G4400 before we get to doing some benchmarks.

Intel Z170 Test System

[caption id="attachment_179785" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Test Bench Intel Pentium G4400 Test Bench[/caption] Here is a quick look at the individual components used in the test system:
Intel Pentium G4400 Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Live Pricing
Processor Intel Pentium G4400 Click Here
Memory Kingston 16GB DDR4 2666MHz Click Here
CPU Cooler Corsair H105 Click Here
Hard Drive Intel Pro 2500 180GB SSD Click Here
Hard Drive 2 Sandisk Ultra II 480GB SSD Click Here
Power Supply Corsair CX750M Click Here
Video Card eVGA GTX 970 SC Click Here
Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Click Here
As you can see, even though the Intel Pentium G4400 is a low cost processor, we have opted to use better than average components to build the rest of the test system.  If you were to purchase the Intel Pentium G4400, you could reduce the price of the other components by purchasing other models.  Such as the dual SSD, you might opt to go with a lower cost SSD, and a standard hard drive. [caption id="attachment_180052" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 CPUz Intel Pentium G4400 CPU-Z[/caption] CPU-Z shows the Intel Pentium G4400 is running at 3300MHz on the EVGA Z170 FTW motherboard, which is running the latest BIOS 1.07.  The HyperX Fury 16GB is running at the rated speed of 2666MHz with 15-17-17-35 2T timings. Testing Process The above listed components will be installed on an open air test bed. Windows 10 Pro 64-bit will be a fresh install with all the latest patches, drivers and firmware available at the time we begin the testing.  The integrated Intel HD Graphics 510 will be tested along with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 for the gaming performance tests. In addition to the Intel Pentium G4400 processor, we will also install an Intel i5-6600K onto the test bed for something to compare it to.  Unfortunately, an i3 processor was unavailable to be included in the testing.  The Intel i5-6600K will not be overclocked for this testing, so be more in line with a lower cost i5 processor. All testing will be done in a temperature controlled room that maintains a 72F (22.2C). A 24-hour burn in is done to allow the thermal paste time to cure before doing any thermal testing. Where possible, we will use integrated benchmarks, and run them three times averaging the results. In situations where there are no integrated benchmarks, we will use FRAPS to an analyze the performance, doing the same game run three times before averaging the FRAPS results.

Overclocking

The Intel Pentium G4400 is a locked processor meaning it can't be overclocked; at least not normally.  There was a "bug" that was found within the Skylake processor that allowed non-K processors to be overclocked.  If you are lucky enough, there might be a firmware that would allow you to overclock your locked processor.  Of course, Intel has fixed that bug with BIOS updates; so overclocking the G4400 will be determined by the BIOS version on your specific motherboard.  The test motherboard, EVGA Z170FTW supports BCLK overclocking on non-K processors with BIOS 1.07. [caption id="attachment_180751" align="aligncenter" width="645"]EVGA Z170 Intel G4400 EVGA Z170 Intel G4400 BCLK Overclock Warning[/caption] EVGA warns you about some limitations when overclocking a Non-K processor.  Several critical components will be disabled such as IGP (we'll be using a discreet card anyways), CPU Turbo, EIST (SpeedStep), C-State (built-in power modes), CPU Temperature sensor and Power Management.  To achieve the best overclock possible, you really need to have several of these.  The lack of a temperature sensor for example, increases the risk of frying your processor.  No power management, means you can't increase the voltage to the processor.  With these in mind, let's increase the BCLK and see what we can get. [caption id="attachment_180755" align="aligncenter" width="407"]Intel Pentium G4400 CPU-Z Overclocked Intel Pentium G4400 CPU-Z Overclocked[/caption] Slowly increasing the BCLK by 5, we were able to successfully boot up to 140.0  At that point, we were unable to boot.  Backing it down to 135, we started increasing it by 1.  The last successful boot was 137.0.  Anything above that, the fans on the Corsair H105 immediately went to full speed and it would fail to boot. While the processor we will be using to compare with the Intel Pentium G4400 is capable of being overclocked, we are going to focus on the overclocking capability of the G4400, so we can see whether purchasing a low cost processor is capable of being used in a budget gaming system.  

SiSoftware Sandra

Sisoft Sandra has multiple benchmarks designed to test nearly every component within your system to provide you a detailed view of the capabilities.  We will be taking a look at a few of their benchmarks, revolving around Memory and the CPU. [caption id="attachment_180464" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Sandra Intel Pentium G4400 Sandra Processor Arithmetic Benchmark[/caption] [caption id="attachment_180465" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Sandra Intel Pentium G4400 Sandra Cryptography Benchmark[/caption] [caption id="attachment_180466" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Sandra Intel Pentium G4400 Sandra Memory Benchmark[/caption] [caption id="attachment_180467" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Sandra Intel Pentium G4400 Sandra Multi-Media Benchmark[/caption] Benchmark Results:  As you would expect, the Pentium G4400 doesn't hold up well compared to the more powerful quad-core i5-6600K.  Only the memory benchmark shows that the Pentium G4400 can handle memory just as well as the i5-6600K.  That's a pretty minor advantage though.

Video Encoding

Handbrake Handbrake is a popular open-source video transcoder that is available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows.  It has the ability to transcode video from various video formats into the popular h.264 format, it takes advantage of more powerful processors as it is a highly multi-threaded. [caption id="attachment_180470" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Handbrake Intel Pentium G4400 Handbrake Big Buck Bunny 1080P[/caption] Benchmark Results:  Without using the GPU for video encoding, the Intel G4400 receives about half the FPS as the i5-6600K.  While this makes the i5-6600K a better choice for Handbrake encoding, it does make sense.  Handbrake is capable of using the quad core capabilities of the i5-6600K, while the Pentium G4400 is only dual core.  Keeping that in mind throughout testing is an important consideration, along with the price difference in the two processors. Cinebench R15 Maxon Cinebench R15 is a great benchmark for 3D content creators as it is based on the award winning animation software, CINEMA 4D which is used in many blockbuster movies. [caption id="attachment_180460" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 CineBench R15 Intel Pentium G4400 CineBench R15[/caption] Benchmark Results:  CineBench shows the difference between a dual core and quad core processor in it's CPU test.  However, even looking at the single core performance test, the i5-6600K performs better.  OpenGL is heavily GPU dependent, so running OpenGL on the integrated GPU provided extremely low scores, adding in a discreet video card such as the EVGA GTX 970, it is capable of taking advantage of that processing power, and the score comes much closer to the i5-6600K than without it.

3DMark Fire Strike

3dmark-fire-strike Futuremark 3DMark has multiple benchmarks depending on your specific needs.  Fire Strike is the benchmark that is designed for gaming computer, so we will focus on that benchmark. [caption id="attachment_180760" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 3DMark Intel Pentium G4400 3DMark FIrestrike Overall Score[/caption] [caption id="attachment_180761" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Intel Pentium G4400 3DMark FIrestrike Details[/caption] Benchmark Results:  Anything that is GPU dependent is going to receive extremely low scores as the Intel HD 510 isn't designed to be a gaming GPU.  3DMark shows this right off the bat with a huge jump in performance with the EVGA GTX 970.   There is around 11% difference in the Pentium G4400 and the i5-6600K when the processor is the only difference.  The detailed scores, shows us where that difference comes in, which is the Physics capabilities; it's something that is heavily reliant on the CPU.  If you are lucky enough to be able to overclock the G4400, 3DMark is showing about a 4% boost over the base clock speed, reducing the performance difference to 7% between the overclocked G4400 and the i5-6600K.

CipherShed and 7-Zip Compression

CipherShed When TrueCrypt was no longer being developed, CipherShed was born.  It is built on TrueCrypt's foundation and is a free open-source encryption program designed to keep your personal data secure.  It is available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows.  Included with CipherShed is the same type of benchmark that made TrueCrypt an important tool.  It provides a benchmark for some of the more popular encryption algorithms. [caption id="attachment_180577" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 CipherShed Intel Pentium G4400 CipherShed AES Encryption[/caption] [caption id="attachment_180578" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 CipherShed Intel Pentium G4400 CipherShed TwoFish[/caption] [caption id="attachment_180579" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 CipherShed Intel Pentium G4400 CipherShed Serpent Encryption[/caption] Benchmark Results:  In each instance the difference between a quad-core processor and a dual-core processor is easily visible.  However, taking into consideration the target audience of the various processors, the Intel G4400 doesn't do too badly. 7-Zip Compression [caption id="attachment_180714" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Intel Pentium G4400 7-Zip File Compression[/caption] Benchmark Results:  7-Zip is a utility that many home users might find themselves using at various times.  File Compression uses algorithms to compress data, and we expect there to be a big difference in performance between the two processors.  The difference between the two is staggering, the Intel i5-6600K outperforms the G4400 by just over 2.5 times.

CPU-Z Benchmark

CPU-ID’s CPU-Z has been a popular freeware utility for a long time, that gathers system information on the PC into one location.  With the latest version 1.73 they introduced a couple of new features.  One of these new features is the integrated CPU Benchmark that provides a score and a Reference CPU that you can choose from a drop down menu. [caption id="attachment_180468" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 CPU-Z Intel Pentium G4400 CPU-Z Benchmark[/caption] Benchmark Results:  CPU-Z's new benchmark shows us a difference of around 33% when looking at single threaded processes!  That's a huge jump in performance.  Of course the multi-threaded score will jump quite a bit more as it will utilize the multiple cores and better process threading capabilities.

Grand Theft Auto V

GTA V Grand Theft Auto V, currently one of the hottest games, a year after its inital release, it was finally released for the PC on April 14, 2015.  Developed by Rockstar, it is set in 2013, the city of Los Santos.  It utilizes the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) which Rockstar has been using since 2006, with multiple updates for technology improvements. [caption id="attachment_180762" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Intel Pentium G4400 Grand Theft Auto V[/caption] Benchmark Results:  As we begin to look at games, we will see a difference in performance in most games, as we have seen the Physic's portion of gameplay is done on the processor.  GTA V we see about a 12% difference in performance at 1080p resolutions.  Even at 50FPS, the Intel G4400 allows smooth gameplay at the same graphics settings as the Intel i5 6600K, just at a much lower cost.

Witcher 3

NVIDIA GeForce GTX Game Bundle Available With The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Released in May 2015, the Witcher 3 is the final game in the Witcher series.  It utilizes the REDengine3 with Umbra 3 developed by the developer, CD Projekt RED.  It features the hero, Geralt, on a quest to eliminate the Wild Hunt and rescue his adoptive daughter.  Taking place in an open world that is one of the largest worlds in a game, it includes multiple ecosystems, a day and night cycle, dynamic weather, and roaming NPC’s. [caption id="attachment_180763" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Intel Pentium G4400 Witcher 3[/caption] Benchmark Results:  A 5.5% performance difference between the two processors, shows that the Witcher 3 doesn't have a huge amount of Physics calculations to perform.  That little difference in performance is so minor.  While playing The Witcher 3 on both processors, it is impossible to tell which processor was running at which time.  Overclocked, the G4400's performance goes up slightly, less than 1FPS, making it not worth the added stress on a budget processor.

Dirt: Rally

Codemasters Dirt Rally Dirt Rally is Codemasters latest edition in the popular racing franchise.  Based on the EGO gaming engine that Codemasters developed it allows for a highly detailed environment with realistic world physics.  We will be utilizing the Ultra Graphics mode for our testing. [caption id="attachment_180764" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Intel Pentium G4400 Dirt: Rally[/caption] Benchmark Results:  Even with though Dirt: Rally appears to have a large amount of Physic's built into the game, the performance difference between the two test scenarios is only 5%.  What really surprised us is the massive boost in performance once we overclocked the G4400, this is the first test where there is an obvious benefit to overclocking the G4400.

Temperature and Power Consumption

CPU Temperature While monitoring the CPU temperature, the testing environment was kept at a constant 72F (22.2C).  Using HardwareMonitor we were able to keep track of the minimum and maximum temperatures the CPU received. [caption id="attachment_180773" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Temperatures Intel Pentium G4400 CPU Temperatures[/caption] Benchmark Results:  Not much difference in idle temperature between the two test systems.  Under a heavy load, the G4400 really doesn't heat up even though it is using the IGP to it's maximum.  Although the idle temperatures were higher, the Intel stock cooler appears to do a good job with cooling the G4400, even compared to the cooling provided by the H105; which was a surprise.  With the EVGA 970GTX, there is about 5C difference between the i5-6600K and the G4400 test systems.  That's a nice difference in temperatures for slightly less performance while gaming.  Unfortunately, one of the downsides to overclocking the G4400 is that the thermal sensors are disabled, without using an external monitor we do not have any idea of the temperature. System Power Consumption Using a standard P3 Kill-A-Watt meter we monitored the power consumption of the systems during testing.  We made note of the lowest and highest readings throughout all phases of testing. [caption id="attachment_180766" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Power Consumption Intel Pentium G4400 Power Consumption[/caption] Benchmark Results:  As you might expect, at idle the Intel Pentium G4400 uses the least amount of power.  Using the IGP, the G4400 power usage increased by a small amount of power for very little performance.  Comparing the two test systems with the EVGA 970GTX, there was a significant difference in power usage between the i5-6600K and the G4400.  In addition to disabling the thermal sensors, EVGA also disables the power management features of the Z170 FTW, it manages it by itself, and we saw a huge jump in power with the G4400 overclocked.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

The Intel Pentium line has a long history, starting with being the best processor available, to now being considered a budget minded processor.  Today, many people immediately rush to say you have to an Intel i5 or i7 processor for gaming and home needs; that simply isn't true.  It's all a matter of what you want to do, the performance you need versus the cost. [caption id="attachment_179763" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 Box Intel Pentium G4400 Retail Box[/caption] Today, we have taken a look at two of Intel's latest processors, that are geared towards different audiences.  The Pentium G4400 is targeted at the average home user, while the i5-6600K is targeted at enthusiasts.    Many of the performance benchmarks we ran today are designed more towards doing heavy calculations, which will of course lean towards the higher end processors such as the i5-6600K.  The average home user will most likely not perform these types of tasks on a regular basis; however the Pentium G4400 is capable of doing them when needed. [caption id="attachment_179764" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Intel Pentium G4400 CPU Intel Pentium G4400 SR2DC CPU[/caption] Over the past month I have used the Pentium G4400 for my main system, and was surprised at it's performance for standard tasks such as web browsing, emails, video and other lightweight tasks.  With the EVGA 970GTX, I was able to play games whenever I felt the need, without a huge loss in performance.  The only time I felt the need for more power was encoding video, which to be honest I haven't done for personal use in a long time. When looking at the performance numbers, you need to take into account the price difference of the Intel Pentium G4400, which can be purchased for $64.99 with free shipping, versus purchasing a higher end processor such as the Intel i3-6100 for twice the price or going even higher with the i5-6600k for nearly four times the price.  Obviously, if you are doing video encoding, the i5 series is the best choice.  For the average home user that casually plays video games, purchasing the Pentium G4400 allows you to save some money and put it towards other components such as a better graphics card. One additional thing about the Intel Pentium G4400, overclocking is not supported by Intel as it is a non-K processor.  However, you might be lucky enough to overclock it if your motherboard BIOS supports it.  The downside is that some of the necessary features of the processor could be disabled, in the case of the EVGA Z170 FTW, the thermal sensor, power management, and a few other non-essential items were disabled.  In our testing, overclocking the processor we saw a small performance boost, but only Dirt: Rally showed a significant performance boost. LR Recommended Award   Legit Bottom Line:  If you are on a tight budget, the Intel Pentium G4400 will do the job of a more expensive processor, just at a slower pace.  Depending on what you plan to do, the Intel Pentium G4400 might work for you.   If you want a good budget gaming system, the Pentium G4400 will work perfectly fine for you.  Sure there is a slight loss in performance, but that difference is pretty minimal for the big difference in price.  The next time I'm asked about building a low budget system that is capable of playing games, I would have no issues recommending the Pentium G4400.