There’s still a market for budget CPUs, but with so much power available nowadays around the $150 mark, it’s a small niche. AMD offers only two Sempron chips: identical but for a tiny difference in clock speed, they’re the only single-core processors left.
At less than $40, the price is mouth-watering, but performance proved diabolical in our Multitasking benchmark. Media performance was stronger, but still in laptop territory. And Responsiveness proved this month’s worst by a country mile.
Intel has its own definition of a budget CPU: at $109 the Pentium G6950 is far more expensive, but it’s also more serious, with a dual-core design based on the Core i3-500 series, a 3MB L3 cache and built-in Intel HD Graphics. In our Multitasking benchmark it achieved almost double the score of the AMD chips, and scored more than 40% better overall.
For a system that has a very specific use – think email terminal or file server – either of the AMD chips could do a job for a rock-bottom price. Since the speed difference is negligible, you might as well get the Sempron 140 and save three bucks, but you’d be left with a limited system. Although Semprons are 64-bit (and even support hardware-assisted virtualisation), we wouldn’t recommend using one in a new Windows 7 PC.
The Pentium G6950 has the opposite problem. It’s powerful enough for daily computing, but the price is too high. If you already have a spare LGA 1156 board knocking around then the G6950 is the cheapest way to make use of it, but don’t bother otherwise.