The reviewed Intel Pentium B950 is a CPU widely used in various inexpensive laptop PCs available on the market today.
The processor is an entry-level one, but it’s still a class above the mobile Celerons. The Pentium B950 has dual cores and 2.1 GHz clock speed. Other chips from the same 32nm “Sandy Bridge” Pentium family are the B940 at 2GHz, B960 at 2.2GHz, and B970 at 2.3GHz. However, the B950 is the most frequently used of the three.
If you compare the CPU to the lowest end part of the Intel Core i3 family, the i3-2310M, you will see that both have the same number of cores, clock speed, and 35W power consumption. However, the i3-2310M supports HyperThreading and therefore enables use of four computing threads, while the B950 is limited to a single thread per core. The i3-2310M additionally has a larger cache – 3MB vs 2MB. It includes Quick Sync Video technology for faster video editing and support for virtualization, while the B950 doesn’t have them.
However, use of the B950 in a laptop affects pricing in a positive way. You can buy a notebook with that processor for as low as $350, while comparable Core i3-based systems are usually around $400 and up.
Let’s take a look at what the B950 offers in terms of performance. We tested it on the HP 630 with 4GB RAM and a 320GB hard drive.
Passmark has a great CPU comparison database, in which the processor stands between the Celeron B800 and Core i3-3210M. The Pentium has about the same processing power as the AMD A4-3300M. Other mobile B-series Pentiums have similar performance as the reviewed one.
You can check out Windows Experience Index, PC Mark Vantage, and 3D Mark Vantage scores of the Pentium B950 in the gallery below. Here are the CPU-Z and GPU-Z infos as well.
For daily computing needs, the CPU has sufficient capabilities, which was obvious when we did multitasking with multiple web browser tabs and office applications opened. The notebook handled 1080p videos well. Full HD decoding didn’t consume more than 25% of the CPU capacity, with load mostly ranging between 16% and 19%.
CPU temperature measured with RealTemp was about 40 C during 1080p video playback, while during gaming tests it was about 50 C, so the laptop ran cool. These temperatures for the same CPU can vary on other laptops, depending on a notebook cooling system.
Speaking of games, the B950 with its built in Intel HD can run less demanding older titles pretty well on 1280×800 resolution. Quake 4 and Half Life 2 benchmarks run at maximal settings at 55 and 66 frames per second, respectively. However, the CPU struggles in Crysis with barely playable 25 fps at the lowest settings. Obviously, this notebook configuration hasn’t been designed with gamers in mind, but on the other side, it’s good for older games.
The Intel Pentium B950 is the king of the CPUs in the budget-class laptops with prices of around $350. For $10-$20 less, you can get a Celeron or AMD E-series powered laptop, but these are not as capable as the B950 in benchmarks. But, there’s a chance that you won’t notice a difference between the B950 and for example AMD E-450 in “normal” web browsing/e-mail/office use, despite benchmark differences. Some heavier multitasking, like a bunch of browser tabs and office apps opened at the same time, may result in better responsiveness of the Pentium.
Also, you won’t notice difference between the B950 and a Core i3 chip in the basic tasks, but Pentium’s downsides are a lack of Hyperthreading and Quick Sync, which can affect media creation performance or file compression/decompression speed. Sometimes there are great Core i3 laptop deals available, such as the Asus X44L-BBK4 at Best Buy for $350, so if you have a chance to grab one, go for it instead of the Pentium option. If such a deal is not available at the time of your purchase, the B950 is likely the best solution for the price.