The Greatest Entry Stage Gaming CPU: Athlon 200GE vs. Pentium G5400 vs. Ryzen 3 2200G

Not too long ago, we tested the $ 60 Athlon 200GE CPU and wanted to get more out of it, but it was a hectic October with essential reporting that included the RTX 2070, the Core i9-9900K, and the new Threadripper. But the time has finally come, so we dug out the bold little Zen-based chip and took the Ryzen 3 2200G and the Intel Pentium G5400 for comparison.

We didn't include the Core i3-8100 for two reasons: First, it doesn't make sense at the current price of $ 130 because the Ryzen 3 2200G, which was already our preferred choice, offers a better value of $ 100 . Intel's current budget lineup just doesn't make it for us, and this was already the case before the 14nm shortage.

In the past, we preferred Intel's budget offerings to AMD's. We loved the Pentium G4560 and couldn't stop talking about this thing. A few years earlier, we raved about the value of the Core i5-6600K compared to the FX trash that AMD sold. The quad-core Skylake part was a bit ok.

But in 2018, $ 64 dual cores like the G4560 won't even get players out of bed. Not if the 6-core / 12-thread Ryzen 5 2600 is available for $ 160, and even if you don't have that money, the $ 100 quad-core Ryzen 3 2200G is special and special certainly the option for budget builders. Thanks to its high value, it is often among the top 5 best CPU sellers on Amazon.

For even less money, we have the Athlon 200GE, which is 40% cheaper at just $ 60, but I have to say it doesn't give us as much sparkling water as the pure Quad-Core 2200G. The 200GE is a dual core with SMT, it is locked and comes with a small cooler. It also costs just $ 60, almost half of Intel's cheapest Pentium-branded Coffee Lake CPU, the G5400, which is currently sold for $ 110. For a direct cost comparison, I would have to buy the Celeron G4920, a 3.2 GHz dual core with 2 MB L3 cache, and this part is almost certainly killed by the Athlon 200GE.

So I want to know if you should buy the Athlon 200GE if you are on a tight budget. It's really the only option under $ 100 right now, and frankly, while the Pentium G5400 is included for comparison, the current asking price means that it costs more than the Ryzen 3 2200G, so it's essentially a dead product.

If you're a player using a discrete graphics card, should you save the last dollar and opt for the 200GE? Maybe you will upgrade to something better in the future, something like the Ryzen 5 2600, or should you spend a little more now and land the 2200G? It's only $ 40 more, but will you see a significant increase in performance? Let's find out.

The Athlon 200GE has been tested with dual-channel DDR4-2666 CL16 memory, the Pentium G5400 with dual-channel DDR4-2400 CL16 memory and the Ryzen 3 2200G with DDR4-3200 CL16 memory. Fast, for those who don't know, the reason for the different memory speeds is the support of the CPUs.

The 200GE can only run DDR4 memory up to the 2666 specification, while the Pentium processor is limited to 2400 memories on locked motherboards such as the H370. The Ryzen 3 2200G has no memory limitation, at least none that is dictated by anything other than the functions of the memory controller itself. They usually work fine with 3200 RAM. We recommend using at least 3000 RAM with this APU.

We use the RTX 2080 Ti for this test and yes, we know that it is an unrealistic GPU, but I want to be able to compare the data directly with the high-end CPUs we have already tested, and frankly, it makes no difference. Of course, the whole purpose of testing and comparing these CPUs is to test CPU performance and not GPU performance in the lower price range. If you understand this and are satisfied with it, we will continue …

Benchmarks

First we have Assassins Creed Odyssey and as a CPU demanding title we find some extremely CPU-bound results with these entry-level CPUs. For this reason, the 1080p, 1440p and 4K results are all identical. So let's just discuss the 1080p numbers.

The Pentium G5400 was significantly faster than the Athlon 200GE because it enabled 18% more power. With these frame rates below 60 fps, this is a very big and noticeable difference. However, the 2200G was 20% faster again and enabled an average of 48 fps. Again, this was a very big and noticeable performance improvement. The 2200G was also 41% faster than the 200GE. In my opinion, it is worth spending the additional $ 40 on the purchase of the real quad-core CPU.

If we turn to Assassins Creed Origins, we have quite different margins. Here, the 2200G offers significantly better performance than the dual-core processors, 55% more performance than the 200GE and at least 40% more than the G5400, although the margin has extended up to 55% in the 4K resolution.

The dual-core SMT-enabled 200GE and G5400 really have problems with this title and are just about able to deliver playable performance. The 2200G's performance was really better as the frame rates knocked on the door at 60 fps.

Next up is Battlefield 1 and here the 2200G was 51% faster than the 200GE at 1080p and 24% faster than the Pentium G5400. These margins were also seen at 1440p and then pretty much reduced at 4K when we started to be GPU bound with the 2200G.

Forza Horizon 4 is not a CPU-intensive game, and as you can see, even the Athlon 200GE enables a great gaming experience in this title. The Pentium G5400 was a bit faster and the 2200G a little faster again, but overall a similar experience with all three CPUs.

The often NPC-heavy Hitman is a CPU-intensive title, and here we see that the Athlon 200GE really has problems and basically does not pass this test because it has often dropped below 30 fps. The Pentium G5400 was better, but even then we saw regular drops below 30 fps. To keep the frame rate above 30 fps, you need the 2200G. For this title, where CPUs aren't really optional, it's a must over 200GE and G5400.

We have Project Cars 2 and here the Pentium G5400 is really struggling with its frame time performance. The average frame rate performance is comparable to that of the 200GE, with both only reaching just under 60 fps. The game was playable, but as we have noted several times, the 2200G offers a significant performance boost.

Rainbow Six Siege ideally requires a real quad-core processor, although the Athlon 200GE enables a highly playable performance in our test. Even at 1080p, the 2200G was 41% faster, while the G5400 was 17% faster. The edge closes a bit at 1440p and then we see that it is completely neutralized at 4K.

The penultimate game test is Star Wars Battlefront II and here we see a rather poor performance of the Athlon 200GE. At 1080p, the G5400 was 33% faster and the 2200G was 67% faster. The frame-time performance of the dual-core G5400 and 200GE was comparable, the 2200G was at least 51% faster.

Finally we have Shadow of the Tomb Raider and here the dual-core models 200GE and G5400 have armored extensively, and neither of them was able to perform playably in our test. This is clearly not a dual-core title, and we will no doubt see many more of it. The game ran quite well on the 2200G, but was basically broken on the dual cores.

Put everything together

Let's start by comparing the Athlon 200GE to the Pentium G5400 and pretend the G5400 is selling at or near the MSRP of $ 64 instead of the current price of $ 110. That would mean that the 200GE and the G5400 cost roughly the same amount of money. Which one should you buy?

Those who want to use a discrete GPU are mostly best served by the Pentium G5400 because it was 16% faster on average at 1080p. We saw scenarios in which the Intel CPU was up to 30% faster on average, which means that we mostly saw comparable frame-time performance.

There are still reasons why you could choose the Athlon 200GE over the G5400, provided it has the same price. You would obviously choose the AMD processor in the market today as it is almost half the price. But even if both are sold for around $ 60, you can still opt for the 200GE because it contains much better integrated graphics, even though you don't use them with a discrete graphics card.

You could also be attracted by the superior platform on AMD's side. Entry-level B350 and B450 motherboards that can easily support the Ryzen 7 2700X cost $ 60. In the meantime, $ 70 is needed for an Intel B360 board or $ 100 for a simple Z370 board. Both will likely throttle with a high-end Intel processor with 6 or 8 cores. While next year B350, B450 or any other AM4 board will support 7nm Zen2, that's more than a little nice.

Ultimately, I wouldn't even consider the Athlon 200GE if someone has a budget big enough to include a discrete graphics card. It's a great general-purpose computer product that's great for a web browser system for parents, but that's about it. We can imagine that almost anyone who reads this can spend $ 40 more on the Ryzen 3 2200G. It's just so much more powerful that there's no reason to consider the 200GE at all.

Something I haven't touched on, but we've covered several times in the past, is the overclocking potential of the 2200G. There is more free achievement. It is really the cheapest entry-level CPU currently available. If you spend less than $ 100 on something else, you won't save any money.

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