Review of the Reviews: Intel Core i3


We trawl the net so you don’t have to…

With the Intel Core 2 finding itself phased out late last year, the Core i3 – along with Core i7 and Core i5 – has been released to generally good reviews thus far. Considering how utterly successful the Core 2 processors were Intel has a lot of eyes focusing on their work this time around. However, as we sifted through some of the reviews out there of the i3 530 and 540 since their release a few weeks back, it became clear that Intel has met most expectations.

Early reports on Intel’s Core i3 capabilities have been positive

The two Core i3 models are dual-core, hyper-threading-equipped CPUs with 3MB shared L3 cache which is DDR3-1066-compatible. While most run-downs on the merits of the new range note that the Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs are “intended to be slower” than the i7, they are considerably cheaper to boot.

Bit-Tech makes that point that this doesn’t mean the pair are “technologically uninteresting” though. They add that in the case of the Core i3 models, they’re “Built using a 32nm manufacturing process rather than the 45nm process previous Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs used, and they also have GPUs built in. This is the first time we’ve seen a hybrid CPU/GPU processor.”

For their part, upon the release of the new Intel range Tom’s Hardware commented that “Forget what you thought determined a Core i7 on the desktop—that’s out the window here, as you’ll find Mobile Core i5 and Core i3 processors that run faster than the entry-level Core i7s.”

Writing earlier this month, TechRadar made heavy reference in their review to the fact the new Core i3 500 series and Core i5 600 series processors, are derived from the existing Nehalem processor design. Indeed Core i3 and i5 processors represent the fourth generation of the Nehalem architecture and share the same codename, Clarkdale.

On a similar note, a few weeks back Bit-Tech’s always excellent Clive Webster wrote, “The Clarkdale CPU is very similar to the Lynnfield design of the first LGA1156 processors. It has an integrated PCI-E controller and an integrated, dual-channel DDR3 memory controller. But while the memory controller is rated at 1,333MHz, the PCI-E controller isn’t officially compatible with SLI or CrossFire.” He continued, “It still offers 16 lanes of PCI-E 2.0 bandwidth however, so it’s fine for a single graphics card, and we’ve heard about Clarkdale boards that claim to support SLI and CrossFire.”

Core i3 and Core i5 processors are derived from the existing Nehalem processor design

The new Core i5 processors are equipped with Turbo Boost, so they can increase their maximum frequency in certain situations. Turbo Boost works by shutting down unused execution cores and raising the CPU multiplier of those cores in use. The new range of Core i3 processors does not have Turbo Boost enabled however.

“The traditional CPU part of this new 32nm family of processors, known internally at Intel as Westmere, isn’t new. What is novel is the shoehorning of graphics rendering hardware into the processor package,” noted the TechRadar review of the i3 500 Series. “That’s right,” they continued, “these Core i3 and Core i5 chips are the first examples of the coming era of CPU-GPU fusion chips from both Intel and its main rival in the PC processor business, AMD.”

With an eye on the business market Intel claims the new 32nm CPUs have a faster Virtualisation access latency, which should certainly be of benefit for future workstation products. Bit-Tech also commented that, while the Power Control Unit function is largely the same, “the response latency and power gating have also been improved from their previous output”.

The official launch of the Intel range came on 8 January this year, though with large details of their spec floating around the internet for months leading up to their release CES 2010 saw plenty of big names scrambling to promote their compatible motherboards. notes how EVGA ‘s new H57, H55 and H55V motherboards will make an excellent pair with the Core i5 and Core i3. They add that, “The motherboards are aimed at the high-end market segment and support any processor that can operate on the LGA 1156 socket. This includes all LGA 1156 Core i3, Core i5 and even Core i7 chips, even those with integrated graphics that have been recently launched. These processors are the Intel Core i5 670, Intel Core i5 661, Intel Core i5 660, Intel Core i5 650, Intel Core i3 540, Intel Core i3 530 and the Intel Pentium G6950 CPU.”

Elsewhere, other compatible mobos include the MSI H55M-E33, the Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H and the Asus P7P55D-E PRO.


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One Response to “Review of the Reviews: Intel Core i3”

  1. ardhie Says:

    i hope intel i9 will be realize

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