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Top 5 Reasons To Get Intel Core CPUs Now

Thinking of upgrading that trusty workhorse of yours? Or looking for a new budget build? VR-Zone.com compares the Intel Core i3 processor with Intel HD Graphics (Clarkdale) and the Intel H55 Express (Ibex Peak) chipset against the previous generation Intel Core 2 platform.

Performance results between the Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel Core i3 platforms are universal, but cost breakdowns and part availability are based on the Singapore market.

In this feature, we will compare the previous generation Intel Core 2 Duo mainstream desktop (MSDT) platform to the current generation Intel Core i3 one. The Intel Core 2 Duo is still mighty fast for today’s productivity applications, but Intel’s current generation Core i3 is not only faster, but also better in more ways than one. Let’s find out how much there is to gain upgrading to the Intel Core i3 platform.

Intel Core 2 Duo vs. Intel Core i3

The Intel Core 2 Duo started its life way back in 2006 on a 65nm manufacturing process. It took the world by storm, offering unprecedented performance. The gradual shift to quad core processors in later years meant dual core processors were slowly relegated from high-end to mainstream. The Core 2 Duo family has also ungone a refresh, with the last of the Core 2 Duo processors being produced using 45nm lithography.


The Intel Core family, comprising of the Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, is based on the Nehalem microarchitecture. While the Core i7 is produced at 45nm, the Core i3 and Core i5 have shrunken 32nm processor dies.

The Nehalem microarchitecture features an integrated memory controller (IMC) located on the processor die for Core i7, and on the processor package (but on a separate die) for Core i3 and Core i5. The Core i3 and Core i5 are equipped with Intel HD Graphics, an improved integrated graphics controller (IGP).

First seen on the Intel Pentium 4, Hyper-Threading Technology makes a return on the Intel Core family. On each physical processor core, there are two processing threads for more efficient use of processor resources on many multi-threaded applications. You would be able to see four processing threads on a Core i3 and Core i5 dual-core processor when you fire up Windows Task Manager.

On the Intel Core i3 processor, the processor die and the IGP / IMC die are placed side by side. By placing the memory controller on package, available memory bandwidth increases tremendously through Intel’s QuickPath Interconnect (QPI), an internal link between the two dies.

We will be exploring the entry-level Intel Core i3-530 processor. Chosen to represent the previous generation MSDT platform, is the Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 processor from the same price point. Coincidentally, both are clocked at 2.93GHz. However, the Core i3 processor has a unified L3 cache size of 4MB, compared to the Core 2 Duo’s 3MB L2 cache.

Thermal Design Power (TDP) gives a rough estimate of the power draw a processor might consume. The TDP of the Core i3-530 is listed as 73W, some 8W more than the Core 2 Duo’s 65W. While it might seem to be a step backward on first sight, the new platform structure of the Core i3 actually results in better power efficiency.


Intel 4 Series Express vs. Intel H55 Express

Integrated graphics is only available on Intel 4 Series Express chipsets with a ‘G’ prefix – G41, G43 and G45. The G4x Express chipset, also known as the northbridge, houses both the memory controller and the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X4500 IGP. While GMA X4500 on G41, G43 and G45 have the same clock frequency, only the IGP on G45 has fully enabled hardware video decoding acceleration.

The I/O Controller Hub (ICH) handles storage, such as USB 2.0 and Serial ATA. The G41 Express is packaged with the ICH7, while the G43 and G45 with ICH10 / ICH10R, which offers more USB 2.0 and Serial ATA ports.


In order for Intel HD Graphics to function, the Intel Core i3 or Core i5 must be installed on a motherboard with either the Intel H55 or H57 Express chipset. These chipsets provides Intel Flexible Display Interface (FDI), allowing for two independently controlled display channels from the IGP.

As the IGP and IMC have been shifted on-package, the Intel H55 Express chipset, also known as the Platform Controller Hub (PCH) takes on the role of the ICH found on the previous generation platform.



Test setups

We have listed our components used for this platform comparison. The main objective is to keep the costing between both the older Intel Core 2 platform and the new Intel Core i3 platform close.

The Intel Core i3 / Intel H55 Express represents the entry-level current generation MSDT platform. The Core 2 Duo MSDT platform chosen for comparison is from a similar price point, based principally on components available during its launch.


Intel Core 2 Duo / Intel 4 Series Express

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 Processor (2.93GHz, 3MB L2)
  • GIGABYTE GA-EG41MFT-US2H Motherboard
  • Kingston DDR3 1333MHz CL9 4GB (2 x 2GB) in dual-channel
  • Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB SATA HDD
  • Seventeam V-Force 550W Modular 80Plus Bronze PSU


Intel Core i3 / Intel 5 Series Express

  • Intel Core i3-530 Processor (2.93GHz, 4MB L3)
  • GIGABYTE GA-H55M-S2 Motherboard
  • Kingston DDR3 1333MHz CL9 4GB (2 x 2GB) in dual-channel
  • Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB SATA HDD
  • Seventeam V-Force 550W Modular 80Plus Bronze PSU


The same Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB hard drive and Seventeam V-Power 550W 80 Plus Bronze certified modular power supply unit were used for both platforms. Other software-related items include:

  • Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OS
  • Intel INF
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Drivers
  • Realtek High Definition Audio Driver R2.51


VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.

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