This summer Intel has produced a number of new Core i5 processors, that haven't been covered in our previous article about Ivy Bridge CPUs. One of them, Intel Core i5-3570 is just a copy of Core i5-3570K with GMA HD 2500 and partly unlocked multipliers. The other, i5-3470, is a more interesting product, so we've picked one for test.
The other today's CPU, Core i3-3240, represents a rather interesting segment of the Intel dual-core processors, that still provide good performance for the maximum price of $138. Most widely-used software utilizes only two threads, so buying a quad-core for $184+ is rarely justified. Also, dual-cores certainly consume less power — rather important factor regarding trendy mobile PCs. Finally, though the new generation Intel Core i3 CPUs still do not support SATA 3.0, Intel TXT and vPro technologies so far, they have obtained AES-NI instruction set, DDR3-1600 support and 55W decreased TDP. What about performance?
For comparison we've taken the closest pursuers from Intel: the previous generation Core i3-2130, and Core i5-3450 respectively. Besides, we picked a number of AMD CPUs:
Though being very cheap, FM1-based Athlon II X4 651 used to outperform Core i3-2120, so we took one. Also we engaged two desktop "bulldozers", FX-4170 and FX-6200.
Of course, Ivy Bridge supports faster, DDR3-1600 RAM, but the move from DDR3-1333 won't give any recognizable performance boost to Core i3 series, so we stay at the lower clock rates as yet.
Our test method is briefly described here. The scores on diagrams are relative to that of our reference testbed that always scores 100 points. As of 2011, it's based on the AMD Athlon II X4 620 CPU, 8GB of RAM and Palit's NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 1280MB. Detailed (absolute) results are traditionally provided in this summary.
At this poorly threaded group of benchmark dual-core Core i3 CPUs with higher clock rates are always good. The progress of the new-generation Core i3 hasn't justified our lack of expectations after the microarchitecture tests: we received the whole 5%!As wee see, Intel Core i3-3240 catches up with the modern entry-level Core i5, therefore, Intel has emphasized the difference by moving from the Core i5-3450 to the Core i5-3470.
Final 3D Rendering
In the final 3D rendering tests the results of the new Core i3 are modest, probably, due to smaller cache size. Intel can easily improve them by unlocking some cache blocks in the "full" core of the i3-3240. However, this is unlikely to be done, because it is more powerful Core i5 that is aimed at 3D rendering. The only chance for AMD to make a change here is its FMA4 technology, which hasn't been developed enough on the mass market as yet.
The negative impact of the small Core i3 cache keeps growing, so the AMD FX CPUs with larger cache leave the new Core i3 behind. But Intel takes vengeance: the new Core i5 significantly outperforms the cheaper AMD FX and beg for more expensive AMD processors to compare with.
Intel Core i3-3240 snaps at heels of the four-thread FX-4170 with bigger clock rates. The dominance of the Intel Core i5 CPUs over the AMD FX CPUs clearly shows the advantages of Intel multi-core architecture.
Multithreading and fast memory access — this group of tests is a moment of glory for the AMD FX series, especially when processor can provide more threads than the competitors. That's the FX-6200, which shows the same results as the quad-core Ivy Bridge CPUs; more to expect from the new Bulldozer microarchitecture. The rest CPUs, which have four threads, show lower results.
Mathematical and Engineering Computations
As for poorly threaded groups, Intel outperforms AMD more and more. Note: at the same time the difference between the Core i5 and Core i3 CPUs is getting smaller.
Raster Graphics Processing
The results repeat itself in this group of tests. The new Core i3 CPUs stand just between AMD FX and Core i5 processors. At the same time, Core i3 is cheaper and less power-hungry, so we can confirm its success.
Vector Graphics Processing
In this group of tests, the price of Core i5 doesn't justify the performance, so the cheaper Intel Core i3 CPUs look perfect. The AMD processors can not make difference at all.
Because of being updated regularly, video encoding tests traditionally trigger microarchitecture progress. Therefore, the old Core i3-2130 can't outperform AMD FX-4170 and the new Core i3-3240 can; still, AMD FX-6200 is out of reach.
The Core i3 CPUs remain the best choice for office, partly because of Intel Small Business Advantage support, often a better solution than vPro.
Again, the new Core i3 outperforms AMD FX-6200, when the old Core i3 can't. In general, Core i3 CPUs reach the scores of old quad-cores, thanks to Hyper-Threading support.
The only interesting model here is Athlon II X4 651, due to its low price. To say in common, the results prove, that today processors have secondary importance for games after video adapters.
This experimental test has proven to be even more interesting after it has revealed the significant progress of Hyper-Threading in one of our recent reviews.
The poor progress of the new processors shocked us. The small size of cache becomes the narrow neck for all threading and core improvements of Intel processors. On the other side, AMD CPUs have just a small shared cache or no shared cache at all, so their problems begin during compressing or compiling, when low number of threads demands much cache.
Overall Score and Final Thoughts
Moving to the new process technology instead of developing the old one is reasonable for Intel, because this way the manufacturer will manage to decrease the cost price of its dual-cores, which represent the bigger segment of the production. As for the customer, there are benefits only: better performance, integrated video and power consumption. Now let's get back to our two processors.
Intel Core i3-3240 has the same performance as the hypothetical Intel Core i3-2140 with extra 100 MHz would have, but, as we said, Intel has reasonably chosen the new process technology instead of developing the old one. As for the Core i5-3570, it has slightly increased performance, than Core i5-3550, which let Intel keep the difference between Core i5 and improved Core i3 series.