iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Intel Core i5 Processor Series

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For your convenience the results are represented in percent, 100% being the result of AMD Athlon II X4 620. Absolute results are provided in this Excel spreadsheet.

3D visualization

The Core i5-750 used to outperform the Core i5-66x in this group of tests. Now they finish on a par. A look at detailed results confirms that things have mostly remained the same, but with one exception. After we had changed Windows Vista to Windows 7 and GeForce GTX 275 to Radeon HD 5870, the results of the Core i5-750 and higher-end processors deteriorated abruptly while the results of Core i5-600 CPUs improved in SPECapc for UGS NX 4 and UGS NX 6 x64 (the same couple as in the previous version of the test method). It doesn't bother us, because we test all processors in the same testbed. But it makes it more difficult to choose a specific configuration for a specific task. On the other hand, no one doubts that graphics card plays an important role in visualization.

Speaking of the processors, these results confirm that you don't need a very powerful CPU for interactive tasks. In fact, even a new Celeron, not to mention Pentium, will be enough for tasks like these. Despite the very professional nature of these benchmarks and applications, you don't have to spend more than a hundred dollars on a processor for such a workstation. Although buying something more powerful won't hurt as well.

3D rendering

These results are another pair of shoes. Obviously, two cores with Hyper-Threading cannot compete with four cores without this feature when it comes to intensive calculations. The results of higher-end models are especially frustrating: considering the price, the Core i5-680 will be compared with the Core i7 processors that offer both HT and twice as many cores. Why, even the Core i5-700 series only looks good on the background of lower-end processor lineups, so the recommendation is different here: if you're building a rendering workstation, spend at least $300 on processor alone. And if you have 1.5 times as little money, AMD CPUs will be a good choice. Of course, the victory of the Phenom II X6 1055T doesn't look too impressive due to the low clock rate (the Core i7 is obviously out of reach), but you may overclock it a little. Or just purchase a Phenom II X6 1075T which is still cheaper than a Core i7, but faster than any Core i5 solution.

Scientific calculations

UGS NX distinguishes itself again, like it has done in the 3D visualization group. It worsens the results of the Core i5-700 series and improves those of the Core i5-600 lineup. A lot depends on the graphics card in this application, which makes it a good system benchmark and mediocre CPU test. On the other hand, different behavior with different processor cores isn't bad in CPU terms either.

Anyway, the results of the Core i5-700 series have improved much thanks to the Mathematica's MMA benchmark — the new version we use now supports multi-threading, so Core i5-750/760 have leaped forward considerably. The reason we've repeatedly mentioned is that physical cores are better than virtual, other things being equal. Although the increase in clock rate allows Core i5-600 processors to compete well in the long run (because many of these tests are not that multi-threaded — a reason why Phenom II X6 1055T is an outsider here), but they pay a dear enough price.

Image editing

As you may remember, only Adobe Photoshop is more or less optimized for multi-threading of these four applications. Although even in it Hyper-Threading doesn't yield much to physical cores. The remaining three programs work fine with high-clock-rate dual-core processors. So it's no surprise that the Core i5-600 series performs quite well.

Data compression/decompression

7-Zip uses all cores it finds (within reasonable limits), and both programs are memory-sensitive. As a result, the previous triumph turns utter defeat. The Phenom II X6 1055T is the worst of the actual multi-core solutions, but it's only outperformed by the expensive Core i5-680. As for the Core i5-700 series, it performs adequately.


The competition continues. Now the Phenom II X6 1055T deals with the Core i5-700 easily, and the Phenom II X4 970 doesn't lag behind as well. Obviously, the Core i7-860 is still the leader. It's bad that even the senior processors of the Core i5-600 series cannot perform on a par with the 200-dollar CPUs despite similar price tags. The junior models only make up for, say, 120 dollars, not $150 to $200.


This is even more illustrative. As you can see, just two cores, even "cranked up", only let the Core i5-600 series compete with the AMD Athlon II X4 lineup, or rather with the lower-end Athlon II X4 620 we've selected as the reference. Other CPUs are outperformed, AMD solutions being especially fast in this test. Of course, the Core i7-860 is still the first, but don't forget that it costs much more than both Phenom II X4 970 and Phenom II X6 1055T.

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