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Intel Core i5 Processor Series

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Well, this group of tests is still a test subject itself for us. Judging by the results, it seems like several (maybe four) threads are used, although only one of those is primary. The former prevents Intel's multi-core processors from using Turbo Boost actively, while the latter leaves no chances to lower-clock-rate solutions from both companies. Anyway, this is the first time when the AMD Phenom II X4 970 is the first. As you remember, it offers the highest clock rate with four cores under load. The Core i5-680 and 670 are the bad second and third, respectively. Well, these two offer high clock rates as well.

Audio encoding

The more threads, the better. The faster is each thread, the better as well. Still, six slow ones are better than four fast ones, not to mention four slow ones (half of those being virtual).

Video encoding

This is the best illustration of the fact that the number of cores alone isn't a magic wand that makes processor a leader just like that. Although we know that Phenom II X6 can compete well with Core i7 in these applications, this doesn't help the junior model much: the clock rate is too low. As a result, quad-core processors from both Intel and AMD do the job faster. But only the quad-core, not the quad-thread ones. The latter have nothing to hope for in this group of tests. They might be able to compete with Athlon II X4, but the difference in prices is not favorable.


Slowly but gradually multi-threading makes its way into this group of benchmarks. At least it seems so on the diagram. But it's still early to celebrate. The Core i7-860 is only the first thanks to the performance in Fritz Chess. It also outperforms the Core i5-760 in Far Cry 2 and Batman, but just by a couple of frames per second. However, the aforementioned Core i5-760 leads in the remaining games.

Despite the more aggressive boost mode and higher uncore clock rate (which games favor), the price a CPU has to pay for Hyper-Treading is still there, and this feature remains kind of useless for quad-core solutions, because most software doesn't provide any benefits for more than four cores/threads. But this technology is very efficient for dual-core processors, and this lets the Core i5-600 series demonstrate good results even when more than two cores are required. Besides, sometimes two cores are enough, given that the clock rate is high enough.

In other words, now there's something to think of when choosing a processor for a gaming rig, although it's still not that critical to be considered. As you know, buying a high-clock-rate dual-core CPU with a large cache (the best you could afford) has been the primary recommendation until now. And now purchasing a quad-core CPU with a similarly high clock rate and large cache is becoming a better choice. But you don't have to spend too much on it yet, buying a faster graphics card is more reasonable. Even if you can afford a high-end quad-core CPU, you don't have to spend more than 200 dollars.


In general, the final ranking of Core i5 processors correlates with how Intel positions them in the market. However, the price doesn't just increase gradually with processor numbers. Surely, the Core i5-600 series has integrated graphics that allows saving on graphics card. But, obviously, performance will be different, with built-in graphics in use. Besides, you won't save much anyway: GMA HD is slower than any discrete graphics card, even a low-end solution like Radeon HD 3450 for less than $30. So it's more reasonable to buy a Core i5-760 and such a cheap graphics card (mostly low-profile and passively cooled, by the way) than a Core i5-680. The former couple will be cheaper, faster and more feature-rich. Some advantage even remains with a Radeon HD 5450 (also mostly low-profile and passively cooled), while the difference in performance will be greater. In other words, there's only sense in using GMA HD when a discrete graphics card is out of the question. And how often is that?

You also should remember than integrated graphics from AMD still noticeably outperforms that from Intel, and it can be used with both Phenom II X4 and even Phenom II X6, and that's a big advantage. Moreover, these processors, as we have seen, can compete well with Core i5-700, not to mention Core i5-600.

Besides, the Core i5 series has serious rivals among Intel products as well: Core i3-500 that cost 100-150 dollars and have specifications very similar to those of Core i5-600. Of course, the Core i3 lineup has to be slower, but is that performance difference so big that buying a Core i3 CPU to save money is meaningless? That's what the next review in this series will dwell upon.

We express gratitude to Gigabyte for providing equipment for the testbeds.

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