Processor Group Test (Part 3) - Intel Core i3-2100

5/31/2012 5:32:24 PM

Intel Core i3-2100

‘All we get is passable performance and modest power consumption.’

Intel’s range of desktop processors is impressive to behold but suffers from a rather obvious problem. At the high end you can splash out $1,200 on a Core i7 Sandy Bridge Extreme or you can step down to a more reasonable $375 on a Sandy Bridge Core i7. If that sounds too expensive, then you can grab a Core i5 for $225-$255. Below that there is no obvious budget processor apart from some very curious Celerons such as the G440.

Description: Intel Core i3-2100

Intel Core i3-2100

When you consider that AMD FX-8120 sells for $225, you could just about fit the entire AMD desktop range below the entire Intel range. This means there’s a significant danger that Intel could leave the budget end of the desktop market to AMD, which isn’t the sort of thing it likes to do, because it smacks of surrender.

The answer to the conundrum is Core i3, which is built on Sandy Bridge technology. There are six 65W models (and two 35W low-power versions) that range in speed from 3.1GHz to 3.4GHz, which isn’t much of a spread. Core i3 are dual-core processors that employ Hyper-Threading to handle four software threads. In essence, Core i3 is half of a Core i7, so it’s reasonable that the cache is cut in half to 3MB and at this point you might think that this budget processor sounds rather appealing. Intel has removed a good amount of shine by locking the clock speed to prevent overclocking and has also removed the Turbo Boost feature.

Description: Intel Core i3-2100

That’s a real shame, as the dynamic overclocking and power saving features of Sandy Bridge are major strengths and all we get with Core i3 is passable performance and modest power consumption.

Added to that we have the issue that the integrated Intel HD Graphics 2000 are rather feeble at the best of times and in this case we don’t have much in the way of processor power to help the graphics out of the lurch.

It’s pretty much the exact opposite situation to AMD A8-3870K, where the graphics help to raise the performance of the CPU.

Testing the 3.1GHz Core i3-2100 is a simple matter, because you basically plug it in and let it run. The good news is that the processor works well enough and draws very little power (40W at idle and 70W under load) but it’s no what you would call exciting.

Our Cinebench and 3DMark 11 test results clearly show that Core i3 has half the performance of Core i7 which makes perfect sense, because that accurately describes the make-up of Core i3. The intriguing thing is that PC Mark 7 shows that Core i3 does a decent job and chugs through the benchmark in a reasonable time. While it’s easy to state that Core i3 is very much the poor man of this group test, there’s also the point that there are plenty of home users who don’t need much in the way of processing power for day-to-day duties, but we feel those people would do better to buy AMD Fusion if they’re not prepared to go the whole hog and splash out on Core i5.



Price: $150

Manufacturer: Intel


Required spec: Socket LGA1155, dual-channel DDR3




Description: C:\Users\TGS\AppData\Local\Temp\Rar$DI00.163\image001.jpg Description: C:\Users\TGS\AppData\Local\Temp\Rar$DI00.163\image001.jpg


Description: C:\Users\TGS\AppData\Local\Temp\Rar$DI00.163\image001.jpg Description: C:\Users\TGS\AppData\Local\Temp\Rar$DI00.163\image001.jpgDescription: C:\Users\TGS\AppData\Local\Temp\Rar$DI00.163\image001.jpg


Description: C:\Users\TGS\AppData\Local\Temp\Rar$DI00.163\image001.jpg Description: C:\Users\TGS\AppData\Local\Temp\Rar$DI00.163\image001.jpg

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