Intel Core i3-530 Performance for Peanuts
A NEW SOCKET FOR A NEW PROCESSOR –THE LGA 1155?
With the launch of the Clarkdale series, Intel also introduced three new chipsets: The H55, H57 and the Q57. This was necessary as these processors have built in GPU cores and need video outputs. The P55 chipset, launched with the arrival of Lynnfield processors do not have video output functionality. That doesn’t mean that these (Clarkdale) processors can’t be used with a P55 board, or that Lynnfield processors can’t be used with H55/57 boards. It is possible to use, say, a Core i3-530 with a P55 board. The only caveat being that the on chip video core will not work. Similarly if you plug a Core i7-860 in a H55 board the onboard video output will serve no function. The socket that goes with the new chipset only features 1155 pins, thus the moniker LGA 1155. Though apparently they (LGA 1156 and LGA 1155) function exactly alike.
NOTE: The “true” LGA1155 sockets will debut with the Sandybridge series of processors!
The video output – chipset – processor link is called the Flexible Display Interface or FDI for short.
The chipset diagram for H55/57 and P55 are as follows:
As you can see the H55 chipset has only 1 configuration for the PCi-e 16x slot. The FDI links the HD graphics core to the chipset and its outputs.
The H57 differs by offering two more USB ports, 2 more PCI-e lanes on the chipset and RAID capabilities.
The P55 chipset allows x8, x8 PCI-e configuration. The rest of the capabilities are similar to those of H57 sans onboard video output.
The Q57 chipset is meant for business use. The rest of the two (H55/H57) will find their way in majority of the commercial boards available to general consumers.
How do the H55 and H57 differ? The latter offers RAID (now called Rapid Storage Technology, RST) and 14 USB ports instead of the 12. The number of on chipset (PCH) PCI-e lanes is 8 on the H57 as compared to 6 on the H55. Both can only be configured to use a single PCi-e x16 lane, unlike the P55 chipset that can divide the 16 lanes in two sets of 8 for meaningful dual GPU support.
The following table outlines the major differences among these chipsets (barring the Q57)
INTORDUCING JUNOIR – CORE i3-530
CPU-Z shows that processor is an Engineering Sample (ES). The rest of the details are a standard affair for the Core i5-530.
THE COMPETETION –AT US$100
Rather than comparing the Core i3-530 to processors it can never hope to compete against (its elder brethren, the Core i7 8 and 9 series), it will be up against processors that it is either meant to replace (the Intel E8400) or its current competition (the 100 dollar Athlon II X4 635).
Intel E8400 was the pinnacle of the dual-core Core architecture processors. There were faster processors available but the E8400 was the price/ performance champ. Enthusiasts could take this and over-clock the life out of it. For everyone else this was the non-budget buster processor to own (if dual-core was your style).
The AMD Athlon II X4 630 offers 4 cores for around 100 dollars (US$ 105). It is clocked at 2.90 GHz; features 4x 512KB L2 cache. There is no L3 cache on these monsters, thus culling their claws a bit.
As the on chip Intel HD Graphics are really not meant for gaming, it is taken out of the equation by employing a discrete video card.
The benchmarks employed were divided into two categories –synthetic and gaming
3DMark Vantage CPU Score
X264 HD benchmark
Resident Evil 5
All games were run at 1024x768 resolution to take the video card out of the equation. In-game settings were set to medium except for Crysis warhead where the settings were set to “Gamer”. Inbuilt performance tests were employed where ever possible. For all games anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering was disabled (if possible).
Operating system for all tests was Windows 7 (x86). DirectX 10 mode was used for all games except Crysis.
For dBpoweramp a ~360 second’s audio file was encoded (CD-audio to MP3). The software has the advantage of using as many cores as are available.
3DMARK VANTAGE CPU SCORE
The Athlon II X4 with its four cores handily beat the two Intel offerings. The difference between it and the Core i3-530 is not that much though.
x264 HD BENCHMARK
Again the power of “true” 4 cores overcome the 2core/ 4thread architecture of the Core i3-530. (The result is the mean of the two passes).
This time around the Intel architecture takes the lead. Both processors are faster than the Intel E8400 series.
Nothing comes close to Intel processor when it comes to gaming. The E8400 and the Core i3-530 handily beat the Athlon II X4 635. The two Intel processors are neck n neck!
Intel again emerges as the gaming king. Both processors deliver faster performance as compared to AMD’s offering.
RESIDENT EVIL 5
Tables turn here. Resident Evil 5 comes from Capcom. The same company was responsible for The Lost Planet game, which if you remember was the first game to offer tangible improvements when using a quad core processor. This time the Athlon’s 4 cores work better than Intel’s 2.
FAR CRY 2
Again Intel turns in the top performance. Both of its offering perform better than AMD.
As long as the game engine is only dual core aware, or takes advantage of only two cores Intel’s processors turn in better performance. However in games where the engine is able to scale with processor cores AMD’s offering takes the top slot.
However only a few games truly take advantage of more than 2 cores. Thus the performance advantage of AMD’s budget processor’s is over shadowed by its lack of performance in most of the games available today.
To test power consumption OCCT V3.1.0 was used. The Linpack test was run and power consumption (at mains) was measured.
Intel processors are eco-friendlier as compared to their AMD counter parts under load.
Using stock air cooling, the processor was easily over-clocked to a respectable 3.6GHz. Using better cooling solution it will be possible to take the clock even higher. (Ambient temperatures were in their low 30’s Celsius)
The over clocked performance is significantly better than the stock.
After nearly two years Intel has finally unleashed the Nehalem generation on all price segments. The Core i5-6xx series is expensive and really makes little sense. The top of the line Core i5-670 costs as much as the Core i7-860. All you are missing are the onboard graphics, which is not really much. Anyone who is going to fork out 280 dollars for the 670 is not going to do it for the on-die video.
The only Clarkdale processors that are worth their value are the Core i3 series. They perform better than Intel’s last generation equalent processors and are more competitive (price and performance wise) with AMD offerings.
If you are into gaming and need to build a good budget rig, you can’t go wrong with the Core i3-530. Pair it to a decent board (like the Asus P7-h55-V; about US$ 100) and a decent video card (ATi 4870-1GB) and you got yourself a very good gaming rig.