Once we completed this test session, we were truly impressed by the new Intel Core i3-2100T processor. We hope that we didn’t praise it too much and you do not consider our article to be a concealed marketing trick, since it really deserves all the praises in full. So far there hasn’t been a single product out there with the same appealing combination of performance, power consumption and price. New Sandy Bridge microarchitecture not only transformed the perception of high-performance processors. It also conquered new heights in energy efficiency by delivering unique desktop processors with 35 W TDP and great performance. One of processors like that is the Core i3-2100T, which we have just reviewed. While its practical power consumption is comparable to that of Intel Atom D525 and AMD E-350 (with a few allowances), it is 3-4 times faster than them.
The new Intel HD Graphics 1000 core built into Core i3-2100T processor also did very well. It is powerful enough for the processor, and when it comes to HD video playback or transcoding, Intel Quick Sync technology simply destroys all the competitors.
In other words, you can easily put together a compact and energy-efficient, and at the same time multi-functional and high-performance HTPC with an Intel Core i3-2100T processor and a Mini-ITX mainboard.
Does it mean that AMD Brazos platform has totally fallen from grace? Not at all, because as we have mentioned in the very beginning of this article there are four major criteria for all integrated platforms. Even though it doesn’t boast supernatural energy-efficiency and performance of its computational as well as graphics cores, it stands out due to very low cost. In other words, AMD chose a very unusual strategy – by offering the most competitive prices. And in this case it turns out that AMD Brazos platform including a dual-core 1.6 GHz AMD E-350 processor costs not only half of the Core i3-2100T price, but also considerably less than Mini-ITX ION2 mainboards.
It is the lowest prices of AMD E-350 based solutions that ensure a lot of public interest in them. For a little over $100, AMD offers a platform that can easily playback HD video content and therefore can also be used for HTPC. However, it is important to remember that a Brazos based computer will have very limited application field: many resource-demanding applications will be very slow on a system like that, because the x86 performance of AMD E-350 is about the same as that of Intel Atom D525.
Besides, there is another unpleasant side to the low cost of AMD Brazos. Mainboard manufacturers may not take the design of inexpensive platforms like that seriously enough, which may affect the quality of products. For example, Gigabyte E350N-USB3 received very discrepant verdicts today. On the one hand, it is pretty rich in different features and has overclocking-friendly options. But on the other hand, we clearly see that the developers didn’t care much about the voltage regulator circuitry and the mainboard power consumption rates that is why we cannot recommend this mainboard today.
Another mainboard, which participated in our today’s test session, LGA1155 Zotac H67-ITX WiFi, is, on the contrary, a product of superb quality. It boasts righ functionality and is highly energy-efficient, so it will be a great choice for compact HTPC systems based not only on Core i3-2100T processors. This mainboard will work perfectly fine with top Sandy Bridge CPUs with 65 W or 95 W TDP, as it has the power of a full-size solution packed into a small form-factor. However, the onboard WiFi controller pushed its price far beyond the price of similar Mini-ITX LGA1155 products from ASRock, Asus or Gigabyte, so looks like Zotac H67-ITX WiFi is not totally drawback-free, too.