Testbed Configuration and Methodology
Since our goal was to adequately measure the performance of Core i3 processors based on Sandy Bridge microarchitecture, we found ourselves in a pretty tricky situation. On the one hand, these are relatively inexpensive products, which price is about the same as that of previous-generation dual-core CPUs. On the other hand, the comparison between the new Core i3-2120 and Core i2100 and the older dual-core processors won’t be illustrative. As we very well know from our previous tests, Sandy Bridge microarchitecture is much more effective than the predecessors, therefore inexpensive new processors will definitely be faster.
So, we chose two product groups to compete against our Core i3-2120 and Core i3-2100. The first group included previous-generation products that were selling at comparable prices today. They were Core i3-560 with Clarkdale design, LGA775 Core 2 Duo E7600 from Wolfdale family and a quad-core AMD Phenom II X4 955, which price has rapidly dropped down to $135 right after the Sandy Bridge launch. The second group included Core i5 processors: junior quad-core Core i5-750 and Core i5-2300 models in LGA1156 and LGA1155 form-factor and the fastest Clarkdale CPU – Core i5-680.
The list below shows all hardware and software components participating in this test session:
- AMD Phenom II X4 955 (Deneb, 4 cores, 3.2 GHz, 6 L3);
- Intel Core i5-2300 (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 2.8 GHz, 6 MB L3);
- Intel Core i5-750 (Lynnfiled, 4 cores, 2.66 GHz, 8 MB L3);
- Intel Core i5-680 (Clarkdale, 2 cores, 3.6 GHz, 4 MB L3);
- Intel Core i3-2120 (Sandy Bridge, 2 cores, 3.3 GHz, 3 MB L3);
- Intel Core i3-2100 (Sandy Bridge, 2 cores, 3.1 GHz, 3 MB L3);
- Intel Core i3-560 (Clarkdale, 2 cores, 3.33 GHz, 4 MB L3);
- Intel Core 2 Duo E7600 (Wolfdale, 2 cores, 3.06 GHz, 3 MB L2).
- ASUS Crosshair IV Formula (Socket AM3, AMD 890FX + SB850, DDR3 SDRAM);
- ASUS P8P67 Deluxe (LGA1155, Intel P67 Express);
- ASUS P5Q3 (LGA775, Intel P45 Express, DDR3 SDRAM);
- Gigabyte P55A-UD6 (LGA1156, Intel P55 Express).
- Memory — 2 x 2 GB DDR3 SDRAM (Kingston KHX1600C8D3K2/4GX):
- DDR3-1067 7-7-7-21 with Core 2 Duo E7600 processor;
- DDR3-1333 9-9-9-27 with Core i3-560, Core i5-680 and Core i5-750 processors;
- DDR3-1600 9-9-9-27 with Phenom II X4 955, Core i5-2300, Core i3-2120 and Core i3-2100 processors.
- Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 6970.
- Hard drive: Kingston SNVP325-S2/128GB.
- Power supply unit: Tagan TG880-U33II (880 W).
- Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64.
- Intel Chipset Driver 220.127.116.115;
- Intel Rapid Storage Technology 10.1.0.1008;
- ATI Catalyst 11.3 Display Driver.