Articles: CPU

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The recently released processors of the Haswell generation are a step forward in the development of Intel’s CPU designs, yet we are not very enthusiastic about them. The Haswell is optimized for energy-efficient products and offers higher graphics performance, both factors being most important for mobile gadgets. But when it comes to desktop PCs, the new LGA1150 platform doesn't provide great performance benefits over the older LGA1155 with Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPUs. The mobile orientation of the Haswell design and Intel's somewhat negligent attitude towards the steadily shrinking community of desktop PC users explain the downsides we find in the desktop Haswell-based CPUs such as their enormous power consumption at high computing loads and, as a consequence, high operating temperatures.

The desktop Haswell is represented by a number of different CPU models, though. So besides the rather disappointing quad-core modifications, there may be interesting offers in other market segments. Intel manufactures eight variants of the Haswell die, differing in the number of x86 cores and in the integrated graphics core configuration. That’s why we want to continue our exploration of this CPU family.

Today we will be talking about the dual-core Haswell-based CPUs belonging to the Core i3 series. Released this fall, they seem to bring about more innovations than their quad-core counterparts. They don't just offer a new microarchitecture with old specs. Feeling some pressure from AMD’s APUs, Intel decided to increase the amount of cache memory and added support for vector and cryptographic instructions. The integrated graphics has changed, too. Intel used to embed its GT2 core into select dual-core CPU models, but now it is available in every Haswell-based Core i3. The APU concept seems to be taken up by Intel now, so the company equips its inexpensive CPUs with a rather fast graphics core, following the current market trends.

As a result, the new Core i3 processors are more attractive than their predecessors in many ways. But is it enough to make users switch from their old LGA1155 configurations to modern LGA1150 platforms? We’ll try to answer this question in this review.

It must be noted that the LGA1150 platform has come to the market for a very long time. Desktop CPUs develop at a slower rate now and we are not at all sure that the Haswell Refresh initiative planned by Intel for the end of the next year will affect the Core i3 series. It looks like users of inexpensive desktop PCs will have to install a Haswell sooner or later.

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