We have already pointed out multiple times that Ivy Bridge microarchitecture has become a successful evolution of the Intel processors. 22 nm production process and numerous microarchitectural improvements turned the new processors into faster and more energy-efficient products. This is true for any Ivy Bridge processors in general and desktop Core i5 processors from the 3000-series discussed today in particular. If we compare the new Core i5 processor family with what we had a year ago, we can easily single out a number of significant improvements.
First, new Core i5 based on Ivy Bridge microarchitecture are faster than their predecessors. Although Intel didn’t really increase their clock speeds, the newcomers are about 10-15% faster. Even the slowest third generation desktop Core i5, Core i5-3450, outperforms Core i5-2500K in most benchmarks. And the top models in the new lineup can often compete even against the higher-end Core i7 CPUs on Dandy Bridge microarchitecture.
Second, new Core i5 processors have become much more energy-efficient. Their 77 W TDP does have immediate effect on their performance. Computers with Core i5 Ivy Bridge processors inside consume several watts less power than the same systems with Sandy Bridge CPUs. Moreover, this difference may increase to as much as 20 W under peak operational loads, which translates into substantial power savings according to today’s standards.
Third, new processors have a significantly improved integrated graphics core. The junior modification of the new Ivy Bridge graphics core works at least as good as HD Graphics 3000 from the second-generation top Core processors. Besides, it supports DirectX 11 and therefore offers more up-to-date functionality. As for the flagship HD Graphics 4000 core used in Core i5-3570K processors, it is powerful enough to deliver acceptable gaming performance with certain image quality restrictions, of course.
The only arguable thing about the third-generation Core i5 processors is a slightly lower overclocking potential than that of Sandy Bridge processors. However, it is relevant only for the overclocker Core i5-3570K model, which multiplier is unlocked. Nevertheless, higher performance of the Ivy Bridge microarchitecture easily makes up for this little issue.
In other words, if you are looking for a mainstream LGA 1155 CPU, there is no real reason why you should prefer the older Sandy Bridge based processors to the new third-generation Core i5. Especially, since Intel’s pricing on the new Core i5 modifications are quite reasonable and very close to those of the previous generation processors.