Intel Core i3-2100T & Core i5-2400S Low Power CPUs

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Value

To create a value score, we divided the "overall performance" figure from earlier by the street cost of the CPU and an average motherboard, and adjusted it so the winner would have a score of 100.

Though losing to Intel in raw performance and energy efficiency, with cheap CPU and motherboard pricing, per dollar, many AMD chips are better buys. The Phenom II X4 840, 955, and 965 are all excellent values unless your electricity costs are really high. The i5-2400 and i3-2100T fall 10 and 17 points short of their vanilla contemporaries and their US$10 price premium doesn't help.

If energy efficiency is more important to you, here we present "overall performance" divided by "average system power consumption," again adjusted so the winner would have a score of 100. This time, Sandy Bridges rise to the top and the Phenoms sink to the bottom.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Of the two low power processors we tested today, the Core i5-2400S is the worthier candidate as its aggressive Turbo Boost frequencies provide a big performance bump. By the book, the i5-2400S has a 600 MHz disadvantage compared to the i5-2400, but in our test suite it was only 9% slower. Only on a heavy threaded workload does it show any significant performance lag against the standard i5-2400. $195 for the S version versus $185 for the standard i5-2400 is not an onerous cash bump. Still, the power consumption difference is slim enough that an i5-2400 with a small undervolt will deliver similar results without sacrificing any speed. This has been our biggest criticism of these specialty low power processors — you can create your own with simple undervolting on a decent motherboard.

The performance gap between the Core i3-2100 and i3-2100T is much wider, about 15%, as there are no crazy Turbo Boost speeds to help even the odds. However, the i3-2100T is still more than a match for AMD's dual core processors and slower Lynnfield models. With a typical workload, it consumes about 5W less than the i3-2100, but the difference at idle is too small to count. If you're going to build a system that's going to idle mostly, there's really no advantage. You can always try undervolting to have your cake and eat it too. The i3-2100T sells for just $10 more than the i3-2100, about US$130, but the performance penalty is much higher than the i5-2400/2400S, so it is harder to justify.

Our thanks to Intel and AMD and for processor samples used in this review.

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Articles of Related Interest
Intel Core i3-2100 vs. AMD Phenom II X2 565
Asus E35M1-M Pro: AMD Fusion Motherboard
Sandy Bridge, Part 4: Core i5-2400, i5-2500K and i7-2600K CPUs
AMD Athlon II X3: Affordable Compromise
Athlon II X4 610e & Phenom II X4 910e: 45W & 65W Quad Cores
Intel Core i5-661: A 32nm CPU with Integrated Graphics

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