The Performance & Power Summary

I’ve added the Core i3 530 to our Bench database, if you want a full comparison of results head over there. What I’m providing here is a subset of our tests to show the 530’s strengths and weaknesses.

In every single non-gaming test, the Core i3 530 bests the Phenom II X2 550 BE. In our gaming benchmarks the 550 was faster in two out of our 8 benchmarks. In the rest, the i3 took the lead. The Core i3 530 also manages to outperform the Phenom II X2 550 BE while using significantly less power. In the battle of the dual-cores, the i3 wins. AMD needs to fight with clock speed at at 3.1GHz, the 550 can’t muster enough to beat the i3.

The Athlon II X4 630 comparison is a little more complicated. In single and lightly threaded applications, the i3 is a much better performer thanks to its higher clock speed. The i3's gaming performance is also significantly better across the board. What the Athlon II X4 loses in clock speed, it makes up for in core count. Things like video encoding and offline 3D rendering are almost always faster on the Athlon II X4 630.

Applications that are bound more by the performance of one or two threads are almost always faster on the Core i3 530. As a general purpose desktop microprocessor or a chip for a gaming rig, I’d opt for the Core i3 530. If you’re doing a lot of heavily threaded content creation, then the Athlon II X4 is the chip for you. If you’re somewhere in between, the choice is up to you. Our Photoshop test has the two processors very close to one another, but with the i3 taking the slight lead.

Power efficiency obviously goes to the Core i3 530 thanks to its 32nm transistors.

Index Integrated Graphics - Slower than AMD, Still Perfect for an HTPC


View All Comments

  • gfredsen - Monday, January 25, 2010 - link

    I know this borders on thread crapping, but can someone tell me why Fry's is selling the newer 45 Watt AMD cpus and virtually no one else.
    I post this here, because for the price I still believe the AMD solution to be the best for how I use a computer, HTPC and SOHO.
    Add in the price of a MB, DDR3 which I don't have and the Intel i3 still offers me no advantage that I can see.
    I'll pass for now.
  • papapapapapapapababy - Sunday, January 24, 2010 - link

    "From Intel the closest competitor is the Core 2 Duo E7600, which runs at 3.06GHz but with a 3MB L2 cache"

    lol my old retro E6600 runs at 3.2GHz also has 4MB L2 cache, and smokes my 3,2GHZ E7300 in photoshop... intel am fail.
  • smilingcrow - Sunday, January 24, 2010 - link

    If you can't get more than 3.2 from your E7300 sounds like your motherboard = fail. Reply
  • papapapapapapapababy - Sunday, January 24, 2010 - link

    diminishing returns, girl. Reply
  • smilingcrow - Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - link

    Hi girl, I don't really need to know your gender and the fact that you aren't very good at over-clocking might reinforce in some peoples’ minds that the fairer sex aren’t so good with tech. Anyway, take a look at the forums at so you can get the best out of that CPU. Reply
  • Fjodor2000 - Saturday, January 23, 2010 - link

    Anand, is there any way you could provide reliable measurements for the Core i3-530's Idle Power Consumption when only the IGP is used? One of your earlier articles ("> indicated that it could reach as low as 27.6 W (!), however in that article there were no details on what Clarkdale CPU was used or other details of the system used. Reply
  • - Saturday, January 23, 2010 - link

    Your going to need a mini-ITX board, some Gskill 1.35v memory, a SSD, a pico-PSU (probably with 100w brick) to have any chance of reaching 27.6w idle.

    I know for a fact that Intel used Gskill 1.35v memory (there was an article about it somewhere)and I'm sure they used every trick in the book to get the idle power down that low. I looked on Newegg for a mini-ITX board and couldn't find one so your probably going to have to wait if you want the ultimate power sipping HTPC.
  • smilingcrow - Sunday, January 24, 2010 - link

    The G.Skill Eco RAM (1.35V) has a negligible impact on idle power consumption according to the only review I’m seen which isn’t surprising as a single RAM stick at stock voltage doesn’t consume much to start with. At load the test showed gains of between 3 and 5W.

    I’m not a fan of this site but it’s the only review I could find and probably even they couldn’t screw this up; on second thoughts…">
  • Fjodor2000 - Sunday, January 24, 2010 - link

    I see. It would be really interesting to see if it can be reproduced, and just how low it is possible to get the power consumption using such a system as you described.

    Also, I think it would be interesting to see the Idle Power Consumption with IGP Only, for a more "normal" system. I.e. uATX motherboard (without Idle power issues!), Intel i3-530 CPU, 4 GB RAM, ~1 TB low power HDD, and NO external GFX-card (the review for some reason currently only contains Idle power consumption when used with an external GFX card).

    Anand, do you think it would be possible to run an idle power consumption test for the core i3-530 setup you used, but without an external GFX card? After all, I suppose that will be the common setup for most i3-530 based systems?
  • kwrzesien - Monday, January 25, 2010 - link

    I just built a 530 system with the Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H board, Artic Freezer 7, a WD 640 GB Blue, LG BDROM/DVDRW, 4 GB Mushkin (2 x 2GB 1600 C9) RAM with an Antec 380D Green PSU in a P180 mini case (200mm, 120mm fans on low). Terrific build, everything works great except the Freezer is blocking the first DIMM slot so installing a second pair of sticks is going to be a problem.

    Idle power at Win7 desktop, all stock settings, no discrete video card, is 41W! I was expecting ~60W so I'm really surprised, this puts my Core i7 920 to shame - but that is also my 'everything' box. I highly recommend this entire setup except maybe the Freezer - it is just too bulky in the fan cage. Don't go bigger on the PSU unless you need more than one 6-pin PEG connector or are installing 4+ hard drives. Next build (ordering today) will be the same with an SSD and 1TB Green drive...

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