When we reviewed the Core i5 600 series processors we felt that they are really great dual-core processors. However we had a bit of a weird underbelly feeling due to its price level (which is a tad high we feel). That actually might be hindering the Core i5 600 product series in terms of whether or not you'd buy it over the choice of say a quad-core processor (which are similar priced).
Now after testing the Core i3 530 which is priced at 113 USD / 99 EUR things start to make more sense. This really is the very same processor as the Core i5 600 series is, yet without turbo-mode. We feel the 100 EUR price level is exactly where a dual-core processor should be. The Intel Core i3 500 series will surprise you in terms of performance. I mean sure it's not rated amongst the fastest processors out there but to visualize a little .. the overall performance is as close as the still popular Q6600 Quad Core processor and for a processor with two physical cores that just says a lot about clock-for-clock performance. Will you gain more from the latest Phenom II and Core i5 750 processor ? Sure you will, you'll however also pay more money.
Embedded into the processor is also an IGP, it works well for all that is desktop and high-definition decoding/acceleration related, as such we like the IGP for what it is. However what it is doing inside a processor is still a little trivial and confusing to the end-users. But for a HTPC builder on a budget, the Core i3 range starts top make a whole lotta sense alright. And we just love the image sharpening feature the IGP offers, very handy to give that HD-screen a little crisper image quality to enjoy high-definition movies and content.
So the Core i3 is plenty fast for a HTPC and you will receive the added benefits of the IGP and sure, motherboard connectivity like DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort (differs per motherboard) if you purchase a motherboard with H55/57 chipset. Next to that for we feel Core i3 500 is plenty fast enough for your average PC workstation. Pop in a decent graphics card and you'll still retrieve a great gaming experience. So price performance wise for a generic PC or HTPC this starts to make a whole lot of sense.
Bottom line -- For reasons above we feel that the Core i3 processors are smack down in the middle of the jackpot when it comes to price versus performance and features. It offers pretty nice performance, it's power consumption on H55 was just phenomenal, it's temperatures under load very respectable even with a stock cooler. You'll absolutely like the processor for what it is and does - at 99 EUR you'll receive a lot of dual-core pleasure from Intel.
Core i3 530 processor review Earlier this month on the 3rd we took an in-depth peek at the Core i5 600 series processors. Intel that day also released the the Core i3 series processors, exactly the same thing, yet clocked slight slower and with Intel's Turbo mode' stripped away. The end result however is a processor that is priced much more attractive-- yet for a dual-core processor offers much more bang for buck at a mainstream or HTPC. And that processor was not seeded towards Dutch press, hence a review on Core i3 530 today.