Revision B2 chipset flaw aside, Sandy Bridge has been an extremely successful launch for Intel. Unlike the Lynnfield processors, which were singularly overshadowed by the venerable Core i7-920, consumers have been making the switch to the LGA1155 platform in droves. Given how great the Core i5-2500K and i7-2600K perform, it is easy to forget that the current Sandy Bridge LGA1155 processors are part of Intels mainstream series, not their high-end one. Therefore, it is more than due time for us to test out some of the lower priced offerings. Although we would love to try them all, the two models that we are reviewing today are the Core i3-2120 and the Core i5-2400, which respectively have $138 and $184 MSRPs.
The budget-oriented and multiplier-locked Core i3-2120 is the chip that has to take the reins from the underrated Core i3-540
. It is a dual-core 3.3GHz processor with Hyper-Threading, and thus can process up to four threads at a time. This CPU obviously features an integrated GPU in the form of the Intel HD Graphics 2000. This is the lower-end of the two IGP variants, it features 6 Execution Units (EUs) and a graphics frequency that starts at 850Mhz but can dynamically increase up to 1.1GHz. Also worth noting is the i3-2120s 65W TDP, courtesy of the modern 32nm manufacturing process, which makes this model very well-suited for a small form factor (SFF) enclosure.
The Core i5-2400 is the spiritual successor to the quite popular Core i5-750
. This mainstream quad-core processor features a default clock of 3.1Ghz, but it can Turbo Boost up to 3.4Ghz in lightly-threaded workloads. Much like the i5-2500K it does not support Hyper-Threading. However, unlike the aforementioned K-series chip, it does regrettably feature a locked CPU multiplier. Thankfully, Intel has thrown overclockers a bone, and have unlocked four additional Turbo multipliers above the highest Turbo frequency. As you will see in our overclocking section, this can be used to worthwhile effect in coordination with the base clock (BCLK).
The more eagled-eyed among you will notice that we actually coyly introduced these two processors in the benchmarking charts of our AMD A8-3850 APU article
, but this review is where we will get much more in-depth with these two promising CPUs.