Intel Core i3-2120 & Core i5-2400 LGA1155 Processors Review

Author: MAC
Date: July 13, 2011
Product Name: Core i3-2120 & Core i5-2400
Part Number: BX80623I32120 & BX80623I52400
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Sandy Bridge: Intel Core i3-2120 & Core i5-2400

Sandy Bridge/Gulftown/Clarkdale/Lynnfield/Bloomfield - Click on image to enlarge

First and foremost, for the purpose of brevity, if you are interested in reading some in-depth information about the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture please check out our original launch article. All Sandy Bridge processors are fundamentally identical, but thanks to the modular design of the chip Intel can very easily add or remove cores, L3 cache, number of memory channels, type of memory supported, power management, and even integrated graphics to create very different models, without having to go to the drawing board and redesigning the whole layout.

As you can see in the table below, Intel have created quite a number of different Sandy Bridge variants, and this is not even taking the low wattage models into account.

Click on image to enlarge and reveal additional models

The i3-2120 that we are reviewing today is the flagship of the budget-oriented Core i3-series, but the i3-2105 arguably also has a claim to the throne since it features the higher-end HD Graphics 3000 IGP, with twice as many execution units (EUs) as all the non-K-series processors. On a site note, keep in mind that none of the Core i3 models supports the AES New Instructions (AES-NI) instructions that accelerate AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). While the i5-2400 may seem like an incremental update over the i5-2300 series, it is cheapest of the consumer-oriented Sandy Bridge models to feature Intel’s Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d), which improves the performance of I/O devices in a virtualized environment.

Click on image to enlarge

These two lower-priced models feature the exact same packaging as we saw with the K-series models, albeit without the “Unlocked & Unleashed” print. Processor and heatsink aside, each box also contains a respective instruction guide with a removable sticker on the back.

Click on image to enlarge

While both CPU coolers might seem quite similar at first glance, there are a few subtle differences between what Intel bundles with their budget and mainstream processors. While both heatsinks feature the same low profile, circular design and plastic push-pins, the Core i5’s cooler has an integrated copper core, slightly denser fin array, and more powerful fan (0.20A vs. 0.60A).

Click on image to enlarge

Nothing too special here, aside from the laser etching on the integrated heatspreader (IHS) all LGA1155 processors look identical from the front. The i3-2120 was manufactured in the 47th week of 2010, while the i5-2400 was manufactured in the 41st week of 2010. This is about 3 months later than our two K-series engineering samples.

Click on image to enlarge

Like all current Sandy Bridge processors, both of our samples are based on the retail D2 revision. With Enhanced SpeedStep enabled, the chips dropped down to 1600Mhz at idle, but the i3-2120 had a marginally lower CPU voltage. Under load both chips had a vCore in the 1.1V range, but when Turbo Boost is enabled the i5-2400 temporarily spiked up to around 1.22V.

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