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i3 Vs. Dual Core

This comparison between Intel core i3 and dual core chips is aimed at presenting the prime differences between new entry-level processors and their predecessors. Find out if an upgrade to core i3 line would really be worth it.
Techspirited Staff
Why Opt For Core i3?
Hyper-Threading (single core handles two threads), integrated HD graphics and Direct Media Interface (DMI) (faster bus compared to FSB) are three reasons why an upgrade to i3 from core 2 duo or Pentium dual core makes abundant sense.
Today's personal computers outclass supercomputers constructed decades ago. You have phenomenal computing power at your fingertips today in the form of new Intel core i3, i5 and i7 lines. This new army of processors is highly advanced compared to older Intel core 2 duo or dual core chips, which were the default mainstay for a long time. There is an Intel chip for every unique set of computing requirements. The comparison presented in this article will underline advantages of new entry-level processors over older lines. This will help you decide whether upgrading your laptop or desktop computer with an i3 processor would be worth it.
By dual core, you could either be referring to the Pentium dual core or core 2 duo processors. So we will compare i3 with both these lines. Also, we limit ourselves to desktop processors here. Mobile versions of these processors inherit most properties of their desktop counterparts, barring the clocking frequency, which tends to be lower.
Intel Core i3 Vs. Dual Core Comparison
The age of multi-core processors dawned as manufacturers reached a physical limit in putting more transistors on a single core. Rise in number of cores substantially boosts computing power, as parallel processing comes into the picture. All three lines - core i3, Pentium dual core and core 2 duo processors have two physical cores.
Core i3
(3rd Generation)
Pentium Dual Core Core 2 Duo
Core Number
2 2 2
Processing Threads
4 2 2
Clocking Frequency Range
2.8 GHz - 3.3 GHz 2.5 GHz - 3.2 GHz 2.66 GHz - 3.33 GHz
Lithography
22 nm 45 nm 45 nm
Bus Type
DMI FSB FSB
Bus Frequency
5 GT/s 800 MHz 1333 MHz
Maximum Cache Size
3 MB
Smart Cache
6 MB (L2) 6 MB (L2)
Max TDP
55 W 65 W 65 W
Integrated Graphics
Yes No No
Intel HD Graphics
Yes No No
Intel Hyper-Threading
Yes No No

Technical Specifications
Let us first talk about the Pentium dual core line, which is currently rebranded by Intel as just 'Pentium'. These dual core processors are based on x86 architecture with four prime lines named Yonah (mobile processors), Allendale, Conroe and Wolfdale (45nm). Clocking frequency of these processors ranges from 2.5 GHz to 3.2Ghz. They all have two cores packaged together with a 800 MHz FSB. They use LGA 775 socket and have a maximum L2 cache of 6MB. This line has Intel virtualization technology enabled and Intel 64 architecture. Most of these processors have reached the end of line, meaning they are no longer in production.

Here's a brief overview of the Intel core 2 duo line. This was a substantial improvement over dual core line. These chips have two independent cores with 45 nm architecture. The processors have a clocking frequency ranging from 2.66 GHz to 3.33 GHz, with L2 cache size ranging from 2MB to 6MB. With an FSB speed of 1333MHz and a greater die transistor density, they are faster than dual core lines. Most of these processors are slowly being phased out of production, as new chips evolve further.

Here's what the third generation core i3 line has in store. It is a significant improvement over both older lines. These processors have a clocking frequency ranging from 2.26 Ghz up to 3.3 GHz with 22 nm architecture. What sets them apart and makes them faster than core 2 duo chips is the integrated GPU and Hyper-Threading technology. It has a new FCLGA1155 socket and a Direct Media Interface (DMI) which offers faster performance capability. FSB based processors communicate with all other components through the same channel, while DMI has separate dedicated channels for each mode of communication, making it substantially faster. It also comes with Intel HD graphics technology which guarantees superior visual performance. This guarantees better graphics performance for your desktop or laptop, even if it isn't equipped with a video card.

Performance & Verdict
As many benchmark test results have revealed, the core i3 processor is far superior to dual core and core 2 duo lines as a result of Hyper-Threading (two extra processing threads), integrated GPU and DMI. Unless you already have a high-end core 2 duo processor with clocking frequency around 3 GHz, you might want to consider an upgrade to core i3. You will perceive the difference in form of substantial increase in overall processing speed and graphic performance. What's still lacking in core i3 line is on demand Turbo Boost, which is only available in core i5 and core i7.

In conclusion, it is highly recommended that you go for the latest third generation Intel core i3 chips, as they are definitely worth an upgrade, thanks to significant improvement in all departments, including graphic performance. If you need a high-performance processor, quad core Intel i5 or i7 is the way to go.