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CPU Roundup April 2010

CPU Roundup April 2010

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Intel Core i3-530 and MSI H55M-E33

As we have yet to cover the Core i3 range of processors from Intel we have included one in this roundup, along with a board comparible to the ECS 785G, MSI’s H55M-E33. We have chosen the i3-530 as it is priced between the Athlon II X4 635 and Phenom II X2 555 and gives a good baseline for performance on that platform.

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The 2.9GHz  dual-core i3-530 is manufactured using a 32nm process and features 2x 32KB of L1 data and instruction cache, 2x 256KB of L2 cache and 4MB of L3 cache. It runs with a bus speed of 133MHz and a 22.0x multiplier. Above is a photo of the i7-920 (left) and the i3-530 (right), showing how much smaller the i3 chip is in comparison. As a result it uses socket 1156 and is designed for the H55/57 chipset.

The i3 range, like the higher specification processors, features an onboard DDR3 memory controller which in this case is dual channel. For mainstream uses the main feature difference between this and Core i5 is the lack of Turbo Boost functionality, meaning the CPU does not boost performance depending on its load. We are limited, without overclocking, to 2.9GHz.

Also present within the processor package is a 45nm GPU which provides support for media functionality such as AVC/VC-1 Decode, Noise Reduction and HDMI/DisplayPort outputs as well as 3D technology like Hierarchical Z and Fast Z Clear, OpenGL 2.1. Support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio are also present.

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The H55M-E33 micro-ATX motherboard is supplied in a purple and white box that should provide a decent level of protection for the board. Inside the box we find two SATA cables and an I/O shield along with some user guides and a driver CD.

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MSI has opted for a black and blue colour scheme and this makes for a very attractive looking motherboard that is sure to appeal to many consumers. The CPU socket is positioned in the centre of the board with four dual channel DDR3 slots to the right. The maximum memory capacity is 16Gb and 2133MHz memory is available through overclocking. This board supports Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors in the LGA1156 socket. The Intel H55 chipset is located under a small passive heatsink. This supports the GPU found on the Core i3 CPU we are using today and has integrated HDMI, DVI and D-Sub outputs.

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We find 6x SATA 3.0GBPS connectors in the bottom right hand corner of the board. Two of these are angled, with the remaining four coming straight out of the board. On the left hand side of the board we find a single PCI express x 16 slot, two PCI express x 1 slots and one standard PCI slot.

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Back panel connectivity includes the aforementioned display outputs plus 6x USB2.0 ports, PS2 ports, Realtek 8111DL GB LAN and 6x 3.5mm audio jacks which run off the Realtek ALC889 7.1 audio chipset.

BIOS

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MSI use an American Megatrends BIOS for the H55M-E33 which provides us with a good selection of overclocking options along with the standard BIOS functions. The only slight annoyance we encountered was not being able to key in voltages directly, having to select from a few predefined values. For those who aren’t so serious about overclocking, the Auto OC functionality is a decent alternative.

MSI also include M-Flash functionality, enabling the user to update the BIOS and back it up using a USB drive.

Full BIOS Screens can be downloaded here.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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