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Intel Core i5-3470 Ivy Bridge Quad-Core CPU Review
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Date: May 31, 2012
Section:Processors
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

Last month, Intel unleashed its highly anticipated Ivy Bridge microarchitecture. We had been hearing about Ivy Bridge for what seemed like an eternity leading up to the launch, and although not based a totally new design, Ivy Bridge would offer a number of enticing enhancements, like a faster Quick Sync engine, significantly improved integrated graphics, and lower power, thanks to architectural improvements and an advanced 22nm manufacturing process.

We initially took a look at Intel’s flagship Ivy Bridge-based processor, the Core i7-3770K. The Core i7-3770K is an unlocked quad-core processor with 8MB of L3 cache; integrated Intel HD 4000 series graphics; and Hyper-Threading, PCI Express 3.0 and Turbo Boost 2.0 support. The processor we’ll be showing you today, although also based on Ivy Bridge, is somewhat different. The new Core i5-3470 is based on the same quad-core die as the Core i7-3770, but it’s outfitted with less cache, a lower-end graphics core, and lacks support for Hyper-Threading, among other things.

A full feature comparison of Intel’s Ivy Bridge-based Core i7, i5, and i3 processors is listed in the table below. Check it out for a quick break-down and we’ll follow up with the skinny on the new Core i5-3470 specifically on the pages ahead...


Intel Core i5-3470 Ivy Bridge-based Quad-Core Desktop Processor, Top and Bottom

Intel 3rd Generation Core Processor Family
Specifications & Features

Core i7

Core i5

Core i3

Number of Cores / Threads 4 / 8 4 / 4 2 / 4
Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 Yes Yes No
Intel Hyper-Threading Technology Yes No Yes
Intel Smart Cache 8MB L3 6MB L3 3MB L3
AES New Instructions (AES-NI) Yes Yes No
Intel HD Graphics with DirectX 11 4000 2500 / 4000 2500 / 4000
Intel Virtualization Technology (VT-x) Yes Yes Yes
Performance Tuning Enabled Yes Yes No
Recommended Chipset Z77 H77 H61

Feature

Benefit
Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 Dynamically increases the processor's frequency as needed by taking advantage of thermal and power headroom to give you a burst of speed when you need it.
Intel Hyper-Threading Technology Delivers two processing threads per physical core. Highly threaded applications can get more work done in parallel, completing tasks sooner.
Integrated Memory Controller An integrated memory controller offers stunning memory read/write performance through efficient prefetching algorithms, lower latency, and higher memory bandwidth.
Built-In Visuals Intel Quick Sync Video—Delivers fast conversion of video for portable media players, online sharing, and video editing and authoring.

Intel Clear Video HD—Visual quality and color fidelity enhancements for HD playback for a sharper, smoother, and richer picture.

Intel InTru 3D—Stereoscopic 3-D Blu-ray playback in full 1080p resolution over HDMI 1.4 and premium audio.

Intel HD Graphics—Enhanced 3-D performance for immersive mainstream and casual gaming.

Intel Advanced Vector Extensions—A set of new instructions to improve software performance for floating point-intensive applications such as audio processing, audio codecs, and image and video editing applications.
Intel Smart Cache The shared cache is dynamically allocated to each processor core, based on workload. This significantly reduces latency, improving performance.
AES New Instructions (AES-NI) New AES instructions add hardware acceleration to AES algorithms and speed up the execution of AES applications.
Intel Virtualization Technology Allows one hardware platform to function as multiple "virtual" platforms. Offers improved manageability by limiting downtime and maintaining productivity by isolating computing activities into separate partitions.
Thermal Solution for Boxed CPUs Includes a four-pin connector for fan speed control to help minimize the acoustic noise levels generated from running the fan at higher speeds for thermal performance.
 


Intel Ivy Bridge Die Shot


Because the Core i5-3470 is built around the same die as the Core i7-3770K (and all other quad-core Ivy Bridge-based processors), it has many of the same features and capabilities. We won’t, however, be re-hashing them all again here, since we covered them in the initial launch. if you’d like the fully scoop on Ivy Bridge and all it brings to the table, we’d suggest checking out our coverage of the Core i7-3770K and its mobile cousin, the Core i7-3720QM—we cover all pertinent features and capabilities in those two articles.

 
Intel Core i5-3470 Processor Details

What we have here are the specifics of the Core i5-3470, as reported by CPU-Z. As we’ve mentioned, the Core i5-3470 is a quad-core processor, but it lacks HT support so it cannot process 8-threads (2 per core) like Core i7 Ivy Bridge-based chips. The Core i5-3470’s base clock speed is 3.2GHz, it has a max Turbo frequency of 3.6GHz, and there is 6MB of L3 cache. The Core i5-3470’s TDP is 77W and it’s outfitted with an Intel HD 2500 series graphics engine. Although it is still DX11-capable and has the same feature set as the higher-end HD 4000 series graphics of some other Ivy Bridge-based processors, the HD 2500 series graphics engine has only 6 execution units, like the older HD 2000 series engine. The HD 3000 has 12 EUs and the HD 4000 has 16. The base frequency of the Intel HD 2500 series engine in the Core i5-3470 is 650MHz, but it can dynamically Turbo up to 1.1GHz.

We should also point out that the Core i5-3470 is not a K-SKU, meaning it is only partially unlocked. Overclocking is still possible, but the Core i5-3470’s maximum multiplier can be set to only four bins higher than its peak Turbo multiplier. Since the base clock is 100MHz and the Core i5-3470 has a peak Turbo frequency of 3.6GHz, its max stock Turbo multiplier is 36. Through overclocking, that multiplier can be increased to 40, for a peak Turbo frequency of 4.0GHz. Manipulating the base clock can also add a bit more juice, however, to the tune of an additional 5-7% in most cases.

What all this adds up to is a quad-core processor with lower CPU and GPU performance than the Core i7-3770, but at a more affordable price.

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Test Setup and PCMark 7

Test System Configuration Notes: When configuring our test systems for this article, we first entered their respective system BIOSes or UEFIs and set each board to its "Optimized" or "High performance Defaults". We then saved the settings, re-entered the BIOS and set the memory speed to DDR3-1600. The solid state drives were then formatted, and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the Windows installation was complete, we fully updated the OS, and installed the drivers necessary for our components. Auto-Updating and Windows Defender were then disabled and we installed all of our benchmarking software, performed a disk clean-up, cleared any prefetch and temp data, and ran the tests.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Intel and AMD - Head To Head

System 1:
Intel Core i7-3770K
(3.5GHz - Quad-Core)
Intel Core i5-3470
(3.2GHz - Quad-Core)
Intel Core i7-2700K
(3.5GHz - Quad-Core)

MSI Z77A-GD65
(Z77 Express Chipset)

2x4GB G.SKILL DDR3-1866
(@ 1600MHz)

GeForce GTX 280
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPS

Windows 7 x64
System 2:
Intel Core i7-3690X
(3.33GHz - Hex-Core)
Intel Core i7-3820
(3.6GHz - Quad-Core)

Asus P9X79 Deluxe
(X79 Express Chipset)

4x4GB G.SKILL DDR3-1866
(@ 1600MHz)

GeForce GTX 280
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPS

Windows 7 x64
System 3:
Intel Core i7-990X
(3.43GHz Hex-Core)

Gigabyte EX58-UD4
(X58 Express Chipset)

3x4GB G.SKILL DDR3-1866
(@ 1333MHz)

GeForce GTX 280
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPS

Windows 7 x64
System 4:
AMD FX 8150
(3.6GHz Eight-Core)

Asus CrossHair V Formula
(AMD 990FX Chipset)

2x4GB G.SKILL DDR3-1866
(@ 1866MHz)

GeForce GTX 280
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPS

Windows 7 x64

Futuremark PCMark 7
General Application and Multimedia Performance

Futuremark's PCMark 7 is the latest version of the PCMark whole-system benchmarking suite. It has updated application performance measurements targeted for a Windows 7 environment and uses newer metrics to gauge relative performance. Below is what Futuremark says is incorporated into the base PCMark suite and the Entertainment, Creativity, and Productivity suites--the four modules we have benchmark scores for you here.

The PCMark test is a collection of workloads that measure system performance during typical desktop usage. This is the most important test since it returns the official PCMark score for the system
Storage
  • Windows Defender
  • Importing pictures
  • Gaming

Video Playback and transcoding
Graphics

  • DirectX 9

Image manipulation
Web browsing and decrypting

The Entertainment test is a collection of workloads that measure system performance in entertainment scenarios using mostly application workloads. Individual tests include recording, viewing, streaming and transcoding TV shows and movies, importing, organizing and browsing new music and several gaming related workloads. If the target system is not capable of running DirectX 10 workloads then those tests are skipped. At the end of the benchmark run the system is given an Entertainment test score.

The Creativity test contains a collection of workloads to measure the system performance in typical creativity scenarios. Individual tests include viewing, editing, transcoding and storing photos and videos. At the end of the benchmark run the system is given a Creativity test score.

The Productivity test is a collection of workloads that measure system performance in typical productivity scenarios. Individual workloads include loading web pages and using home office applications. At the end of the benchmark run the system is given a Productivity test score.

In most of the graphs on the pages ahead, we've got numbers for the Core i5-3470 using its integrated Intel HD 2500 series graphics engine (iGPU) and using a discrete graphics card (dGPU), to highlight any performance differences that may be present.

As you can see here, according to PCMark 7, the Core i5-3470 offers significantly better performance in a couple of tests when using the iGPU, thanks to the processor's integrated Quick Sync encoding engine. Although graphics performance improves when using the discrete card, Quick Sync gets disabled, hence the lower overall score and Creativity score.

In comparison to other Intel processors, the Core i5-3470's performance lands somewhere around that of the Core i7-3820.

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LAME MT and SunSpider

In our custom LAME MT MP3 encoding test, we convert a large WAV file to the MP3 format, which is a popular scenario that many end users work with on a day-to-day basis to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content. LAME is an open-source MP3 audio encoder that is used widely in a multitude of third party applications.

LAME MT
Audio Encoding

In this test, we created our own 223MB WAV file (a hallucinogenically-induced Grateful Dead jam) and converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME MT application, in both single and multi-thread modes. Processing times are recorded below, listed in seconds. Shorter times equate to better performance.

Our custom LAME MT benchmark uses only one or two threads. As a result, the Core i5-3470 is able to complete with the other processors, even though they've got support for HT and can process more threads. Ultimately though, the lower peak Turbo frequency of the Core i5-3470 results in slightly lower scores for the processor versus the 3770K.

SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark
JavsScript Performance Testing

Next up, we have some numbers from the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark. According to the SunSpider website:

This benchmark tests the core JavaScript language only, not the DOM or other browser APIs. It is designed to compare different versions of the same browser, and different browsers to each other. Unlike many widely available JavaScript benchmarks, this test is:

Real World - This test mostly avoids microbenchmarks, and tries to focus on the kinds of actual problems developers solve with JavaScript today, and the problems they may want to tackle in the future as the language gets faster. This includes tests to generate a tagcloud from JSON input, a 3D raytracer, cryptography tests, code decompression, and many more examples. There are a few microbenchmarkish things, but they mostly represent real performance problems that developers have encountered.

Balanced - This test is balanced between different areas of the language and different types of code. It's not all math, all string processing, or all timing simple loops. In addition to having tests in many categories, the individual tests were balanced to take similar amounts of time on currently shipping versions of popular browsers.

Statistically Sound - One of the challenges of benchmarking is knowing how much noise you have in your measurements. This benchmark runs each test multiple times and determines an error range (technically, a 95% confidence interval). In addition, in comparison mode it tells you if you have enough data to determine if the difference is statistically significant.

All of the systems were tested using the latest version of Internet Explorer 9, with default browser settings, on a clean install of Windows 7 Ultimate x64.

The new Core i5-3470 performed right on par with the Core i7-3820 and Core i7-2700K in the SunSpider benchmark, but all of the Intel chips performed within a couple of points of each other--the deltas are hardly meaningful.

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Cinebench R11.5 and POV-Ray

Cinebench R11.5 is a 3D rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D from Maxon. Cinema 4D is a 3D rendering and animation suite used by animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and many others. It's very demanding of processor resources and is an excellent gauge of pure computational throughput.
Cinebench R11.5
3D Rendering

This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral "No Keyframes" animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The rate at which each test system was able to render the entire scene is represented in the graph below.

The new Core i5-3470's lack of Hyper-Threading results in somewhat lower scores in the Cinebench benchmark versus the Core i7 chips. It also trails the FX-8150 here in the MT tests, but crushes it in single-thread performance.

POV-Ray Performance
Ray Tracing

POV-Ray, or the Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer, is an open source tool for creating realistically lit 3D graphics artwork. We tested with POV-Ray's standard 'one-CPU' and 'all-CPU' benchmarking tools on all of our test machines, and recorded the scores reported for each. Results are measured in pixels-per-second throughput; higher scores equate to better performance.

POV-Ray tells essentially the same story as Cinebench. The Core i5-3470 trails the other processors in the multi-threaded test, but performs well in the single-threaded test.

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Low-Res Gaming: Crysis and ETQW

For our next set of tests, we moved on to some in-game benchmarking with Crysis (DirectX) and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (OpenGL). When testing processors with Crysis or ET:QW, we drop the resolution to 1024x768, and reduce all of the in-game graphical options to their minimum values to isolate CPU and memory performance as much as possible. However, the in-game effects, which control the level of detail for the games' physics engines and particle systems, are left at their maximum values, since these actually place some load on the CPU rather than GPU.

Low-Resolution Gaming: Crysis and ET: Quake Wars
Taking the GPU out of the Equation


We've left the iGPU scores in these tests just to give you all another game-related data point running on the Intel HD 2500 series graphics engine. The real comparison is between the systems using the discrete graphic card, and it's here that the Core i5-3470 shines. It clearly outruns the FX-8150 and finishes just behind the higher-end, more expensive Core i7 chips.

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intel HD Graphics vs. Discrete GPU - Gaming

For this next set of tests, we pit the integrated processor graphics incorporated into the Ivy Bridge-based Intel Core i5-3470 against a couple of the least expensive, current-generation discrete GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD, the GeForce GT 430 and Radeon HD 6450 and Radeon HD 5550, respectively. A couple of Sandy Bridge-based processors with integrated Intel HD 3000 series graphics and the Core i7-3770K with the HD 4000 are thrown into the mix as well.

Intel HD Graphics vs. Discrete GPUs
Gaming Benchmarks


According to 3DMark Vantage, the Intel HD 2500 series graphics engine offers roughly half the performance of the HD 4000 and finishes just behind the HD 3000 when paired to the Core i5-2500 (CPU speeds affect this benchmark). All of the entry-level discrete cards were significantly faster.

In our in-game tests, we've also included a few numbers for the Core i5-3470 / HD 2500 running without any anti-aliasing enabled. Regardless, in-game performance is significantly lower than the HD 4000 and playable framerates at a full HD resolution are not likely with most games.
 
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Quick Sync vs. CPU vs. Discrete GPU

As we've mentioned before, Ivy Bridge-based third generation Intel Core processors feature an updated Quick Sync media encoding engine, that's enabled when the integrated Intel HD graphics core is used. We tested the Intel Quick Sync encoder using Cyberlink's MediaEspresso 6.5, which can take advantage of Intel Quick Sync technology, as well as leverage NVIDIA's CUDA / NVENC technology, or simply run on the CPU alone.

Intel Quick Sync Technology vs. Discrete GPU
Media Encoding

In this test, we took a 277MB AVCHD MTS file recorded using a Canon HD camcorder and converted it to an H.264 encoded MP4 compatible file designed for use with an iPhone / iPad (or other portable media playback device).

Quick Sync with the Core i5-3470 worked as expected, which is to say extremely fast. When using MediaEspresso's 'fast' encoding option, the Core i5-3470 performed identically to the Core i7-3770K. Using the app's higher quality conversion option, however, slowed things down to the point where the Core i5-3470 trailed the other Ivy Bridge chip by a few seconds, but it was still faster than the i7-2700K.


Full Screen, 1080P Flash Video of "The Avengers" From Youtube.com

We monitored CPU utilization while playing back a number of different multimedia file types on the Core i5-3470 / HD 2500 with very good results. Regardless of the file type, CPU utilization was always low. What you see pictured above is the 1080P movie trailed for "The Avengers" playing from Youtube.com, full screen. CPU utilization remained in the single-digits throughout and image quality was very good.
 

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Power Consumption and Overclocking

Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we also monitored how much power our test systems consumed using a power meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the processors alone.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested At The Outlet

The Core i5-3470's power consumption characteristics where right in line with, albiet somewhat lower than, the Core i7-3700K. Idle power was slightly higher, but the Core i5-3470's load power was--as expected--somewhat lower.

Overclocking the Core i5-3470
Not Fully Unlocked, But Still Fun

The Core i5-3470 is not a K-series processor, so it is not fully unlocked, but there are still some sizable performance gains to be had by overclocking. As we've mentioned, the Core i5-3470’s maximum multiplier can be set to only four bins higher than its peak Turbo multiplier. Since the base clock is 100MHz and the Core i5-3470 has a peak Turbo frequency of 3.6GHz, its max stock Turbo multiplier is 36. Through overclocking, that multiplier can be increased to 40, for a peak Turbo frequency of 4.0GHz. Manipulating the base clock can also add a bit more juice, however, to the tune of an additional 5-7%.

Using only the stock Intel air cooler and a modest .1v bump in voltage, we were able to take the Core i5-3470 up to 4.2GHz using a multiplier of 40 and a base clock of 106MHz. Ivy bridge has shown to have much more headroom available than what we've achieved, so as long as you've got decent cooling and a good motherboard, pushing the i5-3470 to its limit should be no problem.

While we had the Core i5-3470 overclocked, we re-ran the Cinebench multi-threaded benchmark and saw a nice increase in performance. The CPU wasn't able to catch the HT-enabled Core i7-2700K, but it was nipping at its heals.

We also monitored power consumption while the Core i5-3470 was overclocked and saw a moderate 47W increase in power consumption.

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Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: Although it is not targeted at the ultra high end market, the Core i5-3470 offers excellent performance nonetheless. The Core i5-3470’s somewhat lower clocks, smaller L3 cache, and lack of Hyper-Threading obviously lower its CPU performance versus Intel’s current flagship Ivy Bridge-based Core i7-3770K processor, but the deltas separating the two chips are relatively small in single- or lightly-threaded workloads; it’s only with heavily multi-threaded situations that the Core i5-3470 significantly trails Intel’s higher-end processors.

The Core i5-3470’s integrated HD 2500 series graphics engine is a different story altogether, however. While the Intel HD 2500 graphic engine probably performs well enough for the majority of mainstream computer users out there, it offers roughly half the performance of the HD 4000 engine available in some higher-end processors and doesn’t compete very well with even entry-level discrete graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA.

The Intel Core i5-3470 should be available very soon at a price right around $184 (in 1K quantities). At that price, the Core i5-3470 should be a compelling option, although we expect street prices to be somewhat higher. The lower-end Core i5-3450, for example, is currently selling for $199. Prices are either going to drop a bit on lower-end Ivy Bridge-based processors or retailers are going to charge a small premium for the Core i5-3470. We’d bet on retailers charging a small premium for now.

Regardless, the Core i5-3470 is a nice upper mid-range processor for anyone looking to build a cutting edge system without breaking the bank. It’s not fully unlocked, so hardcore overclockers should probably look elsewhere, but for those looking to put together an affordable system around Ivy Bridge, the Core i5-3470 is a compelling option.

 

  • Good Performance
  • Relatively Low Power Consumption
  • Quick Sync 2.0
  • Competitive Pricing

 

  • Only Partially Unlocked
  • Wimpy Integrated Graphics
  • No Hyper-Threading



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