Intel Arrandale Core i5 and Core i3 Mobile Unveiled

Test Setup and Vital Signs

Looking around under the hood of an Arrandale notebook was an interesting ride but our evaluation wouldn't be complete without a full sweet of performance numbers.  Below is how our test machine was configured and all test machines used for reference metrics, though obviously built on different Intel architectures, utilized the same amount of system memory (DDR2 or DDR3, depending on the platform), as well as the same Intel X25M SSD as its OS drive. Here's what CPU-Z tells us about the Asus Arrandale notebook we tested...


We actually had a tough time getting the Core i5 540M processor to settle down long enough in CPU-Z such that we could pull a screen shot at the processor's stock 2.53GHz core speed.  The CPU actually employs a base X19 multiplier with a 133MHz reference clock, though as you can see here, even at near-idle conditions, the core was in turbo mode with a 20X multiplier.  It was pretty interesting actually, watching the core bounce up and down so much depending on workload.  Arrandale is easily the most dynamic processor to date for Intel in this regard.  Though it only has two physical cores to manage, clock speeds vary widely depending on what you're running at the time. 

On another note, as you can see, Arrandale is built with 64K L1 instruction/data cache and 256K L2 cache per core, along with 3MB shared L3 cache.

Asus Arramdale-Based K42F Notebook
Hardware Specifications - As Tested
  • Intel Core i5 M 540 2.53GHz (3.06GHz Max Turbo Frequency
  • 4GB DDR3-1066 (2x2GB) SDRAM
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD
  • 14-inch 1366x768 LED backlit display
  • Intel 80GB X25-M SATA SSD
  • DVD-Multi Recorder/Blu-ray Combo Drive
  • Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 Wireless
  • GbE Ethernet
  • 63 WHr Battery
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • VGA and HDMI output
  • 3 USB ports
  • Kensington Lock port
Firing up the Asus K42F for the first time, we were met with a responsive and snappy desktop experience that Windows 7 rated a 4.6 on a scale of up to 7.9.  Here, desktop Aero performance was our limiting factor, followed by gaming graphics.  However, Intel's previous generation GMA 4500 series typically scores in the mid to low 3s, while an NVIDIA Ion-based (Geforce 9400M) machine pulls down low 4s to a low 5 range for the 3D gaming section.  In other words, as far as Windows 7 is concerned, Intel's graphics subsystem is nearly on par with competitive IGP solutions from NVIDIA and AMD.  We'll see if this actually pans out the in the benchmarks to follow however.

Update January 6, 2010: Due to an issue with out K42F sample's memory, our initial benchmark results were lower than expect. We have since re-run our tests and updated the scores as necessary.

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