Pros: Fast; has Intel HyperThreading; good for multitasking
Cons: Installation may be frightening to newcomers, Intel HD Graphics isn't up to AMD Trinity
Review: Intel i3-2125
The Intel i3-2125 is Intel's highest end Sandy Bridge processor in the budget category. With only two cores, can it compare?
The Sandy Bridge processor market has steadily fallen down, and with that price. Originally with an MSRP of $159.99, the processor can be bought for $119.99.
The i3-2125 is a dual-core processor with four threads featuring a 3.3 GHz core clock, Intel HyperThreading, Intel HD Graphics 3000, and TDP of 65W. The low TDP is perfect for an HTPC setting, which I used it for.
Upon opening the box, Intel packages the processor, an Intel i3 stock heatsink (different from the i5/i7 heatsink in that it does not have a copper slug at the contact point), and a manual.
Installation of the processor for a first-timer was easy but somewhat frightening. After installing the processor in the socket, the force needed to secure the processor was much more than any AMD processor I had installed, and during installation the motherboard produces a sound that for newcomers like me may sound like the motherboard is about to break and shatter to bits. Fortunately, that is not the case.
After booting the PC for the first time, the sound level of the stock heatsink was remarkably low. The coil whine coming from the PSU I had used in the build (CX500V2) was louder than the heatsink's sound output. Even when stress testing, I found the sound level to be very acceptable.
When multitasking under Windows 8, the i3 handled all without a hitch. Surfing the web with multiple tabs in Chrome was very smooth and even having multiple apps and multiple tabs in Chrome was handled fairly smoothly as well. However, the Intel HD 3000 graphics aren't the best for GPU-accelerated web browsing and such and certainly not gaming.
The Intel i3-2125 is a very easy to use processor that will handle almost all current-day tasks without a hitch. Its price and low power draw are enticing to many budget gamers and HTPC builders, respectively, and HyperThreading may be of use to budget photo/video renderers. I would suggest using the current top-end i3 processor, the i3-3225, as it utilizes the Ivy Bridge architecture, has a lower TDP, and probably a bit faster.
Score: 4/5 Flames