Intel Core 2 Duo 3.06 vs Core i3 3.06

Discussion in 'iMac' started by G-Mo, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. G-Mo macrumors 6502


    Nov 6, 2010
    Auckland, NZ
    I have an opportunity to pick up a late 2009 21.5" iMac at a great price, I'm also looking at a similar machine from mid 2010... Both iMac 21.5", both 500GB 7200rpm, both 4GB RAM, both wireless keyboard, both magic mouse. The difference is one is Intel Core 2 Duo 3.06GHz the other is Intel Core i3 3.06GHz. I was going to upgrade the purchased unit to 8GB RAM, but with the cost difference I could upgrade the C2D to 16GB RAM and still pay less than the i3. I've got an i5 MBP on order but have otherwise not worked with iX processors before, for general home use (iTunes, Mail, iPhoto, Safari), is the i3 that significantly better we are going to notice the difference??
  2. AngryRedTicTac, Nov 24, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011

    AngryRedTicTac macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2011
    The i3 will crush the C2D, it's a solid 30-40% faster, and is well worth it vs the C2D. Get the 2010, put another pair of 2gb sticks in it and call it a day. Much better machine, you should be able to tell a little difference in everyday tasks, but start multi-tasking and the gap will widen nicely.
  3. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    I'm sure comparing benchmark numbers of each CPU type will show RAW speed comparisons. One thing to keep in mind that RAW speed numbers don't always equal reality results. For example, mail, iphoto, iTunes, word processing, the CPU sits idle 99% of the time anyway. Especially with easy apps like mail and iPhoto. And for U-Tube (data streaming) and Safari surfing, the system speed delay is often Internet access bandwidth limitations, not the system's CPU. re: IP Ping test to/from Internet cloud device has same response numbers on either CPU. I'm sure in standalone mode (like doing games and other heavy lifting local apps), the i3 is faster.
  4. bvanlieu macrumors member

    Dec 28, 2008
    Always get as much CPU as you can within reason. You can add RAM later. You won't every be adding CPU in an iMac :)

    The i3 is significantly faster then the CD2. I had the same choice going with refurb CD2 or i3...I spent $200 more on my 27" for the i3 IIRC. For me, it wasn't worth it to spend an additional $300 on a quad core i7. That was my personal value position.

    - b
  5. Michael383 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2011
    I'd get the 21.5" iMac with the Intel Core i3 3.06GHz.
  6. TrollToddington macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2011
    Would you like another point of view?

    From the list of programs you've provided I guess you are getting the computer for home usage (iTunes, iPhoto/Aperture, watching videos, browsing the Internet and so on). Neither of those programs require fast processing speeds.

    Speaking of raw processor + RAM speeds, here are the results both machines you're interested in scored: (source: )

    iMac (21.5-inch Mid 2010) Intel Core i3 540 3.07 GHz (2 cores) - 5670
    iMac (Late 2009) Intel Core 2 Duo E7600 3.06 GHz (2 cores) - 4210

    (32 bit performance, higher score is better)

    The i3 appears to be ~35% faster than C2D. On the other hand, here is the score of the base iMac 21.5-inch 2011:

    iMac (21.5-inch Mid 2011) Intel Core i5-2400S 2.5 GHz (4 cores) - 7257

    And the base 2011 Sandy Bridge appears to be ~27% faster than the i3 and ~72% faster than the C2D. It is safe to assume that the 2012 base iMac Ivy Bridge will be ~20% faster than 2011 base Sandy Bridge (and twice faster than C2D) and so on.

    I think either of the computers you're offered would do. If you're looking into exporting 1080p videos even the i3 will be ridiculously slow (it took it 30 minutes to export a 3 minute slideshow in Aperture). Where you'll notice C2D is slower is when you import your CD library or process very large RAW files or heavy batch jobs in Aperture. However, my mates run Photoshop on even slower C2D machines - one of them is a semi-professional photographer. Both computers can run Lion OS so they are future-proofed

    The only question is how much you'd like to spend on a computer. Had I been in your shoes (and my present knowledge of Macs) I'd have saved some money and got the C2D.
  7. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    To the OP, you don't mention the final cost fully configured for each. You won't see a big difference in the intended use. Someone mentioned 30-40% difference. I would be amazed if it came out that different even in benchmarking (ok just noted the benchmarks and by current standards even if that is technically a 35% difference or so, that isn't that big of a difference in real computing power, and it still will not matter if price difference is significant). In actual use, the difference shouldn't be significant unless something is wrong with the C2D machine. I noted the mbp on order. It'll probably be faster than either of those imacs. The i3 was basically a low end intel offering. It only seemed like an upgrade because Apple kept the core2 in some models for a longer period of time. Intel had newer options out since 2009.
  8. dylin macrumors 6502a


    Jun 10, 2010

    I guess to help with a decision, prices will need to be mentioned to make a proper analyzation.
  9. TheZA, Nov 26, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011

    TheZA macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2007
    That is easy: i3. For what you look to use it for I don't think you need any thing more than 8 Gb RAM anyway. If you get a lot of page outs, you can add RAM in the future (my prediction is you won't, most of it will sit there idle, but I know what you tend to hear on this board about how 8, 16 , 32 Gb being necessary). Definitely i3.

    Granted the i3 was the low end when it came out, but the bump up from the previous generation low end was substantial (speed wise, see Geekbench). Yes, the i3 doesn't have Turboboost like some i5 and i7, but it has Hyperthread. That is actually a really good low end iMac, IMHO. The C2D was around a long time until just recently, so Apple is going to have to continue to produce stuff for it - and this is a step above that. You should get a good long use out of it.
  10. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    Whatever you do, skip the 16GB of RAM unless you're going to use it. 8GB sounds like more than enough for your needs, and it's a lot cheaper.

    At this point in time, I don't think I would buy a Core2Duo machine. It's old tech, and unless the cost savings is substantial, I just don't see the point. The only exception is if you buy the Core2Duo and use the savings to install an SSD: I'd take a C2D with SSD over an i3 with HDD any day.
  11. CraigM26 macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2011
    Must be raining Core 2 Duos as I have a similar opportunity. :)

    In searching through old threads on here and in other places, based upon my computing needs (zero heavy processing activity and at the most, listening to music while surfing the web or working in iPhoto/Aperature), it seems like the Core 2 Duo would be more than sufficient.

    My Core 2 Duo opportunity is a 4GB 3.06ghz 27 inch, around $1,100. This is in my price range right now and while I know I could at 21.5 i5 for $100 more, I really want the 27 inch.

    My other option is to wait come my bonus is January and get a refurbished 27 inch for $1,400 through our epp discount.

    I am eager to finally get into the world of Mac, but I don't want my entry to be a bump.
  12. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    The difference between the two processors is noticeable but I'm here to tell you the C2D is a solid processor and fully up to the tasks you reference. Jamming additional RAM in is recommended, and at some point you might be wise to swap the hard disk out for a new one... which is another opportunity to upgrade in speed if you go for a 7200RPM unit. (However, hard disk prices have spiked recently due to the flooding in Thailand, which has impacted production, so I'd hold off on discretionary hard disk upgrades for a few months.)

    My early-2010 MBP has the 2.6GHz C2D, and I'm running virtual machines all day. When cost-effective, bus-powered Thunderbolt external drives become available, I'll upgrade my system to an i7 and will surely be delighted. But there's nothing wrong with the C2D.
  13. Aaron from KY macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2010
    Northern Kentucky
  14. CraigM26 macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2011
    So if I were to take a chance on the C2D and say max the memory out to 16GB and consider an HD upgrade, I'd have a more than satisfactory machine for my needs.

    I am leaning to the C2D at the moment, however, to pay for Lion and the memory upgrades for it puts me close to the price of the refurb i5. Then there's also the iMac update that comes later in 2012, but if I were to jump at one of those if I were interested, I'd probably go ahead and give the C2D to one of the kids.

    Just making sure I do all my homework. :)
  15. tears2040 macrumors 6502

    Aug 27, 2010
    A lot of wrong information here, especially regarding youtube. Playing a video on youtube at 1080p requires processor power, an i3 to core2 duo is a significant improvement much like the core 2 duo was to the core duo.

    i3 you have two physical cores + 2 virtual cores for a total of four. That' 4 cores processing material at 3.06ghz which is very fast.

    At this point I would not even consider a core 2 duo unless it were like $500 and even then I would think about it.

    Not as noted if you can come up with more coin I suggest buying the 2011 model imac refurbished which is faster than both machines.
  16. AngryRedTicTac macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2011
    It's hard for me to see 16 gb of memory being a reasonable upgrade for a C2D machine, you can supplement the 4 gigs you have on board already with these, for about 20 bucks, giving you 8, and call it a day. The i3 machine is processor deficient when you start throwing a lot of tasks at it, the slower C2D will really not be usable for most situations requiring 16gigs. That's a lot of heavy lifting for a little processor.
  17. topmounter macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2009
    FEMA Region VIII
    My 2.93 MHz c2d w/ 8GB RAM plays 1080p YouTube video just fine (no stutters, no break-ups).... Flash uses 35-55% of the CPU throughout the Dark Night trailer (1080p, full-screen). I'm still very happy with the performance of this machine.

    That being said, if buying today, buy as much CPU as you can afford. RAM is cheap, easy to install and can be done any time.

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