Intel Core i5 540M review

Intel's CPU-GPU fusion chip goes mobile

Intel Core i5 540M
Intel's CPU-GPU fusion processors finally find their feet

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    Monster mobile performance

  • +

    Modest power consumption

  • +

    Who needs quad-core?


  • -

    Very nearly nothing

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With every new generation of PC processor comes high expectations.

Being faster, more efficient and cheaper than the CPU before is pretty much par for the course. And yet with its latest dual-core mobile chip, the Core i5-540M, Intel has still managed to blow away even our most lofty expectations.

The funny thing is, it could so easily have gone badly. This is the first example in a laptop of what is typically known as a CPU-GPU fusion processor.

In other words, a CPU and a graphics processor in a single package. According to both Intel and its chief rival in the computer chip game, AMD, fusion processors are the shape of things to come.

That doesn't necessarily make them a good thing, however, as our first taste of fusion on the desktop earlier this month proved.

The issue on the desktop is that stuffing a relatively weedy integrated graphics core into a CPU does little but compromise the thermal footprint of what would otherwise be a stunning new 32nm dual-core processor from Intel.

Make it mobile

However, for a mobile PC, the idea of reducing the chip count and thereby system complexity makes much more sense. Smaller, simpler motherboards and fewer power-hungry chips is always a good idea for a laptop.

Likewise, graphics performance tends to be less critical, particularly when running on battery power.

So there's real value in stuffing a graphics core in with the CPU if it delivers physical and power consumption efficiencies. All of which means the whole idea of CPU-GPU fusion processors is much more of a goer for mobile.


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