Intel has posted an upgrade service page on their website which indicates that Intel will again be offering upgradeable CPUs. This is not totally unheard of since Intel offered a similar service for Pentium G6951 a year ago. Back then, $50 bought you Hyper-Threading and 1MB more L3 cache, and the SKU of the CPU changed to G6952. This time Intel has expanded the lineup and the upgrade service is available for three CPUs: i3-2312M, i3-2102 and Pentium G622. Unfortunately we don't know the price yet but we do know that the upgrade offers higher frequency and possibly increased amount of cache. Here are the CPU before and after the upgrade:

CPU Before Upgrade CPU After Upgrade Performance increase
i3-2312M (2.1GHz, 3MB) i3-2393M (2.5GHz, 4MB) 10-19%
i3-2102 (3.1GHz, 3MB) i3-2153 (3.6GHz, 3MB) 12-15%
Pentium G622 (2.6GHz, 3MB) Pentium G693 (3.2GHz, 3MB) 15-23%

The after CPUs have not been released so the specs are just calculations based on the performance gains Intel reported. 

Upgrading the CPU is very simple. All you need is the upgrade card. Then download the installer from Intel's site and run it. At some point, you will be asked to insert the code from the upgrade card (no, you can't get this for free). 

The need for such upgrade is fairly small though. We don't know the price so it's hard to say can the upgrade be worth it or not, but if the price will end up being $50 like before, it's pretty expensive for 10-23% gains. Pentium G622 costs only ~$65, meaning that you get 23% performance increase for 77% more money. Not exactly a bargain. i3s cost a bit more but even then, you aren't getting a good performance/price ratio. 

The only useful scenario could be with OEM PCs when you may not be able to select a specific CPU and upgrading the CPU can be harder (or even impossible) and may void the warranty. Intel has blocked overclocking in non-K CPUs, so you are stuck with the stock frequency. In some rare occasions where the extra CPU speed is really needed, paying the upgrade price can be worth it. However, what we are looking at are low-end CPUs, so anyone who needs a powerful CPU should look at Intel's i5 and i7 lineups in the first place. 

Source: Intel

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  • MGSsancho - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I wonder how many haters will post below me. I also doubt anyone that frequents this site will actually but an i3 for themselves regardless.
  • Daniel Egger - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I bet many of AT readers also bought Atom or other devices so why not? The i3 has plenty of performance if you don't need more of it desperately.

    Actually I've been looking into another cheap (sub-)notebook with SnB Core i3 for some time now. Only requirements are much more horsepower than Atom and a decent GigE connection (which rules out most of the contenders and the MacBook Air unfortunately). The Lenovo IBM ThinkPad X121e is looking quite hot to me ATM.
  • Souka - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Dang... just bought a Lenovo laptop with an i3-2310M which doesn't qualify.

    The i3-2312M does. :(

    Oh well, this laptop's job is to check email, stream netflix, surf's replacing a 1.8GHZ Pentium 4M (yes... a P4....)

  • rs2 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    What are you counting as a "hater"? I like Intel CPU's, my old Core2 Quad system is still running strong and I've got an Atom-based server that works flawlessly and uses about the same amount of power as a nite-light. I've got nothing against Intel.

    But I do think the idea of charging for what is basically a software overclock is pretty low.
  • Taft12 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    It's especially low since Intel has locked out users from manually overclocking any desktop CPU that doesn't end in a -K (those all cost over $200, natch!)

    So now overclocking *IS* coming to i3 and Pentium CPUs.... But you need to pay Intel to do it for you.

    Now do you see why the hate is valid? I encourage everyone not to bother with the hate, just buy AMD instead. Those of you who own an i5-2500K or i7-2600K (ie. a hell of a lot of AT readers) -- please realize that you are part of the problem.
  • LauRoman - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I can argument for or against this behaviour.

    If it costs them the same to produce the chip why not make the more powerful one? Unless the power consuption delta is significant they're just after more money. However if they sell the less powerfull ones at somewhat of a loss or make an intentionally decreased margin on them so that they are a bit cheapear and later if consumer wants they can upgrade, i have no inherent problem with that. I don't exactly know if i have a bigger issue with hardware artificially crippled processors like the Celerons or software cripples like these i3s.
  • Sagath - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    I think you misunderstand how the CPU (and indirectly the GPU) market works.

    You're assuming that this has to do with 'max power' (ghz/cache) level of chips coming out of the factory. This is a fallacy. It is not a matter of Intel saying "Well, all our chips can run at 4ghz, so lets make it so". The market dictates the price and performance of the chips, and intel wants to maximize profits via sales.

    For example: Not everyone is willing to pay $300 for a CPU, but are willing to spend $200. Thus, thru analysis and market research Intel tries to determine how many CPU's at $x they can sell, and how many at $x-30 they can sell to maximize total dollars in. Sometimes a chip comes out with a bad cache, yes. This could make it a celeron when they bin it, yes. However, there are lots of i7 920's out there that overclock to well above 960's speeds for this same line of thought.

    In the end, all processors are 'artificially' crippled to some extent or another. By binning the processors they can fill ALL the market requirements while maximizing profits. This is all Intel/AMD and every company care about.
  • ramzyfire - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    That is not true. The reason cpu are down-clocked is due to the imperfections in the chip itself; that's why people don't get the same overclocking results. This case is obviously different and intel is charging people for a cpu overclock. This isn't a big deal because we pay motherboard manufacturers a hefty sum for the ability to overclock our systems.
  • xsilver - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    somewhat true but for bottom segment cpu's they are all likely underclocked rather than having imperfections. Intel has to offer cheap cpu's even though their factory is capable of producing much better cpu's.

    They can of course offer mid range cpu's are low range prices, but they would be shooting themselves in the foot.
  • Ratman6161 - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    ...that when making these calculations,I doubt Intel or AMD give a whole lot of thought to those of us doing DIY system builds. I would think that they are most concerned about selling CPU's to Dell, HP, lenovo, Apple, etc and what we end up paying on NewEgg is not a big concern for them.

    Since Dell and HP are there big concerns they also have to take into consideration what overall system prices will be for the OEM's

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