The HD 3000 was a trade-off. The only other option was a Radeon, and I really didn't want to chase that dog and pony show around the mulberry bush.
I googled, researched, called people, emailed, hemmed, hawed, thunked real hard, and chewed my bottom lip until I had sore spots all around my mouth and had damn near overheated the wetware beyond recovery looking for the right compromise between performance and thermal disaster ... and this was the result.
Well ... that's kind of inaccurate. I had settled on the i5 model, but when I called in to order, this one matched pretty much exactly, with the exception of the addition of the i7 and the 802.11b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth with WiDi module ... and it came in over a $150.00USD cheaper.
And in hindsight, the i7 is indeed the cat's meow for crunching photos. But ... it comes at the cost of more cores, therefore more heat and less battery life, but 99% of the time it's plugged in anyway.
I do have to admit that it's a little weird seeing eight "CPUs" showing up in the system monitor charts, though. Other than the HDD performance, I think it might actually be faster than this AMD Phenom II 4x 965 beast of a desktop. <..