I'm looking to buy a new laptop and I'm not sure which to go with. The only issue I'm not sure on is cpu. I've looked at benchmark scores and tried to find other post comparing these cpu's and can't seem to come up with an answer. Which is better, i3 2310M or Phenom II N970?
I would say alot depends on your apps, the 2310 is more powerful per core but the N970 has more cores thant the intel. So if you run mainly single threaded apps the I3 would do better whereas the n970 woud do better with apps that could utilize all 4 of its cores.
I know it's a little late but whether or not the OP wants to play games or not, it is better to trade a little CPU power (which will not be noticed under most activities) for better graphics. Applications are evolving quickly to use graphics power - for instance most video playback is done on the GPU rather than the CPU, browsers are starting to support gpu rendering, flash supports gpu, etc.
Honestly the speed of your CPU is a little redundant for anything but the very cheapest 2-cores for the vast majority of users.