Intel Core i3-10100 Review. How good is an intel core i3

Understanding these letters and the numbering system above will help you find out what the CPU offers by simply looking at the model number without having to read the actual specs.

Core i3, i5 and i7: What You Need To Know About Intel Processors

Intel is one of the most popular brands in the field of gaming processors and hardware. They make a variety of products that can be found in almost every brand of computer, laptop or mobile device available.

When choosing your next computer, you need to be able to determine which processor will suit your lifestyle. You should get one that can handle the demands of your job or provide good performance for your routine games.

The last thing you would like to do is choose the wrong CPU and suffer from slow performance and end up buying a new computer.

What Do Processor Labels Mean?

I3, i5, and i7 and even the simple “Intel Pentium Inside” label actually mean something, and Intel deliberately named the processors this way to get rid of the confusion of labeling them by performance ratings.

So it is now clear that the numbers show progress in terms of performance. The higher the number the better! So those labeled “Intel Pentium Inside” are entry-level processors that are good for everyday tasks. It is good for document processing and other activities performed by average users. But what about these “i” series processors? Here’s a simple summary of what each can do (at least the basics).

Combine that with the fact that few consumer apps actually need the number of threads that Hyper-Threading sometimes handles – and it’s easy to see why it’s a little redundant now.

Intel Core i3-10100 Specs

Number of cores 4
Number of threads 8
Fundamental clock frequency 3.6 GHz
Maximum boost timer 4.3 GHz
Unlocked Multiplier? No
Compatibility of sockets Intel LGA 1151
Lithography 14 nautical miles
L3 cache amount 6 MB
Assessment of design heat output (TDP 65 watts
Integrated graphics Intel UHD 630 graphics card
Integrated graphics base clock 350 MHz
Radiator included Intel Stock Cooler

As the entry-level Core chip in the 10th Gen Intel desktop processor range, the Core i3-10100 (122) parachutes onto the market battlefield. AMD’s Ryzen 3 3300X ($ 120) has been busy throwing Intel’s current gaming-focused line of processors out of the sky in terms of value as well as performance in lightly threaded games. So how does the Core i3-10100 cope with such firepower? He hides mostly.

The Core i3-10100 is sometimes slower than its predecessor, the Core i3-9100, and the 3300X has proven itself as a quad-core processor that outweighs its weight in popular games, making it a hot choice for budget-conscious PC builders and buyers. Unless you need on-board graphics or you need to be on an Intel LGA 1200 socket, the Ryzen 3 3300X is the categorically better choice (and if you need on-board graphics, the $ 99 AMD Ryzen 3 3200G can end the fight). Otherwise, in these limited scenarios, the Core i3-10100 is sufficiently diligent in doing its part in the Intel stack. The Ryzen 3 3300X and 3200G just do better for the money at AMD.

Since 1982, PCMag has tested and evaluated thousands of products to help you make better purchasing decisions. (See how we test.)

Intel Core i3-10100 Specs: AMD Keeps the Pressure On

To start our discussion of the Intel Core i3-10100 and where it compares to the core AMD processors, let’s take a look at some of the core specs of both.

The quad-core / eight-thread Intel Core i3-10100 lands on the 10th Generation stack as Intel’s entry-level processor, the next step over the Celeron or Pentium. And at least on paper it looks like an upgrade in every way from the Intel Core i3-9100 for the same price. On the street, the CPU is both widely available at the time of publication (the same cannot be said for the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X), and is also cheaper than the original Intel recommended selling price of $ 122 (between $ 110 and $ 120, depending on where you are doing) shopping).

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Intel Core i9-10900K

Intel Core i5-10600K

The chip also adds a critical feature that was missing from several Intel 9th ​​generation desktop chipsets, including the Core i3-9100: Hyper-Threading. The Intel Core i3-10100 now supports up to eight threads on its four cores, but as we discovered in our benchmarks, the return of this feature in Gen 10 (especially at this processor tier) may not be a welcome return to the gift we were hoping for.

Now it’s time to talk about the £ 1,200 LGA gorilla in the room. Sure, Intel’s insistence on requesting another platform upgrade from its users as part of the 10th gen transition in 2020 could make sense at the Intel Core i9-10900K for $ 488 ($ 549) or even the average (about $ -275) Intel Core i5-10600K, depending on the functions you need. But for the Core i3 price level? A new motherboard can cost more than the chip itself!

As part of the transition from LGA 1151 to LGA 1200, Intel Core i3-10100 is only compatible with motherboards that use one of the following chipsets that are new for 2020: Intel B460, H410, H470 or Z490. (This should also work with LGA 1200 based motherboards for the upcoming 11th Gen “Rocket Lake” CPUs.) There are many budget chipset options on this line, but on budget or otherwise, it’s hard to stand what AMD is currently offering for platform compatibility.

For starters, the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G, Ryzen 3 3200G, and Ryzen 3 3300X are compatible with the same socket: Socket AM4. The same courtesy extends to many members of the Zen family, but with processors under $ 150, the difference between “upgrading today” and “not yet” can often depend on the cost of a new motherboard between generations or if you need one at all.

To offset some of the cost benefits that an AMD Ryzen 3 3100 or Ryzen 3 3300X may have over Intel at this price, the Core i3-10100 returns with the inclusion of an integrated UHD Graphics 630 (IGP) graphics processor, eliminating the need for a separate graphics card. This more honestly puts the Core i3-10100 in competition with the Zen + -based AMD Ryzen 3 3200G for $ 99 or the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G for around $ 150 on both sides, with their Radeon RX Vega 8 and RX Vega 11 IGP, respectively. (Remember these AMD chips are thin at these prices in early 2021 due to supply issues.)

Intel includes the familiar basic cooling chip in every Core i3-10100 box, which makes sense at this processor level. Often times, CPU buyers under $ 200 (and especially those who buy CPUs with IGP) just want something they can install in one go and don’t have to think about it. In this role, the Intel factory cooling system is doing well. Players may still want to sit down with something a bit stronger, but that will get the job done.

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How many cores do I need – and what’s happened to Hyper-Threading?

These days – and the last few years – you won’t find any Intel Core i3 processors with just two cores (i.e dual-core).

Now, instead, affordable Intel Core i3 chips have four cores (that is, quad-core). This means that you gain more versatility in terms of multitasking and multithreading when performing basic computing tasks – giving the entire board faster speeds than older dual-core chips.

Intel processors

The rest of Intel’s offering has also been improved. Core i5 chips now have six cores. This bodes well for heavier software to work with and run multiple applications simultaneously.

The top-of-the-line Core i7 parts include eight cores – giving you even more power to run demanding software and multiple applications simultaneously. This is an improvement over the six cores contained in the previous Core i7s.

So no matter which chip you buy, you have enough cores to handle your daily work. Just take a look at more cores if you want to run more difficult applications – such as advanced games, photo editing tools, or video software.

Previous generations of Core i3 and i7 processors relied on something called Hyper-Threading. It is a technique that enables each physical core to work on two tasks simultaneously.

This made sense for chips with fewer cores as it was a shortcut to better multitasking. However, Hyper-Threaded cores are never as effective as actual physical cores – and there are more and more of these these days.

Combine that with the fact that few consumer apps actually need the number of threads that Hyper-Threading sometimes handles – and it’s easy to see why it’s a little redundant now.

And yes, that is gone – at least in popular desktop chipsets. Instead of Hyper-Threading, the latest Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors now have enough improved physical cores to handle single-threaded tasks and typical multi-threaded workloads

On desktops, Hyper-Threading is currently only available on Intel Core i9 systems. These processors are expensive, have tons of cores, and are designed for professional workloads – such as creative tasks and workstation applications. For ordinary consumers, they are simply irrelevant.

Hyper-threading remains more prevalent in laptops, where Core i5 and i7 parts still use this technology.

Clock Speeds, Cache & Turbo Boost

So the basic situation is easier than ever – you’ll get four, six or eight cores and don’t have to worry about Hyper-Threading.

Elsewhere, consider the speeds and cache of each new CPU. Faster speeds mean faster computing tasks, and a larger L3 cache also improves performance.

There are two speeds to consider: base speed and Turbo Boost speed.

Turbo Boost enables processors to dynamically increase speed if more processing power is needed – and if the processor has a reserve of performance and temperature.

For the first time, Intel Core i3 chips now include Turbo Boost. The latest Core i3 chips have a speed of 3.6 to 4 GHz and their turbo speeds range from 4.2 to 4.6 GHz. They have 6 or 8 MB of L3 cache.

Core i5 chips have base speeds ranging from 2.9 to 3.7 GHz, and Turbo from 4.1 to 4.6 GHz. They have 9MB of L3 cache.

The Core i7 parts are the most powerful. Their base speeds range from 3 to 3.6 GHz, and their turbo peaks are in the range of 4.7 to 4.9 GHz. They have 12 MB of L3 cache.

If both processors are active and using hyper-threading, these four virtual cores will run faster. Note, however, that physical cores are faster than virtual cores. Quad-core CPU will perform much better than hyper-threading dual-core CPU!

The Core choice is yours

If you need a helping hand with a few examples of different PC builds, check out our buying guide for desktop processors:

Tools such as CPU Boos are also available to make it easy to compare two CPUs. Overall, the Core i3 is more affordable, the Core i5 is good for most general purposes, and the Core i7 is for enthusiasts and those who demand maximum performance.

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The above results show the pinnacle of what the Core i3-10100 should be capable of in stock, given the luxury test bench it was placed in, and it still performs well under the new standard set by AMD and its Zen and APU based processors.

i5 lineup

Core (threads) Base clock speed Turbo clock speed TDP Overlocking?
Core i5 8400T 6 (6) 1.7 GHz 3.3 GHz 35 W No
Core i5 8400 6 (6) 2.8 GHz 4.0 GHz 65 W No
Core i5 8500T 6 (6) 2.1 GHz 3.5 GHz 35 W No
Core i5 8500 6 (6) 3.0 GHz 4.1 GHz 65 W No
Core i5 8600T 6 (6) 2.3 GHz 3.7 GHz 35 W No
Core i5 8600 6 (6) 3.1 GHz 4.3 GHz 65 W No
Core i5 8600K 6 (6) 3.6 GHz 4.3 GHz 95 W Yes

When comparing the i5 with the i3 we can see that an extra 2 cores and threads were obtained, as well as better and faster speeds. This gives a huge performance boost.

I3 Vs I5 Benchmarks

By looking at the benchmarks, you can really see where each CPU line shines, and clear up some of the confusion with having multiple lines.

We’ll look at the top candidates for both lines – the i3-8350K and i5-8600K – as well as the i5-8400 in some later tests where no good data was available for the i5-8600K.

The Setup

When it comes to gaming, the i3-8350K and i5-8600K perform very well, being able to run 1080p without issue and most of the 1440p at 60fps. However, we’ll use a few different benchmarks to explore how good each is:

  1. The guys at Tom’s Hardware did a great job presenting benchmarks for each CPU, both gaming and workstation, and did some great benchmarks for 8600K for 1440p games.
  2. For the i3 and 1440p games, we’ll also look at benchmarks made by the people of Gamer’s Nexus.

Intel Core I5 Vs I3: Gaming Benchmarks

Before we get into both charts, it’s important to know how the processors are measured. In this case, gaming performance is judged in frames per second or FPS. This is how many game frames you see per second. The more frames are rendered per second, the smoother the gameplay will be. The higher the FPS, the better.

middle earth

Interestingly, in this case the i3 actually beats the i5 (though it’s only a few frames so it’s not really that significant).

The big car V

GTA V is a bit more demanding than Shadows of Mordor. In this case, we can see how the i5-8600K is ahead of the i3-8350K; however, when the i3-8350K is OCed to 5.0 GHz, it leads in the pack. Undoubtedly the i5-8600K would have done even better on the OCed, but they haven’t tested it so we don’t see it.

1440p Gaming

DX Battleground


The two charts above only track the i5, but still show us some useful data. For example, the i5-8600K isn’t really far behind the pair of i7s that have been tested.

GTA V test

It’s worth noting that this is another GTAV benchmark, but the i3 scores higher than in the above tests at 1080p. Well, of course that’s because the GPU is better in this case.

In any case, we see again that the OCing i3-8350K is ahead of all i5 models we tested. Oh, and that also nips on the hills of the i7 models.

Overall, when it comes to gaming, the i5-8600K is only slightly ahead of the i3-8350K in benchmarks. This makes sense because gaming is more graphics card than CPU dependent, and that’s often where you’ll find your biggest bottlenecks.

When it comes to gaming, the i3-8350K and i5-8600K perform very well, being able to run 1080p without issue and most of the 1440p at 60fps. However, we’ll use a few different benchmarks to explore how good each is:

Intel Core i7 vs i5 vs i3: Cache Size

In addition to Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost, another major difference in the Core offering is the cache size. The cache is the CPU’s own memory and acts like its private RAM. Upgrading to a newer processor with a larger cache is one of the improvements that will benefit your PC the most.

As with RAM, a larger cache size is better. So if the processor runs one task multiple times, it will keep it in its cache. If the processor can store more tasks in its private memory, it can execute them faster if they reappear.

The latest generations of Core i3 processors typically contain 4 to 8 MB of Intel Smart Cache. The Core i5 series has 6MB to 12MB of Intel Smart Cache and the Core i7 series has 12MB to 24MB of cache. The Intel Core i9 series tops the list with each CPU ranging from 16MB to 24MB of Intel Smart Cache.

Intel Graphics: Xe, HD, UHD, Iris, Iris Pro, or Plus

Since graphics were integrated into the processor chip, integrated graphics became an important decision point when purchasing processors. But as with everything else, Intel has made the system a little confusing.

Intel Graphics Technology is a generic term for all integrated Intel graphics cards. Within this, there are different generations of Intel’s integrated graphics technology, confusingly referred to both by series names and by the names of generations. Are you still following?

  • Intel HD Graphics was first introduced in 2010 as the first series under this umbrella, but it’s actually Gen5 (5th generation) in terms of development.
  • Intel Iris Graphics and Intel Iris Pro Graphics were introduced in 2013 and are integrated Gen7 graphics units. Iris Pro Graphics units were quite a novelty at the time as they integrated DRAM into the module which further increased the graphics performance.
  • Intel UHD graphics was introduced to the market with Intel 10th generation mobile processors and is only available on certain laptop processor models.
  • Intel Xe (known as Integrated Graphics Gen12) was a giant leap forward in integrated graphics, using a new architecture to deliver much higher integrated graphics performance than previous generations. Adding to the confusion, some Intel UHD Graphics models use Intel Xe architecture, making the water even more muddy.

Best advice on how to interpret them? Just don’t do it. Rely on Intel’s naming system instead. If your CPU model ends in HK, you know it’s a high-performance model with an unlocked CPU. If it ends in G, it means it’s a dedicated GPU, not one of Intel’s chips.

The Ryzen 3 3200G, as its own budget gaming engine, regularly hits 60fps at 1080p and even breaks the limit in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, compared to the Intel Core i3-10100’s score of just 35fps in the same benchmark.

Power and thermals

If you want a desktop that doesn’t require too much cooling, the lower wattage Core i3 processors are a good option. The Core i5s will still run with factory cooling, but with more cores and higher clock rates (especially the K series) it will provide a higher TDP, which means more power supply and cooling are needed. This can make your PC louder and provide aftermarket cooling to keep temperatures and noise levels low.

TDP is arguably more important in mobile devices as it affects weight, size, noise level, and battery life. Lower TDP usually means better battery life and a lighter, more portable design, though not always. This would suggest a Core i3 would be better, but attention should be paid to the next-gen i5. Many of them have a wider TDP range depending on what you are doing, which means they are more efficient and can help extend battery life and keep it cool with intelligent power management.

Core i3s will do for most, but don’t discount a Core i5

Making your choice comes down to what you need from your CPU, but Intel doesn’t make it easy with so many options available. Each generation of Core i3 processors are solid general-use chips that can handle light workloads, multimedia browsing, web browsing, and entry-level gaming with ease.

10th generation processors have greatly improved on-board graphics that surpassed previous iterations and 11th generation mobile devices.

If the Core i3 does not meet your expectations, you can turn to the Core i5. The Core i5 is more expensive, but it’s worth it because of the increased speed, cores, and threads that make its performance unmatched.

It should be mentioned that the Core i5 often has higher power and heat requirements. That being said, make sure you only buy what you need or what you’ll only use for a short time. While it may seem logical to move on with the update in the hope that you’ll be using it in the long term, you may be wasting energy and other computing resources on the Core i5 in the meantime.

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