Fri. May 24th, 2024
Intel Core i3

The line of budget Intel Core i3 processors appeared in 2010, offering fairly fast and inexpensive models for undemanding users. How desktop Core i3s have changed from their inception to the present day – we tell in our material.

1. Core i3-5xx

2007 and 2008 saw the heyday of the Intel Core architecture. Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Extreme processors represented the big league, Core 2 Duo – the productive mass segment. Pentium Dual-Cores were a cheaper alternative to the latter, and the most budget series were represented by even more stripped-down Celerons based on the same architecture.

In September 2008, Intel introduced the Core i7 processors, after which the Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Extreme faded into the background. Exactly a year later, the first Core i5 were introduced, which finally replaced the Core 2 Quad and older Core 2 Duo. The replacement of the younger Core 2 Duo and older Pentium Dual-Core arrived only in January 2010. It became the new Core i3 processors, namely the first two models: i3-530 and i3-540.

The LGA1156 platform, introduced a few months earlier, became a haven for the Core i3. The processors are based on the Westmere architecture, an updated version of the already popular Nehalem. The Clarkdale chip had two cores, but could handle four threads thanks to Hyper-Threading technology. Each core had 256 KB of L2 cache, and a 4 MB L3 cache was shared between both cores.

The same chip was used in the younger Core i5 600 series. In contrast, Core i3 did not have support for Turbo Boost technology, which increased the frequency under load. They operated at a constant frequency: i3-530 at 2.93 GHz, i3-540 at 3.06 GHz. Otherwise, the processors of the i3-5xx and i5-6xx lines were similar.

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Inside the models were hidden two crystals – a processor chip, produced according to 32 nm standards, and an integrated graphics crystal, for the production of which 45 nm technology was used. Thus, Core i3, together with the older Core i5 600 series, became the first Intel processors with integrated HD Graphics. A special FDI interface was used to output it, while a separate DMI bus was used to communicate with the chipset.

Like other LGA1156 CPUs, the Core i3 had a built-in dual-channel DDR3-1333 memory controller and all the functionality of the previously on-board northbridge. The heat dissipation of the models did not exceed 73 W, which was quite close to the predecessors of the Core 2 Duo. Compared to them, the speed of single-threaded calculations practically did not increase, but in multi-threaded workloads the Core i3 was noticeably more productive.

The i3-550 was introduced in May 2010, followed by the i3-560 in August. The key characteristics remained unchanged, only the clock frequencies increased: the older model operated at 3.33 GHz.

2. Core i3-2xxx

Second generation Intel Core processors along with the new LGA1155 platform were introduced in January 2011. Initially, the line included only Core i7 and Core i5. The first Core i3 appeared a month later.

The second generation Core i3 moved to Sandy Bridge architecture. It became noticeably faster than Nehalem at one frequency and received many internal improvements. Now under the processor cover there was one 32 nm crystal, which included the new integrated graphics HD2000/HD3000. It communicated with the cores and L3 cache via a new ring bus.

The L3 cache size decreased from 4 to 3 MB, but in return all cache levels received an increase in operating speed. Support for AVX instructions has appeared, the memory controller has become more efficient. The communication channel with the DMI 2.0 chipset has become twice as fast, expanding peripheral capabilities. But overclocking the Core i3 became unavailable from this generation: now it was the prerogative of K-models, among which were only Core i7 and Core i5.

The initial assortment was formed by i3-2100 and i3-2120. They were accompanied by the first economical Core i3 with the index 2100T. Its frequencies were reduced, so it consumed significantly less: 35 W versus 65 W for conventional models. In September 2011, the line was expanded with several more models, including the i3-2120T, i3-2130, i3-2105 and i3-2125. The last two are notable for the fact that they included the older version of the integrated graphics HD3000, while the other models were equipped with the more modest HD2000.

There was practically no increase in clock frequency – the second generation Core i3 operated at a maximum of 3.4 GHz. But thanks to a more productive architecture, they were 15-20% faster than their predecessors. In those years, multithreading in games was at a rudimentary level, and two cores were enough almost everywhere. Therefore, these processors have become popular solutions in budget gaming PCs.

3. Core i3-3xxx

Although the first third-generation Cores were introduced back in April 2012, the Core i3 line was noticeably delayed this time and appeared only in September.

The models are based on the Ivy Bridge architecture, which, compared to its predecessor, received minor optimizations and was transferred to the 22 nm process technology. DDR3-1600 memory is now supported. The integrated graphics were improved more seriously – now it was represented by HD2500/HD4000, which received an increase in speed and compatibility with DirectX 11.

The first to appear were i3-3220, i3-3225, i3-3240, as well as their economical modifications with the letter “T”. Their heat dissipation remained at the same level, but for conventional models it dropped to 55 W. In January 2013, the younger i3-3210 was introduced. The latest expansion of the line occurred in June of the same year: then the i3-3245, i3-3250 and i3-3250T joined the ranks.

The frequency of the processors practically did not increase – the older i3-3250 worked at 3.5 GHz. The architecture was similar, so the increase compared to the previous generation was hardly noticeable. But the integrated graphics have become noticeably faster. True, only in the older version of the HD4000, which was equipped only with the i3-3225 and i3-3245.

4. Core i3-4xxx

The fourth generation Core i3 was released in September 2013, only a couple of months later than the similar Core i7 and Core i5. They are based on the new LGA1150 platform and Haswell architecture, which provides another increase in performance per clock.

Processor cores learned to work with AVX2 and FMA instructions, and caches were accelerated. Now Core i3 also has support for the PCI-E 3.0 bus for the video card slot. In the previous generation, only Core i7 and Core i5 could boast of this. The production process has not changed, and the heat generation remains almost the same. However, under the cover of the new products there was now a built-in voltage converter, which made them noticeably more economical when idle.

The integrated graphics received another performance boost and internal improvements. Unlike previous generations, the fourth did not have a noticeably cut-down Core i3 graphics core: all processors in the series used either full HD4600 graphics or its slightly slower HD4400 version. Thanks to this, any Core i3 could play fairly modern games, albeit at minimum settings.

The first-born of the new line were the i3-4130, i3-4330, i3-4340 and their economical variants. The 41xx series was equipped with HD4400 graphics and a 3 MB L3 cache, the 43xx series was equipped with a slightly faster HD4600 and a 4 MB L3 cache. In 2014, the range was expanded with several more models, each of which had economical modifications available: i3-4150, i3-4160, i3-4350, i3-4360, i3-4370.

The last processor in the series was released in March 2015, it was the i3-4170. The clock speed of this generation of processors has increased slightly compared to previous ones, reaching a ceiling of 3.8 GHz. Together with architectural improvements, this resulted in a small but noticeable increase in performance, which especially began to manifest itself with the development of software – then the new Core i3 began to outperform its predecessors by 15-20%.

5. Core i3-6xxx

The fifth generation bypassed the desktop Core i3. In it, this series of processors was released only in the form of mobile solutions for laptops. But the sixth generation also appeared on desktop computers. Moreover, simultaneously with the older Core i7 and Core i5 – in September 2015.

The six thousandth Core i3 series is based on the LGA 1151 platform and the new Skylake architecture. The series received a slight increase in performance per clock, a faster execution rate of AVX2 and FMA instructions, once again accelerated caches and a new memory controller capable of working with both the old DDR3-1600 and the new DDR4-2133. However, there are still two processor cores left.

The integrated graphics were now more modern and technologically advanced, but almost identical in performance to its predecessor HD530. The updated DMI 3.0 bus provided a twofold increase in bandwidth between the processor and the chipset. The built-in voltage converter was again moved to the motherboard, and a thinner 14 nm process technology was used for the production of chips. However, all this did not have a significant impact on frequencies and heat dissipation – the maximum performance of 3.9 GHz at 51 W was only slightly better than that of the Core i3-4xxx.

The entire range was presented almost simultaneously, but compared to previous generations it became much narrower. Not counting cost-effective modifications, there are only three main models left: i3-6100, i3-6300 and i3-6320. They were accompanied by a model with the unusual name i3-6098P, which has simplified integrated graphics HD510. i3-63xx received 4 MB of L3 cache, for other processors its size was reduced to 3 MB.

6. Core i3-7xxx

Seventh-generation Core processors, codenamed Kaby Lake, were introduced in January 2017. Core i3 did not stand aside either, the entire range of which was presented at once this time.

The seven thousandth series Core i3 was a minor update. In fact, they differed from the previous line only by increasing frequencies by 200 MHz, which was made possible thanks to the improved 14 nm second-generation process technology. In addition, the faster DDR4-2400 is now supported. The HD630’s integrated graphics were “upgraded”, but in reality it was just a renamed HD530. Otherwise, the processors of the i3-7100, i3-7300 and i3-7320 series were completely identical to their predecessors.

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But one interesting new product did appear in this generation. It was here that Intel first introduced the Core i3 with an unlocked multiplier – i3-7350K. The processor could be overclocked from the base 4.2 to 5 GHz, but there was little practical benefit from this in 2017: two cores, even with four threads, were no longer enough for games.

7. Core i3-8xxx

The debut models of the eighth generation Core i3, codenamed Coffee Lake, were released along with the release of the new LGA1151 v2 platform in October 2017. Hiding under a new name, the next iteration of the Skylake architecture lost support for DDR3, completely switching to DDR4.

However, the performance of the new models has increased markedly. For the first time, Core i3 processors received four full cores, but without Hyper-Threading support. In fact, they could now be equated to the Core i5 of the previous generation. The integrated graphics of the UHD630 have been updated with functionality, but the performance remains the same.

The first models were the i3-8100 and i3-8350K, which boasted an unlocked multiplier. In April 2018, the i3-8300 and a pair of economical models with the “T” prefix were born. As before, the two Core i3 lines had different L3 cache sizes: the i3-81xx had 6 MB, the i3-83xx had 8 MB.

The last model of this generation was released in January 2019, it was the i3-8100 with a new “F” prefix, indicating a disabled graphics core. The frequencies of the series processors have decreased slightly, being in the range from 3.6 to 4 GHz. But due to twice the number of cores, the heat dissipation increased to 62-65 W, and for the K-model it reached 91 W.

8. Core i3-9xxx

The first processor of the new series was presented almost simultaneously with the i3-8100F, in January 2019. It was the unlocked model without built-in graphics i3-9350KF.

The ninth generation Core i3 was practically no different from the eighth in terms of key characteristics. But there was still one important innovation. The new line of CPUs for the first time acquired Turbo Boost 2.0 technology, which was previously the prerogative of the more expensive Core i7 and Core i5. Thanks to this, the new i3s have learned to significantly increase the frequency – the older model reached 4.6 GHz at its peak.

The unlocked i3-9350K with active integrated graphics and the regular models of the line were released in April 2019. As before, they were divided into two series based on the size of the L3 cache: the i3-93xx had 8 MB, the i3-91xx had 6 MB. The i3-9300 and i3-9320 received economical T-versions, and the younger i3-9100 in addition to it received an option without integrated graphics.

9. Core i3-10xxx

In April 2020, the next LGA1200 platform was released. At the same time, the new 10th generation Core i3 appeared, codenamed Comet Lake. They became the final incarnation of the Skylake architecture. The same four cores and cache configurations as the previous two generations of Core i3, added support for DDR4-2666 memory and Hyper-Threading technology. Thanks to it, the updated line learned to process eight threads simultaneously, which made them quite similar to the Core i7 of the sixth and seventh generations.

The first-born of the new line were the i3-10100, i3-10300, i3-10320 and their economical variations. In October 2020, the newest 10100F appeared, which almost immediately became a hit for budget builds due to its low price. In March 2021, the series expanded with the i3-10105, i3-10305 and i3-10325 models, which offered slightly higher frequencies – up to 4.7 GHz. But the K-version of Core i3 disappeared from this generation.

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For the production of processors, the rather outdated 14 nm process technology was still used, and it was not possible to keep the heat dissipation within the same limits. Therefore, long-term and short-term load limits (PL1 and PL2), introduced in Core i7 and Core i5 two generations earlier, began to be used as control mechanisms. As a result, despite the formal TDP of 65 W, the new processors could generate up to 90 W of heat.

10. Core i3-12xxx

In the 11th generation of desktop processors, the lowest models were Core i5. The return of Core i3 to desktops occurred in the next, 12th generation. This date fell in January 2022, a few months after the release of the new LGA1700 platform.

Similar to its predecessors, the new Core i3 received four cores with the ability to process eight threads. But now they were based on the Golden Cove architecture, which, compared to Skylake, received an increase in performance per clock of about 40-45%. Thanks to this, the new models have become noticeably faster in both single-threaded and multi-threaded calculations. Additionally, this was facilitated by the increased size of the caches: the L2 volume increased from 256 to 1280 KB per core, and the total L3 cache increased from 8 to 12 MB.

Unlike the older lines of processors of this generation, Core i3 did not receive economical cores. But their memory controller was similar: with support for two types, DDR4-3200 and DDR5-4800. Finally the integrated graphics were replaced. Now it was represented by the UHD730, which was redesigned and became more productive.

Peripheral capabilities have also been noticeably expanded. The DMI 4.0 x8 bus was used to communicate with the chipset, providing a fourfold increase in bandwidth compared to the previous generation Core i3. The processors have a built-in controller that supports 16 PCI-E 5.0 lanes and four PCI-E 4.0 lanes. This is also a significant step forward: all previous generations, starting with the fourth, had support for only 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes.

Peak frequencies dropped to 4.4 GHz, but even with them taken into account, the new generation showed noticeably better performance. At the same time, the heat release remained at the same level. This was thanks to the new Intel 7 (10 nm) process technology. The Core i3 range was further narrowed: now it was represented only by the i3-12100 and i3-12300, which, traditionally, were also produced in economical T-variants. The i3-12100 version with the “F” prefix has become quite popular, like its predecessor.

11. Core i3-13xxx

The debut of the 13th generation Core i3 took place exactly a year later, in January 2023. The new processors of the only i3-13100 series became a slight update of the previous line – only the peak frequency increased slightly, which now reached 4.5 GHz.

In addition to this, the i3-13100 had a slightly increased graphics core frequency. According to tradition, along with the regular model, a version without built-in graphics (F) and an economical version (T) were released.

12. Core i3-14xxx

In January 2024, the 14th generation Core i3 was born. Taking the proven formula of the previous two generations as a basis, Intel once again increased the clock speeds – now they could reach 4.7 GHz. However, this came at the price of increased heat dissipation: now even Core i3 can consume up to 110 W.

As in the 13th generation, the range was represented by a single model. It became the i3-14100, which is also available in the usual “F” and “T” variants. It is worth noting that in recent generations, Intel has been paying less and less attention to the Core i3 series, focusing on more powerful processor lines.

By RSTech Zone

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