Home » CPU » CPU FAQ » Is Intel Core i3 good for gaming?

Is Intel Core i3 good for gaming?

Is your Intel Core i3 processor cut out for gaming?

Updated: Jan 24, 2023 9:44 am
Is Intel Core i3 good for gaming?

WePC is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices subject to change. Learn more

Intel’s core i3 processor series has been dwindling in popularity lately. With the impressive Raptor Lake i5 and i9 CPUs out and about, everyone seems to have missed the launch of the humble i3-13100.

It doesn’t take much to figure out why that’s the case – i3 CPUs don’t offer the best performance. Gaming is more CPU-intensive than ever, and people suspect the quad-core i3 won’t be enough to cut it in 2024.

Let’s find out whether or not that’s true. Is Intel’s core i3 good for gaming?

Intel Core i3 – specs

First, let’s talk a bit about the specs you’d expect to see in an i3 processor. Core i3 refers to a series of processors, not a particular one. 

The i3-13100, for example, is the latest addition to the series. We also had the i3-12100 and i3-10100 before it.

The commonality i3 CPUs share is that they’re all equipped with four hyperthreaded cores. In other words, they have four cores but eight threads.

Take the i3-13100, for example.

Intel Core i3-13100

Intel Core i3 13100



CPU Model

Core i3

Cores (Threads)

4 (8)

CPU Speed

4.5 GHz

CPU Socket

LGA 1151

  • Core count: 4
  • Threads: 8
  • Base clock: 3.4GHz
  • Boost clock: 4.5GHz
  • Max power consumption: 89 watts

Its predecessors aren’t much different, other than their clock speeds, which are lower by a few hundred MHz. Not a negligible difference, but their performance is in the same ballpark as each other.

The Intel Core i3 for gaming – is it good?

Core i3 CPUs 8th generation and below have poor gaming performance, and we don’t recommend them.

The gaming performance offered by the hyperthreaded quad-core i3 CPUs (10th gen and above) is, all things considered, fair.

It’s not great, but you have to consider that these processors cost just over $100, which is super budget-friendly.

With such a low price point, the i3 series offers incredible value for money to entry-level gamers looking to test the waters with PC gaming.

The core i3’s gaming performance is surprisingly good for its price point. This is because:

  • Games don’t need many threads to run effectively. Most games fully utilize only a few threads while delegating minor or secondary tasks to the other available threads. As such, the i3’s eight threads are still sufficient for many games today.
  • The i3 has decent single-thread performance. The i3-13100, for example, has a 4.5GHz boost clock, whereas the 12100 has a 4.3GHz boost clock. Single-thread performance greatly influences FPS for the same reason described above.

You can pair an i3 CPU up with a mid-range GPU and get 1080p, 60 FPS in most games – even the famed CPU-centric triple-A titles today, such as Cyberpunk 2077, RDR2, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Some of the more CPU-demanding games will push the i3 to its limit, especially in situations with a high crowd or particle density. But, for the most part, 60FPS is nothing the newer i3 CPUs can’t handle.

The processor will be running at or very close to its maximum utilization, but that won’t present a huge problem considering the low TDP rating i3s have. You may struggle to run programs in the background, though.

An i3 CPU would be best paired with something like the GTX 3050 or the Rx 6500. Getting a stronger GPU could cause a bottleneck. 

Final thoughts

The Intel Core i3 is a budget-oriented processor and is generally not considered to be a good choice for gaming, especially for newer or more demanding games. The Core i3 typically has fewer cores and threads than more powerful processors, which can limit the performance of the CPU in games that are heavily reliant on multithreading. Additionally, the Core i3 usually has a lower clock speed than more powerful processors, which can also limit performance in games.

However, it’s still possible to play games on a system with a Core i3, but the experience may not be as smooth or high-fidelity as with a more powerful CPU. You may also have to play at lower settings or lower resolutions to achieve playable frame rates.

As a Junior Staff Writer, Jack is involved in writing and maintaining a bunch of hardware guides & reviews. With an interest in PC gaming, he now focuses on writing about monitors, headsets, and more.

Trusted Source

WePC’s mission is to be the most trusted site in tech. Our editorial content is 100% independent and we put every product we review through a rigorous testing process before telling you exactly what we think. We won’t recommend anything we wouldn’t use ourselves. Read more