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Is Intel i3 better than Pentium?

Is Intel i3 better than Pentium? Let's find out

Updated: Jan 23, 2023 1:14 pm
is intel i3 better than pentium

Intel core i3 and Pentium are two different processor series from Intel. We don’t hear about them a lot in the mainstream, and that’s because they don’t have the flashiest specs. Both series feature (relatively) weaker processors targeted at an entry-level market. 

Now Read: Is Core i3 good for gaming?

The thing is, i3 and Pentium are maybe a little too similar – we often see people wondering which of the two is better.

Today, we’ll be putting the topic to rest by comparing the specs and performance offered by the average processor from both lineups.

Since we’re looking at entry-level processors targeted at a market looking to get the most bang for their buck, we will also comment on which of the two is better value for your money. 

So, let’s get started: Is Intel i3 better than Pentium?


What is Intel i3?

Intel i3 is Intel’s entry-level option in the ‘core’ series of processors. These CPUs are relatively affordable (the newer ones are $100 to 200, to give you a general idea), consume low power, but offer respectable performance. 

Core i3 CPUs released within the past few years feature 4 cores, 8 threads, and boost clocks above 4GHz. 

That’s plenty for 1080p gaming at a comfortable 60 FPS (maybe a few lag spikes here and there). Overall, an excellent option for gamers looking to build their first PC. 

Core i3 CPUs 9th generation and below either don’t have hyperthreading or have 2 hyperthreaded cores. Either way, this means they only have 4 threads, which causes their performance to take a big hit. 

If you buy an older laptop, you’ll probably have one of these. We’ll consider this in our comparison. 


What is Pentium?

Pentium is another one of Intel’s processor series. It doesn’t fall into the ‘core’ series’ but shares much of the same architecture and properties. 

It’s often lumped together with Intel’s Celeron as the company’s budget/value offering. 

While Celeron processors are essentially bare-bones CPUs offering the minimum needed to run a machine, Pentium processors do offer some performance above the minimum. 

Pentium processors have always had 2 cores and 4 threads and clock speeds ranging from 3 to 4 GHz. They cost anywhere from $50 to $200 (their cost is included in the laptop’s price). Lower than i3 processors on average, but not by much. 

However, in 2022 we saw the release of three more heavy-duty Pentium processors, featuring 5 cores and 6 threads, with 4GHz+ clocks. 

A strange configuration if you know your CPUs, but one that can offer performance in the same ballpark as the above i3 processors, roughly speaking. 


Is Intel i3 better than Pentium?

Through the 2010s, core i3 offered similar performance to Pentium – both CPUs had 2 cores and 4 threads with similar clock speeds. 

However, i3 processors generation 10 and above have 4 cores and 8 threads – a massive upgrade that leaves Pentium CPUs trailing behind. 

Performance

Overall, intel i3 is indeed better than Pentium, especially in today’s day and age, when even day-to-day computer tasks and standard processes are so taxing on the processor.

Unfortunately, Pentium doesn’t have enough threads to be a viable option for those who want to do anything more than browse or complete office work on their computer. 

Core i3 processors don’t have many cores either, to be fair. However, thanks to Intel’s hyperthreading, these quad-core chips have 8 threads, which still allows them a decent capacity to multitask and carry out CPU-heavy processors with relative ease. 

A big win for i3 processors is the fact that you can game on them. 8 threads are still plenty for gaming and coupled with the 4+GHz clock speeds on the i3 CPU, you’ll be able to get 60 FPS with ease in all but the most demanding games. 

When it comes to Pentium, most of their CPUs feature 2 cores and 4 threads. The 8500 and 8505 Pentiums released in 2022 can game with their 6 threads but still lose out to 8-threaded i3 CPUs by a fair margin. 

You also have to consider the fact that Pentium processors offer considerably lower performance than i3, but they aren’t all that much cheaper. Simply put, Intel i3 processors feature a better price-to-performance ratio. 

The only department where Pentium processors come out ahead is power usage. Because they’re used in mobile devices such as laptops and notebooks, Pentium CPUs consume minimal power, often as little as 15 watts when idle. This is great for battery life. 

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