The Finest CPU for the Cash: Intel Core i3-6100 Skylake Examined

Earlier this year, we compared AMD's $ 150 quad-core FX-8320E processor to Intel's $ 150 Core i3-4360 and $ 185 Core i5-4430. On paper, it looked like child's play: the FX-8320E has 8 threads that can run up to 4 GHz immediately and is fully unlocked for booting.

The Haswell-based Core i3-4360 is a dual-core processor supported by Intel's four-thread HyperThreading technology. In contrast to the AMD chip, the i3 is locked at 3.7 GHz without the hope of overclocking. The situation is similar with the more expensive Core i5-4430, which can only clock its four cores up to 3.2 GHz and only four threads are available without HT support.

After years of benchmarking AMD's Piledriver-based processors, it's no secret that they're not the most efficient. Still, we had never looked at power consumption so closely, especially when overclocking.

We ran the FX-8320E with a reasonable 4.6 GHz overclocking and even at that frequency it was mostly slower to play than the Core i3-4360 and shocking to encode at. Worse, overclocking has caused the FX-8320E to consume an average of 60% more power.

In the end it became clear that wise consumers would look at the Core i3 and the Core i5. Players will find that the Core i3 is the cheaper option, while the Core i5 is better equipped for more difficult tasks like coding.

In the nine months since we published this article, the FX-8320E is still costing $ 150 and AMD's first option for budget quad-core computing with no integrated graphics.

Meanwhile, the landscape on Intel's side of the fence has changed when we recently saw the arrival of its new Skylake-based Core i3 and Pentium processors, the first of which was the Core i3-6100. At $ 125, the new dual-core chip is clocked at the same 3.7 GHz as the Haswell 4360/4170 models, with the exception that the i3-6100 thanks to an updated design using the 14nm process is even more efficient.

After I was disappointed in the August Due to the low performance between Skylake and Haswell Core i7s, we are interested to see how that The i3-6100 can compete with the older i3-4360 as well as the i5-4430 and the overclocked FX-8320E.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Intel specification for the Core i3-6100 provides a maximum DDR4 memory speed of 2133 MHz. Technically speaking, you use any memory that is faster than the one you overclock. In addition, the cheaper H170, Q170 and B150 motherboards are limited to memory support of 2133 MHz. To run faster storage, users will need to buy a Z170 card, which is not an option for some price-conscious consumers.

To cover all the basics, we compared the Core i3-6100 with DDR4-2133 and DDR4-3000 memory on a Z170 motherboard to determine what differences consumers could expect at different memory speeds.

Here we see a fairly significant 31% increase in memory bandwidth when the frequency is increased by 41% from DDR4-2133 to DDR4-3000. When using the DDR4-2133 memory, the Core i3-6100 is still 8% faster than the Core i3-4360, which happens to be running the DDR3-2133 memory. As soon as the Core i3-6100 is equipped with DDR4-3000 memory, it can surpass the Core i5-4430 by a small margin.

The Skylake Core i3-6100 shows a remarkable improvement in L1 and L2 cache performance over the Haswell Core i3-4360. This is not entirely surprising since we found a similar thing when comparing the Core i7-4790K with the new Core i7-6700K. The Core i3-6100 is significantly faster than the 4360 compared to L2 cache performance and not much slower than the Core i5-4430.

When using the DDR4-2133 memory, the Core i3-6100 only offers a limited increase in performance compared to the Core i3-4360 in the Cinebench R15 single and multithread tests. Increasing the memory speed to 3000 MHz had little impact on performance, although it helped the 6100 move a little more away from the 4360.

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