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Intel Core i3-6100 Review - Armchair Empire

Intel Core i3-6100 Review

  • 9/10
    Price - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Power Consumption - 9/10
  • 7/10
    Game Performance - 7/10
  • 8/10
    Single Core Performance - 8/10
  • 6/10
    Multi Core Performance - 6/10
7.8/10

Our Rating


Intel Core i3-6100 Quick Specs
Cores 2 w/ hyper-threading
Cache L3 – 3 MB , L2 – 512 KB
Base Clock Speed 3.7 GHz
Standard Overclock Speed
Base Power Consumption 51 W

Introduction

The starter CPU in the Skylake segment from Intel, the 6100 is an affordable everyday workhorse that should suit all users. Yes, that includes gamers! Coming in at the same pricing range as the latest 7100 core i3, the performance difference between the two isn’t huge.

This Intel processor has just two cores but offers Hyper-Threading technology that basically multiplies its multi-thread capabilities. Also, it has the lowest power rating among all 6th gen Intel processors. This is commendable considering the fact that it runs at a set clock speed of 3.7 GHz. Yes, you read right. There is no Turbo Boost functionality with this processor meaning it always runs at a constant clock speed.

Before you make a huge ruckus around the absence of Turbo Boost, you need to understand what Turbo Boost does. Take the Intel 6th generation core i5 6400 processor for instance. It operates at a base speed of 2.7 GHz and boosts up to 3.3GHz. Whereas the i3 6100 runs at a constant 3.7 GHz while eating less power. Naturally, this translates to better single core performance for the 6100 though multi-core is where it falls short of its elder siblings and even older i5 and i7 processors.

This processor gets just 3MB of L3 cache and half the L2 cache of 512 KB. However, because of its new architecture and design, it has better overall support for more PCIe 3.0 lanes as well as USB 3.0.

Sale
Intel 3.70 GHz Core i3-6100 3M Cache Processor (BX80662I36100)
  • Dual-Core with Hyper-Threading Technology. Processor Base Frequency: 3.70 GHz. Cache: 3 MB SmartCache. Bus Speed: 8 GT/s DMI3. TDP: 51 W.
  • Intel HD Graphics 530 with 4k support (at 60 hz)
  • DDR4/DDR3L memory supported

Performance Analysis

With 3.7GHz clock speed, the Core i3 6100 does a splendid job in single core operations. With the majority of users requiring mostly single core usage, the Core i3 6100 becomes a natural choice among budget PC builders. But, does it manage to trump the i5 6400?

In Cinebench R15 single core tests, it managed to trump higher costing processors such as the i5-6400 and even a few 5th generation processors. Bringing in 156cb, it sits perfectly between the i5 6600K’s 170cb and i5 6400’s 142cb. It even leaps well ahead of older generation Core i3 processors too.

The same results were seen on Geekbench 3 in the single core department. Here too, it sat pretty between the two closest Core i5 processors. With Dolphin benchmarks, the results were the same.

Where the Core i3 6100 begins to suffer though is in the multi-threaded benchmarks. At 402cb on Cinebench, it falls well short of the Core i5 6400. Let’s not even compare it with the if-6600K. Same goes with Geekbench and Dolphin benchmark scores.

Video encoding naturally suffers because of lower multi-thread performance. On Wprime, it falls over a minute behind the time taken by i5-6400 for a 1024M benchmark. But, honestly, all these scores aren’t that bad.

The reason why multi-threaded scores are not that bad is because the majority of applications and games today depend on single core performance rather than multi-threaded performance. With the integrated graphics, it managed to bring in close fps in Battlefield 4 by being just 2 frames behind the 6400 CPU. Same results were seen on Bioshock too.

When you run the Core i3 chip with a discrete GPU though things change a bit. Battlefield 4 recorded 76.71 fps whereas Bioshock gave a 158.8 fps result. Both these results were way better than the i5-6400.

What does this mean with respect to the lower affordable segment of processors? The AMD FX-6300 only when overclocked comes closer to single core performance with the Core i3 6100. Whereas, the i5 6400 falls short in the single core performance with the 6100. This basically points to the fact that the pricing of the Core i3 6100 is perfect for the performance it provides. If you can spend above $100 but don’t want to make a huge investment, the Core i3 6100 is what you should get.

Finally, let’s address the power consumption and heating of this CPU. First of all, with fewer cores, it requires much less energy and since you can’t really overclock it, the power consumption never changes. It is significantly less than both the AMD FX-6300 as well as the Core i5 6400. Naturally, the Intel stock cooler works well with this processor as heat build-up is nominal at best.

Pros

  • Priced just right for most consumers.
  • Performance blows away all its competition in the single core department.
  • Multi-core performance is not that bad. It is better than nearest AMD rivals.
  • Limited heat generation and lowest TDP of all budget CPUs on our list.

Cons

  • Not exactly futureproof because of its lower multi-thread scores.
  • Fixed clock speed means that your CPU always runs at its highest performance settings. This can eat from the processor’s life.
  • Could have done with slightly more L2 cache than 512KB.

Should You Buy The Core i3 6100?

Coming in around the $100 price range, you should consider the i3 6100 over all other budget CPUs. Situations that demand multi-threaded performance are far and few in-between but even then the abysmal single core performance of the Core i5 6400 does not justify paying more for it.

Yes, the strengths of the Core i3 6100 are evident in benchmarks and even gaming performance but not all are interested in purely gaming. The good news though is that this CPU will not bottleneck on any task thanks to its good single-core performance and higher clock speeds.

Coming to the AMD – Intel shootout, the only reason why you would even consider the FX 6300 over the i3 6100 is if you have a budget restriction of $100. But then again, to get close to the i3 performance you need to overclock the FX-6300, which requires a better cooler than the one that comes along with the CPU. Moreover, with an HD graphics card, the Intel i3 is ready to be used without a discrete GPU. The AMD is not and that is where you are forced to immediately spend your money on.

If you are the kind of person who does menial jobs on your computer but games a lot, then the 6100 is what you should get. But for folks who work on more engrossing tasks such as video editing, encoding, vector art rendering, 3d models and more – this is not the CPU segment for you. Increase your budget and get a mid-range CPU such as the FX-8350 or the Core i5-7500.

Verdict

Yes, the Core i3 6100 blows away its nearest competition with single core performance. It even matches the multi-threaded capabilities of the FX-6300, only falling short to the i5 6400. With a high clock speed and Intel’s support for the latest technologies, we feel it is the best performer among budget CPUs.

The Core i3 7100 does a better job than the 6100 but it also costs $20 extra. If you can spend the extra money, then go for the latest generation CPU. Having said that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the i3 6100 for an average individual – including hardcore gamers!