In simple words, if you were in 2012 and we’re looking for a good gaming laptop we could have recommended one Core i3 model for you.
Not today, sitting in 2018.
Even in 2912, i3 laptops were mostly meant for business use, like the Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge. It was for all those who love to be traditional and yet wanted to increase performance when it comes to the use of desktops. It was their answer to a clutter free workspace with integrated Wi-Fi connectivity and save up to 65% of the workspace compared to any traditional desktop. An Intel Core i3 processor powersled this desktop while the power consumption is optimized with 120W.
Today, things are different.
Is a Core i3 Good for Gaming?
Core i3 from Intel ca, at the most, be okay for causal gamers. It will be able to run games which are not very CPU intensive. But you should also remember that the processor is just one part of the equation. The performance of games also depends on other things like the GPU.
So there are a lot of considerations when you ask if Core i3 is good for gaming. Let’s check them out one by one.
Nature of Games
Gaming is a broad term and there are many types of games that you can play.
The Core i3 will not give you any problem if you want to run small games or those played in the browser. You can also play online FPS games like Dota and League of Legends without any problem.
But the system will really be lacking if you want to play high end games like GTA 5, Witcher 3 or Fallout 4. You can run these games on your Core i3, but you need to back it up with a serious GPU and sufficient system RAM. Even if you do manage to turn on the game, you will experience stuttering all around. We don’t expect th games to be able to run at a fps higher than 30 by any means on a Core i3 laptop.
In that case too, you may need to keep the resolution and special effects settings low. The i3 will also be sluggish in running games like Starcraft 2 or Civilization 5 which need to establish AI actions and pathing for various indicators simultaneously.
The Range of Core i3 Processors
The type of your Core i3 processor also determines its capability to run games. For example, if you have an old desktop with Core i3, chances are that it has become outdated and will be slower.
You also need to remember that laptops with Core i3 are slower than desktops with the same processors. Laptops also have integrated graphics card which also offer lower performance than desktop GPUs.
The model of the Core i3 processor also creates an impact on the performance. A top of the line i3 processor like the i3 4160 can be compared in performance to entry level to mid level Core i5 processors.
The performance gain in terms of returns starts going down after a point in case of i5 processors. It does not make much sense to buy anything beyond the i5 4690k as the money is better spent on an upgraded GPU.
In such cases the i3 can be a wise choice and you can go for i3 4160 which can be considered the minimum for making a gaming PC.
The Number of Cores
The dual-core of the i3 may not be sufficient for handling the modern games which demand the use of multiple cores. Quad-core has become the requirement for running games like GTA5 and others.
Intel has released the Core i3 7350K which is a dual-core chip with HyperThreading technology. Though the performance cannot be compared to quad-core chips, it is certainly a significant improvement from the dual-core i3.
The 7350K doubles the concurrent thread count of your gaming rig and comes with a clockspeed of 4.2 GHz. It is an unlocked chip which can be overclocked to gain optimum performance.
The Importance of GPU and RAM
The processor is just one part of the gaming system. You will not be able to run things smoothly unless you have a good GPU and enough system RAM.
We have also reached a stage in technology where processor speeds have hit a limit. Also, faster processor speeds always do not translate to better gameplay nowadays.
The secret is to add a decent graphics card with video memory or VRAM which help you run the games at high resolution and special effect setting without losing out on frame rate.
Your Core i3 should be coupled with competent GPU from Nvidia or Raedon. You can try out the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or 960; if you are an AMD fan, you can go for Radeon R9.
What Should You Do?
Don’t go for entry-level cards as they won’t be able to deliver satisfying performance with a Core i3.
The next important thing is the RAM. The basic requirement should be 4 GB while having 8 GB is quite sufficient.
Should You Go For One?
If you really want to save money, then it’s your choice. Otherwise not.
Remember the latest Intel 8th generation Coffee Lake processors aren’t applicable to Core i3 processors too, which means that these can go obsolete before you know it.
The Core i3 is good for gaming if you set it up the right way with a decent GPU and RAM. You also have to keep in mind that you cannot expect the performance of i7 from an i3 as it is not natural.
Do note though that you cannot play any recent games like GTA V or Call of Duty on it. Instead, you might have to be happy playing Fifa 16, if you’re lucky, that is.
If you want to save money it’s still a good bet. We would then advise you to go to popular online sites like Amazon and compare i3 models which can play the best of the modern games at a good fps, with a good frame rate.