As you know, it is the graphics subsystem that determines the performance of the entire platform in the majority of contemporary games if the platform has a fast enough processor. Therefore, we select the most CPU-dependent games and measure the frame rate in two test modes. For the first mode we use lower resolutions and disable full-screen antialiasing, so we could see how well the processor can cope with gaming loads in general. This provides some insight into how the tested CPU is going to behave in the nearest future when it is accompanied with faster graphics cards. The second test mode refers to real-life settings: Full HD and maximum FSAA. In our opinion, these results are no less interesting as they demonstrate clearly the level of performance we can expect from contemporary processors today.
We don’t see a consistent picture in our gaming tests. They fall into two completely different groups. One group are multithreaded applications whereas the other consists of games that can use but two CPU cores at the most. The latter group has been getting smaller recently, yet still includes quite a lot of interesting titles such as Batman: Arkham Origin. The Core i3 series are also not very far behind their quad-core opponents in F1 2013 and Sleeping Dogs, either. These games can use more than two CPU cores but, as the results suggest, Hyper-Threading is quite enough for them. But again, there are games where four CPU cores ensure a much higher performance as you can easily see in the diagrams. That’s why we’d recommend the Core i5 instead of the Core i3 series for building a modern gaming computer.
The Haswell microarchitecture should be given credit for ensuring a gaming performance boost. Any Core i3 4000 series model is easily ahead of any Ivy Bridge Core i3. The larger L3 cache of the senior dual-core Haswell CPUs doesn’t seem to offer big advantages here, though.
We'll finish our gaming tests by running the popular synthetic benchmark 3DMark.
3DMark is optimized for multithreaded CPUs, so the new Core i3 CPUs fall behind the quad-core i5 series as well as the 8-core AMD FX. They are, however, faster than their Core i3 predecessors and AMD's quad-core products. It must be noted that the Haswell microarchitecture has made Intel’s dual-core CPUs much faster. The senior Haswell-based dual-core model, i3-4340, is 6 to 7% ahead of its Ivy Bridge counterpart i3-3250 even according to 3DMark, which is actually a graphics subsystem benchmark. Moreover, the i3-3250 is beaten by the junior Core i3-4130 model.