As you know, it is the graphics subsystem that determines the performance of the entire platform equipped with pretty high-speed processors in the majority of contemporary games. Therefore, we do our best to make sure that the graphics card is not loaded too heavily during the test session: we select the most CPU-dependent tests and all tests are performed without antialiasing and in far not the highest screen resolutions. In other words, obtained results allow us to analyze not that much the fps rate that can be achieved in systems equipped with contemporary graphics accelerators, but rather how well contemporary processors can cope with gaming workload. Therefore, the results help us determine how the tested CPUs will behave in the nearest future, when new faster graphics card models will be widely available.
During our numerous preceding test sessions we pointed out multiple times that Core i5 processors were a really good fit for gaming systems. However, Core i3 CPUs also have much more to offer as you may have thought in the beginning of our review. The thing is that there are still quite a few games out there that are optimized only for dual-core and not the quad-core processors. And keeping in mind that Core i3 work at just a little lower clock frequencies than Core i5, they manage to show very good results in a number of cases. The examples of games where Core i3 and Core i5 are almost equally fast in terms of fps rate could be such titles as Starcraft 2 and Mafia II. However, it is important to understand that as time goes on there will be fewer games left where dual- and quad-core processors could be considered equally efficient.
Anyway, Core i5 is undoubtedly a more promising option for gaming. In fact, the results demonstrated by AMD FX-6200 in Metro 2033 or Batman Arkham City could be considered a perfect illustration of how important multi-core structure could be for games. Here six-core AMD processor with Bulldozer microarchitecture, which is usually quite unimpressive with workloads of this type, totally defeats the competition including new dual-core Core i3 CPUs. As we can see, the Hyper-Threading technology that enables Intel processors with two computational cores to simultaneously execute two additional threads is not enough to completely make up for the fewer physical cores in Core i3.
In addition to our gaming tests we would also like to offer you the results of the Futuremark 3DMark11 benchmark (Performance profile):
New Core i3 on Ivy Bridge microarchitecture are still a few percents ahead of their predecessors. Therefore, any competition against Core i5 processors is completely out of the question. Higher-end Intel processors are obviously faster here, too. As for the AMD products, the 3000-series Core i3 is confidently ahead of the quad-core Llano and Bulldozer, but since 3DMark 11 is very well-optimized for multi-threaded environments, the six-core AMD FX-6200 is still a little bit faster here.