If you’re planning to body a account desktop PC and you’re bent to use accepted parts, the least-expensive Intel advantage accessible to you is the Core i3-2100 ($117 list). Still a allotment of Intel’s second-generation Core (“Sandy Bridge”) family, it contains best of the accretion and whistles of its added able (and expensive) cousins, the Core i5-2500K and the Core i7-2600K, but predictably little of the power. It will do the ambush for a modest-needs machine, but for stronger processing abeyant you’ll demand article faster; and if alike basal gaming is your goal, a detached video card—or because a arrangement based on AMD’s newest technology instead—will be a bigger bet.
Like all the latest Core CPUs, the Core i3-2100 is based on Intel’s 32nm assembly process. It’s a dual-core cavity clocked at 3.1GHz, but it can accomplish up to four processing accoutrement at already due to Hyper-Threading. It does not, however, abutment Turbo Boost, so you can’t calculation on added bursts if acceleration if you accept dabbling cores (which, accustomed that this cavity alone has two, makes sense). The Core i3-2100 is loaded with 3MB of cache, as able-bodied as Intel HD Cartoon 2000 for dent video—this is the bottom of the two Sandy Bridge dent video options, but it will accommodate some ability and abutment for DirectX 10.1 (DX10.1), if not DX11, 3D.
As with all the Sandy Bridge CPUs, you’ll charge a newer motherboard antic an LGA1155 atrium to alike abode the Core i3-2100—an earlier LGA1156 archetypal won’t do the job. With a best TDP of 65 watts, this processor is additionally not abundant of an activity hog.
Performance with the Core i3-2100 was appropriate in band with our expectations. It didn’t accomplish abundant of a cavity in the Core i5-2500K’s or the Core i7-2600K’s achievement scores—some examples: It bare 1 minute 40 abnormal to catechumen a video application the open-source account Handbrake, a assignment the Core i5-2500K could complete in 1:12; and it rated 69.7MBps in our TrueCrypt cryptography criterion analysis compared with the 142MBps the Core i5-2500K managed—though it did abundantly able-bodied in about every breadth except gaming.
There, it showed itself to be clashing to alike about low-resolution titles, earning a about advantageous 5,718 in our 3DMark Vantage DX10 analysis on the Entry preset (1,024 by 768) and a paltry 1,062 on the Achievement preset (1,280 by 1,024), as able-bodied as best boilerplate anatomy ante of 22 frames per additional (fps) in H.A.W.X. 2, 8.5fps in Lost Planet 2, and 3.9 in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat—all at 1,024 by 768. Like all of Intel’s CPUs, it’s bigger ill-fitted for accustomed acceptance rather than added acute pushing—a standalone video card, would accomplish a big difference.
As, for that matter, would one of AMD’s new A-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APUs). AMD and Intel chips aren’t changeable of course—you charge to accomplish your accommodation and stick with it through the activity of your system—but if basal 3D gaming interests you, the A8-3850 delivers clearly bigger results. With that APU in an ASRock A75 Pro4 motherboard in an contrarily identical analysis system, it becoming 3DMark Vantage array of 14,828 (on the Entry preset) and 3,685 (on the Achievement preset); as able-bodied as 49fps and 41fps in H.A.W.X. 2, 27.4fps and 20.7fps in Lost Planet 2, and 13.2fps and 9fps in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., in anniversary case at 1,024 by 768 and 1,280 by 1,024 respectively. Plus, it could alike run DX11 amateur Intel can’t (though, in fairness, its anatomy ante took an alike steeper drop, at atomic with all of the capacity cranked up the way we had them).
AMD accomplishes these assets by sacrificing some processing power, however: The A8-3850’s Handbrake time of 2 account 10 abnormal was acutely abaft the Core i3-2100’s, and it accomplished applying 12 filters and furnishings to a photo in Photoshop CS5 in aloof over 3 account instead of aloof over 5. So if you aren’t activity to charge or demand the 3D capabilities, you’re bigger off with a speedier Intel chip.
There’s annihilation amiss with the Intel Core i3-2100, provided you accept a bright compassionate of its limitations. If blast for the blade is absolutely important to you, and you accept a few added bucks to arm-twist those bangs, the Core i5-2500K costs about absolutely $100 more, but offers an alike bigger alloy of achievement characteristics in every area. (If you don’t affliction about its apart multiplier, the contrarily identical Core i5-2500, for $205, is additionally a accomplished deal.) If cartoon are a deal-breaker and you can’t be agitated to get a abstracted card, alone AMD will appear abutting to acceptable you. But if you apperceive you demand to go the Intel route, the Core i3-2100 is in no way a bad choice.