[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

Recently, we published an article based on pure curiosity: “Which is the faster CPU: old but high-end or entry-level and new? – Part 1,” where we ran several benchmarks to test the processing performance of the CPUs. After that, we still had one big question: for gaming, using a modern video card, can an old high-end CPU be a better option than a new entry-level one? Let’s find out!

It is important to say that, just like with the first article, this test is just to check a myth. It isn’t a direct comparison between the tested CPUs, since it includes a discontinued model, and also CPUs from different price ranges, electrical consumption and target market, which are not direct competitors.

The Core 2 Quad Q8300 CPU was launched in 2008 and uses the LGA775 socket. It was one of the high-end processors available in the market at that time, with its four cores and 45 nm manufacturing process. The Pentium G3220 and the Core i3-4150 are, respectively, an entry-level and a mainstream modern CPUs, from the fourth generation of the Core i family, both with two processing cores, and the Core i3-4150 is recognized by the operating system as a quad-core processor due to the Hyper-Threading technology.

Since this test focused on gaming, we installed a basic/mainstream video card (GeForce GTX 750, launched in February 2014) and we disabled the integrated video controller on all tests. It did not make sense to use the integrated video (since the onboard video of the motherboard we used on the Q8300 is not powerful enough to run any modern game) or to use a high-end video card (since nobody will actually use an expensive video card with an old or a value CPU). We didn’t include the Pentium N3700 and the Athlon 5150 CPUs since they are not intended for gaming.

Another detail we need to clarify is that the choice of the Core 2 Quad Q8300 was somewhat random. Obviously, there are a few other “old” CPUs that could make an interesting test, and each person may have an specific model that he or she loved to see tested. Our criteria was to choose an old processor (but not so old that it could be obvious that it should not run modern games) and high-end (but not mandatorily the most high-end from its time, which the Q8300 surely was not). The other two CPUs were also picked based on the availability in our lab. We did not include AMD processors since the purpose of this article is not to compare different brands.

Figure 1 shows the motherboard used for the Core 2 Quad Q8300, a Gigabyte G41MT-ES2L, based on the Intel G41 chipset, supporting DDR3 memory modules. Thanks to that, we could use the same DDR3 memories on all the tests.

Faster CPU comparisonFigure 1: the motherboard with the Core 2 Quad Q8300 installed

Let’s compare the main specs of the reviewed CPUs in the next page.

[nextpage title=”The Reviewed CPUs”]

In the tables below, we compare the main features of the CPUs included in our review.

CPU Cores HT IGP Internal Clock Turbo Clock Core Tech. TDP Socket
Core 2 Quad Q8300 4 No No 2.5 GHz No Yorkfield 45 nm 95 W LGA775
Core i3-4150 2 Yes Yes 3.5 GHz No Haswell 22 nm 54 W LGA1150
Pentium G3220 2 No Yes 3.0 GHz No Haswell 22 nm 53 W LGA1150

Below you can see the memory configuration for each CPU.

CPU L2 Cache L3 Cache Memory Support Memory Channels
Core 2 Quad Q8300 4 MiB No Up to DDR3-1066* Two*
Core i3-4150 2 x 256 kiB 3 MiB Up to DDR3-1600 Two
Pentium G3220 2 x 256 kiB 3 MiB Up to DDR3-1333 Two

* On LGA 775 CPUs, the memory controlled was located at the chipset, not at the processor. So, those characteristics refer to the Intel G41 chipset.

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions, the only variable device was the CPU being tested and the motherboard, which had to be replaced to match the different CPUs.

Hardware Configuration

  • Motherboard (Core 2 Quad Q8300): Gigabyte G41MT-ES2L
  • Motherboard (Core i3-4150 and Pentium G3220): ASRock Z97 Extreme4
  • CPU Cooler: Intel stock
  • Memory: 8 GiB DDR3-2133, two G.Skill Ripjaws F3-17000CL9Q-16GBZH 4 GiB memory modules configured at 1,066 MHz, 1,333 MHz or 1,600 MHz depending on the CPU
  • Boot drive: Kingston HyperX Savage 480 GB
  • Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750 (GV-N750OC-1GI)
  • Video Monitor: Philips 236VL
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX500M

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • NTFS
  • Video resolution: 1920 x 1080 60 Hz

Driver Versions

  • NVIDIA driver version: 353.3
  • Intel Inf chipset driver version: 10.0

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 4% error margin. Thus, differences below 4% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 4% should be considered as having similar performance.

[nextpage title=”3DMark”]

3DMark is a suite of benchmarks that verify the 3D performance of the computer. We ran the Fire Strike, Sky Diver, and Cloud Gate benchmarks.

Old CPU Gaming

The Fire Strike benchmark measures DirectX 11 performance and is targeted on high-end “gamer” computers. It runs at 1920 x 1080 resolution. In this test, the Core 2 Quad had the same performance of the Pentium G3220 and of the Core i3-4150.

Old CPU Gaming

The Sky Diver benchmark is aimed at mainstream computers, running DirectX 11 simulations at 1920 x 1080. In this test, the Core 2 Quad Q8300 obtained the same performance of the Pentium G3220, but it was 15% slower than the Core i3-4150.

Old CPU Gaming

The Cloud Gate benchmark is targeted on basic computers, with DirectX 10 simulations. On this test, the Core 2 Quad Q8300 was 24% faster than the Pentium G3220, but 15% slower than the Core i3-4150.

[nextpage title=”Battlefield 4 and Dirt Rally”]

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4 is the latest installment in the Battlefield franchise, released in 2013. It is based on the Frostbite 3 engine, which is DirectX 11. In order to measure performance using this game, we walked our way through the first mission, measuring the number of frames per second three times using FRAPS. We ran this game at 1920 x 1080, setting overall image quality at “high.”

The results below are expressed in frames per second (fps) and they are the mean between the three collected results.

Old CPU Gaming

In this test, the Core 2 Quad Q8300 was only 4% slower than the Pentium G3220, and 6% slower than the Core i3-4150. We can consider that, on this test, all the CPUs performed similarly.

Dirt Rally

Dirt Rally is an off-road racing game released in April 2015, using Ego engine. To measure performance using this game, we ran the performance test included in the game, in 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) resolution and image quality configured as “high” and MSAA off.

The results below are expressed in frames per second (fps).

Old CPU Gaming

In this game, the Core 2 Quad Q8300 was 29% slower than the Pentium G3220 and 36% slower than the Core i3-4150.

[nextpage title=”Dragon Age: Inquisition and Dying Light”]

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition is the most recent game from the popular action RPG franchise Dragon Age. It was launched in November 2014 and uses the Frostbite 3 engine with SpeedTree.

We ran the game at 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), with all quality options at “medium”, measuring three times the framerate with FRAPS.

The results below are expressed in frames per second and represent the arithmetical mean of the three collected results.

Old CPU Gaming

On Dragon Age: Inquisition, the Core 2 Quad Q8300 was 10% slower than the Pentium G3220 and 30% slower than the Core i3-4150.

Dying Light

Dying Light is an open-world horror game launched in January 2015, using the Chrome Engine 6. We tested the performance at this game with all quality options at “medium”, at 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), measuring three times the frame rate using FRAPS.

The results below are expressed in frames per second (fps) and they are the mean between the three collected results.

Old CPU Gaming

On this game, the Core 2 Quad Q8300 was 18% slower than the Pentium G3220 and 25% slower than the Core i3-4150.

[nextpage title=”GTA V and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”]

GTA V

Grand Theft Auto V, or simply GTA V, is a open-world action game released for PCs in April of 2015, using the RAGE engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we ran the performance test of the game, measuring the framerate with FRAPS. We ran GTA V at 1920 x 1080, with image quality set to “normal”.

The results below are expressed in frames per second.

Old CPU Gaming

This game ran on the Core 2 Quad Q8300 with a 5% lower framerate than on the Pentium G3220, and 44% lower than on the Core i3-4150.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an open-world RPG, released in May of 2015 and based on the REDengine 3 engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we walk around at the first scene of the game, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game at Full HD (1920 x 1080), with image quality set to “medium”.

The results below are expressed in frames per second (fps) and they are the mean between the three collected results.

Old CPU Gaming

On this game, the three CPUs performed the same way.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

Just like on the first part of this test, we concluded that, on some games, an old high-end CPU can give a good performance, while on another ones, newer processors are better. Basically, it depends on where the “bottleneck” is: some games (like Battlefield 4 and The Witcher 3) need a powerful video card, so the performance was limited by the mainstream video card, not by the CPU. On the other hand, on games like GTA V and Dying Light, the CPU is highly taxed, which means a new mainstream processor like the Core i3-4150 will give more performance than an old or a value processor.

An important detail is that the Core 2 Quad Q8300 was not faster than the Pentium G3220 on any game, even having four processing cores, against only two of the Pentium.

So, our conclusion is simple: the Core 2 Quad Q8300 is not faster than a basic modern CPU on games. A modern mainstream processor is still the best choice.

However, please keep in mind that this result is valid for the configuration we used. A different old CPU, with different games and video card, can present a different behavior.