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Core i3-7100 CPU by Intel Review

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The Core i3-7100 is one of the first seventh-generation Core i3 models from Intel, based on the Kaby Lake architecture, with two cores, Hyper-Threading, and 3.9 GHz clock. Let’s test it and check if is it faster than its predecessor, the Core i3-6100.

Recently, Intel launched the seventh generation Core i processors, codenamed Kaby Lake. At first, were launched the Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs, and soon after, the Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron models. Those processors bring small changes compared to the sixth-generation ones: new video decoder for 4K video, improved Speed Shift technology (that dynamically adjusts the CPU clock,) and support to Optane technology (which is a future kind of high performance SSDs.)

Besides the Core i3-7100, there are other Core i3 CPU on this generation, like the Core i3-7100T (low-consumption), the Core i3-7300 (higher clock) and the Core i3-7350K (unlocked). The Core i3-7100 features 3.9 GHz clock, 3 MiB of L3 cache, and TDP of 51 W. It is manufactured under 14 nm process.


The Core i3-7100 comes, of course, to replace the Core i3-6100 on the market, coming even with the same price tag. So, we will compare both CPUs. The direct competitor of the Core i3-7100 is the A10-7860K from AMD, which we don’t have at the lab.

We also included of the performance comparisons the data obtained on the Core i5-7600K review, which is also based on the Kaby Lake architecture, so you can see which is the best CPU category for you, based on the use you will give to your PC and, of course, on your available budget.

Figure 1 show the Core i3-7100 box.

Core i3-7100Figure 1: the Core i3-7100 package

In Figure 2 you see the contents of the package: a small manual, a case sticker, the CPU itself and the stock cooler.

Core i3-7100Figure 2: box contents

Figure 1 unveils the Core i3-7100 CPU.

Core i3-7100Figure 3: the Core i3-7100 CPU

Figure 2 shows the bottom of the CPU.

Core i3-7100Figure 4: underside of the Core i3-7100

In our benchmarks, we used the integrated video for the processing tests. However, for the gaming benchmarks, we disabled the integrated video and used a GeForce GTX 1080 video card on both CPUs, in order to see how the CPU power impact games, not the iGPU.

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

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 Price
Core i3-7100 2 Yes Yes 3.9 GHz Kaby Lake 14 nm 51 W LGA1151 USD 120
Core i3-6100 2 Yes Yes 3.7 GHz Skylake 14 nm 51 W LGA1151 USD 120
Core i5-7600K 4 No Yes 3.8 GHz 4.2 GHz Kaby Lake 14 nm 91 W LGA1151 USD 240
Core i5-6500 4 No Yes 3.2 GHz 3.6 GHz Skylake 14 nm 65 W LGA1151 USD 205

Below you can see the memory configuration for each CPU.

CPU L2 Cache L3 Cache Memory Support Memory Channels
Core i3-7100 2 x 256 kiB 3 MiB Up to DDR4-2133 or DDR3L-1600 2
Core i3-6100 2 x 256 kiB 3 MiB Up to DDR4-2133 or DDR3L-1600 2
Core i5-7600K 4 x 256 kiB 6 MiB Up to DDR4-2133 or DDR3L-1600 2
Core i5-6500 4 x 256 kiB 6 MiB Up to DDR4-2133 or DDR3L-1600 2

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

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • NTFS
  • Video resolution: 1920 x 1080 60 Hz

Driver Versions

  • NVIDIA driver version: 378.49

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 3% error margin. Thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

PCMark 8 is a benchmarking software that uses real-world applications to measure the computer performance. We ran three tests: Home, which includes web browsing, writing, light gaming, photo editing, and video chat tests; Creative, that includes web surfing, video editing, group video chat, video conversion, and gaming; and Work, which runs tasks such as writing documents, web browsing, spreadsheets, editing, and video chatting. Let’s see the results.

Core i3-7100

On the PCMark 8 Home benchmark, the Core i3-7100 was 4% faster than the Core i3-6100.

Core i3-7100

On the Creative benchmark, the Core i3-7100 also performed similarly to the Core i3-6100.

Core i3-7100

On the Work benchmark, there was also a technical tie between the Core i3-7100 and the Core i3-6100.

3DMark is a program with a set of several 3D benchmarks. Fire Strike runs a “heavy” DirectX 11 simulation. Sky Diver also measures DirectX 11 performance, and is aimed on average computers. The Cloud Gate benchmark measures DirectX 10 performance, and the Ice Storm Extreme measures DirectX 9 performance and is targeted to entry-level computers, so we don’t ran it.

Core i3-7100

On Fire Strike, the Core i3-7100 was 4% faster than the Core i3-6100.

Core i3-7100

On the Sky Diver benchmark, the Core i3-7100 was 6% faster than the Core i3-6100.

Core i3-7100

On the Cloud Gate benchmark, the Core i3-7100 was 4% faster than the Core i3-6100.

 Cinebench R15

Cinebench R15 is based on the Cinema 4D software. It is very useful to measure the performance gain obtained by the presence of several processing cores while rendering heavy 3D images. Rendering is an area where a bigger number of cores helps a lot, because usually this kind of software recognize several processors (Cinebench R15, for example, can use up to 256 processing cores).

We ran the CPU benchmark, which renders a complex image using all the processing cores (real and virtual) to speed up the process. The result is given as a score.

Core i3-7100

On Cinebench R15 CPU benchmark, the Core i3-7100 was 5% faster than the Core i3-6100.

CPU-Z

On its current version, the well-known hardware identification software CPU-Z comes with a benchmarking tool, which measures CPU performance for one core and for all available cores.

Core i3-7100

On the single thread benchmark, the Core i3-7100 was 5% faster than the Core i3-6100.

Core i3-7100

On the multiple thread benchmark, the Core i3-7100 was 5% faster than the Core i3-6100.

DivX

We used the DivX converter, a tool included in the DivX package, in order to measure the encoding performance using this codec. The DivX codec is capable of recognizing and using all available cores and the SSE4 instruction set.

We converted a Full HD, six-minute long .mov video file into an .avi file, using the “HD 1080p” output profile. The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the better.

Core i3-7100

On DivX encoding, the Core i3-7100 took the same time of the Core i3-6100.

Media Espresso

Media Espresso is a video conversion program that uses the graphics processing unit of the video engine to speed up the conversion process. We converted a 1 GiB, 1920x1080i, 23,738 kbps, .mov video file to a smaller 320×200, H.264, .MP4 file for viewing on a smartphone. The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the better.

Core i3-7100

Here the Core i3-7100 was 6% faster than the Core i3-6100.

Photoshop CC

The best way to measure the performance of a CPU is by using real programs. The problem, of course, is to create a methodology that offers precise results. For Photoshop CC, we used a script named “Retouch Artist Speed Test,” which applies a series of filters to a standard image and gives the time Photoshop takes to run all of them. The results are given in seconds, so the less, the best.

Core i3-7100

In this test, the Core i3-7100 and the Core i3-6100 performed similarly.

WinRAR

Another task where the CPU is very demanded is on file compacting. We ran a test compacting a folder with 8 GiB on 6.813 files to a file, using WinRAR 4.2. The graph below shows the time taken on each test.

Core i3-7100

On WinRAR, there was not performance difference between the Core i3-7100 and the Core i3-6100.

 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 “medium” and MSAA off.

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

Core i3-7100

In this game, the Core i3-7100 performed like the Core i3-6100.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V, or simply GTA V, is an 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 Full HD, with all image quality set as “high” and MSAA off.

The results below are expressed in frames per second.

Core i3-7100

On GTA V, the Core i3-7100 was 7% faster than the Core i3-6100.

Hitman

Hitman is an action/stealth game, launched in March 2016, that uses a DirectX 12 compatible version of the Glacier 2 engine. To measure performance in this game, we ran the benchmark in it, measuring the framerate with FRAPS. We ran this game with DirectX 12 enabled, with image quality set as “high”.

The results below, in Full HD and 4K, are expressed in frames per second.

Core i3-7100

On Hitman, the Core i3-7100 and the Core i3-6100 had the same performance.

Mad Max

Mad Max is an open-world action game launched in September of 2015, using the Avalanche engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran its intro, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game with image quality set as “high”.

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

Core i3-7100

On Mad Max, all the CPUs performed similarly.

Rise of the Tomb Rider

Rise of the Tomb Rider is an adventure/action game launched in January of 2016, based on Foundation engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran the benchmark included on it, using Full HD resolution and graphics quality set to “medium”.

The results below are expressed in frames per second.

Core i3-7100

Also on Rise of the Tomb Rider, the performance was also the same on both Core i3 CPUs.

By the collected data, we concluded that the Core i3-7100 is about 5% faster than the Core i3-6100. However, as the Core i3-7100 clock rate is 5% higher than the Core i3-6100’s, it looks like there was no performance gain inherent to the new seventh generation architecture. This was expected, since the main improvement on this new generation is the 4K decoding engine.

On the other side, comparing the Core i3-7100 to the Core i5 models we included, it is clear that the Core i5-7600K is far faster on some tasks, but on other applications (like most games tested) there is not much performance gain, which means the video card matters more than the used CPU. However, comparing to the Core i3-7100 and the Core i5-6500, we discover that there is a small performance gap, which means the Core i3-7100 has, as its predecessor, an excellent cost/performance ratio.

As the Core i3-7100 costs the same as the Core i3-6100, and performs a little faster, we can say it is a better deal. And as the Core i3-6100 was recommended by us, it is natural that we also recommend the Core i3-7100.