Intel Core i3 CPUs have a come along way in terms of their performance. So much so that the current gen Core i3s are comparable to both performance and core count to Intel Core i7s released not so long ago. Which begs the question, how many cores does an i3 have?
Well the answer to that question really depends upon the model and generation of the i3 CPU in question. In other words, an Intel Core i3 CPU can have anywhere between 2-4 cores depending upon its model and generation.
Intel Core i3 CPUs are considered as the stepping stone into the performance grade CPUs. They basically open up the doors to editing and designing for professionals as well as to gaming for enthusiasts.
In the following text I will talk in detail about how many cores AND threads an Intel Core i3 typically can have for both desktop and laptop platforms as well as compare their performance.
Also Read: How Many Cores Does an i5 Have?
How Many Cores Does an i3 Have?
The amount of cores an Intel Core i3 has ranges from 2-4. The amount of threads an Intel Core i3 has ranges from 4-8 (This depends upon whether the CPU has hyperthreading enabled or not).
There are different types of CPUs basically:
- Desktop Based – These have a high number of core count
- Laptop Based High Performance – They have a high number of core count.
- Laptop Based Battery Saving – These have a lower number of core count.
Basically, as mentioned earlier, the amount of cores an i3 has depends upon the generation and the model.
Let us now look at the different generations and how many cores you can expect from i3 in each generation.
Before we analyze, a brief primer into the Intel CPU model prefixes will give you an idea about what type of CPU it is:
- H – Laptop based high performance
- U – Laptop based low performance – battery saving
- G – Laptop based low performance – battery saving
- Y – Laptop based very low performance
- K – Desktop based high performance and unlocked (Overclockable)
- No Suffix – Desktop based high performance
- F – Does not feature an iGPU
- T – Desktop based power efficient (Low TDP)
- E – Embedded (Soldered onto the board only found on OEM PCs; cannot be bought off the shelf)
Also Read: How to Check How Many Cores You Have?
Cores in 12th Gen Intel Core i3 CPUs
The 12th Gen Intel Core i3 CPUs haven’t been released yet, but they are already in the pipeline.
Currently Intel Core i3-12100 and Core i3-12300 Alder Lake based CPUs are just around the corner for desktops.
i3-12100 and i3-12300 both are quad core based with hyperthreading enabled.
However, unlike the 12th Gen Core i5 and Core i7 counterparts, the 12th Gen Core i3 DOES NOT feature E-Cores (efficiency cores).
Cores in 11th Gen Intel Core i3 CPUs
Initially released in Q3 2020, 11th Gen Core i3 CPU feature 2 -4 cores and 4 – 8 threads. All 11th Gen Core i3 CPUs have hyper-threading enabled meaning each core translates into 2 threads.
The higher the threads, the better the CPU performs particularly in multi-tasking.
11th Gen i3s, unfortunately, can only be found in laptops and in embedded systems. There is no Desktop-based 11th gen Core i3 CPU.
|Intel Core i3
|Intel Core i3
There are only two popular Core i3 CPUs from 11th gen and they are both for laptops/mobile devices i.e Intel Core i3 1125G4 and Intel Core i3 1115G4.
The Intel Core i3 1125G4 is currently the flagship i3 CPU for laptop/mobile devices in terms of overall performance.
Core i3 1125G4 is the first i3 for laptops to feature 4 cores.
The Intel Core i3 1115G4, on the other hand, is currently a very popular CPU for battery saving entry level laptops.
Cores in 10th Gen Intel Core i3 CPUs
10th Gen Intel Core i3 CPUs offer the widest range of CPUs including CPU for desktops. They first released in Q3 2019.
- Desktop based 10th Gen i3 features 4 cores / 8 threads.
- Laptop based 10th Gen i3 feature 2 cores / 4 threads
|Intel Core i3-10320||Desktop||4||8||10130|
|Intel Core i3-10100||Desktop||4||8||8824|
|Intel Core i3-1005G1||Laptop/Mobile||2||4||5192|
|Intel Core i3-10110U||Laptop/Mobile||2||4||4047|
|Intel Core i3-10110Y||Laptop/Mobile||2||4||3278|
Currently, the Intel Core i3 10320 is the flagship CPU for desktop. It also features 4 cores and 8 threads. But the most popular i3 for desktops from this generation is the i3 10100.
One very interesting aspect about this generation is how the laptop/mobile segment of the i3 CPUs are divided. For starters, they are all dual core based.
Secondly, all mobile based i3s from this generation are low-powered battery saving CPUs with specific purpose.
- Y Series 10th Gen i3 CPU, such as i3-10110Y have the LOWEST TDP of 7W (Typical). Making this excellent for very slim machines with confined chassis, but they sacrifice performance.
- U Series 10th Gen i3 i3 CPU, such as i3-10110U have the typical TDP of 15W making this the staple CPU for laptop of this generation.
- G Series 10th Gen i3 i3 CPU, such as i3-1005G1 with their TDP of 15W are the most efficient with the 10nm transistor size and have almost a comparable performance to U series CPUs (in certain benchmarks). G1-G7 indicates the iGPU performance grade.
In the end, all mobile based CPUs from 10th gen feature 2 cores and 4 threads whereas desktop based i3 CPUs features 4 cores and 8 threads.
Cores in 9th Gen Intel Core i3 CPUs
9th generation i3 CPU, released back in Q1 2019, are only available for the desktop segment.
Unlike the desktop based 10th Gen i3 CPUs, 9th Gen i3 CPUs DO NOT feature hyper threading. Hence, they are all 4 cores / 4 threads.
This generation offers various different models of Intel Core i3 CPUs for desktop differentiated by their performance.
- T series CPU such as the Intel Core i3 9100T have a lower clockspeed as well as TDP compared to the their base 9100 model. Hence they are great for power efficient desktops
- K series CPU such as the Intel Core i3-9350K is a rare i3 CPU that is unlocked and thus can be overclocked.
Again, the number of cores in this generation is uniform at 4 and since it does not offer hyper threading, the multi-core performance is not comparable to their desktop counterparts from 10th generation.
Cores in 8th Gen Intel Core i3 CPUs
The 8th Gen was the first to bring with it quad core desktop and laptop based i3 CPUs.
All generation before 8th had dual cores for their i3 CPUs for laptops AND desktops.
Many CPUs from this generation have been discontinued but they can still be found on many machines.
|Intel Core i3-8145U||Laptop||2||4||5590|
The Intel Core i3-8100H was the first laptop based high performance i3 CPU to offer quad core CPU.
Similarly, the i3-8100 was the first to offer quad cores on desktop.
Cores in 7th Gen Intel Core i3 CPUs
7th generation was the last Intel Core i3 generation to feature a mere 2 cores across the board for desktops and for laptops.
|Intel Core i3-7130U||Laptop||2||4||2973|
|Intel Core i3-7167U||Laptop||2||4||3280|
|Intel Core i3-7100H||Laptop||2||4||–|
|Intel Core i3-7100||Desktop||2||4||4318|
|Intel Core i3-7300||Desktop||2||4||4648|
|Intel Core i3-7320||Desktop||2||4||4835|
|Intel Core i3-7350K||Desktop||2||4||4809|
Most of the i3 CPUs from this generation have been discontinued.
Performance of the Latest Intel Core i3 CPUs
Knowing how many cores does an i3 have is just one part of the equation. You also have to look at the performance of i3 CPUs to understand where they stand in the hierarchy.
As mentioned earlier, Intel Core i3 CPUs have come a long way in terms of their prowess. So much so that the latest gen Intel Core i3s are comparable in performance to Core i7s from the 8th and 9th generation.
The following chart compares the performance of Core i3s across generation and against Core i5s and Core i7s. The scores are taken from Passmark Benchmark.
Note that the Passmark benchmark takes the overall performance into consideration. It does not show multi and single core performance scores separately.
You can see that the recent desktop based Core i3 CPUs are comparable in performance to the top of the line 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7700K.
There are two phenomenal Core i3 CPUs that we can see here.
The first is the 11th gen Intel Core i3 1125G4 as it takes a leap for laptop based i3 CPUs by featuring 4 cores and 8 threads.
The second is the Intel Core i3-8145U, which despite being from the 8th generation, offers performance better than 10th gen Intel Core i3 CPUs.
Also Read: Is Intel Pentium Good for Gaming?
So how many cores does an i3 have. Well, as far as the current generation goes, Intel Core i3 CPUs offer anywhere between 2-4 cores.
Except for the desktop based 8th and 9th Gen models, all i3 CPUs offer hyperthreading.
While i3s are believed to be entry level CPUs, the current performance gains have been made in leaps and bounds. Hence i3s today are comparable in performance to some recent Core i5s and Core i7s.
Also Read: What is a Good Processor Speed for a Laptop?