How Many Cores Does an i3 Have?

Intel Core i3 CPUs have come a long way in terms of their performance. So much so that the current-gen Core i3s are comparable to both performance and core count to the Intel Core i7s released recently. 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 the stepping stone into performance-grade CPUs. They open up the doors to editing and designing for professionals and 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 desktop and laptop platforms and 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 ranged from 2-4. The amount of threads an Intel Core i3 has ranged 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 core count
  • Laptop-Based High Performance – They have a high core count.
  • Laptop-Based Battery Saving – These have a lower core count.

As mentioned earlier, the number of cores an i3 has depends on the generation and model. 

Let us 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 efficiency (Low TDP)
  • E – Embedded (Soldered onto the board only found on OEM PCs; cannot be bought off the shelf)

Summary of Notable Changes in Core Across Generation

The table below shows how the core and thread count have evolved across generations.

11th Gen
NAFirst to offer 4 cores WITH Hyper-Threading on a Laptop i3
10th Gen
First to offer 4 cores WITH Hyper-Threading on a Desktop i32c/4t
9th Gen
8th Gen
First to offer 4 cores WITHOUT Hyper-Threading on a Desktop i32c/4t
7th Gen
6th Gen
5th Gen
4th Gen
3rd Gen
2nd Gen
1st Gen

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 are already in the pipeline.

Intel Core i3-12100 and Core i3-12300 Alder Lake-based CPUs are just around the corner for desktops.

i3-12100 and i3-12300 are both 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 two threads.

The higher the threads, the better the CPU performs, particularly multitasking.

11th Gen i3s can only be found in laptops and embedded systems. There is no Desktop-based 11th gen Core i3 CPU.

CPU Platform Cores Threads Passmark
Intel Core i3 1125G4 Laptop/Mobile 4 8 10018
Intel Core i3 1115G4 Laptop/Mobile 2 4 6364

There are only two popular Core i3 CPUs from the 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 four cores.

On the other hand, the Intel Core i3 1115G4 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 CPUs for desktops. They first released in Q3 of 2019.

  • Desktop-based 10th Gen i3 features four cores/eight threads.
  • Laptop-based 10th Gen i3 feature two cores/four threads
CPU Platform Cores Threads Passmark
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 desktops. It also features four cores and eight threads. But this generation’s most popular i3 for desktops is the i3 10100. 

One very interesting aspect of this generation is how the laptop/mobile segment of the i3 CPUs is 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 purposes.

  • Y Series 10th Gen i3 CPU, such as i3-10110Y, have the LOWEST TDP of 7W (Typical). Makes 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 laptops of this generation.
  • G Series 10th Gen i3 i3 CPUs, 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.

Ultimately, all mobile-based CPUs from the 10th gen feature two cores and four threads, whereas desktop-based i3 CPUs feature four cores and eight threads.

Cores in 9th Gen Intel Core i3 CPUs

9th generation i3 CPUs, released 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 hyperthreading. Hence, they are all four cores/four threads.

CPU Platform Cores Threads Passmark
Intel Core i3-9100T Desktop 4 4 5590
Intel Core i3-9100 Desktop 4 4 6617
Intel Core i3-9300 Desktop 4 4 7279
Intel Core i3-9320 Desktop 4 4 7358
Intel Core i3-9350K Desktop 4 4 7760

This generation offers various different Intel Core i3 CPUs models for desktops differentiated by their performance.

  • T series CPUs, such as the Intel Core i3 9100T, have a lower clock speed as well as TDP compared to 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. Since it does not offer hyper-threading, the multi-core performance is not comparable to their desktop counterparts from the 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 generations before the 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.

CPU Platform Cores Threads Passmark
Intel Core i3-8145U Laptop 2 4 5590
Intel Core i3-8100H Laptop 4 4
Intel Core i3-8100 Desktop 4 4 6139
Intel Core i3-8300 Desktop 4 4 6080
Intel Core i3-8350K Desktop 4 4 6832

The Intel Core i3-8100H was the first laptop-based high-performance i3 CPU to offer a quad-core CPU. 

Similarly, the i3-8100 was the first to offer quad cores on a desktop.

Cores in 7th Gen Intel Core i3 CPUs

The 7th generation was the last Intel Core i3 generation to feature a mere two cores across the board for desktops and laptops.

CPU Platform Cores Threads Passmark
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. 

Also Read:

Performance of the Latest Intel Core i3 CPUs

Knowing how many cores an i3 has 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 their prowess, so much so that the latest gen Intel Core i3s are comparable in performance to Core i7s from the 8th and 9th generations.

The following chart compares the performance of Core i3s across generations and against Core i5s and Core i7s. The scores are taken from Passmark Benchmark.

Note that the Passmark benchmark considers the overall performance. It does not show multi and single-core performance scores separately.

Core i3s compared
Image: Desktop-Based Core i3s compared

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. 

Core i3s compared laptop
Image: Laptop-based Core i3s compared

There are two phenomenal Core i3 CPUs that we can see here.

The first is the 11th gen Intel Core i3 1125G4. It leaps laptop-based i3 CPUs by featuring four cores and eight 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?

Final Words

So how many cores does an i3 have? 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 considered 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?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the clock speed of an i3 processor, and how does it affect performance?

The clock speed of an i3 processor typically ranges from 2.9 GHz to 3.6 GHz, with some models having a turbo boost feature that can increase the clock speed temporarily. Clock speed affects how fast the processor can execute instructions and perform tasks.

2. Is it worth upgrading from an i3 to an i5 or i7 processor for better performance?

Upgrading from an i3 to an i5 or i7 processor can improve performance, especially for more demanding tasks like gaming or video editing. However, the cost of upgrading may not be worth it for all users, depending on their specific needs and budget.

3. What is the maximum amount of RAM that an i3 processor can support?

The maximum amount of RAM that an i3 processor can support depends on the specific model and the motherboard it is installed on. Some models can support up to 64GB of RAM, while others may only support up to 16GB.

4. Can an i3 processor be overclocked to improve performance, and is it safe to do so?

Overclocking an i3 processor can potentially improve performance, but it also carries some risks. Overclocking can cause the processor to generate more heat, which can damage the processor or other components in the system. It is important to research and understand the risks before attempting to overclock an i3 processor.

5. How long is the lifespan of an i3 processor, and when should you consider upgrading to a newer processor?

The lifespan of an i3 processor depends on various factors, such as how often it is used and whether it is subjected to high temperatures or other stressors.

Generally, an i3 processor can last for several years before needing an upgrade.

It is recommended to upgrade when the processor is no longer able to keep up with the demands of newer software or hardware.

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