Last week, we reviewed the AMD A10 6790K, the second fastest “Richland” APU (by 100 MHz) and were overall pleased with the results. Going up against the Ivy Bridge powered Core i3 3240, it outperformed the Intel chip in most desktop applications, and unlike the Core i3, its integrated graphics performance was usable in many games using settings higher than Xbox 360 or PS3 would use.
Perhaps we can’t be blamed for not considering the existence of Haswell based Core i3 CPUs, as they were quietly launched in September with little to no fanfare. Intel usually don’t send samples for low end products like the Core i3, so we went and got our own to do this review. Haswell based Core i3 models come in 5 different configurations, with 2 low voltage models:
|Cores / Threads||Max Frequency||L3 Cache||Graphics||Max GPU Frequency||TDP||MSRP|
|Core i3-4130||2/4||3.4 GHz||3 MB||HD 4400||1150 MHz||54W||$122|
|Core i3-4130T||2.9 GHz||35W||$122|
|Core i3-4330||3.5 GHz||4 MB||HD 4600||54W||$138|
|Core i3-4330T||3.0 GHz||35W||$138|
|Core i3-4340||3.6 GHz||54W||$149|
We chose to use the Core i3 4340, since it’s the top end Haswell Core i3 for now, and is only $10 more than the model below. Core i3 doesn’t support Turbo Mode, but its base clock speed of 3.6 GHz is actually higher than any other Haswell product, including the Core i7 4770K at 3.5 GHz. In lightly threaded applications, the Core i3 4340 should perform quite well.
The Core i3 4340 comes with an integrated HD 4600 graphics processor, with 20 GT2 execution units. This is the best version that is available on socketed CPUs (higher end graphics processors are reserved for BGA models such as the Core i7-4770R). It comes clocked at 1050 MHz though, which is lower than on the Core i5 (1200 MHz).
We’ll be comparing it to several of the ~$130 CPUs we looked at recently. We left out the FX 4300 since there is really no reason to ever pick it over the FX 6300 which comes in at the same price. We also dropped the Trinity A10 5800K since it has been effectively replaced by Richland.
|Model||Cores/Threads||CPU Base||CPU Turbo||TDP||Last Level Cache||IGP Units||IGP MHz||Price Dec 6, 2013|
|Core i3 4340||2/4||3.6 GHz||54W||4 MB L3||20||1150 MHz||$160|
|A10 6790K||4/4||4.0 GHz||4.3 GHz||100W||4MB L2||384||844 MHz||$130|
|FX 6300||6/6||3.5 GHz||4.1 GHz||100W||8MB L3||$110|
|Core i3 3240||2/4||3.5 GHz||55W||3MB L3||6||1050 MHz||$120|
|FX 8350||8/8||4.0 GHz||4.2 GHz||125W||8MB L3||$200|
|Core i5 4670||4/4||3.4 GHz||3.8 GHz||84W||6MB L3||20||1200 MHz||$220|
We did add some models that are a step up from the pack. The Core i5 4670 and FX 8350 should give us an idea of how much performance you can get by increasing the budget by around $50. We’ll have an idea of just how much higher clock speeds, bigger cache, and more threads can affect performance in each application we test.
Core i3 4340 Review Test Specs
|Core i3 3240||Core i3 4340|
Core i5 4670
|Motherboard||MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 |
AMD A85X Chipset
AMD A88X Chipset
AMD 990FX Chipset
Intel Z77 Chipset
Intel Z87 Chipset
|Memory||16GB (2x8GB) Crucial Ballistix Sport XT 1866 10-10-10-30|
|Hard Drive||OCZ Vector 256GB|
|Video Cards||Diamond Multimedia ATI Radeon HD7870 2GB|
Sapphire Radeon R9 280X (for gaming tests)
|Motherboard Drivers||Catalyst 13.10 Chipset|
Catalyst 13.10 AHCI
|Video Drivers||GPU: Catalyst 13.11 b9.4|
IGP: Catalyst 13.11 b9.4
|GPU: Catalyst 13.11 b9.4||GPU: Catalyst 13.11 b9.4|
IGP: Intel 10.18.10.3345
|Operating System||Windows 8 Professional x64 RTM|
All updates as of Dec 1, 2013
|Notes||FX 6300 Replicated from FX 8350 (disabled 1 module, adjusted clock speeds)||Replicated from i3 3220 (103 MHz bus)|
Core i3 4340 Review – What We Look For
This is what we are going to consider for our Core i3 4340 review:
- Gaming performance – does the Core i3 4340 keep up with the Core i5 and FX 8350 when gaming with a high end GPU?
- Integrated graphics gaming performance – Can the Core i3 4340 run today’s best looking games at 720p? This includes the latest next-gen games like Assassin’s Creed IV and Battlefield 4. If it can, it is already well ahead of what the previous generation of consoles are capable of, and far FAR beyond what previous generation Core i3 models could produce.
- Compute performance – We’ll quickly look at ‘pure calculation’ performance, to see what the raw numbers look like, and should know what to expect from there.
- Desktop performance – We’ll use the latest version of PC Mark to see how the Core i3 4340 performs in various desktop scenarios. PC Mark 8 uses the most realistic scenarios we’ve seen in a benchmark program like this.
- Content creation – We’ll use various real-world programs like Photoshop and 3ds Max to see how the Core i3 4340 performs compared to the other CPUs
- Media encoding – Again using real-world programs, we’ll encode some video and audio to see how the Core i3 4340 performs. We use the latest versions of the x264 encoder and LAME MP3 in multithreaded mode which support the latest CPU features.
- Other intensive desktop tasks – Various other tasks are performed, from file encryption to compression and decompression.
- OpenCL tasks – With a much more capable integrated GPU, it will be interesting to see if the Core i3 4340 can now compete with the AMD A10 APU in OpenCL performance.
- Power consumption – We’ll test power consumption not only under full load, but single core load and idle which are by far more the most common states of a normal desktop PC.
Since there are very few Haswell Core i3 reviews out there, we’ll have to make sure ours is thorough enough to be the only one you need.
Core i3 4340 Review – Compute Performance
As always, we’ll kick things off with a look at SiSoft Sandra’s pure CPU compute tests. This benchmark utility makes use of the best instruction sets any CPU has to offer – from SSE to AVX2 to FMA3, it uses whatever is most suitable for that particular CPU.
Below are the results from the “Arithmetic” tests, which use the old Dhrystone and Whetstone benchmarks.
Things are off to a great start for the Core i3 4340, as it is able to keep up with the FX 6300 in both integer and floating point performance. This is despite the FX 6300 having 4 more physical cores than the Core i3 4340.
Next are SiSoft Sandra’s “Multimedia” CPU tests. These are more ‘real world’ and reflect software that makes full use of media extensions offered by modern CPU architecture.
The most interesting aspect of these results is the huge increase over the Ivy Bridge based Core i3 3240. The clock speed is 200 MHz higher, but more importantly the more modern Haswell architecture allows the Core i3 4340 to pull way ahead in integer performance, using AVX2 instructions.
Core i3 4340 Review – Gaming Performance
Our gaming performance tests are probably a bit different from what you’re used to seeing on most sites. We test performance using real-world gameplay exclusively, and the results we look at are frame time measurements rather than frames per second (although that measurement is still included).
We sometimes find that FPS doesn’t carry enough data to tell us exactly how a given set of hardware performs. Although this is much more important in video card reviews, we can include it in our CPU reviews as well.
Each game is tested using a 60 second playthrough of a level with the intention of being repeatable and consistent. This is easier in some games than others, so our benchmarks are repeated 3-5 times to find the most consistent result. Once that result is found, we use that as a representation of performance. FPS is recorded, as well as individual frame times. From there, we can calculate the top 1% of slowest frames, to give us an idea of which CPU feels the most ‘laggy’ at its lowest point of performance. We then calculate the amount of time spent over several thresholds, to give us an idea of which CPU delivers the most consistent framerate. We use 16.7 ms as the top benchmark, which is 60 FPS. The less time spent over this point, the smoother the game will play, especially with VSync enabled on a 60 Hz screen. From there, we go to 33 ms (30 FPS) and 50 ms (20 FPS) to see which CPU is the slowest over the course of a 60 second playthrough.
The video card used for gaming performance in this review is a Radeon R9 280X. All games are run at 1080p, by far the most common resolution, at settings that push the hardware pretty hard.
Here are the games we used, and the settings for each (we’ll also include a screenshot of each settings page as we go through the results).
|Assassin's Creed IV||3rd Person Action||1.06||AnvilNext|
|Battlefield 4||First Person Shooter||v89510_111213||FrostByte 3|
|Crysis 3||First Person Shooter||18.104.22.16800||CryEngine 3|
|Metro Last Light||First Person Shooter||Update 3||4A Engine|
|Tomb Raider||3rd Person Action||22.214.171.124||Modified Crystal Engine|
Our look at Core i3 4340 gaming performance begins with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.