Whether it be a gaming build specialized for online multiplayer games like League of Legends or Counter Strike: GO, or a home theater PC (HTPC) meant for streaming 4K Netflix from your living room, these entry-level CPUs, are the most efficient, and give you the best value for their cost.
Though the i3-9100 has an F variant (9100F), meaning that it does not include integrated graphics, which in turn lowers the retail price of the CPU, unfortunately, the i3-10100 does not seem to have any such iteration, and there is no word from Intel on whether or not one will be released at a later date.
AMD currently has three CPUs in contention with the i3-10100: the Ryzen 3 3200G (which includes integrated Radeon Vega 8 graphics and costs under $100) and the soon to be released, Ryzen 3 3100 and Ryzen 3 3300X (which sacrifice integrated graphics, but offer more in terms of specifications).
If you’re looking for a gaming build, then it is generally advised to use a discrete graphics card, – the Nvidia GTX GeForce 1660 Super being an optimal option. But how does the i3-10100 fair against the i3-9100? Is it worth waiting for? Will Intel one-up AMD in this entry level CPU category? Let’s compare the CPUs and find out.
i3-10100 vs i3-9100 vs Ryzen 3 3200G/3100/3300X: Specifications
The 10th generation Intel i3-10100 comes equipped with, newfound, hyperthreading capabilities, built with 4 cores and 8 threads, a 6 MB level 3 cache, and 3.6 GHz operating, and a 4.3 Max Turbo, frequencies. It has a 14 nm lithography, and a 65W TDP, though unlike the i5, i7, and i9 10th generation processors, this CPU lacks the configurable TDP-down feature, which allows one to lower the TDP value via throttling the base operating frequency. In terms of memory, this CPU can support a maximum of 128 GB of DDR4 RAM, with max base speeds of 2666 MHz and a max memory bandwidth of 41.6 GB/s – though 8 to 16GB of RAM will more than suffice for builds using this CPU. The integrated graphics this CPU includes is an Intel UHD Graphics 630, which has 4K resolution support for up to 60 Hz, and can support up to 3 displays. The Intel i3-10100 is set to release with an RCP (recommended customer price) of $122, which is for a whole sale of 1000 units, so the price will most likely increase for retail sale.
The Intel i3-9100 is devoid of the hyperthreading capabilities of its successor, featuring a 4 core, 4 thread build. It has the same 6 MB level 3 cache, an operating speed of 3.6 GHz, and a slightly smaller 4.2 GHz Max Turbo frequency in comparison to its 10th gen iteration. The TDP of this CPU sits at 65W, with RAM support of up to 64 GBs of DDR4-2400 memory and 37.5 GB/s max memory bandwidth. The architecture of this CPU has the same 14nm structure as the i3-10100, and the integrated GPU is the exact same Intel UHD Graphics 630. The i3-9100 is currently listed for $136.99, but also has an i3-9100F iteration for those that would rather have a discreet GPU, which sells for only $75.
To compete with the i3 series, AMD has three different CPUs, one of which is available currently, the other two being set to release sometime later this month (May 2020). The Ryzen 3 3200G features a 4-core, 4-thread setup, 3.6-4.0 GHz operating/boost-clock speeds respectively, a 4 MB L3 cache, and a 12 nm manufacturing process. It also has an integrated Radeon Vega 8, at the same 65W TDP as its Intel counterparts. Given that this CPU retails at a sub-$100 range, puts it strongly in contention for HTPC builds that the aforementioned i3 CPUs target.
For those looking to use an entry-level CPU for a gaming, then the Ryzen 3 3100, and the Ryzen 3 3300X options are best: the first being a sub-$100 budget option, the latter being similarly priced slightly more expensive ($120) for extra operating and overclocking speeds. As mentioned, both these CPUs sacrifice integrated graphics for more CPU power. The Ryzen 3 3100 has 4 cores and 8 threads, an increased 16 MB level three cache, PCIe 4.0 compatibility, 3.6-3.9 GHz operating speeds and boost-clock speeds, a 7nm lithography, and includes a Wraith Stealth CPU cooler. The Ryzen 3 3300X has similar specifications, though it boasts an elevated 3.8 GHz operating speed, and an elevated overclocking speed of 4.3 GHz. Both these CPUs support a DDR4 memory type, and up to 3200 MHz RAMs.
i3-10100 vs i3-9100 vs Ryzen 3 3200G/3100/3300X: Best for HPTC Builds?
For HTPC builds made solely for video streaming, a CPU with an integrated GPU will work just fine… though under certain parameters. If you’re looking to stream Netflix in 4K, then the Intel i3-10100 and i3-9100, as well as the Ryzen 3 3200G, are all viable options; given that you do not mind having HDR turned off, otherwise, a discrete GPU will be necessary. This also applies for 8K resolution compatible screens – so if you’re looking to stream any of the handful of currently available 8K-resolution options on YouTube, you’d be best off with a discreet GPU.
The choice between the i3-10100, the i3-9100 and the Ryzen 3 3200G, will fall solely upon the given budget. The i3-10100 does have hyperthreading capabilities, and a slightly larger cache, but it will need a brand new LGA-1200 compatible motherboard in order to work, which will increase its overall price considerably. On the other hand, the Ryzen 3 3200G costs 33% less than the i3-9100, and can be plugged into any AM4 compatible motherboards – and there are plenty to choose from. It currently seems like the Ryzen 3 3200G would the best deal for streaming-exclusive HTPCs.
i3-10100 vs i3-9100 vs Ryzen 3 3200G/3100/3300X: Best for Gaming Builds?
If you are looking to be able to plug in some controllers and game from your living room’s HTPC, or perhaps make a dedicated competitive online-multiplayer rig, then the options change considerably. Online multiplayer games like Fortnite or Overwatch, when paired with an Nvidia GTX 1660 Super, will play well above the 60 FPS mark with the i3-9100F, and even if you go a step further to an Nvidia RTX 2060 Super, then they can even be played at over 120 FPS for screens with 1080p/144 Hz refresh rates. Given that the i3-9100F currently only costs $74, it becomes the best deal for such builds, as anything more in terms of specifications would ultimately become unnecessary.
If you’re looking to play some triple-A single-player games that are a bit more demanding than the aforementioned bunch, then the Ryzen 3 3100 and 3300X are the best suitors for your intended use, as the Intel i3-10100 lacks a non-GPU variant. The aforementioned Ryzen CPUs are AM4 compatible, meaning you can plug them into any uncostly B450 motherboard, and come with similar specifications to the i3-10100, though at cheaper prices.
If you’re looking for a build on a budget, then the Ryzen 3 3100 will work just fine for your needs, whereas if you don’t mind spending an extra 20 dollars for your CPU, then the Ryzen 3 3300X will give you faster operating speeds, a 2.66x larger L3 cache, PCIe 4.0 compatibility, and the same overclocking speeds and TDP as compared to the Intel i3-10100.
It’s hard to tell what Intel was going for with the i3-10100 CPU, as once again there are better alternatives (including their own i3-9100F) depending on the intended use. The market for these entry level CPUs is budget dependent, and since this 10th generation CPU has a new LGA-1200 chipset (which will only be compatible with new Z490 series motherboards) as well as the fact that this CPU lacks an F variant (for those wanting to use the CPU with a discreet GPU for gaming) it is difficult to come up with a scenario where this CPU would be the best viable option for one looking to build a PC on a budget.