The processor is the brain of your laptop. Aside from the RAM (memory) your laptop has, it’s the most important piece of hardware in your entire laptop setup. There are many different processors out there for you to choose from, and it can be difficult to know the difference between them all.
One of the most popular processors over the last decade or more is the Intel i3 processor, and it’s become the staple for many new laptops. Many of the models in our list of the best sub £400 laptops have an i3 or Ryzen 3 processor.
But how does the Core i3 processor compare when pitted against another popular processor, like AMD’s Ryzen 3? Well, we’re going to compare the two against each other now.
Ryzen 3 vs i3 Processor
In general, an AMD Ryzen 3 processor is going to be better than an Intel i3 processor across the board. They have more cores, and most of their Ryzen 3 processors have 2 threads for every core. So, as a whole range, you’d likely be better off opting for the AMD.
However, this is a bit of an unfair question, because there are different versions and generations of both i3 and Ryzen 3 processors. So, for example a AMD Ryzen 3 3300X has 4 cores and 8 threads, with a base clocking speed of 3.8GHz, and a max of 4.3GHz.
The most likely comparison to this model would probably be the newer 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10320 Processor, which also has 4 cores, 8 threads and a base speed of 3.8GHz. However, this processor has a max frequency of 4.6GHz, so a little more than the Ryzen comparison.
Aside from directly comparing models to one another, the AMD Ryzen range as a whole has seen a massive increase in use over the last decade. This is because they tend to provide better value as a whole, and what once was an Intel-dominated market, is now more of a level playing field.
Having a multi-core processor with a lot of threads is important nowadays. Most games are multi-threaded, so they rely on your CPU to have enough threads, as well as enough physical cores too.
How many cores does the processor have?
Whilst both of these brands are worth considering, I’d be more inclined to opt for an AMD processor than an Intel processor. All of their Ryzen 3 processors are quadcore, whereas some of the i3 processors are only dual core.
The amount of cores a processor has indicates the amount of different functions it can run simultaneously. Here you can find out more about quad core and dual core processors.
At its simplest, the more cores that your processor has, the better. It also depend on your processors single-core performance abilities, but that’s getting more in depth to your CPU’s capabilities.
Looking at the cores that the processor has is the first step to deciding which to opt for. So whilst all AMD Ryzen 3 processors are quad core, not all i3s are.
But what if you have an i3 processor that’s quad core, then what other methods can you use to tell which one is better? Well, that’s when we start to look at clock rates.
Comparing Clock Rates
When you’re considering processors, you can look at their performance as another criteria in deciding which option to choose. The performance of the processor is measured in GHz.
For example, the AMD Ryzen 3 1200 has a clock rate of 3.1GHz – this just refers to the amount of cycles the clock of the processor makes. So, 3.1GHz is equal to 3.1 billion cycles per second. However, if we look at the Intel i3-4150, then this has a clock rate of 3.5GHz, which means that it has a faster clock rate.
And again, with a faster clock rate tends to come better performance. This is another way that we can decide which processor to opt for out of the two. But, this isn’t the only way that we can tell processors apart.
As well as looking at the amount of cores that a processor has, we can also look at the amount of threads it has too. The threads that a processor has is essentially how many cores the processor thinks that it has.
Most processors have 2 threads of every core. This means that the processor can equally balance out its work between the different cores. In an ideal scenario, you’ll always want a processor that has 2 threads per core, as opposed to 1 thread per core.
An example of this is the AMD Ryzen 3 1300X Processor, which has 4 cores but only 4 threads to match. Comparing this to the Intel i3-10320, which has 4 cores yet 8 threads, shows us that this generation of i3 would be the better choice.
Example Comparison – AMD Ryzen 3 3300X vs Intel Core i3-1125G4
Now for an example comparison, we’re going to take a look at two of the best processors from each brand. The i3-1125G4 was released at the middle of 2019, and the Ryzen 3300X is one of AMD’s best gaming processors for its price.
AMD Ryzen 3 3300X: Cores 4 | Threads 8 | Base Freq. 3.80GHz | Max Freq. 4.3GHz | Cache 8MB | TDP 65w
Intel Core i3-1125G4: Cores 4 | Threads 4 | Base Freq. 4.00GHz | Max Freq. 4.6GHz | Cache 16MB | TDP 91w
Both of these processors have the same amount of cores, but the 3300X has more threads, which helps to make it better for gaming. Although you can look at this very simply and decide that, this isn’t the entire story with a processor.
It’s always a good idea for you to check with an online compare website to see how the processors actually perform. There’s so many different variables at play, it’s not just down to these specs. Of course, you can assume an 8 core processor will be better than a 4 core, but when they’re very similar in specs, it’s much harder to do so.
At the end of the day, the higher TDP Intel processor will cost more for you to run (it’s only a few quid but it all counts) whilst not being as good as the Ryzen 3 3300X if you compare the two.
So, it’s important to look at processors a little bit harder before you decide on one. Plus, your processor isn’t the only thing that matters in your laptop’s performance. You also need to think about your RAM and graphics card too, which also contribute to how fast your laptop is.
In conclusion, you can find Ryzen 3 processors that are better than i3s, and you can find i3 processors that are better than Ryzen 3s. To really find the difference between them, we really need to take a closer look at the processor’s details.
Nowadays, I’d suggest that you opt for something a little better if you’re looking for something premium. Checking out the Intel Core i5 or i7 line is a good idea, as well as the Ryzen equivalent for better value. You can also look at Apple’s new M1 chip too, which is pretty impressive.
Whilst the new 10th Gen Intel i3 processors are good, for most people the AMD Ryzen series will provide better value for money. The Ryzen 3 series is known for creating some of the best value for money processors, so it’s a safe bet to go for a Ryzen 3.