Cheap As Chips: Six Of The Best Budget CPUs (Part 2) : INTEL Core i3-3220, INTEL Core i3-3225

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12/18/2012 9:18:43 AM

The ideal budget partner for a discrete graphics card


Great 2D performance for just $143; low power consumption

Poison ivy

Poor on – board GPU makes discrete graphics a must for games

How much?

Price: $142


INTEL Core i3-3220

There isn’t much difference between the Core i3-3220 and its pricier sibling, the Core i3-3225. Both use Intel’s 22nm lvy Bridge architecture and offer two Hyper-Threaded cores, so there are two physical and two logical threads. They also both have the same nippy 3.3GHz clock speed, though without Turbo Boost technology.

The difference then comes from the chip’s on board GPUs. While the Core i3-3225 uses Intel’s latest HD 4000 GPU, the Core i3-322 is equipped with the inferior Intel HD 2500. The HD 2500 still supports DirectX11, but it’s equipped with just six execution units compared to HD 4000’s 16 units; however, both GPUs have the same 650MHz clock (with a boost up to 1,050MHz).

However, this drop in GPU resources sees the Core i3-3220 costing over $23 cheaper than its sibling. As Intel’s on-board graphics system are so poor that a discrete GPU is required for decent 3D performance, this makes it a more suitable partner for a capable mid-range GPU such as AMD’s Radeon HD 7850 2GB.

In terms of speed, the Core i3-3220 performed very similarly to its sibling, the Core i3-3225, although there was some variance. Needless to say, this saw the Core i3-3220 easily surpass AMD’s A10-5800K in our Media Benchmarks, with the Core i3-3220’s image editing score 1,537 being vastly superior to that of the AMD processor. The video encoding and multi-tasking scores of 2,145 and 1,410 respectively were also higher than those of the A10-5800K, although not by such a significant margin.

Discrete GPU performance was also strong, with a minimum frame rate of 51fps in Crysis 2 using a GTX 680 2GB-a 10per cent advantage over the A10-5800K.

However, the on-board Intel HD 2500 graphics generated ghastly performance in Skyrim at 1,920x 1,080. A minimum frame rate of just 4fps is a fifth of that achievable using the A8-5600K, a chip that’s    20 cheaper, and makes the Core i3-3220 entirely unsuited to 3D gaming unless paired with a discrete GPU. Of course, the HD 2500 GPU offers other benefits, such as Intel’s long vaunted but rarely utilized Quick Sync video encoding, but for most people, these are of little use. Meanwhile, a peak power consumption of just 78W is very low and, as the CPU doesn’t support overclocking, the stock Intel cooler does the job fine.


The Core i3-3220’s lower price tag and downgraded graphics make it a strong budget CPU. On its own, it isn’t for gamers who prioritise frags and frame rates, but it can form the basis of a great budget gaming PC when paired with a discrete GPU. It’s also the best budget CPU for those not interested in gaming.


§  Speed: 46 / 50

§  Features: 7 / 15

§  Value: 27 / 35

INTEL Core i3-3225

Great 2D performance, but the dire on board GPU adds $23 to the price


Fast performance in CPU benchmarks; low power consumption; fast with discrete GPU


Poor on –board GPU; $23 cheaper i3-3220 performs very similarly in CPU tests

How much?

Price: $164


INTEL Core i3-3225

The Core i3-3225 has two Hyper-Threading - enabled lvy Bridge cores, for a total of four threads [two physical and two logical]. While this may seem to put it at a disadvantage compared to the four physical cores of AMD’s Trinity APUs, Intel’s chips are far more capable per core. The CPU core runs at a set frequency of 3.3 Hz, but doesn’t use Intel’s Turbo Boost further increase performance. This allows the chip to ship with a low TDP of just 55W. As the Core i3-3225 isn’t a ‘K’ chip, there’s no unlocked multiplier to allow overclocking.

Alongside the pair of lvy Bridge cores, Intel has equipped the Core i3-3225 with its top-spec Intel HD 4000 graphics processor- the same on-board graphics chip found in its higher-specification Core i5 and Core i7 chips. HD 4000 boasts 16 execution units, and now supports DirectX 11 and hardware tessellation too, although it still lags behind AMD when it comes to pure 3D performance.

Conversely, the Core i3 3225 leaves little doubt about its superiority over AMD’s Trinity chips when it comes to 2D performance, but the gap between the two is now smaller than previously. An image editing score of 1,533 points in our Media Benchmarks is 50 per cent faster than the A10-5800K in the same test, while a video encoding score of 2,131 is around 10 per cent quicker than the top-spec Trinity chip. Meanwhile, an overall score of 1,690 points sees the Core i3-3225 hold a 20 per cent advantage over the A10-5800K at its stock speeds. Even when we overclocked the A10-5800K to 4.5Hz, it remained over 200 points adrift overall. In Cinebench, however, there’s little difference between the AMD and Intel chips at stock speed, and the A10-5800K is notably quicker once overclocked.

Discrete GPU performance again sees the Core i3-3225 better the AMD competition, with a minimum frame rate in Crysis 2 of 51fps compared to the A10-5800K’s 46fps. However, the Intel’s on-board GPU sees it fall flat, and despite the use of Intel HD 4000 graphics, the Core i3-3225 is only able to produce a minimum frame rate of 8fps in Skyrim at 1,920 x 1,080 with High detail. In the same test, AMD’s Trinity chips are all capable of at least double this frame rate. Power consumption was very low, however, with a peak load of just 85W for the whole system.


Despite the Core i3-3225’s excellent performance in 2D apps and games with a discrete GPU, its on-board graphics are poor, despite being among the best Intel can offer. You’ll need a discrete GPU for any moderate 3D gaming, thus making the HD 4000 graphics redundant. As the Core i3-3220 offers the same CPU performance for $23 less, it’s the better option.

INTEL Core i3-3225


§  Speed: 46 / 50

§  Features: 8 / 15

§  Value: 23 / 35

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