Willing to spend around 100 euros on a processor? Choosing for AMD will get you the hexa-core FX-6300, whereas Intel has the dual-core i3-4330 on offer. Which of these two is the correct choice for an affordable gaming PC?
It's a discussion that has been ongoing for about two years now, in the comments on our online Budget Gaming PC Advice: what is the best CPU? We have been recommending an AMD FX-6300 processor during this entire period, over an almost identically priced Core i3. This recommendation is often challenged in the comments, as many feel that the Core i3 would be the better choice, despite having only a third of the cores. And with our standard processor tests only involving three games combined with a single video card, we admittedly didn't exactly have the perfect counterargument. In order to end the discussion once and for all, we spent a week testing both CPUs with eleven different games, at two quality presets each, using four different video cards. 176 test results later, we're ready to tell you which of these two CPUs is the better choice.
Like we mentioned earlier, both CPUs have a price of around 100 euros. With an average price of about 98 euros, the AMD CPU is a little cheaper than the Intel Core i3-4330, which has an average price of 121 euros. When only considering CPU prices, the Core i3-4150 would have been a better match. However, given that the 4150 (which we unfortunately did not have) only has 1 MB less cache than the 4330 and is otherwise identical, we expect these two CPUs to offer similar performance.
The FX and the i3 are completely different processors. The FX-6300 is based on the same octa-core Vishera chips as all contemporary octa-core AMD FX processors, except that two of the cores have been disabled. The CPU has a base clock frequency of 3.5 GHz with a 4.1 GHz turbo mode, and is equipped with 6 MB of L2 cache and 8 MB of L3 cache. The dual-channel memory controller officially supports speeds of up to DDR3-1866, but is obviously also capable of handling faster modules. The TDP is 95W. An important advantage of the FX processor over the Core i3 is that it is fully unlocked, which is of course beneficial to overclockers. According to Hwbot.org, many are capable of reaching clock speeds of 4.4 to 4.8 GHz using air cooling, with a lucky few even managing to surpass the 5.0 GHz barrier.
The Core i3, on the other hand, is based on a dual-core Haswell chip. Its two cores operate at 3.5 GHz, and do not support Turbo mode. HyperThreading is enabled, however, causing the host operating system to see four virtual cores. The i3 has 512 kB of L2 cache and 4 MB of L3 cache. Perhaps the most important difference is that the i3 features an integrated graphics chip, something that the FX-6300 lacks. That said, if you're going to put together a gaming PC, you'll no doubt be choosing for a discrete graphics card, which means that you won't be using the integrated GPU at all. The Core i3 has a lower TDP of 65W, in part because of the smaller process node (22 nm) and the higher efficiency of the Intel cores.