AMD FX-4170 Vs. Intel Core i3-3220: Which ~$125 CPU Should You Buy?

Benchmark Results: Metro 2033, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, And StarCraft II

In Metro 2033, the four-core Core i5 enjoys a sizable advantage, indicating an engine able to utilize the chip's four x86 cores. Meanwhile, though the Core i3-3220 does lead AMD's FX-4170, the performance gap isn't very large.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is significantly more processor-bound than any other title in this story. The Core i5 stomps the dual-core/module competition, and Intel's Core i3-3220 runs away from the FX-4170 with very little effort. AMD's frame rates are smooth, but priced within $10 of each other, the Ivy Bridge-based Core i3 still scores a notable win.

Again, we see evidence that StarCraft II stands to benefit from a platform with a true quad-core processor. The Core i5 serves up higher minimum frame rates and a significantly better average, and the two dual-core/module CPUs tie, for all intents and purposes.

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  • At $125, they should have included the FX-6100. That's $120 on Newegg, plus an additional $15 off on sale.
    29
  • Damn it AMD, I really want you to pull a rabbit out of your cake hole and do well.
    26
  • Nice review as always. Nothing really too surprising but I guess it was quite necessary to compare the 2 CPUs at the same price point (not everybody prefers Intel). If Piledriver pulls through (I hope it does), then maybe AMD will have the slight edge at performance per dollar against the i3 Ivy Bridge
    21
  • Other Comments
  • Nice review as always. Nothing really too surprising but I guess it was quite necessary to compare the 2 CPUs at the same price point (not everybody prefers Intel). If Piledriver pulls through (I hope it does), then maybe AMD will have the slight edge at performance per dollar against the i3 Ivy Bridge
    21
  • At $125, they should have included the FX-6100. That's $120 on Newegg, plus an additional $15 off on sale.
    29
  • Nothing too surprising I suppose. AMD is looking to cut 20% of it's workforce and I think I know why. Performance is hit or miss and at twice the power of Intel's offerings. Intel is getting close to competing with ARM with their mainstream lineup and AMD's dual module is still at 125W. What's wrong here?

    Hope Piledriver is all that it promises and more.
    4
  • Damn it AMD, I really want you to pull a rabbit out of your cake hole and do well.
    26
  • This hurts. I've been an AMD fan for a long time and I was really excited for Bulldozer. However, after seeing the lackluster performance, I put off upgrading until Piledriver. I'm not so sure about Piledriver now, though, and I think it might be time to throw in the towel and finally buy an Intel chip for once.
    14
  • One thing in the review's last page's title really piqued me

    "...but Tomorrow Shows More Promise for AMD".

    Tomorrow...as in ... Oct 16, 2012 or is it only figurative?
    16
  • Hope Vishera changes this - a $125 chip that can beat i3 at stock (apps & games) and can ALSO be overclocked would be a great thing for budget enthusiasts, who right now are stuck with either locked Intel CPU or not-so-great-performing AMD CPU. Power numbers still don't look good. Probably due to the 32nm process (and also due to architectural differences I suppose). Is Vishera 32nm or 22? Fingers crossed for healthy competition :)
    10
  • jerm1027At $125, they should have included the FX-6100. That's $120 on Newegg, plus an additional $15 off on sale.


    At 3.3 GHz, the 6100 doesn't fare well. It's easily out-gamed by the FX-4170, and only gets a bit of a break in highly threaded apps.
    18
  • Why not compare with Trinity? It has higher performance, lower power and modern chipset
    -5
  • @user32123, i guess it's because that's already done
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  • Looking at those slow the softwae developer adopting multi-threaded app, it seems it is clear that i3 is the clear winner.
    -3
  • Would have love to have seen a phenom II in there too.

    In my opinion, if you are on a budget, the FX4170 can be a decent cpu, it is $10 cheaper than the i3, it isn't much but might be able to give you a slightly bigger budget on graphics. Its not a complete wash either. The power consumption might be high but nothing a desktop can't handle, would be more expensive for people who pay more for power but generally in north america, power is pretty cheap.
    15
  • As an Intel fanboy and a ex-AMD fan, this article was both enjoyable and depressing, since AMD is just losing the CPU game.
    -5
  • I seriously squealed when I saw this article on the front page. These kinds of articles make really excited. I'm looking forward to (really anxious for) the Vishera review. Will now read... :lol:
    10
  • 402965 said:
    Is Vishera 32nm or 22?
    I forgot where I read it, but I believe it's still 32nm... Oh wait... Maybe that's just Trinity. I may've actually been hoping Vishera were 28nm or something. I hate it when my memory fails me. Anyway...

    21257 said:
    jerm1027At $125, they should have included the FX-6100. That's $120 on Newegg, plus an additional $15 off on sale.
    At 3.3 GHz, the 6100 doesn't fare well. It's easily out-gamed by the FX-4170, and only gets a bit of a break in highly threaded apps.

    Does that mean the FX-4170 and 6100 really share the same MSRP? Because I was thinking that it may just be a Newegg (shop-specific) price thing (possibly a sale/discount).
    I don't think it would've been a bad idea to have it around if that were the case (though I don't mean to impose more work on you guys). It might've been something to see what relative application performance score it would've gotten compared to the i5, as well as how much it performs less compared to the FX-4170. (I imagine by not so much since a lot of the games were GPU-limited already.) :)
    0
  • I buy whatever CPU and GPU will do the best at the time I decide to upgrade...

    NO fanboi here....

    My current AMD powered laptop plays Skyrim reasonably, something that would have easily required another $100 to do with an Intel laptop at the time of upgrade.

    Next time? Whatever has the best numbers will be what I buy... (I always wait to see if a chipset or CPU/GPU is plagued with problems before I buy - usually 3-6 months after they hit market)

    Brand loyalty is something companies try to instill in consumers, and nowadays it has no place in a consumer's choice of hardware or software.

    Buy what will do the things you NEED to do... forget about joining the war one way or the other.

    If more people would buy what is on top instead of supporting only one company, more companies would have to innovate and improve their products more substantially.
    16
  • churfyo guy who wrote this is dumb. look at what he says, 'significant' fps advantage in some game or another. the difference was 10 fps and not just any fps. the fps from 55 to 65 is nothing on a 60hz monitor that can only play 60 fps, basically. intel biased guy who wrote this needs to drink a cup of reality.


    A: 10 frames is significant. It's 16.6%
    B: This is about benchmark performance, not whether you'll notice the drop in frames or not.

    However, I will note that if your display is 60hz, and the game you're playing has vsync, then that small 5 frame difference between the game running at 55 fps and the display's 60hz actually changes to a HUGE frame drop, because the FPS will drop to 30 to stay in sync with the display.
    9
  • They should've included the Phenom II X4 965 BE just for comparison's sake. Its $90 as well.
    13
  • I built my PC with the 2120, should I get the 3220 instead?
    0
  • I wish they included overclocked results... but those power consumption figures...

    Not something you'd like with Australian electricity prices.
    6