Base Clock Overclocking the Core i3-6100TE: The i5 Competition

Now we have the data, I want to pull up the data for the overclocked Core i3-6100TE and pit it against the data we already have in our database for the most likely contenders. Sitting at $117 at the base cost, and ignoring for the fact that it is almost impossible to buy because it’s a TE model, we’ll look purely at the overclocking compared to an equivalent i5 to see where having four physical cores (and more L3 cache per core) will beat the dual core with hyperthreading. We've also added in the Pentium G3258 results, overclocked to 4.7 GHz, to see where that sits. The i5 in this is the Core i5-6500 processor, which sits at a 3.3-3.9 GHz frequency. We've tested it but not yet written up the review, but the results are included.

CPU Short Form

HandBrake v0.9.9 LQ Film

Handbrake with a low quality file relies mainly on pure frequency and floating point performance, hence why the overclocked Pentium at 4.7 GHz beats the i3-6100TE at 3.65 GHz.

HandBrake v0.9.9 2x4K

When we move up to large frame conversion, the benchmark is more in line with the number of threads available as well as frequency, so the i5 takes more of a lead at the top and the Pentium comes down. The overclocked Core i3 holds station at mid-field, and in our benchmark database it sits at the top of the i3 parts, but significantly behind the Core i5s.

Dolphin Emulation Benchmark

Dolphin likes single core performance and high IPC, but also gets a boost from Haswell and beyond in terms of CPU architecture. This is why the G3258 when overclocked can beat almost everything else at stock.

Agisoft PhotoScan Benchmark - Total Time

Photoscan is a mixed back of threading, where at some points high frequency wins the day but at others it's a combination with cores and threads. Here, the lack of true cores (and in turn, L3 cache per thread), is the issue.

WinRAR 5.01, 2867 files, 1.52 GB

While WinRAR is a variable threaded load, it sits more comfortably with more cache, faster memory and more threads. There is still a big gap between the Core i3 parts and the Core i5 parts, even when the Core i3 is overclocked.

Cinebench R15 - Single Threaded

Cinebench in single threaded mode is all about frequency and IPC, hence the i3-6100TE OC can beat the older i5 parts. The Pentium G3258 at 4.7 GHz storms ahead here as a result.

Cinebench R15 - Multi-Threaded

However, the lack of true cores brings it down to earth in the multithreaded test. The difference between the overclocked i3-6100TE and the Core i5-6600 is a big 50%, which is hard to make up on frequency alone.

3D Particle Movement: Single Threaded

3DPM v1 in single thread mode loves frequency and IPC, hence why the overclocked i3 sits at the bottom of this small graph but in the middle of the older i7 parts in our benchmark database.

3D Particle Movement: MultiThreaded

In multithreaded mode, while the i3 and i5 parts can spawn similar amounts of threads, the 3.6 GHz overclock on the i3-6100TE isn't enough to bring the fight to the Core i5s.


WebXPRT is a big fan of responsiveness, and having an overclocked system seems to help here. This means both the i3-6100TE OC and G3258 OC storm ahead.

Google Octane v2

Octane is more multithreaded than WebXPRT, relying more on synthetic testing. In our benchmark database the overclocked i3 pushes above some of the older Core i5s, but the Skylake i5-6600 is still on top.

TrueCrypt 7.1 Benchmark (AES Performance)

For AES encryption, the Pentium parts drop out due to the lack of AES-NI instructions, but it does become a case of threads and frequency here.

POV-Ray 3.7 Beta RC4

Overall conclusions on the pure CPU performance puts the stock Core i3 at the bottom end of our table in most tests, but overclocking it +35% turns it into a very average performer. In single threaded tests, depending on the memory footprint, it either handily beats or goes toe-to-toe with the Core i5s, usually sitting a pace behind. When the threads come out to play though, there is still that gap between the Core i3 and the Core i5 segments, by virtue of hyperthreads compared to real cores. This makes the issue more to do with cache per thread, and more trips out to higher latency memory to fetch data - typically highly threaded environments are processing a lot of data anyway, making it a compound effect.

GPU Tests on R9 290X

Alien Isolation on MSI R9 290X Gaming LE 4GB ($380)

Alien Isolation gets a good +12% boost in frame rates from that 35% overclock, pushing it above the Sandy Bridge i7 when the i7 runs at stock speed, but still behind an i5.

Total War: Attila on MSI R9 290X Gaming LE 4GB ($380)

Total War rises to an asymptotic peak of frame rates as cores and frequency increases, and while the overclocked i3 can't match the i5s they can get very close, as shown above.

Grand Theft Auto V on MSI R9 290X Gaming LE 4GB ($380)

Similarly with GTA, we get a good 20% rise in frame rates from the overclock but it still isn't enough for the last 1-8% or so to the old i7s or newer Core i5s.

GRID: Autosport on MSI R9 290X Gaming LE 4GB ($380)

GRID responds to a number of benefits, especially relating to DRAM speed, IPC and frequency. Using DDR4 helps the Core i3 here it seems, with that overclock giving a good 30% push in frame rates and putting the i3 and i5 within a margin of error.

Shadow of Mordor on MSI R9 290X Gaming LE 4GB ($380)

Shadow of Mordor on MSI R9 290X Gaming LE 4GB ($380)

Mordor is relatively flat on CPU performance.

With the AMD GPU tests, the overclocked Core i3 sits very much in mid table when looking at the big picture. The overclock doesn't really pull any of the games out of the gutter, but the use of DDR4 seems to help in games like GRID which love it when any component is upgraded. In games like Mordor, the GPU is the bottleneck so everyone seems to perform the same.

GPU Tests on GTX 980

Alien Isolation on ASUS GTX 980 Strix 4GB ($560)

Total War: Attila on ASUS GTX 980 Strix 4GB ($560)

Grand Theft Auto V on ASUS GTX 980 Strix 4GB ($560)

GRID: Autosport on ASUS GTX 980 Strix 4GB ($560)

Shadow of Mordor on ASUS GTX 980 Strix 4GB ($560)

Shadow of Mordor on ASUS GTX 980 Strix 4GB ($560)

In everything except Mordor, the overclocked i3 is anywhere from 10-15% behind the Core i5 in frame rates, but mid-table overall.


Everyone has been wondering for a while just how good an overclocked Core i3 part is. Well, here is our data, and the answer is perhaps somewhat surprising: a faster Core i3 moves itself into a mid-table position. In most cases it sits behind the Core i5 parts, unable to get over that hump of using two threads per core and having to share cache resources between hyperthreads. Having real cores in this instance makes a big difference. In a number of cases, the overclocked Core i3 sits above the older Core i7s, especially when improvements to the architecture have a profound impact on the performance of the processor.

But is an overclocked Core i3 going to feel like a part of higher value?

Base Clock Overclocking the Core i3-6100TE: Scaling So Why Do We Not See an Overclockable i3 CPU?
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  • ViperV990 - Thursday, March 17, 2016 - link

    The i5-6400 @ $180 seems to be a much better part to OC.
  • nightbringer57 - Thursday, March 17, 2016 - link

    Heh, when some of the younger ones today speak about overclocking, I like to remember them of how much more financially interesting overclocking used to be. It's like everyone forget how overclocking worked a few years ago. I still remember my cheap student gaming PC with a Pentium E2180 that went from 2GHz to 3GHz with a standard tower rad and only a slight voltage boost. Then you could have almost all of the performance of the 300€ CPUs (except a good bit of the cache) for 60€ or so. Multiplier overclocking is easier, yes, and it's good to reach insane peak frequencies - but this market of the "buy low, push high" overclocking has faded out (courtesy, of course, of the segmentation by core numbers as well)
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, March 17, 2016 - link

    Oh yeah, well I overclocked when there were still turbo buttons on the fronts of AT cases! So nyah nyah!

    Sarcasm aside though, drawing a line in the sand to mark when overclocking was "good" or "worthwhile" and when it stopped being fun or have any sort of point would result in an awful lot of people drawing an awful lot of lines all over the place. For instance, the last processor I bothered with overclocking was a 2GHz Pentium 4 derived Celeron. Pushing the FSB from 100 to 150MHz on an Intel boxed cooler with a little bit of extra voltage netted a 3GHz chip...which rapidly became highly unstable over the course of a few months. After that and numerous PIIs, PIIIs, the infamous Celeron 300A and whatnot, I got bored with it and my priorities shifted. I would have overclocked my VIC-20 and Trash 80 if I'd known more about computers because I couldn't resist tinkering. I think if one were to ask other people, they'd find different points in time and different processor technologies so it's probably unfair to people who are simply by nature of the date of their birth, unable to discuss overclocking in terms you're more comfortable with.
  • nightbringer57 - Thursday, March 17, 2016 - link

    Yes, but still. There had been a more or less constant trend of tinkering around with low-end CPUs to get quasi-high-end performance out of them for quite a long time. I quote my old E2180, but over the "modern" history of computers (that is, in the current context, IBM PC and their heir), there had always been such shenanigans available to the tinkerers. If you go further in time, the trend fades as the modern concept of CPU "range" fades out and it came more down to boosting your X - generation CPU to still have a bit more oomph after most of the software environment of you given platform had moved to a new generation.
    And not only Intel processors, but AMD processors as well, with the pencil unlockable Durons and whatnot.

    As this article states, this kind of overclocking has more or less died in recent years, partly due to technical issues (as systems get more and more complex and integrated, it becomes riskier), partly due to the current state of the market, partly due to marketing practices.

    It's not about discussing overclocking in terms I personally am comfortable with or whatnot. It's just about being realistic. I hope that AMD can come back with Zen and bring a bit more freshness into the low-end overclocking market.
  • Spoelie - Friday, March 18, 2016 - link

    Still had a lot of fun in the period between 2000-2010 with the Athlons, always buying the lowest end SKU of the performance line, and ocing between 20-40% to reach the same performance of the highest end SKU in the line.

    On an nForce2 board IIRC
    * Athlon XP 1800+ (Socket A Thoroughbred 256KB cache) 1533mhz OC to ~2ghz
    * Athlon XP 2500+ (Socket A Barton 512KB cache) FSB166 to FSB200 = OC to "3200+"

    Had a Athlon 64 2800+ on a Socket 754 for a very short time, don't remember what I did to it.

    Then a "DFI LanParty UT NF4 Ultra-D" (Socket 939 w/ nForce4 & 2*512MB Winbond BH-5 PC3200 @ 250mhz 2-2-2), cream of the crop at the time.
    * Athlon 64 3000+ (Venice) OC 1800 to 2250 (250bus)
    * Opteron 165 (Toledo) OC 1800 to 2475 (274bus)

    I loved those days
  • Murloc - Sunday, March 20, 2016 - link

    yeah I remember a 45nm core 2 duo I had, with the boxed stock cooler I was able to lower the voltage quite a bit and daily OC it at 4GHz at the same time.
    It was a lucky piece compared to others.
  • cobrax5 - Monday, March 21, 2016 - link

    I'm thinking about replacing my 45nm i7-930 @ 3.8ghz with a hex-core, 32nm Xeon and OC that to > 3.6ghz. You can get them for like under $200, and I'll keep my (admittedly aging) X58 platform.
  • benedict - Thursday, March 17, 2016 - link

    Single-threaded benchmarks show this processor to be much better than what it'd be in real life. I don't know if there are people who only run a single program at a time on their PCs. Having more cores is much more valuable than most benchmarks will show.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, March 17, 2016 - link

    I can run 7 programs at once, but if one is very demanding and is single threaded, then single threaded performance is still quite relevant. Multiple programs/=/not needing single threaded performance. Thinking that single threaded performance is not important got AMD the FX series, and subsequently a large portion of their users jumping to intel.
  • calculagator - Thursday, March 17, 2016 - link

    Everyone is different, but single threaded benchmarks give a much better picture of performance for "normal" users than multithreaded in my experience. Even if they have lots of programs running, most users are only using one program at a time. All of those open documents and web tabs use very little CPU power while they just sit there. I have about 100 active processes right now, but my CPU is idling at about 3% usage.
    Even a basic dual-core CPU can handle most users' multitasking. The most common exceptions are gaming and video editing, but most users are not doing those things most of the time. Consider how people use laptops so often: their CPUs have such high single-threaded/burst performance that they hardly notice how much less powerful they are than much more powerful desktop CPUs.

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