5 Best Core i3 Laptops in 2020

The point of finding the best i3 laptop out there is not to end up with the most expensive laptop with a Core i3 processor jammed into it. 

The best i3 laptops out there should have just right specs for you to RUN basic tasks, games at low settings plus a few other programs  like a cheetah on ‘roids BUT without costing you an eyeball.

Unfortunately…

There are  gazillions of core i3 laptops to choose from. So for most people finding a cool core i3 laptop is harder than looking for a needle in a coal mine.

Why?

First of all , check out all the choices you have. That’s right you have over 1000 results.

Second,  there’s a lot of slow good for nothing models being sold that are older than the first dinosaur and can’t run nothing but pacman on easy mode.

Don’t believe me? Check this one out, 4th generation processor? Are you kidding me? We are in the 10th generation now and even Ryzen 2 processors are out!

Third, even if you weed out the old laptops, there’s a lot of recent core i3 laptops that are just a rip off. Check out this HP model  at 700 bucks(you’d get the best bang for your getting installing your own SSD and RAM Stick).

Anyways…

You get the point.

We all want to max out on performance without having to spend too much money.

So, how can we do this?

Not all core i3 processors are the same, as you some of you may know, i3 processors vary widely among generations (4th,5th 6th or 7th and even 10th now) , lines ( core i3 U vs. core i3 M processors ) and model numbers.

So If you wanna get the best bang for your buck you need to be able to read what the label/description for the processor means and all other computer specs too. If you don’t know how to read specs, than you’re pretty much screwed. You won’t be able to tell if the specs you see on a laptop are fair for the price tag.

How can this article help?…

This article will not only list the best i3 laptops out there but will also explain all you need to know about the Intel Core i3 line of processors if you want to find the best deals on your own whether you are in the US , UK , India, etc.

To do that we have divided this article in two parts, a selection of the current best i3 laptops as of 2020 and a complete guide on how to pick one up yourself.

Best Core i3 Laptop Specification

I’ll leave the guide on intel core i3 processors to the next section (it’s quite lengthy). You can use the table of contents to jump right to it.

For now I just want to quickly summarize what you should be looking out for if you want an i3 laptop that can run faster than Ussaint Bolt on crack and still be more or less cheap.

CPU
An 8th generation at the very least. No Buts. If you find anything older than that, it better be free . You can check which generation you’re buying by looking at the first number: Ex: i3-8250 or i3-10300. 

Also note that there is a huge difference between  Core i3 laptops with the label “m3” or “y3” and the ones with the  letter  “U” in front  of it. Ex: “i3-7100U” vs “m3-7Y30”. m3/y3 CPUs are designed for portability or for convertible laptops (to fit in very small devices without the need of much ventilation) so they’re a lot weaker than core i3 U processors.

RAM
4GB is enough for Office Work & Programming and eve some multitasking.
8GB is a must for light gaming otherwise don’t bother buying a laptop.
8GB is also a must for heavy multitasking or expect to be annoyed by freezed out screens.

Laptops are upgradeable these days so don’t be discouraged if yours has everything except 8GB RAM.

GPU (Graphics Card)
This doesn’t matter. Virtually all Core i3 laptops come with an integrated GPU and they perform more or less the same.

SSD (Solid State Drive)
After getting a +8th generation CPU. Getting an SSD for storage will make your i3 laptop soars through the sky.

Most of the time you can upgrade yours to have one if it doesn’t already come with one. (We’ll show you how to upgrade one and which SSD offers the best bang for your buck in the guide below if you are interested).

Display
99% of Core i3 laptops come with HD+ or HD resolutions. HD or HD+ resolutions aren’t too bad if you’ve got a 14-15” screen. If you get a 13” screen with an HD resolution it’s gonna feel like your running  Windows 95!

Note that finding an Intel Core i3 laptop with a full HD display at an affordable price  is like finding kryptonite in your backyard so it’s not really something your entitled to have.

Top 5 Best Core i3 Laptops in 2020

I am a listing the 5 best core i3 laptops I’ve found online. Whether you want one with a long battery life, rock solid design, for gaming or just for office work you’ll find one on this list.  I’ve also included a touchscreen and a convertible laptop.

Let’s make one thing clear: I will not repeat the specs like most websites do, they are listed next to the picture or on amazon for you to see. I’ll talk about the most important facts you should know about this laptop and what you can do with it. that’s it

Also note that all of these laptops (except for one here) are upgradeable in terms of RAM & Solid State Drive.


1. 2020 Acer Aspire 5

Best i3 10110U Laptop 

  Core i3-10110U 4.1GHz

  8GB RAM DDR4

   IntelĀ® UHD Graphics 620

  256GB SSD PCIe NVMe

  15” FHD IPS 1080p

  4.19lb

  10 hours

    No

Clock Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
2.1GHz 4.1GHz 10 2 4 4MB

  1 x HDMI, 1 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2, 1 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, 1 x RJ-45. 1 x Headphone/microphone combo jack


The Acer Aspire 5 has been for the past several years the most budget friendly and fastest laptop with a Core i3 processor in it. Every new version that’s been released always ended up becoming the best selling laptop on Amazon for those reasons.

However, this year’s model doesn’t live up to its predecessors. Although it’s got the best specs/money ratio among all core i3 laptops and it’s still one of the fastest laptop with a Core i3 processor, it’s a lot more expensive than last year’s model which will only cost you 350$.

Apparently, this year Acer decided to give their most budget friendly model and consequently its best selling 350$ laptop a Ryzen 3 Processor. Which by the way is a damn good deal and it’s almost as fast as the latest Core i3 processor. If you don’t mind buying a laptop with an AMD card, i’d recommend you to go for it instead.

Since this post is about Core i3 processors, I’ll just give you the link and stop talking about it.Anyways let’s talk about the most recent Acer Aspire 5 with a Core i3.

  Performance

Although the performance is high already thanks to the 10th gen processor, you should definitely try to upgrade the RAM. It can be upgraded to 16Gigs but 8Gigs will be plenty. If you don’t wan to upgrade it yourself just buy it with the RAM you need, though that’d make it more expensive.

As for the lack of storage, you can either  insert another nice SSD in it or upgrade the one it currently has. It wouldn’t make much sense to replace it though, two SSDs become extremely  useful for heavier workloads.

Even if you go for the lowest configuration (4GB RAM + 128GB SSD). The 10th gen Core i3 processor will  let  you run most popular 3D games at low settings: Overwatch, Wow, CS , MineCraft, Sims, etc. These are no light & mickey mouse games by the way , they are AAA games which are quite hardware demanding.

Schoolwork software like excel to run dozens of sheets & calculations, MatLab, programming environments, etc, will have no problems with the RAM and the Core i3 here either.

Though I’d still advice you to go for 8GB RAM.

  Display

One of the rare features of this laptop is the FHD + IPS panel combo. This is not something that’s standard even for a 450$ laptop. 

If you plan on doing some real work with this laptop and I mean multitask heavily with several documents open next to each other. I’d recommend you don’t settle for anything less than a FHD display so you don’t feel dragged down by the limited by size of workspace.

  KeyBoard & TouchPad

Nothing to note about the keyboard, no complaints. Has a decent travel and it’s a full sized keyboard which is very useful if you have to crunch numbers in excel all the time or if you are programmer that relies a  lot on the numerical keypad (only 15-17” laptops have a numerical keypad).

The trackpad isn’t MacBook-like quality but you won’t have to put up a fight with it just to close a window. It does include a backlit illuminated keyboard, though.

  Battery Life & Weight

Now one of the things that makes this laptop far more expensive than last year’s model is the weight, it’s 1lb less than last year’s : 4lb which is not what 15” laptops weight on average. This is portable enough to take it to school or to Starbucks. It is as the name says, quite thin too.

Another plus of this year model is the insane battery life. The new Core i3 processor doesn’t consume as much power as it’s predecessors. The SSD also helps in that regard.

It’s got the usual Thunderbolt USB-C port too so you can charge your iphone, smartphone or tablet even when the laptop is turned off. This is super cool to have especially when the library/the workplace turns into a zoo just before holidays or during final exams and the charge station is completely packed!

  Design

Number of ports has been reduced but you still got every port you need including the old fashioned USB ports for which  most external devices are still using in 2020. 

The only con about the design is that this laptop is still mostly plastic, only the back of the screen is made of aluminum. However, don’t let that deter you from buying it, it’s actually quite sturdy and solid .

I wouldn’t suggest you drop it just to test this out though. If you want a gorilla glass with an all aluminum chasis that can truly witstand a few hard drops, then you’re going to have to pay a few morehundred bucks more and you’d have to say goodbye to the Core i3 processor too (laptops that expensive have way more powerful CPUs and less battery).

Lastly, the most dissapointing thing about this model is that it has Windows 10s. All Core i3 laptops from Acer with all the computer goodness like the IPS display, PCIe NVMe SSD and the 10th gen Core i3 or the Ryzen 3 processor do not come with the full version of Windows. 

There are a few workaround though including:

– Using the same windows license from your old rig.
– Ask a friend for his license key
– You may get a discount for Windows 10 if you are a student.

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2. Dell Inspiron 15 

Best i3 Laptop with SSD

  Core i3-1005G1 3.4GHz

  8GB RAM DDR4

   Intel UHD Graphics 620

  256GB PCIe NVMe SSD

  15” HD TouchScreen

  4.9lb

  10 hours

  None

Clock Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
2.1GHz 4.1GHz 10 2 4 4MB

  2x USB 3.1 Gen1, 1x USB 2.0, 1x Combo Headphone/Microphone Jack, 1x HDMI, 1x RJ-45, Media card reader, Backlit Keyboard, 802.11AC, Bluetooth

This is an alternative to the Acer Aspire 5. It’s a lot less expensive and surprisingly you don’t have to give up that much and you get a few nice perks.
One of them is the TouchScreen feature. 

Anothe is the RAM already sitting  at 8GB.

This laptop is also configurable. If you are too chicken to do any upgrades and you’ve got the cash you can configure the storage to crazy amounts of space and the RAM all the way to 20GB.

I really don’t see the need for the RAM upgrade unless you are planning to do some do some heavy photoshop/lighroom work. Gaming and all non-heavy tasks will be okay for the most part with  8Gigs.

The extra storage space does come in handy though since today’s software and most popular games weight anything from 20Gigs to 50Gigs.

The coolest thing about it? It has Windows 10. This seems to be to good to be true for the price right?

But if you pay close attention you’ll find out that it’s doesn’t have a FHD display nor an IPS panel. The display is quite average. It’s not like it’s something you can’t work with, I’m actually typing this with a display similar to the Dell’s, but the FHD is something really nice to have especially if you need a lot of screen space to do your work with ease

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3. 2020 ASUS ChromeBook 14

Best i3 Laptop ASUS

  Core m3-8100Y 3.4Ghz

  4GB RAM

   Intel HD Graphics 615

  64GB Flash Memory

  14” full HD TN TouchScreen

  3.31lb

  10 hours

  No DVD

Clock Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
1.1GHz 3.40 GHz 8 2 4 4MB

  2 x USB-C, 1 x Headphone/microphone combo jack, 1 x USB 3.0

I know this is a chromebook and chromebooks won’t allow you to run the software you are most used to in it but you can still use Apps. They’re a great alternative especially if you are just looking for a laptop to get stuff done: be it for school or work.

 Performance

ChromeBooks don’t have Windows or iOS so you can’t install software on it but still has ChromeOS. So it doesn’t need an OS, you can do most things a regular computer can do by using Web Services/Cloud along with ChromeOS.  There are gazillions of software available in the play store that you can run as Apps or Extensions .

In other words, you wouldn’t be limited in anyway whatsoever for most  tasks including programming, light photo editing & office work. Most of us actually do all of these things using web services with laptops that have Windows 10 anyways. I myself can’t afford MS Office so I use Google Docs and GoogleSheets. You can also use Apple iCloud Apps on it.

The storage space (64GB) will not limit the amount of apps or work you can do. Apps/docs  are almost never saved in your ChromeBook but actually on the Cloud & retrieved from the Cloud.

Actually, if you are a web developer or a programmer, then you’ll find that ChromeOS and a ChromeBook will provide you with everything you need. You can save your code using GitHub, Cloud9 as your terminal and use AWS services when you want to deploy or run extremely heavy code. You can also use Cloud9 for a collaborative development of a project just like people can share Google Docs to work on a single document.

As for the average user, despite having 4GB of RAM you can run ~20 web browsing tabs on it without feeling slowed down by lack of memory. This is because ChromeOS and its apps do not need much memory to run. Unlike Windows 10 and any software you install on it, 4GB RAM is enough.

There’s not question about it, there’s no way to install or run any hardcore games on it. It doesn’t matter if you install Linux on it, the hardware won’t be  enough for that. You can however run any games you find on the app store, from Android apps or from the web without issues.

To be able to run Android Apps on your ChomeBook you’d have to activate the Developer Mode though which I will talk about later on. For now you can simply look up many of the guides available online on how to set it up.

What I don’t like about ChromeBooks is the fact that you don’t have much control to computer settings like you do with Windows Machine and Control Panel. Mouse & Trackpad & short cut keys settings  can’t be modified. 

One last thing to note about ChromeOS (all ChromeBooks) is that whatever configuration settings are stored (your favorite websites, bookmarks, toolbar, extensions and so on) are stored in the Cloud. So as long as you log into your proper gmail account all of them will load up on any other ChromeBook you happen to use.

 Hardware

As you can see the hardware is not much different from most core i3 laptops you’ll find online. The display in fact is better than what you’d expect from a ChromeBook.

The only real issue is the storage space: 64GB is pretty low for this day and age. However since everything is run on the Cloud and there’s not much data to install one ChromeBook anyways for most people this will be plenty. 

If it isn’t, keep in mind that most chromebooks (including this one) have a SD Card Reader so you can always stick a permanent SD Card in it (32GB or 64GB) to make it 100GB or 128GB.

 Design

The design is actually pretty close to ultrabooks  like the MacBook Air, Surface Pro, New MacBook and Asus ZenBook.

Just like any premium ultrabook, the chasis is made of full aluminum and the clicklet keyboard is both responsive and snappy with a backlit illuminated keyboard. The TouchPad is firm, large, smooth & responsive as well.

The 2-in-1 flip in feature basically transforms this laptop into an Android Tablet. While it’s in that mode, the device still has a rock solid feel to it and there isn’t any wobble on the screen when using it.

The number of ports is bad but this has be done  to keep it light & slim with an overall small factor  Though unlike the core i3 laptops above it comes with 2 USB-C ports which are the future of laptop’s ports(one on each side). So you can use them to charge your laptop from either side.

Despite the IPS display, the giant screen and full HD resolution, the battery life is decent: 8 hours.

The fact that it has a USB-C port will also save you the trouble of bringing around a power brick to recharge your laptop.

 Programming

You can actually turn this thing into a full blown windows-like laptop by installing a Linux OS on it. You can find tons of guides on how to do it and what to install using reddit or google groups. Entire communities are dedicated just to play around with the “Developer Mode”. This is very useful if you are a programmer or a web developer since you still get the power, portability & design of a premium MacBook for coding for just 650$.

  Accesories

If you still have any cash remaining, there are a few accessories worth considering:

Skins: I’m assuming you are considering this ChromeBook because of portability. If you want it to remain scratch-free and shiny for 10 years, consider vinyl skins to protect the screen cover, keyboard face/palm rest and bezels.

Anti-Glare Screen protector: If you work outdoors a lot or you get a lot of stray light from the office’s windows, you can attach a anti-glare protector which also protect your screen from fingerprinting it with those oily fingers you are eating french fries with.

USB-C Expansion Dongle: As mentioned before, there’s only two USB-type C ports. This expansion dongle does offer you with almost all the ports all thick and heavy windows laptops  have.

Blue-Tooth Mouse: If you need precision when working note that ChromeBooks do support Bluetooth devices. Consider a BlueTooth mouse if you want to use the other ports for something else.

Micro SD Card: The 64GB can be limiting to many people storing docs, photos or large spreadsheets and using tons of apps on a ChromeBook so I repeat: you can stick an SD Card reader to act as a permanent additional storage device. You can also attach a 256GB SD Card reader but that’s not only expensive but way too much storage for the avg. joe.

TouchPen: This device is a touchScreen laptop but does not come with a TouchPen for you to interact with. The pin point precision of a TouchPen is helpful when you are dealin with UI interfaces that have tons of minuscule buttons for which a finger will not accurately register which one you pressed on.

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4. Lenovo IdeaPad S340

Best Lenovo i3 Laptop

  Core i3-8145U 3.4GHz

  8GB RAM DDR4

   Intel UHD 620

  128GB SSD NVMe

  15”  HD  TN

  3.96lb 

  10 hours

  None

 

Clock Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
2.1GHz 3.4GHz 8 2 4 2MB

  2 x USB Type-A (USB 3 1 Gen 1) 1 x USB 3 1 Gen 1 1 x HDMI 1 4b 1 x 1/8″ / 3 5 mm Headphone/Microphone Output and 1 x SDXC/MMCplus Hybrid

Leaving the 8th gen core i3 processor aside, it isn’t much different from the Acer Aspire  or the Dell Inspiron.  While it is a lot cheaper than the Dell Inspiron ( because it doesn’t have a touchScreen feature) specs wise seems to be the same.

A few things to note:

 Display 

It’s not full HD either, it’s only HD, not even HD+. This can be an issue for those who love to have several windows next to each other.  Wouldn’t recommend the display for gaming at all, office & schoolwork should have no problems with it. I use an HD resolution laptop myself.  

 Design

The design is actually worth going over. It isn’t bulky at all as you can see from the pictures: it’s a slim laptop that weights a lot less than most 15” laptops (4lb). 

The fact that it’s a lenovo laptop also gives you the assurance of having both a high quality keyboard (doesn’t flex when typing) & well assembled (which does enhance its durability although it’s still fully made out  of plastic).  

Surprisingly the battery life is pretty bad (the 8th Intel Core i3 processor & the low resolution display should boost it far beyond 5 hours???)

 Summary 

Anyways just like the Acer Aspire or the Dell Inspiron (without the upgrades), it isn’t anything special. The resolution will limit this laptop to word processing, photo editing , web browsing and basic usage. I’d recommend gamers to stay away from this model and recommend it to people who are after a portable 15 inch laptop.

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5. Newest 2020 14 HP Pavilion

Best HP i3 Laptop

  Core i3-1005G1 3.4GHz 

  8GB RAM DDR4 RAM

   Intel UHD 620

  128GB SSD

  14” HD TN Display

  3.2lb

  6 hours

  None

 

Clock Speed Turbo Generation Cores Threads Cache Size
1.2GHz 3.4GHz 8 2 4 4MB

 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
1 x AC smart pin 1 x HDMI 1.4b 1 x headphone/microphone combo

Lastly this is the upgrade of HP laptop we listed last year. 

Again this is a bit more expensive that you’d expect it to be because it only weights 3lbs despite all the computer goodness inside.

You still got the 8GB RAM, the PCIe NVMe SSD and of course the latest Core i3 processor in it.

I chose this model out of all the HP models because it seems it has a flawless design. There are almost zero faults in it so it should serve well you for several years to come.  

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How to Find The Best i3 Laptops

If you want to find the best i3 laptops yourself you are gonna have to learn quite a bit about Intel core processors and how to read the numbers and letters on their labels.

I will keep all the details about the entire line of processors to a different article and focus this section only on Core i3 processors since you already made the decision to roll with them.

Alternatively you can watch this video for a general and quick understanding or read my other two articles which deal with Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7 laptops to find more details about the entire line of Intel processors on laptops.

However I think this section is enough if you just want to stick with core i3 laptops.

Processor

There are three things to look at when choosing a core i3 processor  out of a bunch of Intel’s sneaky and misleading labels: the generation (gen indicator), the series (line suffix U or Y) and the model number (the numbers after the generation number or the SKU Numeric Digits as shown below).

There’s actually a fourth thing to know now that we are in the 10th generation, but we don’t want to complicate things for now and leave that aside.

intel core i3 processor label

U vs. M Lines: Warning!

Core i3 processors come in two flavors: M-processors and U-processors.

The M letter stands for mobile and the U letter stands for ultra low power.

All you need to know about these two is the fact that the M-series does not offer any advantage over the U series and it’s actually worse both in performance and battery life. M core i3 processors have been designed to fit in into very small devices, hence the name “M” for “mobile”. They are suitable for ultra lightweight and small laptops like the new MacBook.

They’ve still got plenty of power for the avg user  but  it’s nowhere near as fast or powerful as any processor from the U line.

Which one should I pick M or U line?

If you care about performance and high speeds : U series. If portability is an issue and you really want a the smallest and most silent laptop that won’t even feel warm when doing basic tasks(email, word editing and web surfing) the M series is for you.

Features

All processors be it from Intel or AMD have the following features: multiple cores, hyper-threading & turbo-boost.

Number of Cores

All i3 core processors have two cores. Each core can be considered a different CPU.

So the workload can be shared between two CPUs instead of one making some tasks faster (though not all of them, check here for a compelte list).

Ex: If you are playing a game, using discord or Skype and lightning to a song. One core can take care of two programs (Skype and a music playlist) while the other core can be devoted to solely run your game.

Hyper Threading

If you have a single core processor but you still need to have two cores, hyper-threading will allow you to artificially have “two cores”. They are “virtual cores” because in reality you only have one physical core.

So out of cores you will have “two virtual cores” to handle and share the all the tasks you’re running between those two virtual cores. You can read how hyper-threading works here.

Likewise if you have two physical cores, hyper-threading will get you “four virtual cores”.

Turbo Boost: warning !

Turbo boost simply means your processor (or rather each “physical core”) will increase its clock speed on its own (therefore making your computer run things faster) only when there’s a need to do so and  when the computer is cool enough to handle the forthcoming increase in temperature.

Turbo boosting with a computer that’s already hot will damage it because the circuitry will start melting.

Generations: 5th, 6th and 7th ,8th,10th

There are huge differences between 5th 6th generation processors and 7th 8th and 10th. We’ll just show a few examples so you get the idea of their differences and what upcoming generations might bring:

  • There isn’t much difference in battery life and performance between a 7th and 6th generation processor and may not worth paying more money.So if either is okay if you’re on a budget or buying a second hand laptop.
  •  The increase in performance and battery life, especially performance, is significant going from 5th to 8th, 10th generation
  • 2nd, 3th and 4th generation processors are not worth looking at even if they are offered for free. Their performance is extremely poor for today’s games and software. 
  • The higher the SKU number by each generation, the better the increase in performance. The difference is significant going from 6000 to 6100. However if the only the last two digits start changing, the difference is usually insignificant.
  • There is little difference between 8th generation and 10th generation processors from the Intel Core i3 family. 10th generation processors are smaller but have less base clock speeds.

You can reach the same conclusions by following the rating numbers next to each processor here.

Here’s a nice table that’ll give you an idea of the differences between generations. 

You should really only worry about which CPU you have after you’ve got a decent RAM and Storage . Avoid 5th 6th 4th and older generations. 7th,8th,10th are best. Avoid most Y/M series if speed and running far more than basic tasks is what you’re after.

Do I need a i3 core processor ? Which should pick ? The M line or the U line series?

Nearly all core i3 processors will give you a fast performance (even the Y/M line series) for basic tasks. Going beyond basic tasks such as “light photo editing” , some “gaming” and other more intensive apps or a lot more multitasking will require a core i3 processor with the U label.

Battery life is much better with the U line.

How do I increase the performance beyond to what I already have?

Even if you have the slowest CPU out of the entire i3 family, you can still have a great performance if you focus on other features (RAM and Storage for example) rather than spending all your money on more “powerful core i3 processors”.

RAM

Aim to have at least 4GB RAM so your processor isn’t bottleneck by it.

8GB RAM is actually the sweet spot and it will allow an older processor to get up from the grave and making runnig basic tasks snappy

8GB is also recommended if you’re using heavy software for photo or video editing.

If you ever find a core i3 laptop with 16GB RAM . I suggest you really don’t bother with it even if it’s cheap because you won’t see much improvement in performance if any with apps or even multitasking unless you step into heavy photo editing and stuff like that.

Storage

Upgrading the storage with an SSD will actually have a greater impact on performance than buying a laptop with a better and more recent processor. So if you’re here because you want to replace and old laptop that’s been running slow you should try upgrading yours with an SSD if it doesn’t have one already and it might be everything you need.

Storage capacities were an issue in the past with SSDs but today high capacity SSDs aren’t that expensive. You can actually swap your HDD for an SSD and use your HDD as a secondary drive so you get the best out of both worlds: the speeds  of SSDs and the large storage capacities of HDDs..

Graphics

If you want to get the best graphics card from your core i3 laptop, even if its integrated, then aim for the latest generation processor you can  afford. Graphics cards (integrated) are always improved with every model even though there may not be much improvement with the processor itself.

How to Read Graphics Cards Labels

Reading graphics cards can be frustrating and mind boggling even for experts. But here’s a good guideline to follow:

Generally we would think that : Intel Iris Pro > Intel Iris > Intel HD

However that depends on the processor more than the card “label” and number.

Let’s take for example. An Intel HD 520, Intel Iris 550, Intel HD 530 and Intel Iris Pro 580. You would think that

Intel Iris Pro 580> Intel Iris 550 > Intel HD 530 > Intel HD 520. 

In reality is more like this:              

Intel Iris Pro 580>  Intel  HD 530 > Intel Iris 550> Intel HD 520

How do you deal with this? Just focus on the processor and not the graphics card, the more recent processor will have a better graphics card. 

Battery Life

The faster a processor is the more power it’ll consume (and the shorter the battery life they’ll have). 

Unlike Core i5 Core i7 processors, Core i3 processors have pretty low base clock speeds and they don’t turbo boost that much so they consume far less power than the other two processors.

Even within core i3 family, their processors all have nearly the same clock speeds and number of cores/threads so you’ll basically be getting about the same battery life from all of them.

But the 7th,8th and 10th generation are more power efficient. Having an SSD with them will increase your battery life further, they also consume less power than HDDs.

Games & Software

MineCraft & Other games

I’ve noticed a lot of people who want to play MineCraft end up reading this article.

So let me just say that minecraft will run on almost any computer as long as you set appropiate graphic settings.

Although several laptops out there are extremely slow and don’t even have a late generation processor,  there are several optimization software like OptiFine which can bring your FPS back up to acceptable numbers.

If you want to hit highest FPS, you can always set lightining, textures, rendering distance to the lowest settings and getting rid of the mods and plug ins you probably have installed.

4GB of RAM will make the game playable but the best performance for MineCraft will be with a nice 8GB RAM stick

Other games & Software

The same rule applies to other games. You’ll be fine with a Core i3 laptop as long as you adjust the settings to the lowest mode as long as you have 8GB of RAM. SSD might help a bit too but not as much as having 8GIGs of RAM.

Ergonomics: keyboard, trackpad, design

There are not many reviews for i3 core laptops but they do review their counterparts with higher models, this should be enough for you to find out what they’re really like without stepping into the store and look at them yourself.

Benchmarks

You can use the following benchmark tests if you are unsure which core i3 processor offers the best bang for your buck:

Note Book check

Geek Bench

CPU Boss.

Just ignore all the jargon and go right straight into the final rating after you plugged their names or found them using the scrolling list. You can also use CTRL+F to  find your processor .

For example:

Take the i3-7100U processor…

If you use benchmark studies, you will find this processor generation brings significantly faster performance than the previous Skylake 6th generation processor: i3-6100U. If you do compare it with other i3 6000 models, higher within the 6th generation: 6100 6200… you may find that they’re just as fast as 7th gen processors.

The same thing actually happens for some 10th generation and 8th generation processors.

Bottom Line

  1. The best core i3 laptop isn’t necessarily the one with the higher numbers and the latest generation (though this is a good rule to follow).
  2. If you stay away from core m3 series, Core i3 processors (U-line) from all the most recent generations have more or less the same performance.
  3. Maxing out on RAM and never picking up one less than 8GB RAM is the way to go
  4. Going for 16GB RAM is pointless , money will be better spend on having an SSD which will give you a much more significant boost.
  5. After maxing out on RAM and getting an SSD, you can then be picky about Core i3 processors and their integrated GPUs.