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One of the most important changes in the newest generation of Intel processors is the launch of an unlocked Core i3 CPU: the Core i3-7350K. Let’s test it and check if is it a good deal.
Recently, Intel launched the seventh generation Core i processors, codenamed Kaby Lake. At first, were launched the Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs, and soon after, the Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron models. Those processors bring small changes compared to the sixth-generation ones: new video decoder for 4K video, improved Speed Shift technology (that dynamically adjusts the CPU clock,) and support to Optane technology (which is a future kind of high performance SSDs.)
But there are two major news in this new generation: the Pentium CPU with Hyper-Threading technology, and the unlocked Core i3 CPU, the Core i3-7350K. It has two cores (four threads thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology,) 4.2 GHz clock, 4 Mib of L3 cache and a TDP of 60 W. It is manufactured under 14 nm process.
In term of price, the direct competitor of the Core i3-7350K is the Ryzen 5 1400, which we will be reviewing soon. In this test, we compared the tested CPU to the Core i5-7400 and the Core i3-7100. We also included the Core i5-7600K, the Ryzen 5 1500X, and the Ryzen 5 1600X, which are CPUs from a higher price range.
Figure 1 shows the box of the Core i3-7350K. Like other unlocked CPU from Intel, its retail version doesn’t come with a cooler.

Core i3-7350KFigure 1: the Core i3-7350K

We used a GeForce GTX 1080 video card on all tests, in order to check the CPU performance with no video card bottleneck.
Let’s compare the main specs of the reviewed CPUs in the next page.
[nextpage title=”The Reviewed CPUs”]
In the tables below, we compare the main features of the CPUs included in our review.

CPU Cores HT/SMT IGP Internal Clock Turbo Clock Core Tech. TDP Socket Price
Core i3-7100 2 Yes Yes 3.9 GHz Kaby Lake 14 nm 51 W LGA1151 USD 120
Core i3-7350K 2 Yes Yes 4.2 GHz Kaby Lake 14 nm 60 W LGA1151 USD 170
Core i5-7400 4 No Yes 3.0 GHz 3.5 GHz Kaby Lake 14 nm 65 W LGA1151 USD 190
Core i5-7600K 4 No Yes 3.8 GHz 4.2 GHz Kaby Lake 14 nm 91 W LGA1151 USD 240
Ryzen 5 1500X 4 Sim No 3.5 GHz 3.7 GHz Summit Ridge 14 nm 65 W AM2 USD 190
Ryzen 5 1600X 6 Yes No 3.6 GHz 4.0 GHz Summit Ridge 14 nm 95 W AM4 USD 250

Below you can see the memory configuration for each CPU.

CPU L2 Cache L3 Cache Memory Support Memory Channels
Core i3-7100 2 x 256 kiB 3 MiB Up to DDR4-2400 or DDR3L-1600 2
Core i3-7350K 2 x 256 kiB 4 MiB Up to DDR4-2400 or DDR3L-1600 2
Core i5-7400 4 x 256 kiB 6 MiB Up to DDR4-2400 or DDR3L-1600 2
Core i5-7600K 4 x 256 KiB 6 MiB Up to DDR4-2400 or DDR3L-1600 2
Ryzen 5 1500X 4 x 512 kiB 2 x 8 MiB Up to DDR4-2667 2
Ryzen 5 1600X 6 x 512 kiB 2 x 8 MiB Up to DDR4-2667 2

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions, the only variable devicand was the CPU being tested, besides the motherboard, which had to be replaced to match the different CPUs.
Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • NTFS
  • Video resolution: 1920 x 1080 60 Hz

Driver Versions

  • NVIDIA driver version: 381.65

Software Used

Error Margin
We adopted a 3% error margin. Thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.
[nextpage title=”PCMark 8″]
PCMark 8 is a benchmarking software that uses real-world applications to measure the computer performance. We ran three tests: Home, which includes web browsing, writing, light gaming, photo editing, and video chat tests; Creative, that includes web surfing, video editing, group video chat, video conversion, and gaming; and Work, which runs tasks such as writing documents, web browsing, spreadsheets, editing, and video chatting. Let’s see the results.
Core i3-7350K
On the PCMark 8 Home benchmark, the Core i3-7350K was 6% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 5% faster than the Core i5-7400.
Core i3-7350K
On the Creative benchmark, the Core i3-7350K was 4% faster than the Core i3-7100 and performed similarly to the Core i5-7400.
Core i3-7350K
On the Work benchmark, the Core i3-7350K was 4% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 8% faster than the Core i5-7400.
[nextpage title=”3DMark”]

3DMark is a program with a set of several 3D benchmarks. Fire Strike runs a “heavy” DirectX 11 simulation. Sky Diver also measures DirectX 11 performance, and is aimed on average computers. The Cloud Gate benchmark measures DirectX 10 performance, and the Ice Storm Extreme measures DirectX 9 performance and is targeted to entry-level computers, so we don’t ran it.

Core i3-7350K

On Fire Strike, the Core i3-7350K was 5% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 10% slower than the Core i5-7400.

Core i3-7350K

On the Sky Diver benchmark, the Core i3-7350K was 5% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 6% slower than the Core i5-7400.

Core i3-7350K

On the Cloud Gate benchmark, the Core i3-7350K was 7% faster than the Core i3-7100 and achieve a technical tie with the Core i5-7400.

[nextpage title=”Performance in programs”]

Cinebench R15

Cinebench R15 is based on the Cinema 4D software. It is very useful to measure the performance gain obtained by the presence of several processing cores while rendering heavy 3D images. Rendering is an area where a bigger number of cores helps a lot, because usually this kind of software recognize several processors (Cinebench R15, for example, can use up to 256 processing cores).
We ran the CPU benchmark, which renders a complex image using all the processing cores (real and virtual) to speed up the process. The result is given as a score.
Core i3-7350K
On Cinebench R15 CPU benchmark, the Core i3-7350K was 9% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 17% slower than the Core i5-7400.

CPU-Z

On its current version, the well-known hardware identification software CPU-Z comes with a benchmarking tool, which measures CPU performance for one core and for all available cores.
Core i3-7350K
On the single thread benchmark, the Core i3-7350K was 8% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 25% faster than the Core i5-7400.
Core i3-7350K
On the multiple thread benchmark, the Core i3-7350K was 9% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 24% slower than the Core i5-7400.

Handbrake

Handbrake is an open-source video converting tool. We converted a Full HD, six-minute long .mov video file into an .MP4 file, using the “Fast 1080p30” output profile. The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the better.
Core i3-7350K
On Handbrake, the Core i3-7350K was 7% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 20% slower than the Core i5-7400.

DivX

We used the DivX converter, a tool included in the DivX package, in order to measure the encoding performance using this codec. The DivX codec is capable of recognizing and using all available cores and the SSE4 instruction set.
We converted a Full HD, six-minute long .mov video file into an .avi file, using the “HD 1080p” output profile. The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the better.
Core i3-7350K
On DivX encoding, the Core i3-7350K was 7% faster than the Core i3-7100 and performed similarly to the Core i5-7400.

Media Espresso

Media Espresso is a video conversion program that uses the graphics processing unit of the video engine to speed up the conversion process. We converted a 1 GiB, 1920x1080i, 23,738 kbps, .mov video file to a smaller 320×200, H.264, .MP4 file for viewing on a smartphone. The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the better.
Core i3-7350K
Here the Core i3-7350K was 8% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 7% faster than the Core i5-7400.

Photoshop CC

The best way to measure the performance of a CPU is by using real programs. The problem, of course, is to create a methodology that offers precise results. For Photoshop CC, we used a script named “Retouch Artist Speed Test,” which applies a series of filters to a standard image and gives the time Photoshop takes to run all of them. The results are given in seconds, so the less, the best.
Core i3-7350K
In this test, the Core i3-7350K performed similarly to the Core i3-7100 and the Core i5-7400.

WinRAR

Another task where the CPU is very demanded is on file compacting. We ran a test compacting a folder with 8 GiB on 6.813 files to a file, using WinRAR 4.2. The graph below shows the time taken on each test.
Core i3-7350K
On WinRAR, the Core i3-7350K was 7% faster than the Core i3-7100 and performed like the Core i5-7400.
[nextpage title=”Gaming Performance”]

Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 (BF1) is a first person shooter launched in October 2016, base on the Frostbite engine. To benchmark using this game, we played the same misson on the campaign mode, in Full HD and graphic settings as “high”, measuring the framerate with FRAPS.
The results below are expressed in frames per second.
Core i3-7350K
On Battlefield 1, the Core i3-7350K was 13% faster than the Core i3-7100 and performed similarly to the Core i5-7400.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (or simply CS:GO) is a very popular FPS, launched in august 2012, that uses the Source engine, which is DirectX 9. We benchmarked it playing the “Inferno” map against bots, in Full HD and graphic settings as “high”, measuring the framerate with FRAPS.
The results below are expressed in frames per second.
Core i3-7350K
On this game, the Core i3-7350K performed similarly to the Core i3-7100 and was 6% slower than the Core i5-7400.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an action RPG with FPS elements, launched in August 2016, that uses the Dawn engine, being compatible with DirectX 12. We tested it using the benchmark included in the game, with DirectX 12 enabled, Full HD, and graphic options as “medium”.
The results below are expressed in frames per second.
Core i3-7350K
On this game, the Core i3-7350K was 12% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 7% slower than the Core i5-7400.

Dirt Rally

Dirt Rally is an off-road racing game released in April 2015, using Ego engine. To measure performance using this game, we ran the performance test included in the game, in 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) resolution and image quality configured as “medium” and MSAA off.
The results below are expressed in frames per second (fps).
Core i3-7350K

In this game, the Core i3-7350K was 9% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 6% faster than the Core i5-7400.

Doom

Doom is an FPS/horror/sci-fi game launched in May 2016, that used the id Tech 6 engine. We tested the performance in this game, with the API OpenGL with quality options “high” and FXAA on, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times.
The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.
Core i3-7350K

In this game, the Core i3-7350K was 5% faster than the Core i3-7100 and shown the same performance of the Core i5-7400.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V, or simply GTA V, is an open-world action game released for PCs in April of 2015, using the RAGE engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we ran the performance test of the game, measuring the framerate with FRAPS. We ran GTA V at Full HD, with all image quality set as “high” and MSAA off.

The results below are expressed in frames per second.

Core i3-7350K

On GTA V, the Core i3-7350K was 7% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 4% slower than the Core i5-7400.

Hitman

Hitman is an action/stealth game, launched in March 2016, that uses a DirectX 12 compatible version of the Glacier 2 engine. To measure performance in this game, we ran the benchmark in it, measuring the framerate with FRAPS. We ran this game with DirectX 12 enabled, with image quality set as “high”.
The results below, in Full HD and 4K, are expressed in frames per second.
Core i3-7350K
On Hitman, the Core i3-7350K was 6% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 7% slower than the Core i5-7400.

Mad Max

Mad Max is an open-world action game launched in September of 2015, using the Avalanche engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran its intro, measuring the framerate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game with image quality set as “high”.

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

Core i3-7350K

On Mad Max, all the CPUs performed similarly.

Rainbow Six Siege

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is a tactical FPS game launched in december 2015, using the AnvilNext engine, which is DirectX 11. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran its built-in benchmark, in Full HD and with image quality set as “high”.

The results below are expressed in fps.

Core i3-7350K

On this game, the Core i3-7350K was 5% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 5% slower than the Core i5-7400.

Rise of the Tomb Rider

Rise of the Tomb Rider is an adventure/action game launched in January of 2016, based on Foundation engine. In order to measure the performance using this game, we ran the benchmark included on it, using Full HD resolution and graphics quality set to “medium”.
The results below are expressed in frames per second.
Core i3-7350K
On Rise of the Tomb Rider, the Core i3-7350K was 7% faster than the Core i3-7100 and 8% slower than the Core i5-7400.

The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an open-world RPG released in May of 2015 and based on the REDengine 3 engine. In order to measure the performance on this game, we walked around at the first scene of the game, measuring the frame rate with FRAPS three times. We ran the game with image quality set to “ultra.”

The results below are expressed in fps and they are the mean between the three collected results.

Core i3-7350K

On Rise of the Tomb Raider, all the CPUs performed the same way.

[nextpage title=”Overclocking”]
As we mentioned before, the Core i3-7350K has unlocked clock multiplier, which means you can overclocking it just by changing its multiplier, as long as the motherboard has this feature.
With the original 1.2 V Vcore, we were able to configure the CPU to run stable at 4.6 GHz (100 MHz reference clock and x46 multiplier). Raising the core voltage to 1.35V, it reached 4.9 GHz (100 MHz x 49) with tested stability on Prime95.
It may be possible to reach higher frequencies (even above 5.0 GHz) if you “play” with the available adjusts, as long as you have a good power supply, motherboard, and cooling system.
It is clear that the Core i3-7350K has an excellent potential for overclocking. However, it is good to keep in mind that the overclock capability depends on pure luck, since two CPUs of same model can reach different maximum clocks.
[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
The news about the Intel seventh generation Core i processors that thrilled overclocking enthusiast was with no doubt the launch of an unlocked Core i3 CPU. So far, only high-end (expensive) CPUs had this feature.
On our tests, we discovered that the Core i3-7350K is a great CPU, with nice cost/benefit ratio, but not as good as the Core i3-7100. The performance difference between both CPUs is about 7%, but the Core i3-7350K costs 42% more than the Core i3-7100. So, if you are looking for a CPU with great cost/benefit ratio, the Core i3-7100 is still the better choice.
Compared to the Core i5-7400, we can say the Core i3-7350K has similar overwall performance: while it is faster on single-thread applications (due to its higher clock), it is slower in programs that use the four cores present on the Core i5. It should be a good choice if it was less expensive, but with its price so close to the Core i5-7400, it is a little obfuscated by it. And it doesn’t come with a cooler, which makes it less attractive to the average user.
On the other hand, if you are into overclocking, the scenario is different: the Core i3-7350K has already a high clock rate, and it has the potential to reach 5.0 GHz. So, it is a great deal for the users it was designed for: enthusiast and overclockers, which don’t want an expensive high-end CPU. If is it your case, the Core i3-7350K is a great choice.