Intel Core i3-12100F Review - 5.2 GHz OC with an Asterisk 105

Intel Core i3-12100F Review - 5.2 GHz OC with an Asterisk

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Introduction

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The Core i3-12100F is designed to be the entry-level processor for Intel's Alder Lake architecture. Priced at just $105, this 4-core/8-thread CPU has all the ingredients needed to make it the next value king.

While Intel introduced their "Gracemont" Efficiency cores (or E-cores) with the high-end Alder Lake processors, the lower end of the lineup doesn't get this new capability. Rather, the Core i3-12100F is very similar in its design to previous generations—it's a monolithic chip design with a single type of processing core. This of course avoids compatibility issues and ensures the Core i3-12100F in this review will run best on any OS, not just Windows 11.



There's another big difference between the Core i3-12100F compared to the Core i5/7/9 K-models. The newer chips are based on a physically different silicon, dubbed "H0." This die is smaller and physically only features six "Golden Cove" P-cores, zero "Gracemont" E-core clusters, and a shared L3 cache that's only 18 MB. The higher-end CPUs are carved out of the larger "C0" die, the same one the flagship i9-12900K is based on.

The I/O capabilities of the "H0" silicon appears unchanged from "C0;" it puts out 16 PCI-Express Gen 5 lanes for the PEG slot (the main x16 slot meant for your graphics card), four PCI-Express Gen 4 lanes for a CPU-attached M.2 NVMe slot, and an 8-lane DMI 4.0 chipset-bus. It supports both DDR5 and DDR4 memory types. As an "F" SKU, the reviewed Core i3-12100F lacks onboard graphics. It's hence targeted squarely at users with a discrete graphics card. It also lacks an unlocked base-clock multiplier, and Intel rated the chip's processor base power (PBP) at 58 W, with maximum turbo power (MTP) at 89 W. The processor has a nominal clock speed of 3.30 GHz, with a maximum turbo boost frequency of 4.30 GHz. There's no fancy Turbo Boost Max 3.0 (and hence no preferred cores being exposed to the OS), but you get classic Turbo Boost 2.0.

Intel is pricing the Core i3-12100F at $97 for resellers. We bought our review sample for €110, including 19% VAT, which converts to $105. In the States, supply seems to be scarce at the moment, so prices are a bit higher. If you absolutely want onboard graphics, you can pick its twin, the Core i3-12100 for around $140. We chose the i3-12100F for review because we wanted to test just how much processing muscle you get for close to $100, and whether it's all you need for gaming these days, so you could push the money saved toward graphics.

Intel Core i3-12100F Market Segment Analysis
 PriceCores /
Threads
Base
Clock
Max.
Boost
L3
Cache
TDPArchitectureProcessSocket
Core i3-9100F$1454 / 43.6 GHz4.2 GHz6 MB65 WCoffee Lake14 nmLGA 1151
Core i3-10100$1304 / 83.6 GHz4.3 GHz6 MB65 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Core i3-12100F$1054 / 83.3 GHz4.3 GHz12 MB58 WAlder Lake10 nmLGA 1700
Ryzen 3 3100$1504 / 83.6 GHz3.9 GHz16 MB65 WZen 27 nmAM4
Ryzen 3 3300X$2404 / 83.8 GHz4.3 GHz16 MB65 WZen 27 nmAM4
Core i3-10300$1754 / 83.7 GHz4.4 GHz8 MB65 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Core i3-12300$1554 / 83.5 GHz4.4 GHz12 MB60 WAlder Lake10 nmLGA 1700
Core i5-9400F$1706 / 62.9 GHz4.1 GHz9 MB65 WCoffee Lake14 nmLGA 1151
Core i5-10400F$1806 / 122.9 GHz4.3 GHz12 MB65 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Core i5-11400F$2156 / 122.6 GHz4.4 GHz12 MB65 WRocket Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Core i5-12400F$1806 / 122.5 GHz4.4 GHz18 MB65 WAlder Lake10 nmLGA 1700
Core i5-10500$2256 / 123.1 GHz4.5 GHz12 MB65 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Ryzen 5 3600$2306 / 123.6 GHz4.2 GHz32 MB65 WZen 27 nmAM4
Core i5-9600K$2106 / 63.7 GHz4.6 GHz9 MB95 WCoffee Lake14 nmLGA 1151
Core i5-10600K$2606 / 124.1 GHz4.8 GHz12 MB125 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Core i5-11600K$2606 / 123.9 GHz4.9 GHz12 MB125 WRocket Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Ryzen 5 3600X$2906 / 123.8 GHz4.4 GHz32 MB95 WZen 27 nmAM4
Ryzen 5 5600G$2506 / 123.9 GHz4.4 GHz16 MB65 WZen 3 + Vega7 nmAM4
Ryzen 5 5600X$3106 / 123.7 GHz4.6 GHz32 MB65 WZen 37 nmAM4
Core i5-12600K$3006+4 / 163.7 / 2.8 GHz4.9 / 3.6 GHz 20 MB125 WAlder Lake10 nmLGA 1700
Core i7-9700K$3108 / 83.6 GHz4.9 GHz12 MB95 WCoffee Lake14 nmLGA 1151
Core i7-10700K$3308 / 163.8 GHz5.1 GHz16 MB125 WComet Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Core i7-11700K$3508 / 163.6 GHz5.0 GHz16 MB125 WRocket Lake14 nmLGA 1200
Ryzen 7 3700X$3208 / 163.6 GHz4.4 GHz32 MB65 WZen 27 nmAM4
Ryzen 7 5700G$3508 / 163.8 GHz4.6 GHz16 MB65 WZen 3 + Vega7 nmAM4
Ryzen 7 3800XT$4008 / 163.9 GHz4.7 GHz32 MB105 WZen 27 nmAM4
Core i7-12700K$4208+4 / 203.6 / 2.7 GHz5.0 / 3.8 GHz 25 MB125 WAlder Lake10 nmLGA 1700
Ryzen 7 5800X$4008 / 163.8 GHz4.7 GHz32 MB105 WZen 37 nmAM4
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Jun 28th, 2022 01:17 EDT change timezone

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