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AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500 Review: The Budget CPU Showdown

Zen 2 little, Zen 2 late?

AMD Ryzen 3 4100
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500 Gaming Benchmarks — The TLDR

As usual, we're testing with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 to reduce GPU-imposed bottlenecks as much as possible, and differences between test subjects will shrink with lesser cards or higher resolutions. You would never see these low-end chips paired with an RTX 3090, but this allows us to highlight unrestrained chip performance. 

The quad-core Zen 2-powered Ryzen 3 4100 is easily the slowest chip in the test pool. But that isn't too surprising given its tame 4.0 GHz boost clock and scant 4MB of L3 cache. The six-core Ryzen 5 4500 only boosts to 4.1 GHz, but the doubled L3 cache and extra cores weigh in as it delivers 13% more performance at stock settings than the 4100.

The Core i3-12100 costs $122 for the full-fledged version with an iGPU, competing with the Ryzen 5 4500, and also comes as the graphics-less Core i3-12100F for $99, competing with the Ryzen 5 4100. Both of these models provide identical performance. The Intel Core i3-12100's Golden Cove P-cores give even the Zen 3-powered Ryzen 5000G chips a stiff challenge, so it's no surprise that the Zen 2 Renoir struggles mightily in comparison.

For similar or slightly lower pricing, the Core i3-12100/F is a whopping 49% faster than the Ryzen 3 4100 and 21.7% faster than the Ryzen 5 4500 in 1080p gaming, making it clear that budget gamers should opt for Intel's chip over the Ryzen competition.

Intel still restricts Core i3 overclocking to the memory, limiting gains to a few percentage points. In contrast, AMD allows full overclocking of both Ryzen 4000 models, but it isn't too useful. The overclocked Ryzen 3 4100 is a mere 3% faster than the stock config, while the tuned 4500 is about 6% faster than the stock setup.

As an interesting comparison point, we also included the Ryzen 5 4600G in the test pool. However, this is a full-fledged Renoir APU with a working RX Vega 7 integrated graphics engine, so it isn't meant to be used with a discrete GPU. Look to these pages for a full review soon with iGPU performance benchmarks.

Overall the Core i3-12100/F underlines its status as the best budget gaming CPU on the market — the Zen 2-powered Ryzen 4 4500 and Ryzen 3 4100 can't compete. 

1080p Gaming Benchmarks %age Relative to Core i5-12400
Tom's Hardware 1080p Game Benchmarks - fps %age
Core i5-12400100%
Ryzen 5 560097.4%
Core i3-1210088.4%
Ryzen 5 550082.3%
Ryzen 5 450067.1%
Ryzen 3 410059.4%

Moving over to 1440p brings a GPU bottleneck into the equation, so the performance deltas between the chips shrink tremendously. Be aware that large performance deltas in a few of the game titles can heavily impact these types of overall measurements. It's always best to make an informed decision based on the types of titles you frequently play, so be sure to check out the individual game benchmarks below. That said, we don't see much variance in the results below — the Ryzen 5 4500 and Ryzen 3 4100 get beaten by the Core i3-12100 across the board. As such, we'll skip the commentary in the individual titles below. 

3DMark, VRMark, Chess Engines on AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500

Synthetic benchmarks don't tend to translate well to real-world gaming, but they do show us the raw amount of compute power exposed to game engines. It's too bad most games don't fully exploit it. That tendency is evident here as we see the Ryzen 5 4500 beat the Core i3-12100 by significant margins in both the DX11 and DX12 synthetic CPU tests, but it doesn't win in a single real-world gaming benchmark below.

Far Cry 6 on AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500

F1 2021 on AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500

Hitman 3 on AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500

Horizon Zero Dawn on AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500

Red Dead Redemption 2 on AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500

Watch Dogs Legion on AMD Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500

Paul Alcorn
Deputy Managing Editor

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.

  • Chris Fetters
    All these year or more late CPU reviews recently are absolutely freaking useless Paul... 😑🤦‍♂️ Either do the reviews ON TIME when the CPU's ACTUALLY RELEASE or don't review them at all. 🤷‍♂️
    Reply
  • geko95gek
    Yeah haven't these been out a while? Seems pretty pointless to even talk about them tbh, lowest AMD CPU of this generation anyone should even consider buying is the 5600. 😂
    Reply
  • King_V
    No, it's not "useless" . .

    First, except for a brief period when only one vendor had them, going by the PCPartPicker price history, the 4500 has always been less than MSRP.

    Second, for someone already on AM4, and with a low-to-mid 1st gen Ryzen CPU and having to fit a really tight budget, it's an upgrade. I know one person for whom this is the case, and the extra (at this time, extra $25) for the 5500 would actually be problematic.

    The real issue is, as is correctly pointed out, is the 5000 series. The 5500 is usually available for not much more. That's what can cannibalize the sales of the 4000 series unless the price drops more, relative to the 5500.


    AND.. on a final note, I really am looking forward to the update to the CPU hierarchy to see exactly where these two slot in, relative to other low-end Ryzen chips, performance-wise.
    Reply
  • waltc3
    Pretty funny article...;) Both these CPUs came out years before Alder lake and neither was designed to "tackle Alder's Lake"...which did not exist when these originally shipped.

    Looking forward to your upcoming cacheless Intel Celeron CPU comparison with AMD's Zen 4 CPUs...when is that due for publication? To see what Intel has to "tackle Zen 4"...;)
    Reply