Intel Core i3-12100 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 the Core i3-12100 paired with an RTX 3090, but this allows us to highlight unrestrained chip performance. Because most of the titles below show little meaningful differentiation at higher resolutions, we only tested four of the seven titles at 1440p.
We paired the Core i3-12100 with affordable DDR4 memory for our testing. We removed the 12100's power limits and overclocked the memory for the 'Core i3-12100 DDR4-3600' entry, but only registered a 2.2% improvement. That means you won't benefit much from investing in a more expensive memory kit.
The 12100 doesn't need too much help, though: The chip was a whopping 29.5% faster than the Core i3-10100 in our cumulative gaming measurement, representing a massive leap forward for budget 1080p gaming.
The 11600K, last-gen's fastest Core i5, was only 3.5% faster than the stock Core i3-12100, but overclocking the 12100's memory narrowed that to 1.4%. That's an impressive gen-on-gen improvement given the 11600K is twice the price of the 12100. Naturally, overclocking the 11600k would give it the lead, but that also requires a much more expensive cooler and other accommodations.
The 12100 is even more impressive against AMD's lower-end models. Moving on to the only comparably-priced AMD chip, the mythical quad-core Ryzen 3 3300X, finds the 12100 beating it by 19.2% and 18.8% at stock and overclocked settings, respectively. The 12100 is also 19% and 9% faster than the six-core $199 Ryzen 5 3600 and $240 3600X, respectively, showing that it has the chops to take on AMD's entire sub-$250 roster.
That means we have to move up into the $260 range to find an AMD chip that can compete with the 12100, but there isn't a great AMD comparable at that price point. AMD's Ryzen 5 5600G APU isn't designed as a direct competitor for the 12100 — it's designed for gaming on its integrated graphics, and there it will easily outmaneuver the 12100. However, when paired with a discrete GPU, the 12100 is 6% and 1% faster than the 5600G at stock and overclocked settings, respectively. So at twice the price, it's clear that the Ryzen 5 5600G isn't a suitable competitor for the 12100 if you plan on using a discrete GPU.
The Core i5-12400 is the next step up the Intel ladder. At $199, the 12400 is 13% and 16% faster than the 12100 at stock and unlocked power settings, respectively. Put another way, the 12100 delivers 88% of the 12400's gaming performance, but for 56% less cash. The Core i5-12400 delivers much more performance in threaded application benchmarks than the 12100, though, making it a better all-rounder.
|Tom's Hardware||1080p Game Benchmarks - fps %age|
|Core i5-12600K DDR4||100%|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||95.36%|
|Core i3-12100 DDR4-3800 / Stock||87.6% / 86%|
|Ryzen 5 5600G||81.1%|
|Ryzen 5 3600X||74.95%|
|Ryzen 3 3300X||72.1%|
Naturally, moving over to 1440p brings a GPU bottleneck into the equation, so the performance deltas between the chips shrink tremendously. Flipping through the 99th percentile charts for both resolutions also shows larger deltas, but we have to view those with caution as Windows 11 seems to suffer from more framerate variability than our Windows 10 test platform.
The Core i3-12100 easily beats the Ryzen comparables, but 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 play frequently, so be sure to check out the individual game benchmarks below.
In either case, the Core i3-12100 is now the budget gaming champion, offering a superior level of performance at its price point with no clear competitors.
3DMark, VRMark, Chess Engines on Intel Core i3-12100
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.
Far Cry 6 on Core i3-12100
F1 2021 on Intel Core i3-12100
Hitman 3 on Core i3-12100
Horizon Zero Dawn on Core i3-12100
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2021 on Core i3-12100
Red Dead Redemption 2 on Core i3-12100
Watch Dogs Legion on Core i3-12100
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