The Core i3-13100F and Core i3-13100 come to market using the same winning formula that propelled the previous-gen Core i3-12100 to the top of our recommendations for budget systems, but AMD's Ryzen 5 5600 has seen substantial price reductions that change the ~$130 to $150 landscape entirely. Additionally, despite its higher price tag, the 13100's slim improvements in clock speeds mean it only delivers small gains over its predecessor.
Below, we have the geometric mean of our gaming test suite at 1080p and 1440p and a cumulative measure of performance in single- and multi-threaded applications. We conducted our gaming tests with an Nvidia RTX 4090, so performance deltas will shrink with lesser cards and higher resolution and fidelity settings. This is especially important to keep in mind with these lower-end processors as they will be paired with lower-end GPUs.
The Core i3-13100 and 13100F offer the same level of gaming performance when paired with a discrete graphics card, but a $40 price delta separates the two chips. That means we have two different contests in this section.
If you're looking for a gaming processor for around $100, the $110 Core i3-13100F is 8% faster than the $99 Ryzen 5 5500, giving it the win. The Ryzen 5 5500 is also limited to the PCIe 3.0 interface while the 13100F supports the faster PCIe 5.0/4.0 interfaces. However, while the 13100F takes the lead over the Ryzen 5 5500 in this price bracket, the previous-gen $100 Core i3-12100F remains the chip to beat with basically the same performance as the Core i3-13100F in gaming, but for $10 less.
If you're looking for a chip with a bit more heft in productivity workloads, or if you can't find a Core i3 F-series model in stock, you'll have to jump up to the $130 to $150 price range. The $140 Ryzen 5 5600 is 8% faster than the Core i3-13100 in 1080p gaming, yet costs $10 less, making it an easy recommendation even before we take its other advantages into account. The $130 Core i3-12100 remains a viable alternative here if you absolutely must have an iGPU (the Ryzen model doesn't have one), but the Ryzen 5 5600 holds the lead in gaming with a discrete GPU and is far more performant in productivity workloads.
Speaking of which, both the Ryzen 5 5600 and 5500 offer substantially more performance in multi-threaded productivity applications (30% and 20%, respectively) than the Core i3-13100 and 12100. Conversely, the Intel chips are faster in single-threaded tasks, but by smaller margins. We think Ryzen's big advantage in threaded workloads will be far more noticeable than Intel's smaller advantage in single-threaded work.
The Ryzen processors leverage the plentiful and affordable AM4 motherboard ecosystem, and like the Core i3 chips, support DDR4 memory. Meanwhile, the Intel chips are confined to 600- and 700-series chipsets, so AMD has the platform pricing advantage — you can find incredible deals for AM4 motherboards. Be aware that you'll lose support for PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 if you go with the Ryzen 5 5600, but we don't think those interfaces are as important with this class of chip. Both the Intel and AMD chips come with bundled coolers that are sufficient for normal operation.
The $150 Core i3-13100 is simply overpriced for a quad-core in 2023. Intel's decision to use the same design for the 13100/F and merely increase boost clocks by 200 MHz doesn't do enough to deliver any tangible increase in value. The minor improvements we saw in our testing certainly aren't enough to justify the Core i3-13100's higher price tag over the prior-gen model.
The less-expensive $110 Core i3-13100F makes more sense, but it faces a stiff challenge from its predecessor. If you're looking for a chip in the $100 price range and you can find it in stock, we still recommend the Core i3-12100F for gaming-focused budget builds. If the Core i3-13100F is all that is available, it is also better in the ~$100 price range than the Ryzen 5 5500. If you're looking to step up a pricing tier and want even more performance in gaming and productivity applications, the Ryzen 5 5600 is the best of the bunch in both gaming and productivity work.
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