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Intel's Core i3-12100 Demolishes The Ryzen 3 3300X In An Early Review

Intel 12th Generation Alder Lake Processor
Intel 12th Generation Alder Lake Processor (Image credit: Intel)

Intel's latest 12th Generation Alder Lake processors have cemented themselves as some of the best CPUs on the market. Chinese publication XFastest's review of the unreleased Core i3-12100 shows that the quad-core Alder Lake chip also packs some serious firepower.

Unlike high-end Alder Lake SKUs, the Core i3-12100 doesn't feature the hybrid design. This means that the quad-core chip with Hyper-Threading is only carrying Intel's Golden Cove cores. The processor is outfitted with 12MB of L3 cache. Previous retailer listings pegged the Core i3-12100 with a 3.3 base clock. XFastest observed the Core i3-12100 peaking at 4.3 GHz, which is likely the single-core boost clock. Since the news outlet's Core i3-12100 is an engineering sample, the final clock speeds for the quad-core part could vary. Therefore, we also recommend taking the test results with a bit of salt.

According to XFastest's other observations, the Core i3-12100 come with a 60W PL1 and 77W PL2 ratings. This means that the Alder Lake goes head-to-head with AMD's Ryzen 3 offerings, more specifically the Ryzen 3 3300X and Ryzen 3 3100 that compete in the 65W category.

Intel Core i3-12100 Specifications

ProcessorCores / ThreadsBase / Boost Clocks (GHz)L3 Cache (MB)PBP / MTP (W)
Core i3-12100*4 / 83.3 / 4.31260 / 77
Ryzen 3 3300X4 / 83.8 / 4.31665
Ryzen 3 31004 / 83.6 / 3.91665

*Specifications are unconfirmed.

The Ryzen 3 3300X and Ryzen 3 3100 are based on the Zen 2 microarchitecture and sport a quad-core, eight-thread configuration. On paper, AMD's processors have more L3 cache than the Core i3-12100 and better base clock speeds. While the Core i3-12100 and the Ryzen 3 3300X have the same 4.3 GHz boost clock, the latter rocks a 500 MHz higher base clock.

However, the Core i3-12100 wields Intel's latest Golden Cove cores that are slated to be up to 19% faster than the Cypress Cove cores inside Rocket Lake. The Ryzen 3 3300X and Ryzen 3 3100, on the other hand, are still on the two-year old Zen 2 cores so it isn't exactly a fair fight. With Zen 3, AMD has forsaken the Ryzen 3 lineup and preferred to concentrate on the Ryzen 5 and above SKUs. The chipmaker doesn't have a Zen 3 answer for the Core i3-12100 for the moment.

Intel Core i3-12100 Application Benchmarks

ProcessorPCMark7-Zip Compression7-Zip DecompressionCinebench R23 Single-CoreCinebench R23 Multi-CoreV-RayPugetBench for Premiere Pro (Export)PugetBench for Premiere Pro (Playback)
Core i3-121006,98847.09244,8401,6498,4745,95210072
Ryzen 3 3300X6,14042,83350,9791,2806,7234,9265555
Ryzen 3 31005,75538,64746,2261,1456,0314,9265454

Starting with PCMark, the Core i3-12100 put up a 13.8% higher score than the Ryzen 3 3300X. When it comes to 7-Zip, the Core i3-12100 was up to 9.9% faster than the Ryzen 3 3300X in the compression test, but the latter outperformed the Intel chip in the decompression test by 13.7%.

The Core i3-12100 demostrated up to 28.8% higher single-core performance than the Ryzen 3 3300X in Cinebench R23. When it comes to multi-core performace, the margin went up to 26% in Intel's favor. In V-Ray, the Core i3-12100 also dominated the Ryzen 3 3300X and boasted a 20.8% better score.

The biggest performance deltas between the Core i3-12100 and Ryzen 3 3300X came from the PugetBench for Premiere Pro benchmark. The Alder Lake chip scored 81.8% and 30.9% higher scores in the export and playback tests, respectively.

Intel Core i3-12100 Gaming Benchmarks

ProcessorCyberpunk 2077 (1080, Ultra)Cyberpunk 2077 (1080, Ultra + DLSS)Cyberpunk 2077 (1080, Ultra+ RT + DLSS)Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (4K, High)
Core i3-1210080145110256
Ryzen 3 3300X8012693236
Ryzen 3 31008010076232

For the gaming tests, XFastest paired the Core i3-12100, Ryzen 3 3300X and Ryzen 3 3100 with Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3060 Ti.

All three processors performed similarly in Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080p resolution on the ultra preset. The Core i3-12100 distanced itself from the Ryzen rivals once XFastest started to enable other options. With Nvidia DLSS enabled, the Alder Lake chip pumped out 15.1% higher frame rates than the Ryzen 3 3300X. The gap jumped up to 18.3% when the Chinese news outlet added ray tracing to the mix.

In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on 4K and the high present, however,  the Core i3-12100 only delivered 8.5% higher performance than the Ryzen 3 3300X.

As per XFastest's insider information, the Core i3-12100 could retail for 1,000 HKD, which translates to $128.32. The price sounds believable since we've already seen early retailer listings of the graphics-less Core i3-12100F going for $119.