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Intel Core i3-12100 could blow away AMD to be the new champion of budget CPUs

Illustration of chip processor background circuit board
(Image credit: Panuwatccn / Shutterstock)

Intel’s Core i3-12100 could be a storming budget CPU, at least if the latest leak around incoming Alder Lake silicon is on the money.

This comes from Hong Kong-based tech site XFastest, which supposedly got hold of an engineering sample of the Core i3 processor and put the chip through its paces. Of course, as ever with any pre-release leakage, take all this with a heavy dose of condiments.

According to the site, the Core i3-12100 will be a quad-core CPU with 8-threads, meaning it has four performance cores and no efficiency cores (in other words, it doesn’t use Alder Lake’s hybrid tech). It has a base TDP of 60W.

The tested chip was apparently capable of boost up to 4.3GHz, but that may not be the full extent of its powers given that this is an engineering sample – and as such, the benchmarks won’t represent the full performance level of the CPU, either.

Those benchmarks include PCMark, where the 12100 comfortably beats the Ryzen 3 3300X (and 3100X, another lesser quad-core model) it’s compared to. In fact, it’s over 10% speedier, and even more so in Cinebench, where Intel’s chip is approaching a third faster.

As PC Gamer reports, the Core i3-12100 also managed to beat out the budget Ryzen offerings in Cyberpunk 2077 and CS:GO, pointing to it being an all-round great option for those looking for a cheap processor.


Analysis: Intel readies to dominate the budget CPU arena

It’s not surprising to hear that the Core i3-12100 considerably outperforms the Ryzen 3 3300X, because this is a last-gen (3000 series) chip from AMD. Unfortunately, with Ryzen 5000, AMD has still yet to unleash an affordable equivalent for the 3300X, so this effectively leaves the door open for Intel to dominate the budget turf with this incoming Alder Lake Core i3 CPU.

What AMD has pushed out is the Ryzen 3 5300G, which is a storming budget performer, but the problem is you can’t buy it. That APU has only been made available to OEMs, meaning system manufacturers, so the only way you can get one is in a prebuilt system.

Whether that will change in the near future for Team Red, we can but hope, but of course AMD is currently fighting stock and component issues (as is everyone), and likely prioritizing Ryzen silicon with bigger profit margins (which only makes business sense – and Intel has done this in the past, too). Maybe we might hear something about a new more compelling budget offering from AMD that you can actually buy as a standalone CPU in the New Year, but we’ll just have to see.

Meanwhile, Intel theoretically has the Core i3-12100 coming in the first quarter of 2022, and it will arrive with cheaper Alder Lake motherboards to make for some seriously tempting budget PC builds by the sound of things.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).